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Rega IO Review (stereo amplifier)

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 253 89.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 18 6.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 3 1.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 8 2.8%

  • Total voters
    282

DanielT

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I am seriously impressed with you guys (are there any women ASR members and I hope there are?) regarding your factualness and access/recall abilities regarding the long-term developments in audio reproduction technology and in the notable products that have come and gone.
Agree with that. Impressive! :)

By the way, Rega should have that knowledge. Above all, Rega should investigate what currently applies to the amplifier market. What competitors can offer regarding price - performance.

In which case. Very good that Amir tested Rega IO! :)
 
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Haskil

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Le blabla marketing de Rega et le blabla au sujet de leur prétendue musicalité m'ont toujours tenus éloignés de Rega : des platines LP également, vendues à des prix absurdes et employant des moyens tout aussi absurdes et couteux pour faire tourner le plateau avec régularité. Et quand j'ai eu à en écouter, j'ai rigolé : pour deux fois moins cher un ampli japonais délivrait plus de puissance, de bonne puissance... Rega, Naim, Sudgen, Cyrus n'ont jamais été fait pour moi. Jamais. Je ne leur ai jamais trouvé une qualité qui peut justifier leur prix de vente. Et le mot de musicalité appliqué à une électronique me fait immédiatement fuir.
 
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Doodski

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Le blabla marketing de Rega et le blabla au sujet de leur prétendue musicalité m'ont toujours tenu éloigné de Rega : des platines LP également vendues à des prix absurdes et employant des moyens absurdement couteux pour faire tourner le plateau avec régularité. Et quand j'ai eu à en écouter, j'ai rigolé : pour deux fois moins cher un ampli japonais délivrait plus de puissance, de bonne puissance... Rega, Naim, Sudgen, Cyrus n'ont jamais été fait pour moi. Jamais. Je ne leur ai jamais trouvé une qualité qui puisse justifier leur prix de vente. Et le mot de musicalité appliqué à une électronique me fait immédiatement fuir.
Je suis le même.
 

VintageFlanker

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Et le mot de musicalité appliqué à une électronique me fait immédiatement fuir.
C'est pourtant le seul argument à faire valoir quand on est si déficient sur le plan technique...
 

PeteL

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Le blabla marketing de Rega et le blabla au sujet de leur prétendue musicalité m'ont toujours tenus éloignés de Rega : des platines LP également, vendues à des prix absurdes et employant des moyens tout aussi absurdes et couteux pour faire tourner le plateau avec régularité. Et quand j'ai eu à en écouter, j'ai rigolé : pour deux fois moins cher un ampli japonais délivrait plus de puissance, de bonne puissance... Rega, Naim, Sudgen, Cyrus n'ont jamais été fait pour moi. Jamais. Je ne leur ai jamais trouvé une qualité qui peut justifier leur prix de vente. Et le mot de musicalité appliqué à une électronique me fait immédiatement fuir.
Pour les platines vous suggérez quoi comme alternative? Moi j'ai une vieille Thorens TD-126 et je suis satisfait et je n'ai pas l'intention de changer, mais pour les modèles actuels Rega j'avais l'impression qu'ils avaient bonne réputation, c'est pas bon? Personellement, à part Pro-Ject et Audio-Technica, je ne connais pas d’autres marques de table tournantes qui ont plusieurs modèles à moins cher que les modèles Rega de base. Ça ne me semble pas des prix absurdes du tout ils ont plusieurs modèles à moins de 1000$
 
