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  1. #1681
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Rega Round-up: the Apollo, Saturn and Brio-R

    Yesterday was a pleasant day at the Rega dealer's where I got to play with other Rega products before taking my DAC home. I was curious to see how the DAC stacked up against the Apollo and Saturn, both of whom double-dipped HFC's cdp awards in the same year they came out, 2006 iirc. It's easy to hear that these three sources share the Rega imprimature for digital sonics whose traits are: rhythmic elan, smooth-flowing mids, an absence of metallic treble harshness, and with certain music, a turntable-like performance. With the Apollo, I reckon that the DAC's arrival has made it redundant. This oldest Rega spinner sounds a tad undernourished in comparison. Against the Saturn, hmmm, it comes down to personal preferences. I have to agree with fellow Eliciter CultureCrammer that the DAC (which has the newer Wolfson 8742 DACs) is more full-bodied, especially in the bass where its chunkiness contrasts with the Saturn's spry reediness. The Saturn is probably more amp-friendly and best matched to bass-confident floorstanders. As I no longer use CDs, I don't forsee myself getting another cd spinner anymore, so DAC it is for me.

    When I got the Elicit I said that I'm unlikely to buy another amp in my lifetime, but it doesn't mean that I'm not going to buy half an amp. I have a strong fetish for half-width amps (owned all of MF's X series in the past) and the new Brio-R is very delectable in the flesh. I certainly liked what I heard. It's not an Elicit with half the power though. So the Elicit's high resolution and tube-like fluidity are not quite on the cards, nor is pairing with 4-ohm Elacs or Dyns ideal. But I can see it working some magic with Dyn's easier-load DM 2/6 or even 2/7.

    In use, I didn't get the impression that this 50-watter Rega had the dynamic reserves of my previous MF shoeboxes the X-A1 (50W), X-80 (55W), and X-150 (105W), or my current X-A2 (75W) and X-T100 (BIG 50W!), so it restricts choices for ambitious speaker upgrades. But I'll say this, used within its power range the Brio-R sounds wonderfully natural with good reproduction of instrumental tonalities; which seems to be a Rega virtue. And it is devoid of the slight greyness and sibiliance that marred the treble of my X-150 (a 800 amp and EISA award winner in its time). It is also rhythmically adept and casts a decent, layered soundstage. And there is more dynamic backbone than an Italian shoebox I'd coveted in the past, the 475 Audio Analogue Primo Settanta (70W), which will be warm and soft-sounding in comparison. The stop-gap NAD C326BEE I had last year is punchier but it suffers from a softened treble, veiled midrange and mid-bass looseness which are mercifully absent in the Brio-R. Bravo! I like this Brio-R and may replace my flower-shop X-A2 with it when the time comes.

    For now I'm not stepping into the Rega shop till next year lest I develop the enabler-addict relationship I had with my MF dealer.


    SS
    Last edited by SSM; 30-09-2011 at 05:02 AM. Reason: Vanity ;-)
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  2. #1682
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    Apart from an entertaining read,you guys are just taking the "swap the shoebox" thing much too far.

    Endless journeys around the chocolate box and never knowingly any nearer the mastertape or the truth. Like a Womans Mag really

    The copy is good though. SSM and Jerry ............ Is it QVC or Hi fi Panorama ?
    Men who never get carried away should be

  3. #1683
    Super Dooper Wammer JANDL100's Avatar
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    Hey - unless you try these things, how do you know?

    It's not just the destination - enjoying the journey is important, too!

    To each his own, eh!

  4. #1684
    Super Wammer
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    Of course Jerry......tongue in cheek mate
    Men who never get carried away should be

  5. #1685
    Moderator HoopsOnToast's Avatar
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    Solid, what speakers did you listen to the Brio-R with? Recon it might do ok with the ATC's? (Arbiet at low levels/near-field)
    You Know Rega are doing a half-width Apollo

  6. #1686
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoopsOnToast View Post
    Solid, what speakers did you listen to the Brio-R with? Recon it might do ok with the ATC's? (Arbiet at low levels/near-field)
    You Know Rega are doing a half-width Apollo
    RS1 and SCM7. The ATC of course needed more gain on the volume knob but the Brio-R could elicit the same sound levels from the SCM7 as it did the RS1. So I reckon your SCM10 is Brio-R-friendly as long as you aren't seeking to blow the rafters off. IMO the SCM7 is a technically more accomplished design than the RS1, but I did notice a sympathetic synergy between the RS1 and Brio-R.

