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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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English snake oil...
NOT IT'S NOT - o_O:mad::facepalm:

FFS, on launch, this dac was CHEAP, as is most of the Rega range here in the UK. Topping, SMSL and a host of other new cheap far eastern made boxes didn't exist back then and a Topping chip amp was a rarity I remember long before the dacs came along. If a far eastern made dac sells for $120 (£150) how much would the ex-works price be and how many would they need to manufacture in a batch to keep prices that low? I suspect this one is made in what, batches of fifty at a time (no idea really) and I also suspect that some hand soldering is also involved (can those electrolytics be fitted by an automated board-stuffer? (showing my dated memories of circuit board stuffing now). The bowed case-top hails back to the early 2000's electronics (Mira and Planet 2000 stylee) so not new at all.

As I've said earlier, this dac has technically been left behind by ever newer (every few months or so?) baby boxes with fantastic performance to suit sites such as this one, but to claim it doesn't do the job very well or is actually snake oil, makes my blood boil frankly in a tribal sense, at least for a short while ;) It does actually 'sound' very good indeed and never ever draws attention to itself when used to enjoy music. In the home market at least, Rega are an honourable company and in my professional dealings with them (and also dealer pals who still deal with them) practically ALWAYS took the customers' side if any issues cropped up and did it quickly and efficiently!!!

Let's face it, I wonder how many posters here could 'hear' sinad of 60 - 70 in a source or amp component playing music if the distortion was lower order harmonics in comparison with a sota example and also, adding a touch of noise to the signal can also help (I can't point to research done, but most of us old enough to enjoy BBC Radio 3 live concerts were never ever bothered by the 13 bit signal with -70 odd dB noise floor and brick-walled 15kHz upper frequency limit).
 

Purité Audio

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D where did you used to work, what did you sell most of, just wondering if we would ever have met in that previous life.
Best,
Keith
 

Mart68

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, this dac has technically been left behind by ever newer (every few months or so?) baby boxes with fantastic performance to suit sites such as this one,
can't agree with this part, this DAC has too much noise from the power supply, don't need more modern tech to fix that.

Either they never measured it or they didn't care since it isn't bad enough to be audible. But if you're going to ask premium price and be a premium player, you can't cut corners like that.
 

AndreaT

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Never considered Rega with its higher asking price when in 1998 I listened to the Planet compared to Cambridge Audio CD4 SE. The CD4 SE was better sounding and half the price. It would be nice to review it on ASR and compare w a Planet. I bet it measures better.
 

Mart68

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Never considered Rega with its higher asking price when in 1998 I listened to the Planet compared to Cambridge Audio CD4 SE. The CD4 SE was better sounding and half the price. It would be nice to review it on ASR and compare w a Planet. I bet it measures better.
I've seen the CD4SE measured somewhere and it wasn't that clever. But like you I recall it favourably.
 

doug2761

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it's damned painful to see icon brands like this gradually taken down, but that's life I suppose.
Yes it does tug at sentimentality. I'm a huge fan of McIntosh, Audio Research, Dynaudio, and B&W. Some of my best in-store listening sessions involved some combination of those brands. I always struggled to figure out how I could afford one of those reference set ups. It turns out that I didn't have to dream. With today's gear we easily surpass those brands class D amplifiers and competent DACs. Heck, a person can go straight to a powered loudspeaker and just be done. With websites like ASR we can take comfort that we're not missing out. I'd feel a bit silly these days spending a grand on a DAC or a few $k on amps.

I also wonder how truly audible the differences between this Rega and current best in class DACs. I suspect it's probably hard to tell the difference in most settings.
 

Billy Budapest

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About the three selectable digital filters in the Rega dac R : nr 2 using TIDAL with 16 bit 44.1 kHz material sounds best in my opinion.

There are small audible differences in the stereo image between the three digital filters. Nr.1 has a more narrow stereoimage with a slightly more pronounced perceived bass. This pronounced bass with filtering nr.1 cant be seen in any measurements.

