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We are so used to Rega products recieving multiple awards and great reviews that it's easy to become blase about it.
This new Planar 8 takes good reviews to a new level!
What Hifi says it has "stunning sound" and "pushed the boundaries of performance at this level"
The Ear said "it truly is a triumph of analogue audio engineering" and 7Review said "A superb turntable that delivers stunning performance across a huge swathe of different music".
These are so good I should just refer you to them, and I will at the end, but first here are my observations.
The first obvious thing is the shape. All mass is paired away to make the entire structure light and very rigid.
Form follows function not the other way round
The only weight is in the platter and even there it is placed at the outside to give maximum flywheel effect.
While it is a downside that you have no lid when actually playing records there is a dustcover supplied for when you're not. It doesn't worry me anyway as I don't use a lid, it's like a sail for airborne vibration.
You have a choice of two moving coils and a moving magnet from £ 1699 without a cartridge to a top line of £ 2439 with the metal bodied moving coil Apheta2. That's the one I've opened to listen to first paired with a Linn Selekt which is a one-box streamer amplifier with an excellent phono stage, both MM and MC, a cool £ 5500. I've also been impressed with the new Kef R3s recently, a mere £ 1300, so let's try these.
I am a bit of a jazzhead, as well as every other musichead some say, so I'm straight to a classic Blue Note album. Midnight Blue by Kenny Burrell is a great recording dating from 1963 by the legend that is Rudy Van Gelder, one of the greatest recording engineers of all time. Elvis Costello fans will also make the connection that the cover of his Almost Blue album is a homage to Midnight Blue.
This sounds superb on the Rega, tight, expressive, articulate and really giving you all of the character and wailing dynamics of Stanley Turrentine's tenor sax.
Change to the blues and Albert King's Honeybee. Great guitar playing coming to life.
The Planar 8 sounds just as good as it looks
A trip to the classic Lou Reed Walk on the wild side confirms that this turntable can play anything you throw at it.
If you don't have a moving coil input on your turntable Rega can sort this for £ 249. Or to make it much better again use the £ 798 Aria phono stage.
At £ 1900 with an Exact MM this is a steal, with a moving coil at £ 2100 or £ 2400 its even better!
Place your order now
Alert!! These opinions are still valid but tv prices change so fast that OLEDs now cost less
For up to date prices give us a call, or look at Currys website, we almost always sell at the same price as them anyway!
They've been around for a few years now so what's the story with OLED tvs?
I'll try to be only a little geeky!
In 2015 LG showed advance models of OLED tvs available in small quantities. These were widely well recieved as the technology had a very important trick that LED sets just couldn't do.
This was to display blacks well, which hadn't been seen since the last of the Pioneer KURO plasmas.
Unfortunately these early prototypes had other problems with brightness and processing speeds that meant that many people wrongly discarded the OLED technology as the problem.
I know, I was one of them. If it wasn't actually better then Lyric Hifi wasnt going to sell them!
So what's different from other technologies? Well, an Organic LED display works without any backlighting. This is more like a plasma display as it can display deep black levels. It is also thinner and lighter than a liquid crystal display (LCD). In low ambient light conditions in a dark room, or most of our living rooms, an OLED screen will achieve a much higher contrast ratio than an LCD, regardless of whether the LCD uses fluorescent or LED backlighting.
Remember that the manufacturers built-up LED as a new technology to replace plasma when it was just the same LCD panels with a brighter whiter light behind it. Plasma had to go as it was more expensive to manufacture and was too power hungry to get through the latest energy consumption limits, not because LCD/LED was better.
Ok back to the story:
Moving on two years picture processing has improved tremendously, due in no small part to the advent of 4k sources not only pushing manufacturers to do better but also these sources meaning that rubbish processing was obvious on sets that 'read' well on the spec sheets but really weren't very good, especially on moving objects.
There are actually quite a few sets available that really aren't too good, but Currys don't often play sources that show this up. Can't blame them though, it suits them for everything to look the same!
While all OLED panels are made by LG they have different processing technologies applied to them in sets by Sony, Panasonic, and Loewe
I've always been a fan of Loewe's processing. Over more than 20 years they have always been at the forefront of making panels made by someone else look better than the originals although usually this carried a price premium of 25%
They're at it again, but with one huge difference.
