JUST because everyone’s doing it, Rega Research is not about to jump on the bandwagon. After all, the venerable hi-fi company was among the last of the famed British brands to go digital (the Planet CD player in 1996) and yet look at how far it has progressed today with the acclaimed Isis, Saturn and Apollo.
Naim, Linn and the likes may have thrown their lot with digital/network players, streamers, music servers or whatever you call them – in fact, Linn decided to stop making CD players a couple of years ago – but Rega is not about to venture into Internet realms.
It still is significantly invested in CD players and will continue to be for a while, and it does have a USB-equipped DAC to appease hi-fi enthusiasts who are experimenting with computer audio systems.
But streamers and music servers? Rega head honcho is Roy Gandy is having none of it…not now, anyway.
“There are no plans, although we obviously are conscious of the directions the music industry is perhaps likely to take us.
“From my perspective, I don’t really get the idea behind a streamer – how do you define what exactly a streamer is anyway?” queried Gandy, who was in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 2-3 as part of his annual spot checks on Rega distributors this part of the world.
Now, this may raise some hackles, but Gandy is of the opinion that one should get perfectly fine and CD-beating results using a computer, if the system is set up properly. Streamers and music-servers are still too complicated.
“One can get significantly good results from a good computer and an external DAC connected via USB, which, all things being equal – and I have to be careful how I put this – would be able to rival a good CD player.
“There are advantages in using a computer as a source, such as superior error correction ability, which the limited processing power within the confines of a CD player will not be able to match.
“Why not the simplicity of just a laptop computer and a DAC?”
However, he is quick to add that these are still early days for this new direction in music playback.
“We still need to put some thought into which is the best direction to take on these things,” he admits.
Rega has been cautious in its digital ventures – even at this point, its newest CD player, the Apollo-R, does not make allowance for an external source to access its DAC section, even as entry-point prices of CD spinners equipped with USB and other digital inputs are falling. Gandy makes no excuses for this.
“The Apollo-R was meant to be a CD player, first and foremost. Rega wanted to produce the best CD player it could at the target price. It would have raised the cost of the product significantly, relative to the intended market, to have added the relevant digital interfaces.
“We plan to do so for the forthcoming higher-priced model, though.”
Earlier, in June, Gandy had hinted at a Saturn replacement, the Saturn-R, later this year, so this is something Rega fans can expect.
Moving into more comfortable realms, ie, analogue, Gandy reveals there are new turntables in the pipeline.
“Definitely, yes. We, in fact, have plans to roll out several new products in celebration of our 40th anniversary next year.
“The new RP8 is about ready and the RP10 is on schedule. The P7 and P9 will be discontinued once we launch these new products.”
Vinyl fans, no doubt, will be heartened by such news, and an affirmation from Gandy that he still prefers Rega to be known for its turntables, rather than as a digital outfit.
Reported by Lim Juan / Edited by Sujesh Pavithran