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NAD and Rega a subjective impressions thread (not only)

AMPaul

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Feb 23, 2021
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Hi all,

I have recently upgraded (or so i believe) form a good old NAD C320BEE to a Rega Biro-R amp. I run it with a SMSL Sanksrit 10thMk2 DAC and a pair of Quad S2 bookshelves.

As a backstory, i never buy new amps as i believe thy can be bought at a really high discount 2nd hand. So, i got the NAD for a measly £80 a performance/£ ratio that cannot be matched by many many other amps. I was pretty happy with it for 8 months but then i wanted to hear a different amp from a reputable UK company, hence the Rega Brio. I managed to get it at £310 on ebay, in great condition. The amp works fine.

i wanna talk about my perceived sonic impressions after listening to both amps and perhaps comment on the value for money. The question is was it worth the extra cash spent? Also did the measurements provide me a good guideline before purchasing?

In terms of how they measure, Amir measured the NAD and i could find Stereophile measurements on the Brio. They both measure well (flat (+-1dB) between 20Hz and 20KHz) and a thing i may add is that at 10KHz there is a bit of a difference between the NAD and the Rega ( Rega is about 0.4dB lower, NAD is only at ~0.1dB lower). I actually wanted to see whether that measurement reflected in real life listening experience,(and it does). I can perceive a0.4~0.5 dB difference - i cant say i always hear it, but the perceived liveliness (or harshness) is indeed felt. I can say pretty confidently that the Rega sounds less harsh in the 7-10KHz region when compared to the NAD.

Another aspect i can hear is that the soundstage is slightly larger horizontally on the Brio (not by much).

A thing i can definitely feel is that the Brio is controlling the bass a bit better- seems to have a better grip on it. Another thing i can perceive is that there is less bloom or leaking from lower frequencies up into the midrange. This makes the amp let's say more nimble in its expression, thus making it a bit more fun than the NAD. The NAD makes everything feel warmer and woolier.

i find it quite surprising that the Rega has this superior grip on my speakers given that it looks like half an amp when compared to the NAD. For some reason i think that if it is bigger then it must be better...funny thing...

In any case, the Rega is perceivably better at all these things, and overall a better amp than my old NAD BUT. Would i have paid the new price (£600)? I have to admit that the fact that i paid a 50% discount made the purchase a lot better feeling. what i mean is that they are both just amplifiers, no other electronic stuff added ( DACs BT, Wifi etc) and i feel like paying over £600 ($1000) would be a really hard pill to swallow for me. I cannot find a reason to do that unless i get for some reason a really hard to drive pair of speakers in the future and or i want all those extra features..

As for the measurements as good guidelines? It went as expected; i wanted slightly tamed highs and that's what the measurements were showing, thus it worked out well. What the measurements didn't allow me to gauge was the grip on the bass. Perhaps there is some measurement that could be done (some sort of transient current generated on short time scales) that could inform one of the "grip"?. I'm unsure.

All in all happy with the purchase at 50% discount.
 
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