Rega Planar 10

Hardware Review

Rega Planar 10
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
turntable and arm
Jason Kennedy

Five years ago Rega launched the RP10, a turntable based on the innovations developed for Rega’s cost no object Naiad. The RP10 moved the goal posts, it redefined what a turntable that cost less than a car could do and I have been enjoying my vinyl on one ever since its launch. Earlier this year Rega released the Planar 8 which replaced the RP8 and once more established itself as the best turntable in its category by quite some margin. The Planar 10 is essentially a combination of what was done for the Planar 8, the best bits of the RP10 and some significant refinements that mean this latest Rega is ready to take on the biggest, shiniest high end turntables on the market.

The bits that it carries over from the RP10 are the white ceramic platter with peripheral weighting (albeit the design has been refined for improved coupling to the sub platter) and the power supply, the latter is now in an all metal case that matches Rega’s top electronic components but the guts remain the same. The key changes are that the plinth is even smaller thanks to the use of Tancast 8 in the foam core, this means reduced weight and increased rigidity, and the bracing between arm base and platter bearing is ceramic on the top and phenolic underneath for an even stiffer connection between these two reference points. The bearing has been completely redesigned for lower mass and reduced friction with the housing made out of aluminium and brass and surrounding a hardened tool steel spindle sitting on a thrust pad of the same material. 


As ever with Rega the motor is a 24V synchronous type, here it is mounted underneath the plinth using an isolation system taken directly from the Naiad yet which is also designed for high rigidity. The external power supply is tuned to its partnering motor prior to installation to minimise vibration. Drive to the one piece aluminium sub platter is via twin belts made of a bespoke rubber on machines built by Rega for maximum consistency and accuracy. They take belts very seriously. In fact they take the whole business of turntables seriously, you can tell as much from the title of the book Rega published a couple of years ago, A Vibration Measuring Machine, where founder Roy Gandy explains that the only vibration you want in a turntable is the stylus in the groove. In order to be able to measure or read that accurately you need to minimise all other vibrations in the turntable and arm and avoid mechanical interfaces that create energy spikes. This is why they went from arm bases clamped with a large nut to the three point fixing seen on all contemporary Rega tonearms, clamping the plinth causes extra vibration at a particular frequency and this is transmitted to the stylus/vinyl interface, ditto record clamps. Low level vibration of an even character is much less of an issue than resonant peaks.

The RB3000 tonearm looks very similar to the RB2000 of the RP10 but has a more attractive bias knob on the outside. On the inside there is a lower mass bias assembly and more precise engineering which is said to result in a “micron perfect bearing fit”. It remains a nine inch aluminium casting with integral headshell and finger lift that’s polished to a chrome like shine. The aluminium arm lift has a beautifully damped action and the bias adjustment is a simple case of pulling the knob out as far as you can before the stylus ceases to track properly. The further out it is the less bias is applied. The arm has a small counterweight and spring downforce with a basic scale next to the adjuster, you don’t have to have a gauge to measure downforce but it makes life easier.


Launched at the same time as the P10 and available with it at a discounted price is the Apheta 3 moving coil cartridge. This is a low mass cartridge that’s very similar to the Apheta 2 with a high power neo magnet in a one piece aluminium body and an aluminium cantilever. Where it differs is in the stylus tip which is a Fine Line type that’s slotted through the cantilever for a very strong mechanical bond, it’s the same system as Rega uses for the Aphelion range topping MC. 

Sound quality
My listening was done with the P10 connected to a Tom Evans Groove SRX phono stage, with the impedance set a little higher than the 100 ohms recommended for both the Rega cartridges used. The result was very much in the less is more camp, less turntable character equalling more musical detail. In many ways the P10 doesn’t sound like a turntable in the usual sense, it is devoid of the ‘warmth’ that many associate with vinyl but full of the music that was recorded in the studio or concert hall and mastered onto the acetate before being turned into stampers. In other words it sounds more like the original recording than record players usually do. If you imagine the original recording as a planed piece of highly figured hardwood most turntables add a slight blurring of the detail and a layer or two of lacquer to the result, which can sound very nice indeed but it does mask the fine detail. The P10 doesn’t do this, it gives you the unvarnished beauty of the original material. It sounds like master tape resolution and means that the differences between recordings is far greater than usual, the better ones sound astonishing the lesser ones rather flat by comparison. I have never used a turntable that reveals so much about the quality of the recording/mastering/pressing of vinyl record and with the more compressed examples this can be a little frustrating. The quality of the composition and the music is clear but there is a feeling that the medium is letting the performance down.


