Help me decide between these two turntable/cartridge combinations


In about 6 weeks I plan to pull the trigger on a new turntable/cartridge combination. I have narrowed it down, and am torn between the following two:

·         Rega Planar 8 with Apheta 2 Cartridge ($4295)

·         EAT C-Sharp with Ortofon Quintet Black ($3,995)

These two turntable/cartridge combinations are at the very limit of what I can spend – in fact the Rega is really pushing the limit. I’m looking at these combinations because of the discount that comes from bundling these cartridges with the turntable – plus they come installed from the factory.

One of the requirements I have is that the turntable must have a low profile – the total height cannot exceed 5.3 inches. This rules out other models like ones from VPI, Pro-Ject, etc.

These two turntables take totally different approaches – with the Rega being very lightweight and rigid, vs. the EAT which weighs three times what the Rega weighs.

The equipment I would be using it with – a Parasound P6 preamp and A21 Power Amplifier, and B&W 702s2 speakers with DB4S Subwoofer. The listening area is a finished basement – wall-to-wall carpeted with padding underneath, on top of concrete, so a good strong foundation is in place.

I listen to about 50% classical, 25% Jazz/Blues and 25% classic rock. Most of my records are fairly high quality – MoFi Original Master Recordings, Deutsche Grammophon, etc.

I’ve searched through this forum – the Rega has received great comments (as well as great reviews from the magazines). Not as much on the EAT, although Absolute Sound was fairly positive. I found it interesting in this forum someone got the EAT and returned it due to mechanical noise/vibration (through the Audio). They replaced it with the Rega P8 which did not have this problem.

One possible concern – I sometimes play my records loud, and my speakers are only about 4-5 feet away from where the turntable is. I’m wondering which of these two might be better under these circumstances. It does not seem to be a problem with my current turntable – a 35 year old Bang and Olufsen 2404 turntable with MMC-2 cartridge.

Comments? Which one would you prefer and why, or would you recommend some other table/cartridge combination that is low profile and under $4,000?
btanchors
Well first off neither one of these is gonna disappoint, both will easily take you places never dreamed of by B&O. That said my turntable philosophy tends to favor mass. In this case though the mass is low-tech MDF. And they can say what they want about it being ultra-high density, whatever, its still compressed wood particles in a glue bound matrix. So they cover it with carbon fiber. Big deal. I've worked with carbon fiber. My whole turntable is made out of it. Did I mention I built my own turntable? So I know. Carbon fiber is great but not sufficient in itself. 

The thing about the Rega, its a filter-down of technology from a much more expensive higher performance table. EAT is pretty good but it will be years, if ever, by the time they have high tech like that to filter down. They are still trying to figure out what exactly the appropriate high tech is. Rega has decades on them.

Okay so its a stretch. Big deal. Unlike most of the other audio gear you could buy with that money the Rega is one you can run for years. I've got 15 years on my table.

That's about the only other thing you might want to consider, longevity and future upgrades. You're at a price point where I usually recommend staying away from packages and buying turntable, arm, and cartridge separately. Even if bought all together. What I mean is stay away from either of these and look for a really good table with an arm you like and a decent cartridge, in that order. Because this makes it so much easier down the road to upgrade just the arm, or even just the table. This is a lot harder with package tables like Rega, EAT, VPI, etc. Also because when upgrading its a whole lot easier to save up $5k for a killer arm than $20k for a killer turntable package. Plus you get way more performance for your money.

But that's about it. Separates are the ultimate, but if you can't see yourself going that way then it doesn't matter. Go with the Rega, and never look back.
Get the Rega and put the Ortofon on it.
$4500 of table/cartridge is enough to get the idea of what the fuss is all about.

Personallly, I would lean toward Rega, just because of past experience with one.
Possibly, as  close to plug and play there is?

Don't mean a thing without a proper phono stage. I wish I could have phrased that like the Duke Ellington tune!
https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=Awr9Ik0BCtBdBDUAFTrBGOd_;_ylu=X3oDMTEyaHFuNjFnBGNvbG8

 Don't cheap out on this critical piece.

I eyeballed my setup. I don't have the luxury to NOT have the rack on either side not in the center,  between the speakers. I do however see that with the speakers out 5 feet from the front wall, the left speaker is only about 4' from the table.

