In recent years, turntables have risen in popularity as a result of the vinyl comeback. Convenience outweighs any perceived flaws in this symbiotic relationship between old and modern. All you need is a turntable, a speaker, and some headphones or a wireless headphone system, not a complete hi-fi setup. After that, you may bask in the soft, comforting light of vinyl.
Cambridge Audio Alva TT vs Rega Planar 3 are both excellent record players, and most of them may be readily connected to your current audio system. Having tried both of them, these are the ones I like right now.
Let’s compare these two incredible turntables side by side so you can make an informed decision.
Rega Planar 3
- Type: Belt Drive
- Speeds: 33⅓, 45 RPM
- Cartridge Included: No
- Phono Preamp Included: Yes
At this pricing, we didn’t believe the Planar 3 could get much better. We couldn’t have been more incorrect. Rega’s renowned turntable has undergone a near-complete refurbishment and sounds better than ever.
- Whole range of design improvements
- Sounds terrific
- Lifetime warranty
- Combines best pace, rhythm and timing in class
- Superb build quality and finish.
- No built-in phono stage
Cambridge Audio Alva TT
- Cambridge Audio Alva TTType: Direct Drive
- Speeds: 33⅓, 45 RPM
- Cartridge Included: Yes
- Phono Preamp Included: Yes
For the first time, Cambridge Audio’s hi-res wireless Alva TT turntable has established itself as a standard. However, compared to other similarly specified products, it seems to be a reasonable price given what the firm is known for in the Hi-Fi industry.
- Simple to set up and use
- Bank-vault build quality
- Lovely, fluent sound
- Hi-res streaming
- Excellent specs
- Lacks ultimate dynamism
- Quite expensive
Comparison Chart: Cambridge Audio Alva TT vs Rega Planar 3
Design: Cambridge Audio Alva TT vs Rega Planar 3
Creating a turntable that doesn’t look like any other turntable is a challenge to the extreme. Even though sophisticated/anonymous* titanium gray may have been a more bright hue, that’s about it. Everyone knows that a turntable is a rectangle with a circle on it, and only the most daring companies attempt to deviate from this design pattern.
Rega claims that the redesigned Planar 3 is their most popular turntable, but we disagree, believing it to be very similar to the company’s previous turntables, with the exception of the surreal Planar 8 and Planar 10.
That’s not to say this turntable isn’t beautiful; the Pilkington Optiwhite float-glass platter and lightweight, high-gloss acrylic-laminated plinth give it a clean, contemporary look. It doesn’t matter whether you go with red, white, or black; it’s guaranteed to draw attention.
Even yet, there are a few small but attractive design touches throughout Cambridge. Just below the tonearm, the business logo is sunken into the plinth and the power on/off and speed selection controls are recessed into the plinth as well. At 305 millimeters in diameter, the platter is actually somewhat larger than any record you could ever place on it, made from a substantial piece of polyoxymethylene with a titanium core. The removable acrylic dust cover is the only new feature. Everything else is the same.
While Rega’s upgraded phenolic bracing have been added to the plinth to further enhance the sound quality, they are also designed to reduce undesirable resonance between the tonearm attachment and the main hub bearing.
Only the hand-assembled RB330 tonearm is visible since this is a manual turntable with no controls or switches on the plinth (the power button is buried beneath).
This has a revised bearing and a new bearing housing, both of which are intended to reduce friction during playback. The Planar 3’s rubber feet have been re-engineered to limit vibration transmission even more.
Rega states that just two components from the previous Planar 3 have been transferred over, so it does seem like the business has recreated the Planar 3 from the ground up.
Winner: Rega Planar 3
Features: Cambridge Audio Alva TT vs Rega Planar 3
Even though the Alva TT’s design is straightforward, Cambridge has gone all out with the features. Direct-drive turntables are first and foremost. The platter is spun by what is effectively a big elastic band on the overwhelming majority of turntables that aren’t built for DJ usage. Belt-drive turntables are lighter, more inexpensive, and more reliable than those with direct-drive motors because of their simpler design and lower component and production costs.
