Apologies-another overly long review from me but it gives me something to do whilst confined to quarters.
So the Rega RX3's - I have had a very interesting time and learned a fair bit about speakers in general in the process and I will try and cover some of this off.
As always though first and foremost full and hearty thanks to Paul Hobson and all at Moorgate Acoustics. Even in these extraordinary times when we all have more than enough to deal with they are still providing a first class service and whilst I could not benefit from their hospitality and while away a few hours in my second living ro... I mean their demo room it was great to actually try the speakers in my listening room.
Boring bit out of the way; Speakers under demo were the Rega RX3's and my usual speakers are a pair of 1975 LNB Para Lab 20's. Source was my Naim ND5 XS2 both streaming and acting as a DAC for my Sony 337ESD and amplification is a hodge podge of a Yamaha CA810 on pre-amp duties and a custom Quad 405 clone as the power amp. Cabling is all Moorgate sourced Atlas Hyper DD Ultra (lovely cables by the way).
Music - a huge range, will try and mention specific tracks as I go along.
Note my LNB's are hugely likeable speakers however coming home each time after a Moorgate demo I was always struck at how closed in the sound was and that detail was lacking. As with all things my hearing soon adjusts but knowing what I was missing and all that...
So in my quest for as good as sound as I can afford and having heard some lovely speakers at Moorgate and given I used to own a pair of Rega RS5's I was very keen to try the new RX range. Given the price the 'seconds' are offered for this seemed a good a time as any to try them.
My listening room has shrunk since the RS5 days though so I thought I would start with the RX3's. So a quick car park deal and I was off home before the dust settled, boot loadquickd with two RX3 sized boxes in the boot.
A quick note here about these 'seconds' speakers. When Paul describes them as having a tiny mark on them he means it. I think I've found it but only by lightly running my fingernail along the edge of the veneer but it's not visible. For the saving offered they really are superb looking things - first rate build and for small floor standers quite weighty at a shade over 12kg.
Initially they were set up around 35cm from the back wall and subs in. Planning to do my usual demo track list I started up Sophie Zelmani - Oh Dear and... I nearly packed them back up and drove them straight back. Screeched like a cat that's been trodden on, no bass at all and generally lacking coherence.
However, thinking more rationally I decided a) they were brand new speakers so not anywhere close to loosened up and b) they were going to sound very different to what I was used to. In their favour the soundstage was much bigger and more natural than my LNB's so I decided to persevere.
Keeping to my demo track list on to Agnes Obel - Camera's Rolling - this was a bit more like it. The texture around her voice and the subtleties of the duet were more apparent than with my LNB - not quite as pronouced as on the Supernait 3 / PMC 5.23 pairing but very nice. Imaging was better as well. So straight onto the electronica. A Man Called Adam - Easter Song has a big 'wamph' of a bass line that my LNB delivers with organ moving power and the RX3's were nowhere close. But, and it's a big but, I never knew just how much the bass line modulated and then faded right out before coming back. My LNB's didn't give me that at all and I was impressed at the detail and the soundatge was just lovely and broad.
Tony de Vit - Are You All Ready? was OK. Bass light but lots of detail and space between the various strands of the track as the layers built up and up. Nice round analogue sound to the hoovers as well.
At this point I realised that Qobuz had removed the Ray Lamontagne album - Till The Sun Turns Black so I couldn't use the Qobuz version so decided to just go ahead and play random tracks and CD's
Johnny Cash - Ragged Old Flag (superb album by the way) was very harsh sounding and made my ears bleed, Leonard Cohen - You Want it Darker had tons of detail but lacked a certain something etc.
So I decided to experiment with positioning. Moved them back closer to the wall and subs pointing out (the RX floorstanders have side mounted subs - a clever way of getting larger speakers into room friendly enclosures) - didn't like that at all so left the subs pointing out but pulled them back out again. Now we were getting somewhere.
Ella and Louis - Stomping at the Savoy. Now we are talking. The speakers are only 80cm high yet their voices were coming at me bang centre and about 180cm from the floor. Wow, how were these little boxes doing this? What's more the piano and drums were a metre or two further back; uncanny!
And so we continued and the sound kept growing on me but every so often I would put on a CD and be disappointed - they would sound a little thin again and the harshness would return. But the more I played them the better they got so I am putting much of this down to the fact they were so new.
A little Facebook discussion with Matthew Sayers and I decided to mirror his setup with the RX5's and push tem much closer to the rear wall just as an expriment - 15cm was a touch close but nudging them out a little to 20cm or so and they really opened up. That whole soundstaging just improved some much. I also engaged my subwoofer (BK Electronics XLS 200) at this stage and that just gave them a touch of support - a good sub shouldn't be heard in isolatio, rather the speakers have a foundation on which to build.
Tracks like Henry Mancini - The Evil Theme (from Agnes Obel's Late Night Tales) just had some much space around the instruments and the timbre of the 3 repeating drum beats was just lovely. You could visualise where the three drums were in relation to each other too. More leonard Cohen and again, just lovely. Very natural sounding, great voice placement and every little texture of the guitar stings was present. I was really getting in them by now.
But - even with the sub they were just a touch bass light so I decided to revert to subs in and a quick listen revealed that with subs in they just needed to come out another 3-4cm and bam. Perfect. Loads of lovely controled modulated bass. The double bass on jazz tracks showed the slight pitch changes and electronica had some fight and kick. Timing was spot on - a real foot tapping speaker and so musical. This is what I loved about the RS5's and the RX3's now showed the same qualities and I was sold.
I was just meant to listen to one track off Kruder & Dorfmeister - The K&D Sessions but ended up listening to half od CD1. A sublime mix of downtempo, beautifully produced remixes of some classic dance and drum and bass tracks and the beats were latered up and offered on a plate - could reach out and touch them.
In fact for the first time in ages I got totally engrossed in The Modern Jazz Quartet - The Last Concert I totally lost track of time!
So, if you have a smallish room (mine is roughly 3.8m square) I would highly recommend trying the RX3's - good value at their normal RRP and an absolute steal at the 'seconds' price.
So what did I learn in general; for speakers in particular do try and home demo them as they are somewhat dependent on the room. Also I didn't realise just how much running in a new pair needs. Mine still have a way to go but they are good now and will only get better. And finally it is the first set of speakers I have had where positioning can make a significant difference to how they sound so do experiment a bit and you’ll know when you’ve got it right