The latest Panasonic 65" OLED is £ 6999, the new Sony? £ 6999, the Loewe? £ 5999
There are cheaper models from Sony and Pana but for the best picture the Loewe is supreme and cheaper!
How do they do it? Well there is a drawback. Their online stuff just isnt as comprehensive so if you use iPlayer/Itv hub etc add an amazon prime box, which is always a good idea anyway as it also provides 4k content.
Also when you compare it to the LG the Loewe is still better, although to be fair the LG is £600 less
The biggest player in tv just now is actually Samsung and disappointingly the haven't yet entered the OLED market
Instead they now offer QLED. See what they did there? QLED at a glance looks like OLED but it's actually a normal LED set with a Q in front
It is their best effort yet but it's basically a high brightness LED with none of the performance benefits of OLED
So when is the right time to buy OLED for your new set? First that depends on size. The high manufacturing cost of OLED means that it will mainly apply to sets of 55" and above for the next 3-4 years.
And then it depends on money. If you want a decent 55/65" set for £ 750-1999 then I will sort you out with a really good Pana/Sony that you will be happy with
If however you want the best 55-65 right now then shell out £ 3500-5999 for an OLED and you wont be disappointed
The Loewe Bild7 65" is on demonstration in the shop right now, call in for a look
So the Linn LP12 Bus service having no upgrades for a while now have been working overtime to bring you some options.
At the highest level the Urika phono stage has gone even further in an Exakt system. This involves doing the RIAA equalisation curve in the digital domain where it can be controlled so precisely that it elevates the Sondek to new heights of musicality. This preserves the delicate signal as early as possible using the same 24 bit technology found in Linn recordings.
Unfortunately it only applies to Exakt systems and costs £2800 so those kind Scottish people have used this research to also launch a brand new power supply.
While it's called Lingo 4 it bears little resemblance to the preceding 3 Lingo versions and is actually half way to the £ 3000 Radikal. For your £ 1450 hard-earned you get a new motor, a new internal control board and a new external power supply. The result is a quieter smoother motor creating less noise and vibration. And because there is less vibration in the turntable your arm and cartridge can sense those small vibrations in the groove more accurately giving a more detailed and dynamic sound.
Our trade-ins deals will give you some comfort with an allowance on your old power supply and we will also fit the Lingo4 and reset your Lp12 included in the price
In case you missed them there are some other big LP12 improvements around.
The Kore subchassis is a massive difference for £ 800 and if you haven't changed your cartridge in years then you won't believe the improvement from Linn's new generation Adikt cartridge, £430 or £ 380 when fitted at the same time as a Lingo4
For older Sondeks a Circkus Bearing upgrade is still available at £ 490 fitted, as is the Trampolinn baseboard at £ 170, all of these give you a noticeable improvement
Drop me a line with any questions
The larger Q floorstanders are the Q750 and Q950
The 750 uses a 6.5" UniQ unit and a 6.5" bass unit.
So why are there 4 round bits Michael?
That's because the top and bottom ones are ABRs, which stands for Auxiliary Bass Radiator.
ABRs aren't driven, they are passive devices to extend and deepen the bass performance while keeping it under control.
This a technique Kef have used in successfully in several models over the years.
Q950 looks very similar, in fact from a photograph it's impossible to tell between them
See what I mean!
All drive units are now 8" diameter so the whole speaker is 5" taller and 1.5" wider.
Listening between them is very interesting, the Q750 from the Q550 is a much bigger warmer sound with a real easy sound to them.
It's not laid back though as it still has real punch and dynamics.
Changing to the Q950 has the same characteristics and also goes deeper again in the bass. At high volumes these can really kick it out.
Radiohead at full volume? Yes please
Low volumes are the most clever part where the increased dynamic capability means that they stay realistic at these low volumes.
You might think it's counter intuitive that the larger speaker is superior at low volumes but it makes sense as it is related to the surface area of the drive units.
Where does this leave us?
Well at £ 1150 the Q750s are excellent and at £ 1430, strange price point, the Q950s are better overall and especially if you play it loud.
A better question is how do these compare to the £ 1499 R500?
The R series are clearer and better but have less bass output until you go up to the £ 1999 R700
I'd take the R series every time, but it's your money not mine, and I'm really happy to let you hear the difference for yourself
That's what we're here for