No issues with ridiculous volume due to a kick ass R&R stamper being played.
millercarbon - very thoughtful response.  I find it interesting that your philosophy favors mass, yet you recommended the low mass Rega.  However, your comments about MDF are well-taken.  Also, your comments about separate turntable components are also well-taken, but given the discount you get by getting the package I thnk allows me to get better value for the money.  Plus, I have to face it - My wife struggles to understand how anyone would possibly spend $4K on a turntable.  I've gotten away with lots of expenditure on this system so far, so I don't think separate turntable components are in my future.

mijostyn - I am puzzled by your comment.  Do you think the Ortofon Quintet Black is that much better than the Apheta 2, which is nearly twice the price?  Or do you dislike the Apheta 2 that much?  Can you tell me your reasoning?  Also, I would not get the package discount by putting the Ortofon - I would have to purchase it separately.


tablejockey - Agree using the Phono stage in the P6 is not optimal - eventually I plan to get a separate phono stage, but can only afford to focus on one component at a time, and given my current turntable/cartridge is 35 years old, that is the current priority.
FWIW, I don't have any experience with the tables/cartridges you mentioned but I do have a friend who switched from using the phono stage in his P6 to a schiit Mani with a Swagman linear power supply and the sound quality improved, especially the record noise, e.g., ticks, pops, etc. I think the total cost was around $300USD. By the way, I also still have and use my B&O 2404 table with the MMC-2 cartridge I bought new back in late eighties as my backup and I think it's still a great sounding piece. Its also very forgiving to the surrounding vibrations and that's something you'll need to take into account when moving to these other tables. 
Please allow me to add a third contender: Acoustic Solid.
AS is a German manufacturer that makes much more interesting tables than the EAT/Pro-Ject and Rega you are looking to - imho.
To your budget, the best fit is the Solid Metal 111. It weighs almost 4 times the Rega 8. Very solid indeed!
I guess in the US the whole package with AS tonearm and cartridge you set you back around US$3500. In comparison to the Rega and EAT, it is much easier to upgrade the AS in the future - from deck to motor, not to forget the smart tonearm base system that allows a much easier change of tonearms and is not length restrictive afaik.
I am not sure whether is possible to attach a second arm base in this particular model but you can ask the dealer.
I´ve just googled and found a dealer in Canada. I don’t know if there is a US distributor.

I am not a fan of Rega, having owned a Planer 3 back in the 90’s. I found the sound very lightweight with the denuded Blue Point cartridge I was using.  If the EAT has a lot more mass that the Rega, I would go for it.  Personally, I would take the Technics SL1200G at 4 grand over either of the two tables you picked. 
I’m also not a Rega fan, having owned a Planar 3 from ’97 -- ’19.
And considering the praise the Planar 3 got, I don’t trust the review of any of their turntables. If You deside on the Rega - be sure to measure the speed of it before You insert Your card.
EAT makes a good impression - millecarbons remarks are wrong; EAT is the brainchild of Jozefina Lichtenegger, the wife of Pro-Ject founder Simon(?) Lichtenegger. They have some experience.
The E.A.T riaa amplifiers are magnificent (according to rewievs at least).
However - if it where my mony - they would go to the germans; Acoustic Solid or TransRotor.
Myself, lacking the funds, went for a 1981 model Technics SL-1210.
Lucky me!
Anyway; good luck and good listening!
@btanchors, dare we ask why the 5.3inch height restriction? I mean do you really want to rule out the Technics 1200G from your equations on the sake of mere centimetres?

However if it has got to be between one of these, a top Rega or a top Pro-Ject I would go for the latter. The Rega has very little other than rubber feet to offer any resistance to resonance control, whereas the Eat has only that stupid stabiliser/clamp to worry about.

Like stereo5 above I once owned a Rega 3 and whilst it was good I always felt it was a little bandwidth limited.

The Eat C Sharp is also considerably less expensive. I know the Pro-Ject Classic is a great deck so I'm going to assume that the Eat should be at least as good. 








How will you get the EAT clamp on and off with 5" to play with?!
I have a rather expensive stereo cabinet that has sentimental value.  The top shelf will only accommodate up to about a 5.3 inch tall turntable.  The cabinet has a lid that opens and closes, but if the turntable is higher than 5.3 inches, the lid on the cabinet will hit it.  So, I would open the lid to access the turntable, then close the lid when not using the turntable.

I did look at the  Technics 1200G turntable, but it costs $4,000 without a cartridge.  I need the cost to top out at about $4,000 including cartridge...
Go with the EAT table/cartridge over the Rega. Not a big fan of the Ortofon but would still take it over the Rega cartridge.
I replaced  a VPI HRX table with VPI 12.7 arm with the C-Sharp table and C-Note arm. Wasn't even close. Using an Airtight PC-1 Supreme  cartridge the EAT played quieter, warmer bigger sound, and held speed better than the ADS from VPI.
It's also been reliable for two years. 

