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Rega IO: what does it sound like, and what speakers to pair it with?


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Hi,

I am currently considering setting up a system in a small bedroom (4 x 3 meters), and this little puppy - Rega IO - popped up on my radar. My goal is something affordable but with solid build quality and punching above its price if possible, with non fatiguing, "musical" delivery, sweet, non-harsh top end and a good amount of detail. Can the Rega Io deliver it (the reviews are pretty positive)? 

I rarely listen very loud as I live in an apartment (neighbors!), so good sound at lower to mid volumes is important to me. My musical tastes are all over the place. Mostly it's rock (from '50s to current, incl. prog, art, folk, psych, hard, blues-rock, etc), classic 50s-60s jazz, blues, various singer-songwriters (think Nick Drake or John Martyn), new wave/alternative/indie rock/post-punk, some funk and reggae, instrumental classical, etc etc. I rarely if ever listen to opera, hip hop, modern mainstream pop, some extreme genres of metal (I do love some NWOBHM!), plus I'm not a huge electronic music head (I don't mind it but it's not a big chunk of my listening).

My source will be digital - streaming/ playing redbook/hi-res files from my local library, so I'll be adding a network streamer with an external DAC.

Curious to hear some opinions/impressions on how it sounds, and what speakers would be the best match for this amp. Any additional suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Edited by radiofreeeurope
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I would find some speakers that you like and then match the amp to them rather than the other way round.  Different speakers will either work for you or they will not.  It's much easier this way round to arrive at something that you are happy with.  At modest volumes then the Rega in any event should work with most speakers such as QAcoustics.

Edited by DomT
typo
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Have a IO with  Elipson Prestige Facet 8B in bedroom & nice combo

Elipson Prestige Facet 8B | The Ear (the-ear.net)

Rega-IO-Lifestyle_06 (2).jpg

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I had a Rega Brio R for a time.  It was a nice amp - not the last word in detail but a lovely sound.  It seems to "warm" the sound up a a bit - i.e. boost bass and midrange - which helped at low volumes.  

I'd expect the IO to share similar sonic characteristics.

Also check out the NAD 3020v2 https://www.audiologica.co.uk/product/nad-d3020-v2/ 

One approach would be to find the speakers you like the look of, buy both the Rega and NAD, and then use your 14 day cooling off period to test both on your speakers. Return the one that is not the "keeper". 

Some will say this is unethical, but in fact it is very much what the Distance Selling Regulations are trying to encourage, to make up for the fact that you can't inspect the goods in the shop before purchase.

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Are you buying this Rega new?

If so I would look at used amps, you can plenty of decent ones under £300 which will be far better than that, my choice would Creek 50A or one of the older Arcam amps which are around £200.

My experience of Rega amps is they are ok at lowish volumes, so I would match them with high sensitive speakers.

Most HiFi reviews are positive.

Edited by StingRay
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Speak to the chaps at Moorgate Acoustics.  I know they are fans of the Io and know which speakers work well with it.  An obvious choice would be the Rega RX1's but they are not the cheapest and I know there are more budget friendly options out there.  Moorgate will let you home demo as well - they take payment and then if you don't like it they will just refund you on receipt of the items :) 

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Whilst there are many good/excellent budget speakers out there, I would say you wouldn't go far wrong by grabbing a pair of the 30xx series of speakers from Q Acoustics, they are strong performers at your budget and superb vfm. 

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I’ve got a pair of Concept 20’s looking for a new home...........;)

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The Io is a cracking little amp. What about the Rega Kytes? Pretty much designed together and Rega put them together in their System One.

https://www.rega.co.uk/products/kyte

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On 17/04/2021 at 19:27, Countryman said:

The Io is a cracking little amp. What about the Rega Kytes? Pretty much designed together and Rega put them together in their System One.

https://www.rega.co.uk/products/kyte

They're on my list :^ 

Thanks for the responses so far - all suggestions duly noted.

Anyone with positive experience with the IO - please chime in and share.

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There’s a review in this months Hi Fi Choice, part of an entry level amp group test. It comes out very well 😉

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On 14/04/2021 at 17:15, DomT said:

I would find some speakers that you like and then match the amp to them rather than the other way round.  Different speakers will either work for you or they will not.  It's much easier this way round to arrive at something that you are happy with.  At modest volumes then the Rega in any event should work with most speakers such as QAcoustics.

Speaker sonic characteristics and its interaction with the room are by far many orders of magnitude the greatest variables. Get the speakers right. Sort its interaction with the room either passively or using room compensation or preferably both and you’ll be on a solid foundation to finely resolve the smaller differences from different amps.

Invest the bulk of your budget on the best speakers you can afford before you fart around with audiophile, blacker than black, PRAT inducing, veil lifting, night and day, giant killing, overengineered, valve powered, magical cable lifting, bespoke silver transformered, tube rolling, r2r nos, magic sauce, bling boxes....

Edited by A.S.
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I’m using Q3020s with my IO, very happy with the results, particularly at the price.

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