Rega Aphelion 2
moving coil cartridge
Friday, May 22, 2020
One of the first notes I made after installing the Aphelion 2 on a Rega P10: this is not going to be good for anyone’s vinyl habits. Three months and several hundred tracks later, I realized that not only does this capsule make you want to listen to more vinyl, but if the vinyl is from the same era as the recording, you won’t want to do anything else. In other words, remasters are worthless, not even the most audiophile ones in most cases. But let’s go back to the beginning… In appearance, the Aphelion 2 may look very similar to any of Rega’s metal-bodied moving coil cartridges, but there are small, yet significant differences that put it in a completely different league.
We’ve become accustomed to the idea that moving coil cartridges can cost several thousand pounds, but when a company with a strong value ethic like Rega produces one that costs around three times as much as the model below it, You have to ask yourself why. On paper, the differences between the Aphelion 2 and the Apheta 3 seem to be reduced to the boron cantilever of the first and the aluminum of the second, both have a “fine line” needle, an aluminum body, a tiny neodymium magnet and the Rega wire-free cantilever fixing system.
Phil Freeman, managing director of Rega, explained that things go much further; To begin with, the Aphelion has a more powerful magnet that allows for less winding in the iron cross at the top of the cantilever. In this case, a smaller mass means that the needle recovery is faster and the detail reading in the groove is more accurate. The Aphelion 2 has a very different “fine line” needle, since, instead of being tied to the tip, it is fixed in a slot at the end of the cantilever, so that the connection is more rigid. The critical element that differentiates this Aphelion from the previous one is the profile of the spire; This was developed with Ogura for Japan and is exclusive to Rega, it has fine ridges on the sides that are able to read more of the groove surface, thus delivering higher frequencies than other needle profiles.
The other key difference between Aphelion and Apheta is body grading, as Rega, just as Rega selects the best bearings for their high-end arms, they also evaluate each machined aluminum body and save the most accurate ones for the Aphelion model. The differences between the Apheta body and the Aphelion are tiny, too small to see without a magnifying glass, but not as small as the modulations of the vinyl groove: when it comes to maximum information extraction, any precision is not enough. That said, this was already true for the first Aphelion, which is still a fabulous capsule that I enjoyed for several years for its electrifying results, but the Aphelion 2 with its new stylus is a giant step forward in capsules of this type, It is a true milestone. Out of the box it seems to be on the bright side, it’s incredibly fast, but – after a few weeks – it settles down and leaves you with the most revealing full-resolution sound I’ve ever gotten from vinyl. This really has its pros and cons when it comes to my first assessment of the recordings, the differences between the early and later examples of 70s music is abysmal. Original recordings have always been in high demand for this reason, but the difference in sound quality has never been so enormous; I myself have started selling some highly valued audiophile recordings of classic albums because the older ones sound much more alive and exciting.
As a journalist I’m familiar with the thrill of finding a great component, just the one that reinvigorates my enthusiasm for the music I know well. It doesn’t happen very often, but it’s what makes this hobby so interesting and generally afterwards I can continue with my life and my hobby without any major problems. I’ve always had a clutter problem: I’ve never stored my records properly in the rush to play the next one. In truth this had not happened to me so often in recent times; Neither my Rega RP10 nor the subsequent P10, true turning points in vinyl playback, made me put out records and records hour after hour. However, the Aphelion 2 on the P10 offers a truly captivating musical experience, so much so that I keep swearing and perjuring out loud in an attempt to tone down my enthusiasm in my notes. Show biz kids by Steely Dan (Countdown to Ecstasy) is the first example of a track that I have played ad nauseam, but which gained a lot of detail with this turntable (and the capable assistance of a Tom Evans Groove+ SRX phono preamp), it is the milk , as my Irish cousins would say. A well-preserved pressing from the 70s Beefheart’s Clearspot It’s a serious improvement over the 180g repress of the 90s; The energy and life that the Aphelion 2 manages to extract from the grooves of the old version are glorious.
But even copies close to the originals of some albums don’t seem to have enough juice; Led Zeppelin IIIfor example, seems to have been cut to size for the dense sound of ’70s turntables. It wasn’t a bad commercial move at the time, but it’s notable that the more successful unnamed record that came later (known as LZ IV) has much more body, especially Black Dogabsolutely spectacular, with an amazing guitar. Rumors It also sounds magnificent, the balance is precise, demonstrating that great sound engineering passes the passage of time with flying colors. Another highlight that hit me like a bolt of lightning was Paranoid Android by Radiohead, where the intensity of the first guitar entry, the power of the voices that follow and the ferocity of the final guitar solo left me shaking like a leaf. This track has always been the best on OK Computer, but here it became a monumental hell without needing to give it a try; It’s all in the multi-layer image that produces so much detail.
I’m a speed geek – that’s it, I said it, where’s the anonymous geek group? Immediacy is what makes recorded music sound “real,” and the Aphelion 2 on the P10 does it so well that I can’t help but stay up late listening to music, old and new. Get a very wide bandwidth with a heavy bass, incredibly agile but also powerful. It has image scale, depth and three-dimensionality when the necessary information is in the groove and it achieves it with a tonal elegance that will elevate tube lovers to seventh heaven. In fact, this capsule turns your vinyl collection into a journey of discovery, where you will listen to each recording as it should and discover why it is that way. There are so many possibilities for variation when it comes to making a recording, from performance, studio, equipment and mixing to mastering that records should sound completely different from each other, although many turntable and cartridge combinations have a homogenizing nature. that blur these differences. This Rega combination does the opposite, it really brings to light what the artist, engineers and producers wanted. A good example is the fabulous Innervisions by Stevie Wonder, which has a certain warmth, but a fairly wide dynamic range for a pop album. At the other end of the spectrum, Television by Marquee Moon sounds thin and marked, but the music is powerful and palpable and the track Venus positively amazing. The Ocean is the ultimate solution by Zappa is such a strange composition of instruments and sounds that I had to research it thoroughly, in an attempt to verify the use of double bass and electric bass, several electric guitars and the intense percussion of Terry Bozzio. It’s a track that starts out like a jazz-rock rehearsal, but moves towards a not-so-appealing atonality towards the end, with the emphasis here being on the music rather than the sound, which makes the track interesting, but with no tendency to go down when the “difficult” part comes.
This capsule is a revelation, there is no other word for it. In combination with the Rega P10, it resolves details that you couldn’t imagine were in the groove, it delves into the myth of the warmth of vinyl to reveal that this format is as neutral and capable of great resolution as any, especially any format that offers A wide variety of materials to suit all tastes. If you want to know exactly what your records sound like, I highly recommend this cartridge.
Type: voice coil
Body: zero tolerance aluminum
Fine line nude cut diamond needle
Support force: 1.9g