Its impossible to hear any difference between the different filterings with only one loudspeaker, but with a good stereo setup its easy.:)
When I had the Rega DAC-R v1 with the five filter choices (all the control does is access the standard built in filters of the Wolfson DAC chip), I could hear positively *zero* difference between the digital filters both using speakers and a variety of headphones including AKG701’s, B&W P5’s, and others.
 

formdissolve

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My buddy has one of these in his system and it's a crutch due to being single-ended, but he's too stubborn to upgrade to a balanced DAC. Doesn't sound bad, if a bit "warm".. but having to crank the preamp gain really brings out the noise. To be fair, his pre-amp is a tube-based Audio Research so that is probably coloring everything anyways :D

Edit: On second thought, I think he has the original non-R variant from 2012...
 
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DSJR

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can't agree with this part, this DAC has too much noise from the power supply, don't need more modern tech to fix that.

Either they never measured it or they didn't care since it isn't bad enough to be audible. But if you're going to ask premium price and be a premium player, you can't cut corners like that.
Martin sir, FIFTEEN years ago and long before ASR, this DAC was beer budget in the UK market, the Cambridge, M-F and so on regarded as little more than toys, as I now regard my old 'dac-for-a-fiver' from 2012 or so which measures badly today, but which 'sounds' fine on red-book material!

I'm sure Rega's designer (Terry Bateman?) would have done basic measurements on it. I'm happy to be objectively proved otherwise, but were other dacs around the world at the same price as the Rega back in 2009 or so (say, $750 - $800?) as good or better?

Remember, 'enthusiastic' domestic brands don't design to get good ASR reviews (SINAD and Spinorams/Klippell based) and firms like Rega would never release a product on spec alone I feel/ Remember where they came from - look up the frequency response of an Elys 2 or Exact 2 cartridge - it's awfully old fashioned but if you use toppy speakers as theirs were and then slip in a neutral digital source into that system, the results wouldn't have been that nice!

I was going to say again that until the more vociferous posters here and possibly elsewhere started severely complaining, 'Good Enough' really was good enough!!! if you can't *hear it* under normal conditions, in their eyes wouldn't that have been 'good enough' back then? Look at the Hegel dac-amp review! It 'sounds' fine subjectively, but old fashioned gain structures inside seem to affect the figures somewhat, not that anyone in the real world would notice I suspect...

Long before the 'ESS distortion hump' was properly measured here and elsewhere, I remember some subjectivists disliking the 'overly squeaky clean' sound that said dac chips were supposed to give. Whether this was pure imagination or whether that distortion hump (now long ago sorted by those designers who researched it) really was affecting lower level mid-high frequency signals, I have no idea as I was out of it by then.

Like I said, modern dac products under £/$200 are two a penny/cent almost and change rapidly, almost every few months once a large production batch is sold through and on to the next revision.. This dac is ancient by modern standards and what was 'Good Enough' back in 2010 or whenever, obviously isn't good enough today. Just DON'T test an Apollo R CD player with its need for 50k amp loading (the original Planet player from the late 90's was exactly the same here ;) )

I'd best shut the feck up and crawl back under my stone. This little box is far too expensive outside of its home market when cheap far eastern imports cost much the same all over and time and recent dac advances haven't looked kindly on it. So, how well does say a DCS multi-box system compare these days? The Chord dacs have already been through the mincer here so what about DCS then - does anyone have one to send in?
 

TNT

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"Other than that minor issue, the Rega DAC-R offered measured performance that was beyond reproach.—John Atkinson"

Sigh.
2015 - it's 9 years ago almost... things improve...

Green 3 filter is really well chosen - it goes to full attenuation before Fs/2.

//
 

Hart

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It's disheartening, a lot of British gear not measuring up well at all. Arcam really disappointing. They need to get their game up. The marketing hype needs to try and meet the test results. It's great to see much smaller companies coming out with really great product though: Topping, Shiit and others.

