Given Rega's pedigree at higher prices it's no surprise to see the company delivering such an excellent budget product. At this level it's all about simple, effective engineering: something Rega understands.
The RP1 is about as simple as record players get. It has a plain rectangular plinth with three rubber feet. As with any turntable, careful positioning is a must for the best results: just keep it away from the speakers and make sure the supporting surface is rigid and all will be fine.
The plinth carries a well-made main bearing and the RB 101 arm – a simplified version of Rega's highly regarded RB300 – plus a motor with a stepped pulley.
This allows a manual speed change where the drive belt is moved by hand between the pulley steps. A perfectly likeable Ortofon OMB5 cartridge completes the hardware.
Amazing sound for the money
Set-up is a breeze. The cartridge is pre-fitted and the ideal counterweight position is already marked on the arm. Just set the bias – just under 2 worked well – and place the Phenolic resin (posh plastic, in other words) platter in place, and off you go.
It doesn't take long to see that the RP1 is a terrific performer for the money. It sounds surefooted and confident whether playing a heavily used copy of Holst's The Planets or a factory fresh pressing of The XX's Mercury-prize winning debut. In each case the Rega digs up plenty of information.
The deck's dynamics are strong and there's a decent dose of rhythmic drive. It's clear the Ortofon cartridge limits transparency, but it's still balanced enough not to spoil things.
Pro-ject has rightly dominated the budget turntable market for the last decade or so with various versions of its Debut and Genie decks. The Rega RP1 is good enough to change all that.