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Rega DAC-R DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 242 72.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 71 21.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 12 3.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 10 3.0%

  • Total voters
    335

DSJR

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Yes, I'd forgotten about the valve amps. Strange looking back, as he liked to emphasise measurements for other stuff.
Not too long ago, a notorious UK reviewer from the 80's returned to test a niche headphone amp, based on a 15WPC or so amp circuit with a sodding great resistor from the amp out to the headphone +ve terminal. 0.03% distortion (-70dB) was judged a good figure, as was the obviously high output impedance (thanks heavens most headphones seem to have a flat (ish) impedance curve)..

Nah, it's all eye candy these days as the cases are where much of the money goes methinks...
 

AudioSceptic

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Not too long ago, a notorious UK reviewer from the 80's returned to test a niche headphone amp, based on a 15WPC or so amp circuit with a sodding great resistor from the amp out to the headphone +ve terminal. 0.03% distortion (-70dB) was judged a good figure, as was the obviously high output impedance (thanks heavens most headphones seem to have a flat (ish) impedance curve)..

Nah, it's all eye candy these days as the cases are where much of the money goes methinks...
Back in the 70s, if your amp didn't have a headphone socket, you could get a headphone adaptor, which you simply connected to the speaker outputs. It must also just have had a sodding great resistor. I wonder how many built-in headphone outputs did the same?

Cases certainly matter a lot in the "high end". If you're spending big bucks, you want the stuff to look the part. What looks more impressive: Amir's pair of Mark Levinsons or a pair of class D boxes, no matter how well finished?
 

Tafelberg

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Advice needed please...

Before I knew about ASR, I bought a Rega Brio (6th gen) amplifier based on glowing reviews from What HiFi (see below), and others.

This Rega Brio amp powers two KEF Q150s for my desktop/PC audio setup (pic attached).
DAC: Topping E30II.
I also have a Pioneer SW-8 subwoofer.
Room size: Approximately 3 x 4meters.
Listening distance to speakers: Less than 1meter.
I do not have an equalizer.

To my uninitiated ears, my audio sounds really good, but maybe if I do a few upgrades, my audio would sound better.

Questions:
Is the Rega Brio amp also poor 'headless panther' like the Rega DAC-R in this review is? (I do not need a high power amp)
If you had around $1000 to $2000 to spend, how would you upgrade my setup?

Thanks everyone!!

 

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Grotti

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Advice needed please...

Before I knew about ASR, I bought a Rega Brio (6th gen) amplifier based on glowing reviews from What HiFi (see below), and others.

This Rega Brio amp powers two KEF Q150s for my desktop/PC audio setup (pic attached).
DAC: Topping E30II.
I also have a Pioneer SW-8 subwoofer.
Room size: Approximately 3 x 4meters.
Listening distance to speakers: Less than 1meter.
I do not have an equalizer.

To my uninitiated ears, my audio sounds really good, but maybe if I do a few upgrades, my audio would sound better.

Questions:
Is the Rega Brio amp also poor 'headless panther' like the Rega DAC-R in this review is? (I do not need a high power amp)
If you had around $1000 to $2000 to spend, how would you upgrade my setup?

Thanks everyone!!

This is a bit of topic, isn't it? What about creating a new thread? Anyway: welcome to ASR!!!
 

AdrianusG

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I kind of liked mine with a pair of Harbeth Compact 7es-3 speakers when I still had those. I went to a shop to try the Rega Brio with a pair of Elac Debut B5.2 I think. Horrible speakers even though they were well reviewed. Hooked them up to the Elex-R, not great but better. Talked to the guy at the shop, listened to a bunch of speakers up to the Harbeth Super hl5 plus and ended up buying the amp and thrifting a pair of speakers while I hunted for a second-hand pair of the Harbeths.

Shame the entire setup (minus the Akai reel-to-reel) left the house together with my ex. I would have liked to hear it with the Topping E50 I have now.

(Yes, the speakers were put on suitable stands after this picture was taken)

Kind of curious how they would sound with a proper DAC. We didn't know any better and had it hooked up to an Asus Xonar U3 DAC. Which wasn't all that bad for a $40 DAC.
 

AdrianusG

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I kind of liked mine with a pair of Harbeth Compact 7es-3 speakers when I still had those. I went to a shop to try the Rega Brio with a pair of Elac Debut B5.2 I think. Horrible speakers even though they were well reviewed. Hooked them up to the Elex-R, not great but better. Talked to the guy at the shop, listened to a bunch of speakers up to the Harbeth Super hl5 plus and ended up buying the amp and thrifting a pair of speakers while I hunted for a second-hand pair of the Harbeths.