I once owned a Rega Planet 2000 CD player, I have this sneaking suspicion it may have not have been that good...
 
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Sokel

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It's disheartening, a lot of British gear not measuring up well at all. Arcam really disappointing. They need to get their game up. The marketing hype needs to try and meet the test results. It's great to see much smaller companies coming out with really great product though: Topping, Shiit and others.
It's how one sees it also.
I for example consider Holo Audio as a worthy newcomer or Eversolo for what it does.Denafrips also (has a nice pre),they meet the needs of everyone (and us that like the insides as much as the outsides).
(Please someone correct me if they have unreliable devices ((not one,a fault is ok,lots)) in general or use their customers as beta-testers,I haven't dig deep enough)
 

AnalogSteph

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Noise performance is not had:
Was this supposed to read "not bad"?

Either way, while 104 dB and change of dynamic range is good enough for a line-level DAC, it is a far cry from the capabilities of a dual WM8742, a chip rated 123 dB(A) and 126 dB(A) in mono mode, with a -100 dB THD+N. This is little better than random China eBay DAC performance 10 years ago. Engineering is clearly deficient.
 

Spocko

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NOT IT'S NOT - o_O:mad::facepalm:

FFS, on launch, this dac was CHEAP, as is most of the Rega range here in the UK. Topping, SMSL and a host of other new cheap far eastern made boxes didn't exist back then and a Topping chip amp was a rarity I remember long before the dacs came along. If a far eastern made dac sells for $120 (£150) how much would the ex-works price be and how many would they need to manufacture in a batch to keep prices that low? I suspect this one is made in what, batches of fifty at a time (no idea really) and I also suspect that some hand soldering is also involved (can those electrolytics be fitted by an automated board-stuffer? (showing my dated memories of circuit board stuffing now). The bowed case-top hails back to the early 2000's electronics (Mira and Planet 2000 stylee) so not new at all.

As I've said earlier, this dac has technically been left behind by ever newer (every few months or so?) baby boxes with fantastic performance to suit sites such as this one, but to claim it doesn't do the job very well or is actually snake oil, makes my blood boil frankly in a tribal sense, at least for a short while ;) It does actually 'sound' very good indeed and never ever draws attention to itself when used to enjoy music. In the home market at least, Rega are an honourable company and in my professional dealings with them (and also dealer pals who still deal with them) practically ALWAYS took the customers' side if any issues cropped up and did it quickly and efficiently!!!

Let's face it, I wonder how many posters here could 'hear' sinad of 60 - 70 in a source or amp component playing music if the distortion was lower order harmonics in comparison with a sota example and also, adding a touch of noise to the signal can also help (I can't point to research done, but most of us old enough to enjoy BBC Radio 3 live concerts were never ever bothered by the 13 bit signal with -70 odd dB noise floor and brick-walled 15kHz upper frequency limit).
With this logic, what's the point of measuring at all right?
 

Billy Budapest

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More like this absolutely basic,thin-walled (or not) speakers of the era.
It was mostly the color,not the shape.
Like a not so nice solution to a need.

(yet they performed miracles in studios with those)
Thanks, never had heard the term before!
 

MacClintock

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Look at PS audios digital gear , mediocre noise results but many people seems to like the sound . And Im sure they do comparisons at home before they buy. Many people also like vinyl and tubes, theres nothing strange about liking the sound from gear that measures poorly.
There is nothing strange about liking sound from gear that measures poorly, but this just has nothing to do with high fidelity. It is something else, I don't know how to call it, mabye using poorly measuring gear as additional instruments?
 

MacClintock

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P.S. Rega owner Roy Gandy remains convinced to this day that analogue and especially vinyl is where it's at and digital doesn't come close (recent interview regarding the new high end turntable they've launched). This may help explain why products like this have stagnated...
This just shows that Roy Gandy has no clue about digital audio, sad.
 
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