REGA-L AFFIRMATION

Imagine the excitement. First turntable purchase in over twenty years.

Frown at the brain-bending decision: what to get?

Stagger under the swirling weight of unanswerable questions. What will suit the rest of the system best? How does a Hi-Fi shop audition translate to a suburban lounge-room?

Quiver at the realisation this is the biggest purchase—after home and car—you’ve ever made.

Reflect on the provenance of the funds; a lump of inheritance quarantined after the passing of the patriarch a dozen or more year earlier, sitting quietly in an interest bearing account this past decade, supplemented by occasional small injections.

Puzzle at the problem of comparing your two short-listed turntables—Linn Sondek and Rega Planar—in two retailers ten miles apart across congested Melbourne.

Sigh with relief when you discover a reputable Hi-Fi dealer who sells both and is willing to set up a compare and contrast demo.

Prevaricate intensely about what albums to select for auditioning these two Formula One record spinners.

Perspire quietly as you strain to hear differences between the Majik LP12 and the RP10.

Sweat profusely as you realise the differences are slight but noticeable, yet neither better nor worse; more minute variations in colour and texture and space.

Savour the rich dialects of the english-speaking world as you learn from the helpful Scots salesman a new verb perfectly describing the process of oscillating between two options: to swither.

Swither agonisingly through a couple more test tracks until you realise both these units are utterly marvellous and either will provide many years of listening pleasure. So just take a bloody deep breath and decide.

Ten minutes and a phone call later

There are no Rega Planar RP10 turntables in the entire country.

Two hours later

Ms Connection thought it hilarious my new toy had to be specially ordered from the very county in the UK where she lived her entire life until transported to the colonies two decades ago. She cheerily offered to collect one from the factory in Essex; just to be helpful, you understand. I laughed a hollow laugh and distracted myself by pondering which record should have the honour of the inaugural spin.

CAV grab

Three weeks later

After crossing hemispheres and oceans in a big brown box emblazoned with a Union Jack, the RP10 arrived, no doubt relieved to be escaping the plebiscite insanity. Fitted with an Ortofon Black cartridge* by Darren, the same helpful Scot, it was collected from Carlton Audio Visual on a Saturday afternoon and gingerly transported the much shorter distance across north-eastern Melbourne to a new home at Vinyl Connection headquarters.

The bits were unpacked and carefully assembled. Soon I was holding the last piece—the weighty platter, white vitrified ceramic allegedly tougher than tempered steel—which was deemed by Ms Connection to be the prettiest pizza stone she’d ever seen. I assured her with another hollow laugh that an extra-large white truffle pizza garnished liberally with saffron shredded by Indian princesses and served with a 1964 Penfolds Grange would be a bargain compared to this particular oven tray.

A day or two later

‘It’s odd,’ I confided to Ms Connection, ‘But I’m slightly nervous about using the new turntable.’

‘I’m not surprised,’ she replied supportively, ‘I’m terrified being in the same room as it.’

‘Anyway, I haven’t decided what to christen it with, something old or something new.’

‘Or something borrowed, something blue. Is it bigamy if your partner is intimate with a posh turntable? Just asking.’

I laughed a hollow laugh and popped a breath mint into my mouth.

The next day

The old-new-borrowed-blue thing got me thinking. Not about intimate relations with a piece of hi-fi kit, but about albums that might be both familiar yet new. What came to mind was a new double LP I’d bought a few weeks ago but not yet spun** which seemed to fit both categories.

Roger Dean does a fine Hipgnosis

Roger Dean does a fine Hipgnosis

In 2001 Yes mounted a short tour with the European Festival Orchestra. It’s the sort of thing some bands see as a kind of maturational rite of passage. Indeed, Yes were repeat offenders, having played and recorded with the London Philharmonic in 1993. I have an abiding suspicion of such projects and thus roundly ignored this millennial indulgence… until stumbling upon it in the mark-down section of a large retailer some two or three years ago. Two-DVD set, great song-list, right price: sold.

Surprisingly, Yes: Symphonic Live is excellent. The band are in fine form—particularly Jon Anderson—and the orchestral arrangements are tight and tasteful. So when I happened across the 2LP vinyl release of concert highlights, I was tempted#.

Symphonic Live would be a perfect first spin: a band I’ve loved forever playing familiar music draped in borrowed orchestral raiment in a novel setting, the entirely blue Amsterdam Concertgebouw. That last bit  is made up; I just hoped not to feel blue by the end of the inaugural spin.