    Half-width Apollo in the pipeline? This is news to me. I'll be keeping tabs on the situation now. Ta.

    cheerSS
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  7. #1687
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JANDL100 View Post
    Hey - unless you try these things, how do you know?

    It's not just the destination - enjoying the journey is important, too!

    To each his own, eh!
    Jerry, don't give too much cred to that scotch builder. Stirring is what he is good at (you should read the crap he spouts on the tennis thread.)

    I may have done a bit of box-buying this year but these aren't pointless side-swaps. With the Rega combo and the ELACs I dare say I have brought the replay quality of my classical-jazz music rig to 'entry-level hi-end' () while still keeping the system as compact and metrosexual as possible. The fine resolution, musicality and capacious soundstaging it is capable of can never be mistaken for a budget system sound. Even non-fi friends who visited recently have noticed/commented that I have done 'something' to my system.

    We may be very different persons, Nature Boy, but the one thing we have in common is our constant penchant for savouring delectable products from different manufacturers.


    SS
    Last edited by SSM; 30-09-2011 at 04:29 PM. Reason: Vanity ;-)
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  8. #1688
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    I may have done a bit of box-buying this year but these aren't pointless side-swaps.
    You are so sexy when squirming Solid
    Men who never get carried away should be

  9. #1689
    Super Dooper Wammer JANDL100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSM View Post
    I may have done a bit of box-buying this year but these aren't pointless side-swaps.

    SS
    There's nothing necessarily wrong with side-swaps - 'different' can be just as fun and interesting as 'better'.

  10. #1690
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    ^


    The Rega DAC's Filters

    This has been a weekend of exhilarating music replay (the Rega DAC came on song) and self-education on the efficacy of digital filters. I had time on top of the main listening sessions with the ELACs to try the DAC's filters on two other speakers representing different price bands. I brought my smooth and urbane Spendor S3/5R home from the office again, and I braved potential encounters with spiders and ventured into my bomb-shelter room to retrieve a preserved pair of budget boxes - the Wharfedale Diamond 8.2s. Noticed two other pairs of mummified-wrapped speakers in tupperware boxes: I know one is the Acoustic Energy EVO One, can't remember what the other is: think it's either the KEF QCompact or Monitor Audio Bronze B1. They've been there for over five years in case of transducer emergencies (never happened). So I got seven pairs of standmounts. Memory refreshed.



    ^ ELAC, Spendor & Waffie: three different tweeter designs, three different responses to the Rega DAC's filters

    There had been discussions on other forums about the actual usability of the Rega DAC's five filters. Some owners claim they heard differences, others said they noticed no real difference. Well, this is my take...

    The Rega DAC's filters (for 44.1 - 48kHz sounds)

    1. Linear Phase Half-Band Filter
    2. Minimum Phase Soft-Knee Filter
    3. Minimum Phase Half-Band Filter
    4. Linear Phase Apodising Filter
    5. Minimum Phase Apodising Filter

    In a nutshell, the filters tweak the effects of ringing in the upper frequencies while leaving the lower regions unmolested. However, it is stated that these tweaks can effect the way one hears the lower frequencies. The DAC's manual recommends using Filter 1 as default and slowly experimenting with the other four filters. In this mode, it is easy to discern that the DAC shares some fundamental sonic traits with my Arcam rDAC and Cambridge Audio DacMagic (Wolfson 8742, 8741 and 8740 DACs respectively). The DAC and the rDAC have much more subtlety than the DacMagic. In Filter 1, the DAC and rDAC are rather similar from the midrange up, but the DAC has a bigger soundstage, more powerful bass and dynamics.

    I'll make the Wharfedale round-up quick. The Diamond 8.2's soft-dome tweeter represents the treble performance of the typical budget speaker - it has limited resolution. The Filter 1 (Linear Phase Half-Band Filter) on the DAC doesn't attenuate pre-ringing, post-ringing or aliasing distortion. Of the five filters, it is the one that gives the most reverb on high frequency sounds. The Waffie's soft domes only make it possible for me to hear the difference between Filter 1 and the others. I cannot appreciate the subtle attenuations Filters 2-5 are effecting, through these Waffies.

