Rega, one of the most well known and respected turntable manufacturers in the world have released a bespoke turntable called the NAIAD, which is limited to a product manufacturing run of only 50 units. We are extremely honored & fortunate to have experienced the assembly & a brief listening session of the NAIAD, courtesy of its one & only owner in India.
Rega Research Ltd. is a manufacturer of audio equipment consisting of Turntables, Amplifiers, CD Players, DAC’s, Loudspeakers & Allied Turntable Components + Accessories. Each and every product of Rega is designed and hand made in their facility in Essex, England.
They are currently celebrating 50 years of their existence and what a better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than with the NAIAD.
What is NAIAD
NAIAD is the absolute pinnacle of Rega’s engineering prowess and technical knowledge with regards to building Turntables. It has taken them 7 years to research into the creation of the NAIAD, keeping their philosophy of using ultra light weight components having the maximum rigidity in the materials used for constructing the NAIAD.
Initially planned to make just 40 units, to celebrate 40 years of Rega’s Existence a few years ago, it was later decided to make 50, so that the manufacturing cost of the NAIAD could be brought down further as substantial financial investments were to be made for tooling, materials and designs for a new model range of turntables that would benefit from the creation of the NAIAD. The retail price of the NAIAD is thirty thousand British pounds sterling.
Each NAIAD is built by a handful of highly skilled technicians that includes CEO Phil Freeman and it takes a few months for them to deliver it to its very privileged customers. Serial no. 0034 was what we were fortunate to see and listen to for this review.
What does NAIAD mean?
According to Rega,
“The testbed was given the name “Naiad” from an almost unknown and challenging piece of piano music that can sound boring and urbane or dreamlike and ephemeral depending on how it was played.”
Having said that, my personal belief is that the music played via the NAIAD just flows like water and to me that perfectly encapsulates the true meaning of its name.
Design & Construction
In a nutshell, the NAIAD is made from materials that are extremely light weight, are high in rigidity and at the same time weigh practically nothing when one compares it to other super highend turntables.
The only real weighty component of the NAIAD is the phenolic resin platter! Formula one inspired design language & usage of carbon fibre that resembles exactly like a suspension geometry component of one of the current Formula one teams cars is really eye catching not only from the design and appearance point of view but also from the lightness aspect, truly astonishing!
The Titanium RB tonearm is another marvel in lightness and simplicity. It is extremely easy to set up and balance as is the way one adjusts the tracking weight force of the cartridge and antiskating. However, it may be daunting for those who have never really experienced the higher end models from Rega such as the Planar 8 & 10. Rega’s current reference handmade moving coil phono cartridge, the Aphelion 2 comes factory fitted with the tone arm.
An equally beautifully designed and engineered carbon fibre wall mounting bracket with mounting screws is also part of the components that comes with the NAIAD.
Aside from the above, the box packing of the NAIAD comes with tools as mentioned above plus a special tool for attaching the cartridge screws, speed adjusting tool, a spirit level, a record clamp and also a Battery operated electronic tracking force guage called the Atlas.
Aside from these, a copy of the Rega book, a NAIAD book that illustrates exploded drawings of all the components that go into the assembly of the NAIAD.
A test report in color also comes with Wow/Flutter & Drift Speed graphs of the said turntable with its corresponding serial number as well as the date and signatures of the team that built it for you. A pair of white gloves to remove the plinth along with a illustration of how to lift it from the designated packing insert also is provided to ensure safe handling of the plinth and that of the tonearm with prefitted cartridge.
A separate double cardboard box contains the dedicated power supply with mains power cord.
Some salient features of the NAIAD:
- Ultra-lightweight carbon fibre plinth with Rohacell foam core and ceramic braces
- RB Titanium tonearm
- Aphelion 2 MC cartridge
- Advanced power supply housed in our reference electronics casework
- Automatic calibration for speed and inbuilt test facility
- New ceramic flywheel effect platter
- Zirconia toughened alumina (ZTA) spindle and bearing assembly
- Precision machined aluminium hub
- Custom made carbon fibre cantilever designed wall bracket to provide the ultimate support
The Naiad is supplied in premium custom-made packaging and a shipping crate. It will include all the required tools for assembly along with the Rega Atlas tracking force gauge and a copy of the Rega book.
- Aphelion 2 MC cartridge features
- Graded zero tolerance black anodised aluminium body
- Boron rod cantilever
- ‘Fine line’ profile, nude diamond stylus
- Iron micro cross and coil assembly making one of the worlds smallest MC generators
- Worlds most powerful minaturised neodymium magnet
- High specification fine wire 0.018 mm
Does it require assembly?
The NAIAD comes practically assembled from Rega, with just basic assembly required yet all the tools one would require to assemble are provided for in the box. The tonearm & cartridge come factory fitted, which is truly a relief as these can be very cumbersome & fiddly to assemble at the buyer’s end. Even a small mistake can become a costly affair with the NAIAD, hence one has to be very mindful at the time of installation of the same.
Unboxing the NAIAD
The Rega NAIAD comes in a huge wooden crate that is on a pallet and one will require adequate muscle power (6 men job) to transport this to the listening room. 12 long Philips wooden screws marked in red denote where one has to unscrew the top of the crate to get access to the separately packed boxes inside. A further 8 similar screws also need to be unscrewed from the top sides of the crate to remove the partition that separates the top cardboard box from the bottom. The pictures attached will show exactly how one needs to goa about doing so. The top cardboard box contains the NAIAD External Power Supply. The bottom cardboard box contains the NAIAD with the dust cover and its allied components that are separated in 2 layers of thick black Styrofoam perfectly notched to accommodate each component snugly. One has to be patient and relaxed during unboxing as there is a lot to take in visually and physically. Overall, the packing is over engineered but then rightly so as the NAIAD is super rare and costly!
How does the NAIAD sound?
Once it was all unboxed and put together, the tone arm balanced and tracking force + antiskate adjusted, the first thing to do was to see if it was alive. A manual rotation of the platter was done to ensure that there was free movement of the platter on the plinth as well as the rubber belts attached to the motor were in place as desired. The motor is attached to the platter spindle base by means of 3 rubber belts that are individually attached on the pulley of the motor. Once all was found in place, the power supply was switched on and the NAIAD was alive!
Rega’s reference phono pre amp, the AURA was attached to the NAIAD RCA leads which in turn was connected to PS Audio’s Stellar Pre and BHK Signature 250 Power Amplifiers. Heco’s erstwhile flagship speakers, the Concerto Grosso were connected to the PS Audio Amplifiers, via Acoustic Research Master Series 10AWG Gauge Speaker cables
The first vinyl played was Mofi’s Dire Straits ‘Love over gold’. The very first few bars of the music played immediately felt special. The reference of what NAIAD stands for(pls read above) came flashing to mind immediately as the music just flowed. It made critical listening very enjoyable yet one was constantly trying to find fault as the cost of the NAIAD was always at the back of the mind, making it even more harder to initially take in what was coming in the form of musical enjoyment. We had already spent close to 4 hours taking in the whole unboxing, assembling and connecting the NAIAD so honestly speaking, it was a sensory overload as well.
There was a certain silence that came out aloud as all present in the room were just amazed at how good the music flowed from the said setup, it was truly special!
The Rega NAIAD is something special and sadly, very few will ever experience it worldwide.
In India, the opportunity is very much there for the taking to those who are seriously wanting to get into high end vinyl playback as the owner of this NAIAD has generously offered listening access to his NAIAD, subject to this criteria being met as well as taking prior permission for facilitating the same via a confirmed appointment well in advance. How cool is that?
Kindly contact us via email on ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’
for further discussions and appointments.