Rega Yes 4

With massive relief I can report that both turntable and album passed the test.

The RP10 is superb; musical, accurate, beautifully defined and able to track the dynamic changes of this complex music with understated panache. There is an openness and warmth that I enjoy these days in my hi-fi: Alan White’s drums crisp without brittleness, the liquid lightning of Steve Howe’s guitar lines articulate and bright, agility in conveying Chris Squire’s supple bass-lines, and faithful translation of the human voice, Anderson soaring wonderfully above band and orchestra. Keyboard stand-in Tom Brislin subs brilliantly, by the way. As for the orchestra, their fills were subtle and deep, often providing enriching contrast to the rock band out front.

Opening the concert with the side-long ‘Close to the edge’ was ambitious, but after a slightly distracted start (not nerves, surely?), this Yes cornerstone really picked up energy and power. Odd seeing someone not Rick Wakeman playing the organ solo on an electronic keyboard, but that’s life in a forty-year-old band folks. The LP highlights popular Yes hits, which is a tad disappointing for Relayer-addicts (‘Gates of delirium’ is really exciting on the DVD) but would satisfy more casual fans. The orchestra lifts some of the old material refreshingly; ‘And you and I’ made my heart swell and ‘Long distance runaround’ provoked a smile of delight. Even the newer songs are OK.

As the applause at the end of ‘Roundabout’ faded, I joined the celebration and spontaneously emitted a sound of appreciation and gratitude that could well be described as a right royal chortle. Not a hollow laugh to be heard.

Rega RP 10 Power

 

* Funds did not stretch to the recommended moving coil cartridge and anyway, the VC amplifier has only MM capacity.

** Such is the backlog of acquisitions, an obscene number of records sit quietly in the ‘unplayed’ section for long periods, awaiting their moment on the platter.

# Which is VC code for ‘bought it’. Where music is concerned, resisting temptation is an unknown concept.

## Especially on a new turntable. [That’s the gloating bit.]

Footnote for Yes trainspotters

The Symphonic Live DVD (2 discs, 194 minutes including ‘bonus’ documentary) was released in 2001. A double CD set arrived in 2009, containing the entirety of the music on two 75 minute discs. Music on Vinyl released the double album a further six years later in 2015. The latter has about half the concert. This is disappointing, but the full monty would have been a 4LP monster. Get the DVD if you love Yes; it really is a very good performance and the sound quality is outstanding##.

Yes - Symphonic Live LP DVD

 

36 comments

  1. What a wonderful tale and acquisition, Bruce. That Rega Planar RP10 is an enthusiast’s dream to view (and am sure to hear). Sounds like a beautiful setup and cartridge pairing. Congratulations… and make sure Mrs. VC doesn’t hear too many coos or see extra loving caresses thrown the table’s way…best to keep both happy and appreciated. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. I’m playing the ‘Oh, it’s just a bit of gear’ card with absolute conviction (not).
      Thanks for your comments, Michael. ‘Preciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m just trying to keep my envy in check. You’ve inspired me to open up the new 4-LP ‘Pure McCartney’ and play it on my lowly vintage Dual 1249 to buoy my spirits. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Honesty compels me to reveal that I am a little uncomfortable with the flaunting aspect, but couldn’t resist telling the story Michael.
          Anyway, the best turntable is the one that plays music you love!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael H · · Reply

    Great article, Bruce! I have that particular performance on DVD, and not only did the reinterpretations of the classic pieces sound vibrant and inspired, but the tracks performed from `Magnification’ (probably their last grand musical statement and a seriously good Yes album) stood proud as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael H · · Reply

    Oh, and I loved the dorky but gorgeous choir members too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You bet. I wanted to dance on stage with them at the end!

      Like

  4. Congrats on the new purchase and may your acts of prevarication be over. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wouldn’t that be great! Make one (albeit) substantial decision and thereafter all decisions are a piece of cake. Ah.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Welcome to the new member of the family Bruce – they grow up so fast!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seems like only yesterday that I was bringing home the Thorens TD280… I had hair then…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Swither me timbers!
    A touch of envy here.
    Must get hold of some Yes to take away on holiday later this month.
    (Will be played on a XW-BTSA1 Pioneer Bluetooth -!!!- that I will take with me to Coffs Harbour).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Few holiday destinations would not be improved by addition of some Yes soundtracking. Coffs sounds warm and wonderful. Enjoy!