Bluetooth connection and strobe lights aren’t common on Rega turntables, so don’t expect to see them here. This turntable’s features , like everything else on it, are designed to make your music sound the best it can.
EBLT will be powered by a new 24V, low-noise, low-vibration motor starting in March 2021. If you don’t have the time to learn about the science behind this new belt, we’ll just say it enhances stability and speed accuracy.
Its heavy platter is moved using a medium-torque arrangement, as opposed to DJ decks with a high-torque arrangement that can move a light platter swiftly at the right pace. For greater vibration absorption, it’s attached to a substantial foundation for better pitch stability, which the manufacturer claims is superior to any belt-drive option.
The Alva TT also has a built-in phono preamplifier. Compared to any other Hi-Fi component, the output of a turntable is weak and requires a lot of amplifications to get a reasonable level of loudness. If you want to listen to music from a turntable, you may require a phono stage to do so; if you don’t, you may not need one. The Alva Solo and Alva Duo are two of Cambridge’s most well-regarded stand-alone phono stages, and the company has used this expertise to give the Alva TT the extra power it needs.
Rega Planar 3 requires you to move the belt from one portion of the motor pulley to the next in order to alter the speed. There’s something appealing about its design, but if you’re a fan of switching between albums and singles often, you may find it tedious.
As previously indicated, you have the option of having the Planar 3 sent with an Elys 2 moving magnet cartridge that was manufactured by a local artist. Although it adds a significant amount to the total cost, it is well-known for its long life and crystal-clear replication.
If you want to play it via speakers, you’ll need to invest in a separate preamp as the Planar 3 lacks a phono preamp. On the bright side, this turntable comes with a lifetime guarantee, so if anything goes wrong, you won’t have to pay a penny.
In the Alva TT, the most noteworthy feature is an inconspicuous rear panel switch. The ‘Bluetooth on/off’ button is what sets the Cambridge distinct from the competition. In terms of wireless networking, it’s not the first turntable to do so, but it is the first to do so with high-resolution 24bit/48kHz aptX HD streaming. So it’s fair to say this is the world’s first wireless audiophile turntable.
Winner: Cambridge Audio Alva TT
Performance: Cambridge Audio Alva TT vs Rega Planar 3
Cambridge Audio Alva TT
A connected connection is always better than a wireless one, and Cambridge supplies some bulky analogue interconnects as part of the “convenient” mood of the product. So, hard-wiring the Alva TT into a stereo amplifier’s line-level input seems like a good place to start.
For audiophiles, the Cambridge has all the qualities that make them swoon over vinyl. The timbre and tonal variety in the piano sounds are made plain, the character of the singing is well expressed, and the amount of interaction and compassion amongst musicians is clear with a heavyweight pressing of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ The Boatman’s Call spinning.
One of the most frequently accepted qualities of the vinyl medium is its instinctual sense of the relationship between instruments and the time of a performance, and the Alva TT offers as natural an impression of timing as any turntable at this price point.
There is a lot of low-frequency bass in the Alva TT, and the Cambridge delivers it with all the power it needs, unlike some of its competitors.
In contrast, the bass performance of the Alva TT is atypically disciplined: it’s tauter and straighter-edged than most turntables can produce. Rather than shoving or shoving, it strikes rather than shoves.
It is even-handed, faithful and persuasive across the frequency range, in other words.
The Cambridge’s main evident flaw is its lack of dynamic range, as is shown by this example. It’s also not the best at distinguishing between “extremely quiet” and “very loud” in the Alva TT.
Because of this, it’s important to show both the limitations of using an Alva TT as a record player, as well as how exciting it is to listen to a record player that is only powered by a wall socket.
