Rega RP1 review

Simply doesn't sound like a budget record player Tested at £230

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Best turntable up to £400, Awards 2011. The RP1 is a great buy. It’s a budget deck that doesn’t sound like one


  • +

    Easy to use and set-up

  • +

    fine build


  • -

    Nothing at this price level

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

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.

MORE: Best turntables to buy 2014

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test