    Filter 1 sounds best with the Diamond 8.2 because its reverb-rich treble makes the Waffie's muffled soft-domes sound spacious and detailed. So if you are matching the DAC with entry-level standmounts with similarly restricted treble units, Uncle Solid has made your audiophool life easier for you: keep to Filter 1 and don't spend copious time straining to hear differences between Filters 2-5 (). The cows will have come home long before you discover any.

    The Spendor S3/5R's quality soft domes, although smaller in diameter than the Waffies, are much more revealing. Even then, I didn't find that switching between the five filters made crucial effects to my listening pleasure. To their credit, Spendor's soft dome tweeters (like Dynaudio's and PMC's IME) are expertly tailored to provide a very agreeable response to both perfect and problematic treble in recordings - they stay sweet, smooth and insightful under all conditions. At the most, switching between Filter 1 and Filter 5 (Minimum Phase Apodising Filter) helped tame inherent brightness in some recordings. Lady Gaga's Fame album had its busy treble sounds toned down a bit by Filter 5 through the S3/5R.

    My ELAC BS244's JET III tweeters uses ribbons whose radiating surface is nearly 4 times that of the S3/5R's or other quality soft domes by other brands. They are very revealing as a result and I can understand why some folks don't like the presentation, especially if it has been paired with an unsympathetic source and amp upstream. Pop recordings that have too much reverb can sound tizzy and fatiguing coming from the JET IIIs.

    Well, I was delighted to discover that the Rega DAC's filters offer appreciable tweaks to the performance of the ELACs' treble with different types of music!!! It's like I have gained an un-intrusive tone control for my ribbon tweeters.


    Test music:

    The Prodigy - "Breathe"
    Lady Gaga - "Just Dance"
    Diana Krall - "Too Marvellous For Words"
    Mahler Symphony No.7 - Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Abbado (cond.) 1984 recording
    Mahler Symphony No.7 - Royal Concertgebouw, Chailly (cond.) 1995 recording



    The Prodigy track simply has harsh treble (that's part of its club appeal) and with the rDAC and DAC on Filter 1, it sounds toppy and messy through the ELACs. I found that changing over to the Minimum Phase filters (2, 3 and 5) which eliminate pre-ringing and reduce post-ringing made it easier for me to hear what's going on in the rest of the frequency range below the dominant treble - especially the drum beats. This proved the same also for the dance-floor tunes of Lady Gaga and Madonna which are rife with spiky synthesiser sounds. They get tamed down a little and the overall sound becomes better balanced and less fatiguing IMO.

    Filters 2 and 3 sound almost identical, and out of these three Minimum Phase filters it is Filter 5, with its apodising feature that eliminates aliasing distortion, that I gravitate to the most. It gives the strongest contrast with the 'standard' Filter 1 (which has pre-ringing, post-ringing and aliasing distortion unchecked). The difference is most audible with orchestral music. With Filter 1, the sound coming off the orchestra's string section in the two Mahler 7 recordings is reminiscent of the replay I've gotten from my previous digital sources until the Rega DAC. With such a heavily orchestrated score, I've always heard the main melodies as a homogenised plateau of air rising from the string section. Filter 5 cleared up this 'mist' and brought closer scrutiny to the violins: I heard the bows biting into those gut-strings more clearly. It made violins sound more rosiny and the brass more tonally distinctive. I LOVE what this minimum phase apodising filter has done for my symphonic recordings. It gives more inner definition and sharper focus on the performance techniques of orchestral members.

    With smaller scale music like jazz vocals, e.g. Diana Krall's albums, Filter 5 rendered them with immense sophistication. With excessive ringing prevented from reaching the ELAC's ribbons, and with the Rega Elicit's rich tonality helming the lower end, I have been treated to utterly spell-binding renditions of female jazz singers' voices. Shorn of any distracting treble glaze, the sound is very tactile and sensual!

    I didn't like Filter 5, or the other two Minimum Phase filters for some other music. With well-produced dance tracks like the Pet Shop Boys (as opposed to Lady Gaga's iPod-optimized music), they had a dampening effect; subduing the 'ping' of high-pitched synthesizer sounds. I prefer the Linear Phase Filters 1 and 4 here. They had the ELAC ribbons spreading more HF resonance around the room which is more exciting. With these Trevor Horn-produced classic P.S.B. tracks, some pre and post ringing didn't hurt. I also found the apodising Linear Phase Filter 4 to enhance the PRaTtiness of the Elicit amp. With aliasing distortion minimised, fast-moving basslines seemed to come over with more clarity and urgency.