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ivayvr

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Without a heavy support of British audio magazines (and some overseas magazines) Rega would never reach its Holy Grail status it currently have. I am not talking about their turntables since I never used one. The last one I had was back in 1992 that I made myself, used it for a year or two and never had another turntable (and never will). When I look back at that experience (building the turntable) I realize that mental illness comes in various forms and different levels of severity!!
What I am talking about here is some of their amplifiers, since it appears not all are bad. If memory serves me well, some 6-7 years ago there was a very, very long thread on the What Hi-Fi forum. A number of owners were complaining that their Brio's (previous version, not the current one) transformers were humming or buzzing. Members of plebs (plebians) were told that due to Rega's extreme commitment to the purity of sound their toroidal transformer did not use any shielding (not like some other, less committed, Rotel comes to mind) and that could be the reason for the noise. Statements were made that only a small percentage of amplifiers was affected, that the noise is almost inaudible, that they have a long history of making high quality products...
Fast forward, a few years after that, when the new (I believe current model of Brio) has been introduced, I couldn't resist all the foot tapping, involving, intoxicatingly musical....statements and ordered one. What made the whole transaction more attractive was the fact that they were offering it with RP1 turntable at almost no cost if bought as a package. I sold the turntable even without opening the box and was almost certain that I will not have any loss as a result of that transaction.
At that time I had Focal Aria 905, NAD D3020, Bluesound Node2 and some Oppo DVD/universal player. I connected little Rega and...nothing. I was totally underwhelmed. There was absolutely no improvement compared to the tiny D3020. Only the bass was a bit weaker and less defined. I was hoping that if I let it run for a week or two, it will improve but that did not ever happen. I sold it in less then two months.
I don't even think it is worth discussing what are the potential uses of the io and what the manufacturers or dealers were expecting. If it was at half the price you could be tempted to buy a "part of a heritage" or something.... but at its current price, it is more like a joke.
There are much cheaper (especially in North America), proven alternatives.
They are NAD 3020D V2 CAD 499, NAD C316BEE V2 CAD 550 and Rega io CAD 895; USA prices NAD 3020D V2 USD 479 C316BEE V2 USD 479 and Brio io USD 595; UK prices NAD 3020D V2 GBP 399 NAD C316BEE V2 GBP 299 and Brio io GBP 379. None of these are Ali Express or ebay amplifiers and I must have missed a number of decent amplifiers in a similar price range.
 

DSJR

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I'm chuckling away here :D

For decades, Rega ignored totally the press with a rather insular and smug attitude, only sold to a tiny handful of UK dealers and rags/mags usually had to beg, steal or borrow a sample from dealers to carry out any meaningful reviews. In the UK, they're still regarded as a beer-budget brand and the expensive but 'good sounding' Isis CD player and Osiris amp were ignored, the few that went to 'Rega Reference' dealers being sold off at trade price basically a year or so later, which made them bargains in the high end fraternity and rather better value than a Naim for example, which still sells at it's very high prices. Their products were a niche inside a niche really, but the products were and still are pretty reliable and with great UK aftercare, no issue at all really. Rega have kept UK prices down, where it appears its UK made 'competition' increased the home market retail prices to keep price parity worldwide. The cost of the Io in the US is around brio R level in the UK and the Brio R didn't do so badly in its Stereophile review.

Not being far eastern made, the Io is arguably as cheap as it could be and the dinky shape will appeal regardless. Dealers here will upsell to the Brio R as I mentioned before. The rest of you can enjoy your Yamaha and other far eastern made equivalents which offer so much more in material terms and maybe on the bench too ;)

The Io is part of a £1000 UK record playing system and I doubt it'll be sold as the Planar 1 is universally (maybe it will, I don't know). I don't think 'we' have cash strapped students desperate for a starter sound system so much today, as these people tend to use headphones or gaming headsets these days if my recently graduated son and his pals are anything to go by. Maybe some will want a 'record player' and will be tempted by said system, but it's unlikely and my very local 'audio salon' has 50+ aged clients mostly it seems.
 
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ad_fletch

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, we had and sold the clamshell Rega era products and subjectively, I didn't care for the original brio as I found it weak and 'meh' frankly but not unpleasant. The Luna amp was rather better but the amp we sold with ease was the £500 or so Mira, which had a bit of power and the remote was popular. Far better than an equivalent Arcam, but maybe that was never saying much back then.

Ah yes, a good friend had the Mira (2nd edition after the clamshell, with sculpted top and heatsink peeking out the bottom).

Was a big upgrade from my Brio both sonically and aesthetically. Wonder how it'd measure....
 

DanielT

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Naim for example,....
Do not take it badly now. Many in Sweden, including me, like England. But you and your little special solutions. Attached pictures a solder job to get power supply regarding Naim. Something with pre out with a Naim amplifier. Connection between different Naim devices. Anyway. Power via a DIN connector. ..Que? (not me who fixed it in the pictures).

Eccentric English technical solutions, I think it seems.:)

It should be generic, standard home hifi with ditto cables but not, apparently. It obviously needs a soldering iron to make it work.

