The Funk Firm makes turntables, tonearms, and Achromat pure vinyl replacements for the often-ghastly fuzzy slip-mats on turntables. But what it is also produces is a range of upgrades for popular turntables. The Rage upgrades tested here, for example, are designed to upgrade turntables from the ever-popular Rega stable. Theoretically, anything from a 30-year-old Rega Planar 3 up to the latest models in the line are ripe for Rage.
The Rage modifications require a bit of a run-up in explanation, and – in fairness – The Funk Firm’s website explains this in a somewhat scatter-gun exuberance. While the exuberance is understandable given the performance of the products, it could do with some simplification, so here goes. The Funk Firm offers three points of upgrade to a Rega; feet, mat, and arm. There are two grades of arm. You can upgrade in steps (start with the Achromat, then add the feet, finally arming yourself), or you can just choose one of the two complete upgrade paths; Rage 2 – that includes the F7 arm – and the Rage 1 (tested here), which upgrades the arm to an FXR arm. In both cases, the arm uses the Rega bearing housing and mount, upgrading the arm-tube and modifying the bias adjustment to be a contrast linear design. There is a small price penalty if you build up the Rage in steps, so we went with the complete package.
The 5mm Achromat is a direct drop-in replacement for the fuzzy mat supplied by Rega. Its tight on the spindle so it fits snugly, but part of that is because you don’t want any slip in your slipmat. The Achromat is made of thick vinyl, on the grounds that the best interface between record and platter is the same material as the record. That’s not as much of an oversimplification as it first sounds. The Bo!ng feet are direct screw-in replacements for the existing Rega feet, although they have small outriggers attached to widen the distance between feet. As the name suggests, these feet have a trio of small springs that connect the foot to the downward point of the outrigger, effectively making the feet into a surprisingly bouncy suspended turntable system. These add about 30mm to the height of the turntable. The Achromat and Bo!ng are designed to make the turntable an arm-holder for the F•XR II. They also allow the listener to roll back the changes in a way the arm does not, although why you would want to do that remains unclear, because the overall change is such a force for good.
Of course, this also means a lot hangs on the performance of the arm. Viewed as an upgrade, it replaces the arm-tube, the horizontal bearings, improves the anti-skate system, and central column... and that is a bit like saying a Ferrari is just a really hotted up Fiat. The arm-tube improvement is the most visible part; the thin, red, and extraordinarily light tube is also incredibly stiff (try to imagine a drinking straw with an X-shaped bracing running inside its whole length). The result is an arm with unparalleled levels of arm resonance control, meaning a vastly more linear frequency response.
This invited comparison with standard Rega decks, but rather than a step-by-step approach, we compared a standard Rega against ‘the Full English’, so we had a reasonably upmarket – albeit a generation old – Rega RP6 (which was two and a bit notches up on the Rega used as donor for Funkification) as comparisons and both decks used an Audio Technica moving magnet cartridge.