£225 Turntables would you choose?- Rega RP1, Project Essential (with phono amp and USB), or something else

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Aug 10, 2019
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Hi Everyone!

I'm new to this forum as I am returning to my third love (Music. After wife and baby girl) and, given my limited budget, I don't quite know what to get. I'm hoping you can all offer lots of valuable opinion and advice!

I'm looking for a budget turntable to play vinyl records on and listen to them (& not just convert my old stuff to mp3). Given my budget this has led me to consider the Rega RP1 but I also see Pro-ject also sell their "Essential" with a built in pre-amp and USB connectivity.

Both are the same price, both have the same cartridge, but with the Rega I'd have to buy a pre-amp as well, and because money is tight I'd have to buy a cheapy now and then save for a better pre-amp later (same story with all of my other, older Technics hi-fi kit).

Does anyone have an opinion on the best option? Would you choose something else?

I'm looking forward to your thoughts and to contributing to this forum as I rediscover hi-fi once more!

Many thanks!
 

nopiano

Well-known member
I would lean towards the RP1, and to pair it with Rega's Fono Mini pre-preamp. The latter was typically about £60 or less, but the matter is slightly complicated as they have just announced an A2D version with USB too. I'm not sure if this replaces the original (I think it does), and if so, the older model may be available for a reduced price.

Why the Rega? Well, it is made in the UK, rather than Eastern Europe, has great dealer and factory back-up, and probably has better long-term resale value. But it's a close call.

The Pro-Ject is a fine TT for the money, and they have many different models to choose from. If you chose one, I'd still say get one without the built-in phono stage if you have a hi-fi system in mind. But if mainly to digitise old LPs, then the USB version is easier.

The main alternative is a secondhand Rega Planar 2 or 3 for about the same money, from a dealer or a well-known auction site.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
:) Thanks for your thoughts.

Although I'm likely to be changing my Technics system I don't think it's going to be for a while. Speakers, cables & interconnects will probably come first! If I was to go for the Rega I'd have a look at the Fono Mini pre-amp but as I'm restricted budget I'd probalby find something as cheap as chips and upgrade at a later date.

I've just found the Pro-ject at £209 so I find myself leaning towards that, but I can't deny that I prefer the overall look and sturdiness of the Rega.

I've looked at second hand Planar's and it's a thought I've not dismissed just yet. Is it fair to say that Rega beats Pro-Ject hands down?

Thanks for your advice!
 

nopiano

Well-known member
rubberlips said:
Is it fair to say that Rega beats Pro-Ject hands down?
Well, I cannot speak from direct personal auditions, and when I mentioned a 'close call' above I meant overall - but it unintentionally looked more like I was referring to resale value - sorry! Even if they were the pretty much the same, the Rega has a factory upgrade for £80, and countless aftermarket tweaks. And it has just won the WHF Award for best TT under £400. So I think the Rega is a better bet, though not by a huge amount.

I recently chose my Michell for similar reasons (British, great engineering, upgradeable) over similarly priced, and costlier, Pro-Jects. Though many dealers had Pro-Jects, I didn't find anyone who placed them top of their lists. However, they have a great range and an enthusiastic importer so I'd not rule them out. The importer sometimes sells off slightly marked items on ebay.

Talking of which, there is currently a 3 month old RP1 for £150 in the same place, if you are near the SW of England!
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Why not ask a local dealer for a discount on buying a Fono Mini and an RP1? I purchased the very same two items and was amazed at how much I them for. Worth a try. :)
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
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Do keep in mind that a nice used Rega Planar 3 can be had for this sort of money. If going the new route I'd suggest either the Rega RP1 or the Project Debut 3. I've got a Genie 3 and a Debut 3 and the Debut is the better deck IMO. The Essential is a cheaper model than either.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
494
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19,270
On balance, forget the Projects. The Rega is much nicer and better built. Had a look at the RP1 again today. Very nice deck, particularly with the performance pack. I'm going for an RP3 myself.
 

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