Best Turntable for Budget Audiophiles: Rega RP1
CREDIT: Rega Research Limited
There's nothing like the ritual of opening a vinyl album and putting it on a turntable: it connects us to the music in a way that digital players can't replicate.
Far from being simply retro, vinyl records bring out sonic details and nuances you can’t get from CDs, and it’s best savored on good equipment. You can enter the audiophile turntable world for a modest $445 with Rega’s recently updated entry-level model, the RP1.
Why We Like It
The RP1 is a minimalist masterpiece, stripped down to the essentials: slab (plinth), platter, tonearm and start/stop button. No built-in FM radio, USB port or other extras. It just does a single thing extremely well.
The RP1 comes with a very good cartridge (which converts the needle vibrations to electrical signals), already installed and aligned on the tonearm. Setup requires just a few minor tweaks and takes less than 10 minutes. The sound is nothing short of stellar, especially when paired with a good set of speakers.
One of the best things about the RP1 is what it doesn’t have — an automatic speed- change mechanism. This convenience can cause speed inconsistencies, which you’d hear as wavering pitches on sustained notes. To switch between 45 and 33.3 RPM, you’ll have to lift off the platter and manually slip the belt over a different groove.
Keep in mind
The turntable is just one piece of your home theater system. It's signal needs to be amplified, of course, and not all audio receivers have inputs set for turntables. If yours doesn't, you can pick up an external phono preamp, like the Rega Fono Mini A2D for $175, and connect it to any of your receiver's analog inputs. [Best In-Ear Headphones]
Unlike a CD player, turntables have parts that need replacing after a couple of years of regular use. Luckily, the RP1’s cartridge and belt are a snap to swap out.
The Rega RP1 is easy to set up, built extremely well and better-sounding than anything else we’ve heard for under $500 — even holding its own against others that cost hundreds more. It’s refreshing to see a device that doesn’t multitask, instead focusing on a single purpose and achieving excellence.
Rega RP1 Quick Specs:
- Supported speeds: 33.3, 45 RPM
- Color options: cool grey, titanium, white
- Cartridge type: moving magnet, p-mount
- Weight: 9.2 lbs.