Shame the entire setup (minus the Akai reel-to-reel) left the house together with my ex. I would have liked to hear it with the Topping E50 I have now.

(Yes, the speakers were put on suitable stands after this picture was taken)

Kind of curious how they would sound with a proper DAC. We didn't know any better and had it hooked up to an Asus Xonar U3 DAC. Which wasn't all that bad for a $40 DAC.
I absolutely love your Tape-deck!:)
 
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amirm

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VintageFlanker

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Is the Rega Brio amp also poor 'headless panther' like the Rega DAC-R in this review is?
It would pretty much get either a meh or headless panther.
5W/4Ω/1kHz : 67dB SINAD...
Not the most terrible amp around (at least, it is more powerful than the tremendously bad IO), but absolutely not competitive at its price point.
 

EJ3

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Major measurement issue apparently - the T-4P mount which *can* mess with the lower midrange and put response glitches in the cartridge used - If not, blame Martin Colloms who reviewed and measured a lot of these decks... I don't think we ever saw this Technics deck though, but I'd not expect it to be as cheap as a Rega 3 or even a 6. My parallel tracking poison was a Beogram 4000/MMC20CL, but I no longer have it now.

You see, decks like the Planar 8 upwards just don't have any eye candy - I don't like the visuals of these much 'cos there ain't any!!! The internal engineering where it's not seen though, is a different matter as in the main bearing, the apparently expensive ceramic platters of the upper models, the light but supposedly stiff skeletal plinth compared to a fancy often hollow box structure and efforts to keep W&F, dynamic wow and overall noise in the drive to a hopeful minimum with little to no energy storage in the structure, hence the stiff but light skeletal plinth. The Rega arm bearings are or should be exceptionally good and the races are hand matched to the spindles they run on (fascinating to have a go myself at matching during one visit). The RB330 I have here has a much posher looking exit cable (yes, I said looking) and better finish than before.

I'll tell you one thing whatever you think of the brand - the Planar 8 with Apheta upwards helps 'vinyl' to sound closer to 'digital' than one could imagine... Not saying that's the only vinyl setup that does this (I'm a fan of and once owned Notts Analogue models), but the usual 'vinyl' colourations are minimised if not inaudible I feel.
I gave the approximate price for when I bought it, which was a TAD under $500 USD.
As to Rega, I am somewhat of a Rega TT fan, as I understand the design philosophy, as I have been involved in various forms of Auto/motorcycle/mini-bike & Go-Kart racing.
As to how well his designs work, I have no idea. I do not and have never known anyone that I knew (as far as I know that had a Rega TT.
But I have admired from a'far the designs & would like to get a hold of an 8 one day, because I think it has a cool aesthetic.
But, if it did not measure well, then I would say, like many things we tried on our racing vehicles: "Well, that was a failed experiment".
 

DSJR

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I gave the approximate price for when I bought it, which was a TAD under $500 USD.
As to Rega, I am somewhat of a Rega TT fan, as I understand the design philosophy, as I have been involved in various forms of Auto/motorcycle/mini-bike & Go-Kart racing.
As to how well his designs work, I have no idea. I do not and have never known anyone that I knew (as far as I know that had a Rega TT.
But I have admired from a'far the designs & would like to get a hold of an 8 one day, because I think it has a cool aesthetic.
But, if it did not measure well, then I would say, like many things we tried on our racing vehicles: "Well, that was a failed experiment".
:)

The arms also largely? involved another engineer, who's name escapes me (he's probably long retired now), but all I can say is that they do take things seriously, it's just that their priorities are rather different from ours*. Ages ago I linked to a recent interview with Roy Gandy and I have to say I just about managed half of it before switching off in some disgust. Maybe there's a huge chunk of him marketing a several grand turntable here (their new Naia model), but I'm well out of it now and when I get to visit my old dealer pal, it'll be some of his new speakers I want to hear (including ES14N's [cough])...

What these decks have to do with a now discontinued dac I've no idea and I apologise for the thread drift again. I'm told they're aware of modern dac developments and the discontinuation of the Apollo R as well I was told, is due to the control chips not being available (second hand info now as I've not got it from the company so take with whatever size pinch of salt you like :)). Nobody here would be remotely interested in a Saturn R player and buying new, I'd look for something like one of the simpler Denon CD players (there's the Shanling Tempo machine which 'sounds' fine but unknown tech spec as a transport) with a £/$100 dac favourite from the choice here...