Because the signal is being transformed from analogue to digital and back again, the Cambridge’s wireless sound is inherently inferior to the wired version. There is a perceptible sharpening of treble frequencies, particularly at high volumes, and the overall sound does not have the wonderful warmth that it formerly had.
There’s no way around the reality that all this music is being played on a turntable located far away from the main system and powered just by a standard wall outlet. A dream come true for any audiophile-cum-interior designer.
Rega Planar 3
Once Planar 3 is up and running, it’s easy to see how the two-year development effort paid off. In our opinion, it has a far more refined and defined tone than its brilliant predecessor did. Transparency and detail clarity have both improved.
Moreover, it becomes evident that the engaging musical nature of the previous generation has not been diminished at all; in fact, this new edition is more entertaining than the previous one.
It’s well suited to a wide range of musical genres. Our first impression is of the Rega’s organizational abilities as we listen to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Despite the song’s intricacy, the musicians manage to keep everything in its proper position and retain their calm.
Scale and power abound in this composition. Changes of a more subtle nature are handled with delicacy while larger-scale dynamic adjustments are given with zeal.
Things are well-balanced in terms of tone. But at this pricing point, there is nothing else that can compete with Elys 2 in terms of elegance and performance.
The cartridge, as well as the rest of the box, presents the music in a cohesive and sparkling manner. The Rega connects all the musical threads, allowing the song to flow seamlessly. Musically, the music’s message and its emotional substance are clearly conveyed.
It’s possible that some of their competitors sound more etched and analytical, but nothing we’ve heard at this price point has been this much fun.
Four Tet’s Angel Echoes drives this point home. Because of this, the music produced by the Rega is full of energy and excitement. The Planar 3 isn’t short on information either, sifting through layers and layers of low-level data.
As if that wasn’t enough, we now have REM’s Automatic For The People. Michael Stipe’s laid-back vocals are delivered by the Planar 3 with considerable flair. To be sure, his voice retains its unique character and is full of richness and complexity, as well as a believable feeling of weight.
The track’s smooth sway is well captured, while the bass end is equally powerful, heavy, and articulated. Overall, the band put on a fantastic show. Additionally, there is a record player.
You should buy Cambridge Audio Alva TT if
The Alva TT now holds the top spot in a solitary field because of its capacity to transmit a viable wireless signal of extremely acceptable quality. As a result, the Alva TT should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for a turntable that has the best of the best for under $1000, plus a fair dose of modernity and simplicity.
Due to the fact that the Alva TT provides the best of both worlds, audiophiles will appreciate the inclusion of aptX HD, which allows for high-resolution Bluetooth streaming. Streaming isn’t as good as wired, but it’s less of a concern for people who have ditched the connections in favor of wireless devices.
Should I buy Rega Planar 3?
This is the only turntable most people will ever need. It may not be as physically appealing as some of its rivals, but it does everything else so well.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you often switch between 33s and 45s, you’ll want to set aside an additional £200 for the TT-PSU power supply. That’s a substantial increase in cost, but it may be worth it for the convenience.
This is the record player for you if you’re on a budget of under a thousand pounds.
Verdict: Cambridge Audio Alva TT vs Rega Planar 3
The order in the premium group is a little more clear cut, the accuracy and energy of the tweaky and rather labour-intensive Rega Planar 3 comfortably outshining the warmer, suaver Cambridge. I can imagine plenty preferring the easy-going nature of the Alva TT, not to mention the added flexibility of being able to stream wirelessly via aptX Bluetooth. But, for me, it’s the Rega Planar 3 that sounds more natural and believable, which is surely what it’s all about.
With a price difference between the Alva TT and the Rega, the Cambidge’s direct drive is in a very strong position when it comes to pure value. But if you value the Rega’s broader skill set and deft musicality, the difference is justified and the Rega wins.
Author’s Pick: Rega Planar 3
FAQs: Cambridge Audio Alva TT vs Rega Planar 3
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