|Rega's founder Roy Gandy having dinner at a Japanese|
restaurant in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday night. Next to
him is Kim S Tay, Rega's head of marketing for Asia.
Rega founder and owner Roy Gandy, who is in Kuala Lumpur for a short visit, said the RP1, which will be launched soon will be priced higher than the P1 it replaces.
Does that mean it will be the end of the legendary RB250 (called RB251 in the P2) tonearm?
"Not really," said Roy. Rega will still make the RB251 tone arm on an OEM basis for other manufacturers like Origin Live and Michell.
However, he added that OEM orders come only once a while. "A company may order 100 tone arms and you don't hear from them for a few years," he said.
The RP1, which will have a platter made of phenolic resin instead of the HDF (high-density fibreboard) used to make the P1's platter, also features numerous improvements in other areas especially its tonearm which has only one joint instead of four in the previous model.
Its counterweight will also be easily slipped into the end stub for convenient adjustment of tracking force.
Roy has very strong views on lots of things concerning hi-fi and turntables - his opinion on VTA, for example, is well known.
But during the dinner on Wednesday at a Japanese restaurant in Starhill Gallery, much of the discussion centred on the definitions of an audiophile and a music lover.
Roy stressed that his turntables and other products are for the music lovers while turntables built like oil rigs are for "people who don't want to listen to music".
Hi-fi followers who like to tweak their equipment are audiophiles who are possibly "neurotic" and want to get the perfect sound which is unattainable. "Is there a perfect turntable? Is there a perfect woman?" he asked.
"Engineering a turntable is about compromising to achieve a goal. It's about the best compromise," he said.
Roy also has strong views about tangential arms which he called "a red herring" and BBC-designed speakers.
Since the lathe cuts the grooves of a record in a straight line, some people feel a tangential arm tracks the grooves more accurately. Tangential arms do not have a strong and stable pivot point (since some have an air bearing) and the tracking error of plus-minus 1.5 per cent is not much better than a normal tone arm.
As for BBC-inspired speakers like the famed LS3/5A, he finds them sounding dull and undynamic.
He's also against the numerous after-market products touted to improve the performance of Rega turntables.
"Almost all the tweaks we have tried have worsened the sound of Rega turntables. Rewiring the tone arm is definitely not recommended as the wire is too stiff.
"Underslung counterweights are also not recommended. They are meant for unipivot tone arms," he said. Unipivots are also not good designs as they do not have stable pivot points.
Expectedly, the conversation drifted to iPods and MP3 music.
Roy felt that CDs produced quite good music quality but iPods and MP3 players sounded bad, but that was actually good for his business because people started to want better quality music.
About two years ago, more turntables were sold than CD players, according to industry reports.
Just a few weeks ago, he heard of teenagers aged 16 and 18 who bought turntables. One of them had inherited his parents' record collection but the turntable was broken. It was the first time in years that he had heard of people so young buying turntables.
Asked about hires files, he said they sound as good as CDs.
"Will Rega manufacture digital streaming players (like Linn)?"
"It's beyond my understanding why anybody would want to buy a digital streaming player. What's wrong with a laptop as a digital music streamer?"
Roy, who is known to probably all the turntable manufacturers in the world, somehow found it hard to name one of his rivals that he respects.
After much scratching of his head, he said: "Michell...Linn in the 1970s (when they launched the LP12). Turntables from Garrard and Lenco had the engineering done right. Connoisseur was also a good turntable."
Roy was reluctant to talk about the successor to the Rega P9 (reportedly named P10 in several websites and online forums) even though Rega's CEO Phil Freeman, who was in Kuala Lumpur in February, had divulged some details.
"We're working on numerous projects at the same time and some will make it to the market like the RP1 and the DAC," he said.