    Oddly, with my bossa nova compilations, I actually preferred Filter 4 over 5 (which eliminates the former's pre and post ringing). The flute interjections commonly heard in this music genre floated above the rest of the percussion and their unchecked resonance gave vivid hints to the dimensions of the studio. On Filter 5, the ambience was drier and less atmospheric.

    Impulse pre-ringing, post-ringing and aliasing distortion... one can't live with them at all times, nor live without them. I am just chuffed that this Rega DAC allows me to tune the response of my ELACs' ribbon tweeters. I'll probably post a follow-up once I have pumped more music genres through the system.

    There is just one problem though. With this useful filtering option, I am going to find it hard to upgrade in the future to a DAC that offers a single vanilla filter.


    SS
    Last edited by SSM; 05-10-2011 at 03:23 AM. Reason: Vanity ;-)
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  11. #1691
    pobox-123
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    SSM,

    If you don't mind me asking.

    Are you going to buy a Naim Nait XS and try it with the Spendor S3/5R? Be very interesting!

    Regards.

  12. #1692
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Pobox, I actually wanted to ask if you could get the NAIT XS first and try it with your S3/5R. It would be very interesting (and cheaper for my wallet). I can't buy another amp so soon because with the Elicit in, my craving for amplification is currently appeased but the craving for new speakers has resurfaced again!

    If my audiophool afflictions can be pictorialised, they would look like this:



    ^ I can never whack off all my inner moles.


    SS
    Last edited by SSM; 02-10-2011 at 05:59 PM. Reason: Vanity ;-)
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  13. #1693
    pobox-123
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    Maybe next year I'll buy the Nait XS. Can't afford it at the moment.

    Regards.

  14. #1694
    Wammer Butuz's Avatar
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    Dac filters. The modern mans graphical eq (only without the stigma).

    Butuz
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  15. #1695
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    Dac filters. The modern mans graphical eq (only without the stigma).
    Oi. DAC filters aren't tonally manipulative like the graphic EQs. They either attenuate or give free rein to ringing impulses; in the former treble sheen is reined in to allow the ears to appreciate the tonal subtleties occuring in the lower octaves of the music.

    Your 640C is forever stuck in Linear Phase mode - it's giving you a fixed buffet of pre-ringing, post-ringing and aliasing distortion. Tizzz...!


    SS
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  16. #1696
    Wammer Butuz's Avatar
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    Hehe no need for a sad face.

    what i mean is they give you options to change the sound balance to something that you prefer. We have not had that luxury since eq's and tone controls were laughed out of hifi shops in the 90s.

    Butuz
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  17. #1697
    Moderator HoopsOnToast's Avatar
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    Solid, I read on another forum that you had heard the SCM7's with the Brio-R, how did you get on with it?

  18. #1698
    Founding Wammer SSM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoopsOnToast View Post
    Solid, I read on another forum that you had heard the SCM7's with the Brio-R, how did you get on with it?
    Uh, didn't you see post #1698?

    The combo worked fine. ATC monitors' true sensitivities are 4-5dB less than the official specs (the SCM7 measured 81dB in a HFN test) but unless you need to crank a Romantic symphony to headbanging level, I can't see why the Brio-R driving the SCM7 would falter with popular music types. The Brio-R's 50W gives 17dBW to the SCM7's 81dB - so you can have up to 98dB SPL which is more than enough for your cosy room. Amy (RIP, sweet angel) Winehouse's 'Rehab' track was pretty rousing through the Brio-R/SCM7 with the impact of the drumming coming through alright. Same for "You Know I'm No Good" - cracking reproduction of the drum kit!

    Still, if you want to have more decibels in reserve, I'd recommend the 6-ohmish 86dB Dyn DM 2/6 or one of Dali's cost-effective and efficient new minis.


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    Last edited by SSM; 04-10-2011 at 07:14 PM. Reason: Vanity ;-)
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  19. #1699
    Moderator HoopsOnToast's Avatar
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    Sorry Solid, had forgot i posted that and did not check for a reply
    I think a demo is definitely in order!
    And kick drums/snare drums are something i enjoy, and found the SCM7's did very well, sounds promising!
    Cheers

  20. #1700
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    They aren't the black ones, but good god I'm tempted to get the credit card out...

    http://www.audioaffair.co.uk/Elac-BS...r/product_5662

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