This turntable has taken way too long. I visited Rega in 2012 and saw what was to become (in fact, make that has yet to become) the Naiad, the carbon fibre chassis turntable that Rega designed to mark its 40th anniversary. The Naiad’s not finished yet, but the process of creating it helped spawn the chassis of the RP8; in a way, the process is not so much ‘trickle down’ as ‘inverted trickle up’. The RP8 is not made of carbon fibre, but something with a very similar weight to stiffness ratio: a foam core with phenolic skins. It is the ultimate incarnation of Rega’s approach to turntable design, the most advanced that has yet been put into production, and it makes for a very different looking turntable.
The plinth is in two parts; all the key elements of the turntable proper are attached to a skeletal chassis, which can be placed within a rectangular surround that allows the RP8 the luxury of a hinged dust cover. It looks a lot more interesting without the surround, but there’s nothing like a shiny black surface for showing dust. And then there’s the dust you can’t see on the mat. You can see the nitrogen expanded, closed cell, polyolefin foam core of the turntable, but fortunately you don’t have to remember what it’s called. Some feel that this detracts from its appearance. It doesn’t look as clean as an RP3, for instance, but this is a high tech design. First and foremost it has been created to get as much information out of a vinyl groove as possible. Look at the interior of many a super car and you will see a similar thing; this is a very low compromise design and it is more resolute than most.
The theory behind the lightweight, rigid plinth involves a simple insight: turntable motors vibrate. Rega uses a 24 volt, twin phase synchronous motor that has an anti-vibration circuit and each one is hand tuned to produce as little noise as possible, but it’s still a motor and its vibration has to go somewhere. A foam core has an enormous surface area from which to dissipate that vibration as heat. The platter on the RP8 is made of glass – three layers of glass in fact. Rega found a glass company that could bond two different size rings to the underside of the piece that supports the record and (this is the tricky bit) make them concentric. So the weight is on the periphery, which provides inertia with minimal mass. As ever with Rega, the RP8 has a felt mat, a device that while by no means high tech seems increasingly effective with every new model that the company introduces.