What you always get regardless of material is effortless speed, this is most obvious in the bass which has long been a turntable weak point, here the low notes are as precise and well defined as the mids and highs. This is particularly obvious where there is a strong lead instrument playing over a rhythm section such as in ZZ Top’s ‘Jesus Just Left Chicago’ (Tres Hombres, Warner Bros). Usually you get a sense of what the bass guitar is doing but your attention is grabbed by the voice and guitar, here you can hear exactly what Dusty Hill is playing and it syncs so perfectly with the drums that it’s hard to not get carried away. Ultimately of course the lead is where the real action happens and that’s what talks to your heart and soul, as was the case with ‘La Grange’ from the same album, a track that brought tears to my eyes like never before. The P10 adds no romance of its own to the music but if it’s in the performance you know all about it. The same thing happened with Stevie Wonder’s ‘Pastime Paradise’ (Songs in the Key of Life, Motown) where the build up to the choir at the end was so powerful I was totally blown away. With a turntable of this calibre the voice of a higher being is clearly audible on this track.


The best results with the P10 were achieved with the Aphelion cartridge I use as a reference but the Apheta 3 was also extremely revealing. It’s a little cooler in balance, possibly because it’s less run-in, but shows you what’s going on in the mix with consummate ease. Urging you to turn up the level because the distortions usually associated with vinyl replay seem to have been all but eliminated. The result is a turntable that has the calm stateliness of a big SME and the nimbleness of a Gran Prix Audio. Which means that the tension of Leifur James’ A Louder Silence are so intense that the climaxes are not quite enough, they fizzle out a little but the sound of this album is beautiful nonetheless. The separation of instruments and voices is truly remarkable, in pieces where you thought there might be two guitars for instance the situation is fully clarified, each instrument in its own space with its own distinct character. This is partly because imaging is so strong, with a decent cut like Binker & Moses Alive in the East (Gearbox Records) it’s like being there in the club. There is so much depth, power and energy it’s uncanny. The track ‘Children of the Ultrablacks’ sounds incredible, with the full power of the band delivered in totally coherent fashion, so much so that what can sometimes sound like an onslaught becomes musical and you are astonished at the stamina of the musicians. You can also hear the tube amplification used in the recording, this gives you the space and the vitality but also softens the hardness of brass on microphone.

Gillian Welch’s Harrow and the Harvest is goosebump raising realism writ large, the vocal harmonies are to die for, Welch and partner Dave Rawlins went to town cutting this album to vinyl and it pays off in spades, all they have to do now is give Time (the Revelator) the same treatment. This is the sort of turntable that will have you not only hoarding vinyl but trying different pressings in the search for the best sounding example, I tried this with my four strong collection of JJ Cale’s Naturally (A&M) and found that the oldest (US) pressing sounded better than an rich but overly smooth audiophile reissue and a Philips example which was a bit lean. 


I have not yet been able to stop playing old favourites on the P10 and don’t expect the urge to subside any time soon, this is a truly exceptional turntable with the ability to open up any recording and show you exactly what was going on at the time and place it was made. There is a better turntable and arm combination out there it’s called the Rega Naiad, but last time I looked it cost £25,000 and was in very short supply. There may be others of course, but certainly not at anywhere near the asking price here, the Planar 10 is a bona fide ultra-fi bargain.


