I love my part of Lancashire, but a world-first around here is quite unusual. However, recently I was invited to attend one of the very first public demonstrations in the world of the Rega Naia turntable, billed as the finest turntable that Rega knows how to build. My kind host was Ian at Vinyl Groove Audio (Thank you, Ian!). We were demonstrated one of the very first production models and as far as we know, our demonstration predated almost all others, hence the claim to a world-first!
The Rega Naia turntable showcases a unique skeletal base, which stands out for its compact and lightweight design. It incorporates a specialized construction with a Tancast 8 foam core flanked by layers of carbon fiber infused with Graphene. This foam core effectively minimizes the transfer of vibrations, while the carbon fiber surfaces enhance structural stability. To bolster the section between the arm base and primary bearing, ceramic braces are utilized, creating a reinforced beam configuration that prevents energy absorption without significantly increasing the overall weight. Rega strongly upholds the notion that excessive mass leads to energy absorption and, consequently, a loss of musical quality.
The Naia turntable uses no less than three belts to transfer power from the 24V motor. This motor is designed for reduced noise and is regulated by an external power source. The power unit is contained within a practical half-width enclosure and provides electronic switching capabilities for both 33⅓ and 45 RPM speeds. Within the power supply, advanced circuitry employs DSP technology and a high-stability crystal to guarantee the motor receives a clean and highly accurate power supply. Each unit is meticulously calibrated during manufacturing to match its associated motor, minimizing vibrations in the process.
The Naia’s tonearm makes extensive use of titanium rather than aluminium. This material and the redesigned bearing assembly provide a lighter and stiffer design. It has a shiny finish, but more important is its extreme precision and low friction bearings.
You can find a conventional review and more information at What Hifi?
The turntable is an expression of engineering excellence and material science taken to the nth degree and beyond. It is a showcase of British engineering at its best, and as a British engineer (albeit of the software variety) I bask in its reflected glory. And yes, it does sound fabulous.
But (and you could sense there was one coming couldn’t you?) in spite of my hifi obsession, one might say addiction, it does not tempt me to fall off my hifi buying wagon. For one thing, £12,500 including the cartridge is a sizable chunk of my pension pot designed to keep me clothed and fed for the rest of my life. But it’s a more emotional reaction than that. My recently acquired Linn LP12 is also an engineering marvel, albeit from a previous age. But my relationship with it is emotional. It has been an object of desire for most of my adult life. The process of playing a vinyl record is an emotional one.
My relationship with the Rega is unemotional, almost sterile. Not that the music played on it lacks emotion, but it doesn’t generate the same emotions in me. I can admire it, but I can’t love it. My emotional response is similar to that from streaming, which led me back to vinyl in the first place. It’s not about how the music sounds: both the Rega and my Auralic Polaris sound magnificent and can play music that will evoke an emotional response from me. It’s about how I feel about the kit itself.
So I wish Rega luck with the Naia turntable. I applaud their sheer engineering genius – but I cannot fall in love with this turntable and so am safe from unwise temptation.