Rega doesn't introduce new products on a whim and as such, there's been plenty of attention paid to the Saturn. Part of the reason for the fuss is that Rega has taken its involvement with the transport side of things a lot further than most and developed a new operating system just for this player.
In classic Rega fashion, the disc is loaded at the top under a manually-operated lid, and simply clips on to a spring-loaded chuck. It's simple and quick, though we were alarmed at how vulnerable the laser assembly is.
Close the lid and the disc is read in the usual way. Almost all the circuitry is mounted on a single large board spanning most of the player's width, featuring a mix of through-hole and surface-mount components, the latter including a pair of Wolfson DACs and the discrete-transistor analogue filters and output buffers - no op-amps here. The power supply is based on a large toroidal transformer.
Rega's current 'one-size-fits-all' case has a large heatsink on its base, whose function here is largely decorative, as this player dissipates no more heat than most. The overall look is distinctive and it's a robust assembly, fitted internally with good quality parts. Connections are basic, just analogue audio and electrical/optical digital.
Taking into account the varied tastes and demands of those who took part in our listening tests, this player scored a decided hit, not least for the way it seems to satisfy so many different requirements without, apparently, compromising on any subsidiary issues.
Let's get the 'negatives' out of the way: one listener found it dynamically constrained at first, but seemed to warm to it as listening progressed. He also wondered if the bass could be more extended. He was out on his own there, though, his colleagues having nothing but praise for the bottom octaves - not only for extension but also, universally, for its detail, clarity and rhythmic precision.
It manages to kick along a rock'n'roll track just as adroitly as it underpins a symphony and can also manage the subtleties of more lightly scored music.
Further up the musical scale, midband is neutral and transparent and treble is open and airy, without any undue sibilance.
This makes vocals a joy to hear (so many vocal recordings are already a bit sibilant, so the slightest trace of excess in this department from the replay kit soon becomes intolerable), and the way multiple voices are integrated into a cohesive whole, without losing the character of each, is also admirable.
Detail seems excellent under all conditions, whether it be a question of delineating a single voice and lone guitar or of portraying all the forces of grand opera. Add to all these plus points a generally enjoyable outlook and musically inviting approach and you have the makings of a hi-fi classic.