Type: Skeletal plinth, AC-drive turntable and arm with external power supply and dust cover
Speeds: 33 1/3 RPM, 45 RPM.
Supplied Tonearm: Rega RB3000, 9-inch, spring downforce
Drive Mechanism: twin belt driven from 24V AC motor with anti vibration circuit
Speed Control: Crystal based DSP sinewave generator 
Platter Type: 12-inch ceramic oxide with peripheral weighting and felt mat
Platter Weight: not specified
Bearing Type: hardened tool steel spindle in two part housing
Plinth Configuration: Very low mass foam cored skeletal plinth with critical bracing
Dimensions inc dust cover (HxWxD): 125 x 420 x 315mm
Weight: 4.7kg

£4,499 with Apheta 3 MC
Manufacturer Details: 

Rega Research
T 01702 333071


Hi, I think a few of us RP10 owners are wondering what the differences are in audio quality between our decks and the new P10. My guess is that it would be more of the same, but could you kindly give us any subjective feel for the advances made and whether upgrading is worthwhile? Thanks

Essentially the P10 has less character so you hear bigger differences between records, significantly more detail and more realism as a result. It made me into a fussier listener, I only want to play the best tracks if I'm sitting and listening, life seems to be too short for the filler tracks. So yes, if you want to hear more of what's in the groove I would recommend upgrading.

yup, what misternuvista said.

Hi Jason - In your P8 review, you seemed to like it more than your RP10 or at least stated you heard things on the P8 you had not heard on your RP10.

I own and love the P8. Do you feel the upgrade to the P10 provides that much of a difference based on the time you've spent with both tables?


The P10 is signifcantly more revealing that the P8, they both have very little character but the degree of resolution available with the P10 is in another league to most turntables. The P8 is however incredibly good value.

I'd be interested in your opinion on partnering the P10 with DS Audio's E1 optical cartridge. Rather than going with the Apheta 3 and a phono stage around the 1k mark, I was wondering if the E1 would be a good match or would the lack of adjustability of VTA be an issue.

By TubeFan

That's an interesting question, I spoke to a representative of DS Audio in the UK who seems to think that there's no reason that it shouldn't work. I have generally found that Rega MC cartridges sound better on their turntables than alternatives which could be partly down to mass, the Aphetas and Aphelion weigh 6g which is less than most MCs. I have requested a sample of the E1 to try so may be able to establish how well it would work in the future.

I look forward to hearing how you find the P10/E1 combination as I am returning to vinyl as my old deck isn't worth pouring money into so a new deck is on the cards. My original shortlist was the RP10 and the Project RPM10 w/ Ortofon Cadenza Black and Chord's HUEI phono stage but the P10/E1 combo has got my interest lately. Not having used a low output MC before I haven't required a phono stage as the amp has MM capability so the saving on not buying a phono stage can be put into the E1 which has it's own processor. I appreciate that this may be a hurdle for those who have invested in a very good phono stage but for others this may be worth a look. My only question is do DS Audio give a discount on replacement cartridges.

By TubeFan

You would have to ask your local dealer that question.

Enjoyed the review, Jason. I owned a Rega P9 for several years and it was excellent but I had to sell it after moving to a new house. Now I have a Roksan Xerxes 20+/Artemiz II/Ortofon Cadenza Black and it sounds truly superb, so I am wondering whether the Planar 10 would be an upgrade. Have you heard both and how do you think they compare?

That's not a comparison I have made and its been a while since I heard a Xerxes 20. I suspect that the P10 is the better turntable when it comes to outright transparency but the Roksan is and has always been a highly revealing and enjoyable turntable, my first 'proper' turntable was the original Xerxes and I enjoyed that a lot.

Thomas's picture

My dream table has been the RP10 for years and years. Last summer i had the chance to swob my RP8 for the new P8 in a very good deal. I was not looking for a new table at the time, but after seeing the new P8, i wanted to try it out, as i could'n afford the RP10. Now my dealer has a demo RP10, with a very good discount, and wonder if i maybe should go for he RP10? My dealer is ready to take my P8 back, and make a good deal for me. So would i gain anything, or should i stick with the P8? In my opinion, i like the looks of the RP8/10 much more, than of the new P8/10. But that is a matter of taste ;-)

By Thomas

The RP10 is a fabulous record player and despite the many advances made in the P8 the superior of the two in most respects, but it's a close run thing and you might be better off diverting funds to a better cartridge or phono stage. I suggest you listen to the two and see which you prefer.