      Like

  7. Yas! New turntable! I’ve been considering such a thing myself (as well as a change to my current stereo set-up, of course), but reckon, realistically, I’m a bit away from such a thing.

    Anyhoo, really liked this post and I’m pleased that the swithering paid off. I shall listen to The Yes Album to celebrate! (It’s still the only Yes I have!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘The Yes Album’ (as we’ve agreed before) is an absolutely fine Yes-pad. Hope you enjoy it!
      As for upgrading the kit, it is a slow, incremental process for me too. I’ve managed to upgrade speakers, amp and now turntable… across 9 years!
      Still, a chap has to have a dream, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do indeed – I’ve actually been meaning to write a wee bit about it, but, y’know, time. Bah.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. So…..you bought a new turntable and leafed through your dictionary & thesaurus? Haha, just kidding, of course. Fantastic post, as I felt like I was part of the process as your new toy made its way across the miles.

    As for your choice of inaugural album, well done sir. I don’t own the vinyl, or even the CD set, but I did get the DVD when it was released and it remains one of my favorite Yes concert recordings. A great set list, the band still in top form and superb audio quality (especially the surround sound mix). What’s not to love?

    Enjoy all the albums that will be played in the coming days & weeks. You’ve earned it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rich.
      Delighted to have a KT-VC ‘SNAP!’ on ‘Symphonic Live’. It really is an enjoyable concert experience and one of the few DVDs I’ve played more than once!

      Like

  9. Good on you Bruce, how many times a day do you you just stare at it lovingly? caress it even? or is that a private matter?

    Since most of my records involve a lot of shouting and there’s the whole ‘LP now or gear later’ dilemma, I’ve never really looked into proper hi-fi. I’d be too worried about not knowing the right things to say in a proper shop like that and showing myself up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There have been shy, perhaps even soppy, glances in the direction of the platter spinning object, but until my unexpurgated memoir hits the press, I’ll remain coy, of that’s OK.

      Buying a bit of kit is pretty straightforward in terms of process, really. You decide where to start (amplifier is a solid beginning) then, on entering the lair of your dealer of choice, you answer the question, ‘What’s your budget?’ and the rest simply unfolds. Magic!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Magic indeed! I’ll wait for the graphic novel version of your memoir.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Was wondering about a Lego version. My people will talk to your people.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. That is one beautiful machine and a equally lovely review.

    Like

    1. Why thank you Sir (from Ms Rega and I).

      Like

  11. Good review. Curious as to whether you think these live versions differ enough for one to pick this set up if they already own the studio versions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jim. Thanks for visiting. In this case, due to the addition of the vibrant young orchestra, the answer is ‘Yes’. For me, they’ve always been a great live band and I like all the official live recordings, starting with YesSongs, but I was surprised just how much I enjoyed ‘Symphonic Live’. As I mentioned, the DVD is excellent as it has much more music on it. Recommended.

      Like

      1. Thanks I’ll check it out. It’s been a while since I sat and listened to Yes. Overdue.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Christobel · · Reply

    I am delighted you chose Yes for your christening. Perhaps G & I could have a listen next pizza night as we share a love of Yes?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Too right! Over the years, Ms Connection has come on board too so All Good People can groove together. 🙂

      Like

  13. […] might know from his playing on the rather brilliant Symphonic Live DVD/album featured not long ago here at Vinyl Connection. Another is inventive bass player Jonas Reingold, a Flower Kings alumnus as well as some-time […]

    Like

  14. I feel your “Love”. (That sounds kinda weird but I think you get it). I’ve been listening to a lot of ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ related music lately. How come when someone really digs something it’s infectious? Turntable aside, it’s very cool to see someone give a band it’s due. CB’s heading for a workout and a little ‘Yes’ related accompaniment will be in order.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if you could dance to Yes music, you would be limber indeed! Sweat it out, dude.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not much sweating involved. ‘Danger Money’ by UK was the choice. No Yes guys on this one. Our buddy John Wetton though.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sad loss. Vale John Wetton.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. No offence, but reading this I feel intense relief that I’m partially deaf and so am spared such trauma – pretty much everything sounds like it’s being played on a Walkman to me. I do however recognise the paralysis that goes with choosing the record for an inaugural occasion. During 20 years living in London I moved house on average once a year and eventually had to make a ritual of playing the same album whenever I set up the stereo anew. Probably the only time in fact that I listened to Green River by Creedence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Creedence would be a perfect house move record, I reckon. Box-boogie bliss.

      Like

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