Rega Clear Turntable Lid
Rega Research Ltd. is a British audio equipment manufacturer. Rega was founded in 1973. The company’s name was formed of the initials of its two founders (RElph & GAndy). Rega are widely known for their turntables – most notably the iconic Rega Planar 3, cartridges and tonearms, and has produced award-winning amplification and speakers for over 20 years.
Roy was working for Ford as a technical editor but spent most of his free time installing friend’s hi-fi equipment and building loudspeakers to sell. He became a part time retailer and found he had to spend a ridiculous amount of time repairing new turntables before his conscience and common sense would allow him to sell them to others!
Out of frustration and a strong feeling he could do better, the Planet turntable was born. The first turntables were sold through Cosmocord in the UK and a year later under the Rega name in West Germany, Denmark and France.
Roy was now able to leave Ford; he collected a redundancy check and promptly blew it on a factory in Rochford. Soon after the partnership with Tony Relph split, Roy swapping his share of Rega. Terry Davies joined as Rega’s financial administrator.
In 1975 the Planar 2 was developed and quickly took its place in the market as the finest budget turntable. In June 1977 HI-FI News and Record Review announced the Planar 3 saying “The complete unit is worth a look”! Rega’s usual blaze of non-publicity.
By 1980 Rega employed thirteen staff, exported to twelve countries, had twenty UK dealers and there were those dreaded ‘waiting lists’, mainly by eager customers shop-hopping!
In 1980 Roy found an old mill (Park Street) in a residential area in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. The building had been deserted for twenty years and judging by the rot, seemed to have a millstream still running through it! Rega snapped it up for £30,000 and turned it into a compact but highly functional hi-fi factory, liberally painted bright green.
In 1983 after five years of dabbling and two years of intensive development, the RB300 and RB250 tonearms were produced. For ten years Rega had used Japanese and Danish manufactured arms on the turntables but after some searching Roy found a casting company prepared to work with him to develop an entirely new production method enabling the one-piece tube to be cast.
Rega won an international award for the RB300 casting, presented by Modern Metals ‘awarded in open competition for excellence in the field of Aluminium Die Casting’. In their accompanying letter they wrote: ‘we are still trying to figure out how you produce such a long cored hole so accurately’. This made up for never winning any prizes breeding budgies!
For five years, Rega sold a cartridge, the R100, made to specification in Japan. This was followed by the RB100, which was designed and developed by Rega. However, the cartridge had inevitable design limitations as it was being manufactured by an outside company.
In March 1988 the Bias and Elys cartridges went into production in house and sales exceeded 1000 in the first month, five times more than anticipated! The cartridges were a vital step on the way to a complete Rega system.