Have you had the opportunity to hear the Aphelion 2 in the P10? Now that they are shipping, this is how I'm thinking of fitting out a P10. There are more expensive options I'm interested in (Lyra Delos) but I think advantages to sticking with Rega.

By Bartolo

I have been using the Aphelion 2 on my P10 for a couple of months now and am absolutely blown away by it. A review is coming soon but suffice to say that it's a game changer that's as significant at the P10 itself, however it's not the easiest cartridge to live with and takes no prisoners when it comes to poor recordings. That said it's the most exciting addition I have made to my system in some time and will out resolve anything else on this turntable.

Hi, I’ve purchased the rb 2000 arm to go on my P8, I’m hoping I’ll get very close to the performance of the RP10 with this upgrade, will be swapping between the Apheta 3 and Exact carts too

By ppaul


I will soon have the Rega P10. I would like to have the best cartridge possible for that deck. I like the Lyra. So wonder if a Lyra Etna would fit correctly with the RB3000. Or Van den Hull the Crimson. Eventually the Lyra Kleos.
My phono is the ear 912 pre, so I have to choose a cart with a minimum of 0,50 mv. And a low compliance cart too.
My music in vinyl is essentially jazz rock from the 70’s.

By Keler

This turntable was designed for lower mass cartridges, the Aphelion weighs 6g, which is less than most MCs so I would look for the lightest option in your list that has sufficient output. I have used a plastic body Van den Hul Colibri on the P10 to good effect, and a Transfiguration Proteus as well but that needed a larger counterweight. In truth the best cartridge for the P10 is the Aphelion 2 and it might make more sense to use that with a step up transformer.

I was quite sure you would respond that the Aphelion 2 is the best. But as I wrote, I can’t accommodate it to my phono, it’s too low ( 0,35 mv). I will have too much noise....
Thanks for your response however. The Colibri is perhaps the best choice for me. But Michael Fremer said to me that Van den Hull needs precise VTA set up, so it’s not the best, for him, to use on the Rega.
I feel I will go for the Lyra Kleos, as it’s not a heavy cart, 8,75 gr and I like a lot the Lyra sound.

By Keler

I have owned the P10 / Apheta 3 for a year and recently upgraded the phono preamp to Rega Aura quarter of 2021.
First, I regret spending 12 months listening without the Aura. Second, I have an excellent digital setup that cannot yet sound as realistic as the P10 / Aura combination.

By Serhan

I don't think you will find a digital set up that sounds as good as the P10, I have found some that get close in many respects but it's always a delight to return to the turntable. The Aura is also excellent, as is the Aphelion 2, I can highly recommend this for your next upgrade.

I’m currently about to delight myself with the purchase of a P10 and Aura. I can only try the Apheta cartridge at the dealers who suggest as you do that the Aphelion is a marked step up. I listen to a wide variety of music but don’t have a huge collection of ‘audiophile’ quality pressings. Even with the P3 I have some records which are not enjoyable and I guess it’s going to be exacerbated with the P10 no matter what cartridge is chosen. From your experience, is the Aphelion going to make this a really significant issue with it being so revealing and accurate? Cheers Ian.

Hi Ian, glad to hear you are getting a P10 and Aura that will be a superb combo. I'd say that the Aphelion 2 is both more revealing and more forgiving than the Apheta 3. That sounds like a contradiction but the Aphelion has a sweeter top end and a more relaxed presentation, as a result I have found that older pressings almost always sound better than newer audiophile ones. The P10 is also extremely good at putting the music in front of any limitations or damage to the vinyl, it has greater perceived signal to noise than most turntables on the market so in short I'd recommend the Aphelion 2 as being the best cartridge for the P10 and Aura.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and advice. The Aphelion 2 it is then! I really enjoy reading your reviews and news - great work. Cheers Ian.

Thanks, let me know how it sounds in your system.