January 23, 2011

Entry Point to the Vinyl World – Rega RP1 Turntable and Rega Fono Mini Phono Stage

Rega RP1 Turntable

What was an LP system doing in my all-the-while-digital-fronted system? Well, my hifi buddies, Big E included, have been subtly or overtly attempting to get me to embrace the glories of the analogue sound. If I get a Ringgit every time one of them asked “so when are you going to listen to LP since your new room is ready?” I’d be able to buy a pretty high end turntable by now.

Big E not only talks, but he walks the talk. He brought to my place the spanking new entry level LP system from Rega. For the beginners, Rega has thoughtfully designed a complete LP package, the RP1 system consisted of the new turntable, an also-brand-new RB101 tonearm and an Ortofon OM5e MM cartridge. Add a budget phono stage like the Rega Fono Mini and some records, you will be well on your way to analogue bliss.

Ortofon OM5e Cartridge

How much do you expect to pay for all this? How about RM1,100 for the RP1 turntable, the RB101 arm and the Ortofon cartridge, and another RM250 for the Fono Mini?

The Rega system is pretty much plug-and-play. Big E took the turntable and phono stage out of their boxes, hook up all the cables, install the cartridge counter weitght at the end of the tone arm and we were good to go. For the rest of its stay at my place, I did not have to do any adjustment. That sure took a lot of anxiety away from an LP novice like me.

Rega RB101 Tonearm

I am not exactly new to LP playing, I can still recall fondly the time I spent spinning my dad’s turntable in my pre-teen years. He was trusting enough to let me handle his turntable and system. Those were the more innocent days where we were not so hung-up with all the ‘audiophile’ matters. Music enjoyment was at the forefront, I remembered the songs and the occasional classical music records that we enjoyed so much. Alas, with the advent of the audio cassette, the turntable stayed silent for a long time, and one day, it was gone.

After such a long lapse, I found that I need to be reminded on the ‘ritual’ of LP playing – of such good practices as handling the record only by its edge and centre; run a brush over the record before play to clean the dust; mute the pre-amp when you lower the stylus etc.. Sigh, this sure is more convoluted than playing CD.

(Let’s not complain too much about this though, I am sure the computer audio guys could also tease the CD guys with “What? You have to leave your seat to load the music?”)

Rega Fono Mini

The more important point is “How is the sound?” Let me put this upfront –the Rega system has all the sonic footprints that are the hallmarks of an LP system. Despite its low cost, it flies the vinyl flag high!

The most obvious quality this system had was the continuity of the sound, its swell and ebb, and the transition from one note to another was continuous and smooth. There was also a natural roundness to the sound. These would be what people term as analogue sounding. To get such a thing on a CD player, I believe you have to pay big bucks, yet this Rega did it so easily.

This Rega majored on a relaxed musical flow, rather than being big on dynamics and speed. It has a sound that was easy to listen to, always musical and was never jagged or grating. The music was also portrayed with good body.

If you were a beginner who is on a budget, I can’t think of a better introduction to the world of vinyl. Do check this Rega out.

Rega is carried by Asia Sound Equipment, contact Eddie Tan at 03-79552091

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