Naim might want to sell special cables? I said a little conspiratorially.:)
 

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DSJR

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The thing is, a raft of small companies came along in the 70's owned (and were often 'designed') by non electronics people. These people weren't bound by established technical convention especially and tried to buck established trends I feel. By the late 70's, inflation was taking its toll in the UK and many 'next generation' far eastern amps to find their way to us didn't seem as good as the models of a few years previously (Yamaha I distinctly remember, but Technics, Sansui and I think Pioneer) and these just didn't seem quite as capable as the models they replaced at actually doing the job of driving a loudspeaker load with a music signal. These new designers put th e music first and in their own way, did what Quad's Peter Walker did - tuned the distortions or whatever to be as innocuous and inaudible as possible (to be fair to Mr Walker the famous Quad 33/303 amp system was very clever indeed for its time in the mid 60's and he wasn't so proud or arrogant that he wouldn't get other industry experts to help him - I believe Peter Baxendall assisted in both the preamp and power amp designs).

Naim's a distinctly odd one but the thinking then was way 'outside the box' at the time and it established trends for removing tone controls, offering stable 4 ohm load driving ability and the infamous removal of the output inductor/network as the feeling was the speaker cables would do it instead. All the hippies that got on this new wave (all in their twenties and thirties and not fully absorbed into the 'convention machine' at this point) helped to get things going nicely for these brands (the A&R A60 was the first? inexpensive amp to fully break through I believe, although there were others from Spendor (D40) and earlier, A.R.D... The Nytech 252 receiver also did well with such dealers once the reliability issues had been sorted out.



Ahhh, at least Spendor put a shield around the volume pot..

 

Haskil

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Je rigole ici :RÉ

Pendant des décennies, la Rega a totalement ignoré la presse avec une attitude plutôt insulaire et suffisante, n'a vendu qu'à une petite poignée de revendeurs britanniques et les chiffons/mags devaient généralement mendier, voler ou emprunter un échantillon aux revendeurs pour effectuer des critiques significatives. Au Royaume-Uni, ils sont toujours considérés comme une marque de bière à petit budget et le lecteur CD Isis cher mais « bon son » et l'ampli Osiris ont été ignorés, les quelques-uns qui sont allés aux revendeurs « Rega Reference » étant vendus au prix du commerce essentiellement un un an plus tard, ce qui leur a fait de bonnes affaires dans la fraternité haut de gamme et plutôt un meilleur rapport qualité-prix qu'un Naim par exemple, qui se vend toujours à des prix très élevés. Leurs produits étaient vraiment une niche à l'intérieur d'une niche, mais les produits étaient et sont toujours assez fiables et avec un excellent suivi au Royaume-Uni, aucun problème vraiment. La Rega a maintenu les prix au Royaume-Uni bas, où il semble que sa «concurrence» faite au Royaume-Uni ait augmenté les prix de détail sur le marché intérieur pour maintenir la parité des prix dans le monde entier. Le coût de l'Io aux États-Unis est d'environ le niveau de brio R au Royaume-Uni et le Brio R n'a pas si mal fait dans sa revue Stereophile.

N'étant pas fabriqué en Extrême-Orient, le Io est sans doute aussi bon marché qu'il pourrait l'être et la forme dinky plaira malgré tout. Comme je l'ai déjà mentionné, les concessionnaires ici vendront le Brio R. Le reste d'entre vous peut profiter de votre Yamaha et d'autres équivalents fabriqués en Extrême-Orient qui offrent bien plus en termes de matériel et peut-être aussi sur le banc.;)

L'Io fait partie d'un système de lecture de disques britannique à 1000 £ et je doute qu'il soit vendu car le Planar 1 l'est universellement (peut-être le sera-t-il, je ne sais pas). Je ne pense pas que «nous» ayons autant d'étudiants à court d'argent désespérés à la recherche d'un système audio de démarrage aujourd'hui, car ces personnes ont tendance à utiliser des écouteurs ou des casques de jeu ces jours-ci si mon fils récemment diplômé et ses amis sont quelque chose à faire. Peut-être que certains voudront un « tourne-disque » et seront tentés par ce système, mais c'est peu probable et mon « salon audio » très local a pour la plupart des clients âgés de plus de 50 ans, semble-t-il.

Des décennies, dites-vous ? Mais dès la fin des années 1970-début des années 1980, les appareils Rega étaient l'objet de toutes les attentions des pages haute-fidélité de la presse musicale française... qui en parlaient en long en large en traversant avec des sanglots dans la voix... Et le pompon est arrivé quand Rega a sorti son premier lecteur de CD : la publicité disait qu'ils attendaient que la technologie arrive à maturité... C'était drôle, car il vendait un lecteur de CD dont une bonne partie, la partie essentielle, venait d'un lecteur de CD portable... dont les performances étaient toutes plus modestes que celles des appareils à tiroir des grandes marques japonaises et européennes.
 