You can get the 1200G for less than $4000 and still have enough funds for a Hana SL or other cartridge up to $1000 and still be within budget.

tom_hankins -

What are your concerns/dislikes regarding the Apheta 2?  You must have some serious issues with it to accept an Ortofon (which you are also not a fan of) over the Apheta 2.  What are they?
@ericsch...................

who sells theTechnics SL1200G for less than 4 grand?
Sorry for the late reply bt. Yes, the Ortofon is a better cartridge. It has a better stylus, it tracks better and although I really have nothing to back this up I feel it is made better. Ortofon has way more experience building cartridges than Rega. Although I give Rega kudos for unique suspension geometry I do not think it represents an improvement. It might even be to the contrary. Their marketing is also a bit odd since they use the same damping material other cartridges use just in a different position relative to the coil. Look at a blow up of the very end of the cantilevers. The Rega stylus (very tall by the way which is bad) is mounted the old fashioned way through a hole in the crimped end of the cantilever which is more than likely aluminum ( I can't find that spec anywhere) The Ortofon In the modern low mass way is glued directly to the end of a sapphire cantilever second only to boron a diamond in stiffness. This results in a lower tip mass which is critical for tracking. The Ortofon is listed a 80 um. Only one cartridge in their line up does better, the Windfeld Ti @ 90 um. The Rega spec again is not published. Go with the Pro's and get the Ortofon. If you have to spend more money get the Cadenza Blue but I would make the jump to the Cadenza Black. You also Have the Lyra Delos, another excellent cartridge for the money. 
Now as far as MDF is concerned it is without question the best value in an extremely well damped material. It is possible to make extraordinary things with the stuff. It gets a bad rap because it is so common and low tech but when used correctly it is hard to beat within a mile of the price.
Is it indicative of an inferior product? Not at all. I made a plinth for a friend of 4 " thick MDF veneered in Cocobolo for a Thoren's TD 124 II and I do not think you could make a more handsome, functional plinth (with hinged dust cover). It is stiff, massive and extremely well damped. I made him a matching cocobolo tonearm board for his SME. The table was rebuilt and the chassis was powder coated gloss black so the whole thing looks killer. 
OP here are the facts about the Rega RP 8/Alpheta 2 combo.
We are long time Rega dealers and the combo is fantastic, musical and super easy to setup.

We have found that the Rega RP8/Alpheta 2 combo is unbeatable for the price.

The new Rega RP 8 and the 10 are based on the $30k Nyiad test bed reference table that is Roy Gandy's ultimate expression of a low mass design.

Unlike EAT Rega makes the Alpeta 2 to work perfectly with the matching tonearm, EAT uses an Ortophon which is an excellent cart but this cart is not designed to work specifically with the EAT tonearm. 

We were looking at switching to the EAT table but the Ortophon cart that came with the table wasn't in the same league as the Alpheta 2 cart and that was based on the previous version.
😊

The Rega Planner 8 is a $3,700.00 table the Alpheta 2 is an $1,900 cart.
the 2 together should cost $5,400.00 the two purchased together are $4,300.00 which is a $1,200.00 off the price, so for the money you are getting a really good phono cart.

The Alpheata 2 is an exceptional cart that is way more musical than the Alpheta 1 which had a peak on the top end, the new Alpheta 2 is fast and articulate and very musical.

Rega's new products are really fantastic and are way better in terms of musical qualities over the older Rega products.

We have played our demo Rega P8/Alpheta combo for people through out the years and people are always totally blown away by the sound of the Rega P8/Alpheta 2 combo, the newest Planner 8 Alpheta is a dramatic improvement over the previous version and in terms of pace, rhythmic timing, and articulation. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ  Rega dealers
Now the dealer chimes in bringing "facts" about his products, thanks for illuminating us the consumers
Don´t forget to advise him to play records only with the windows closed since a mild wind is able to destroy the soundstage
@gallus, naughty - but nice nevertheless.

What with Shure exiting the cartridge business Ortofon must now be up there with the very best.

As for Rega, well they used to be renowned for making good quality products at pocket friendly prices. Roy Gandy used to say he didn't want to follow in the footsteps of others (such as Linn).

I really hope that this is still the case.


What a great place to " carefully" and indirectly plug your place of business.
Have you considered anything on the used market? Perhaps you'll be able to get more fidelity for less money compared to new. Plus, you might meet a nice, friendly, informed audiophile during the transaction, especially if you can find someone selling locally.
Kcomess, many people love the idea of a simple and elegant setup that works right out  of the box.

One of the strongest attributes of both of these tables is the cart is premounted, well it is on the Rega, would assume the EAT is also premounted.

So the vinyl neophyte can just unbox, put the platter on and do tracking force and is good to go.

A used table may have bearing damage or may have an issue with compatibility in cart that may be in a price range that the buyer would want.

Yes it is possible to get a better used table but then you open yourself to useage issues, setup issues, and possibly warranty issues.

For this reason many people prefer to purchase a well setup well matched trouble free analog rig that comes with an excellent cart and the work has been done by the manufactuer to match everything together perfectly.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Rega dealers