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First impression? In principle both decks sounded quite similar. That was a big compliment for the Rega seeing how much I liked the original VPI Scout and how the Scout II with heavier metal rather than acrylic platter gets riper and firmer in both bass and macrodynamic swing. The RP8 also is a bit more affordable and includes cabling where a VPI owner has to buy it separately. But 'quite similar' again isn't identical. Which gets us to different highlights. The RP8 is possessed of truly devilish drive for its price class. If that's shorthand for anything, it ought to be break-free élan, power and vitality. It kicks in right away and stands there without any long breaking path. With The Kills I spun slightly dirty minimalist rock [Midnight Boom]. Drum machine and bass runs had such taut propulsive and fat-free power that I wondered whether spin speed was slightly fast. The VPI couldn't keep up with such timing but is far from weak on that count to start with. The Rega thus impressed off the bat with its directness and in-the-pocket rhythmic play. Superb!

To clarify, 'lean' here wasn't synonymous with 'a bit thin'. Au contraire. I rather thought that in the transitional range between upper bass and lower midrange the Rega played it a bit stronger than the Scout II but—and that was the real kicker—simultaneously exhibited more grippiness and articulation. Those who belief that a low-mass deck is disenfranchised when it comes to low bass need to rethink. The Brit's testicular fortitude tracked the American at a close distance. Admittedly there was a small distance, hence relative to the VPI a bit more LF heft and substance remain possible .

Rhythmically virile and endowed with energetically wiry bass, the RP8 can't fail to turn on. I'd call tonal balance slightly more earthy than ethereal. Be it Alison Mosshart's voice on The Kills or Howe Gelb's on Alegrias, I felt that given my usual deck's yard stick both singers were more sonorous than tonally petite. Granted this was mere nuance but one that happened to persist throughout. With the Spanish guitars on Alegrias the perspective was thus more on the wooden body than initial string attacks. Ditto for guitar picker Ben Harper on “Song: Paris Sunrise #7” from Lifeline. It had a nicely wooden ring to it.

Equally symptomatic was the Rega's rendering of the lovely brass band LaBrassBanda and their Übersee album. A 'prot, prot, prot' tuba drives the number along. Once again I sensed a subjective uptick in revolving speed. Trombones and trumpets set the accents but particularly the latter I've heard sound more open on top, with more clearly blown attacks. The RP8's treble thus wouldn't be called a paragon of airiness. This leads to a general softness on top. Nothing falls beneath the table but there's no spot light on it either.

On Aidan Baker's quite individualistic atmospherically dark Already Drowning, the eponymous opening track sports such hot-mixed cymbals veering into the Platinum glassy that I strongly suspect this was deliberate. And with the Rega those cymbals grew milder. More pleasant or less honest? Matter of perspective. Ditto for the minor electronic HF hiss which kicks in and out of "Mein Twilling, mein Verlorener". True, the Rega tracked it but as such a tad less clearly than for example the VPI Scout II. Such nuances also affect soundstaging. Where the VPI casts a particularly grand virtual stage, the Rega's feels more compact though what happens across it seems indeed more sculpted and accurate. I'd granted the Scout high dimensional sculpting at the time but now the Rega took it a bit further. Depending on musical fare, one or the other focus took the lead.