Not many companies in this business have received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, but on Friday October 9th Rega Research celebrated becoming one of that select band. They celebrated with a party for employees, suppliers and friends where the Queen’s representative, the Lord Petre, read out the customary speech and mentioned that Rega was only the second company in Essex to receive an award this year, before handing over a certificate and a glass bowl to members of staff.
The Lord Petre hands the Queen's award to Rega staff
It was then the turn of founder Roy Gandy to say a few words, the initial attempt being short lived due to heckling from the audience, but with a bit of encouragement he removed his hoodie hood and did his best. Roy lapsed into moaning about the difficulty of running a business in 21st century Britain and the problems of a local market compared to an export one but these were held in check by the more positive members of the audience. He managed to say that the company’s success owed an awful lot to its work force and its suppliers, without whom Rega would not have grown to the size it is today. That being over 100 employees working at the Southend facility and distributors in over 40 countries.
Phil Freeman and Roy Gandy
After the formalities Roy introduced me to one of the suppliers that he was so impressed with. This was Glasstops a glass cutting company which makes platters for Rega’s RP3, RP6 and RP8 turntables. Daniel Dunwoody-Kneafsey from the firm explained that the RP6 with its second ring of glass on the periphery was the toughest job they had ever had. Despite spending many late night’s with Rega’s Phil Freeman he had still not found a way of holding the ring in the CNC machine because the smallest suction cups available for the purpose were bigger than the width of the ring. The method was not divulged but apparently it came to Daniel while he was in the bath over the Christmas break, a real eureka moment it seems. Apparently they have yet to find another application for this breakthrough but Rega customers get to enjoy state of the art glass engineering for the price of an RP6.
Roy also showed me the Aphelion moving coil cartridge, this is an advanced version of the Apheta 2 with a boron cantilever that has been machined to provide maximum contact area with a square section diamond tip. This increased area means that the diamond tip can be bonded with considerably greater security than is usually the case and thus be less likely to fail in the field. Roy claims that Rega is the only company to have put moving coils into production in the full sense of the word, that is without the need to make adjustments by hand.
The company has also taken to doing all the cable termination in-house for the electronics, turntables and speakers it makes. It doesn’t take long to see how so many people are kept busy, a number that’s not far short of the largest in the country for the audio industry. The one product that I, and others who are aware of Rega’s capabilities on the record player front, are still waiting for is the Naiad, no-expense spared turntable announced some three years ago. Roy tells me that this is very close to being finalised but wouldn’t commit to a date.
Also approaching the horizon is a Rega book on turntable design, Roy’s attempt to explain what really matters in terms of engineering if you want to get the most information out of a groove cut in vinyl. Hopefully there won’t be too much moaning it that!