* I'll say it now, you may rate the performance of the arms, but compared to a proper direct drive system mounted to a well sited half decent plinth, the Rega belt drive will draw scorn as it seems to be doing here - this before one musical note is played! Something for another thread one day ;)
 

Tafelberg

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It would pretty much get either a meh or headless panther.
5W/4Ω/1kHz : 67dB SINAD...
Not the most terrible amp around (at least, it is more powerful than the tremendously bad IO), but absolutely not competitive at its price point.

It would pretty much get either a meh or headless panther.
5W/4Ω/1kHz : 67dB SINAD...
Not the most terrible amp around (at least, it is more powerful than the tremendously bad IO), but absolutely not competitive at its price point.
Merci beaucoup VintageFlanker!
 

Anthony T

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You name it: REGA is a marketing based manufacturer and people "like the REGA sound" because they are told by stereophile, Darko etc.
LOL.
Rega doesn’t really get involved in marketing or advertising and never really have but some will take your obvious lack of knowledge about the company and run with it.
 

Grotti

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I don't know your reputation, but I worked with the brand nearly ten years as a dealer and own a turntable Planar 3 myself. The local distributors (there were in fact two of them in the mentioned ten years) were very active placing the product range in reviews (I call that marketing) and advertised in the big players in our hifi press. In fact they were VERY visible (and still are to some degree) due to their marketing. That's why they choose their distributors. They in fact fired one because of being not able to push enough products in our local market. Together with the nearly total lack of measurements I call it a marketing based manufacturer, even though marketing is done mainly by distributors.
 

Haskil

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LOL.
Rega doesn’t really get involved in marketing or advertising and never really have but some will take your obvious lack of knowledge about the company and run with it.
Rega? But they only do marketing... on the contrary...

In France, Rega's reputation comes from the laudatory reviews published in classical music magazines having part of their pages devoted to high fidelity to have the advertisements linked to this market... The historical hi-fi magazines which published measurements never made much of it, however...

Rega advertisements were very numerous from the 1980s in "Diapason" and "Harmonie"... which did not publish measurements, just subjective listening reports...

And the Rega advertisements concentrated the worst audiophile delusions on musicality, on analog being much better than digital and the final bouquet was the speech on the first CD player announced as "Rega waited until digital was finally mature to release its reader..." with an analogy to ecology in addition! However, this ordinary and expensive player was nothing other than an OEM Japanese portable player (Sanyo from memory) put in a case with a homemade output stage... Adorned with all the virtues including RCA sockets of basic nickel-plated output... because when listened to they were better than more expensive models... according to the words of the boss of Rega... this brand is clearly a purely marketing brand which markets input products of range adorned with the virtues of musicality, because of the very modesty in the sense of performance of their design, because of a reversal of values imposed by the idiophilic discourse which wants that the lowest price in technology produces the best value in music.
 

Scytales

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And the Rega advertisements concentrated the worst audiophile delusions on musicality, on analog being much better than digital and the final bouquet was the speech on the first CD player announced as "Rega waited until digital was finally mature to release its reader..." with an analogy to ecology in addition! However, this ordinary and expensive player was nothing other than an OEM Japanese portable player (Sanyo from memory) put in a case with a homemade output stage...

Not quite. The output stage of the very first Rega Planet was realized with a Sanyo LA9215/6 integrated circuit, which incorporates onto a single chip six Op Amp to make stereo LPFs and output buffers with an attenuator on both channels and an analogue muting circuit on power ON/OFF. This Sanyo chip even incorporates its own regulated power supplies and a +5V regulated power supply output to power the DAC chip.

So, there was next to nothing left for the manufacturer to make a homemade design.
 
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restorer-john

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I did see a reference to this D/A only being able to process 16/48 maximum through the USB.

Rega has chosen to ignore a high-resolution USB input, sticking with 16/48 as the maximum data rate their DAC will process.

I guess that means the bottom 8 bits of the 24 bit test signal were simply truncated via the USB input- hence the poor showing. Up to 24/192 can apparently go in via the Toslink with a good quality fibre.
 
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amirm

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I did see a reference to this D/A only being able to process 16/48 maximum through the USB.
I don't think that is for this DAC. The dynamic range test definitely shows response better than 16 bits:

index.php


And this from the first paragraph in the manual:

"The Rega DAC-R is a 16/20/24-bit at 32kHz to 192kHz digital to analogue converter. Incorporating an enhanced version of the Rega designed circuit, the DAC-R offers the highest possible resolution over all inputs including fully asynchronous USB with the addition of remote functionality."
 

restorer-john

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You're right Amir.

I read that someplace. Found it again. Appears to be the previous? model with 5 filters, not the three filters, like the one you tested.

 
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