Haskil

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Pour les platines vous suggérez quoi comme alternative ? Moi j'ai une vieille Thorens TD-126 et je suis satisfait et je n'ai pas l'intention de changer, mais pour les modèles actuels Rega j'avais l'impression qu'ils avaient bonne réputation, c'est pas bon ? Personnellement, à part Pro-Ject et Audio-Technica, je ne connais pas d'autres marques de table tournantes qui ont plusieurs modèles à moins cher que les modèles Rega de base. Ça ne me semble pas des prix absurdes du tout ils ont plusieurs modèles à moins de 1000$
Votre Thorens fait l'affaire. Sinon, on trouve sur le marché de l'occasion des platines LP magnifiques japonaises splendidement fabriquées, avec des bras de qualité pour très peu d'argent. Chez Luxman, Yamaha, Denon, Pioneer, Marantz, etc. Evidemment aussi en Europe chez Thorens et Dual.
 

PeteL

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Votre Thorens fait l'affaire. Sinon, on trouve sur le marché de l'occasion des platines LP magnifiques japonaises splendidement fabriquées, avec des bras de qualité pour très peu d'argent. Chez Luxman, Yamaha, Denon, Pioneer, Marantz, etc. Evidemment aussi en Europe chez Thorens et Dual.
Bien sur, je parlais des modèles actuels, ça me semble des prix raisonables, vous dites que les Rega sont à des prix absurdes, mais je comprend que c'est plus cher d'acheter une platine neuve, c'est une évidence. D'ailleurs, même dans l'usagé la Thorens est plus dispendieuse que les modèles Rega de base comme la P1.
 
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ivayvr

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Sorry if I am a bit (or totally) dense but I don't understand how we will get closer to the answer if Rega io is good, bad or mediocre amplifier by learning about British audio history and inner workings of their audio dealerships.
Don't get me wrong, I am not totally opposed to British audio equipment. Back in 1985 I purchased Cyrus Mission 1, MK 1 and the matching tuner. A few years later I purchased Mission 1, MK2 (no improvement). What was different then was the fact that all three units were affordable. A few years ago when new, class D, Mission amp was introduced as their entry level, it was sold at significantly more than the cost should have been adjusted for inflation. Finally, I was able to free myself from all that hype that only British gear has that "magic" (look under HK amplifier "UK version" or Cyrus "UK version) foot tapping, involving, musical feel.
I don't think that students really care abou turntable based systems. Even if they do, as I mentioned, there are better, more flexible alternatives. Most students have phones much more expensive than Rega io.
I consider all the heartwarming stories surrounding the design of a peace of equipment totally redundant. Imagine if you start reading a biography of the engineer who designed your fridge or a dishwasher...
About "eastern built" equipment the meaning of it has totally changed these days. Some of the most sophisticated manufacturing facilities are based in Asia and the emphasis has shifted to the proper design. As an example Apple comes to mind.
The fact that Rega is offering superb customer support in England is only market specific and has no relevance in other markets where Reaga is sold at a very large premium.
 

DSJR

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Des décennies, dites-vous ? Mais dès la fin des années 1970-début des années 1980, les appareils Rega étaient l'objet de toutes les attentions des pages haute-fidélité de la presse musicale française... qui en parlaient en long en large en traversant avec des sanglots dans la voix... Et le pompon est arrivé quand Rega a sorti son premier lecteur de CD : la publicité disait qu'ils attendaient que la technologie arrive à maturité... C'était drôle, car il vendait un lecteur de CD dont une bonne partie, la partie essentielle, venait d'un lecteur de CD portable... dont les performances étaient toutes plus modestes que celles des appareils à tiroir des grandes marques japonaises et européennes.
I'm British and knew little of other markets to be fair. Rega shunned the press for years here - if distributors decided to get the stuff reviewed that's up to them. Rega didn't even have a rep on the road until the late 90's I remember. before the internet, we had no idea if a French magazine raved about the brand - sorry - and Rega never did review reprints and barely even a newsletter (The Rage).

The 'Clamshell' Planet CD player (with Couple interconnect) was sold against Arcam, Rotel and Marantz 'KI' alternatives and usually won out as differences could be heard back then. After 2000 or so, Home Theatre took over and customer tastes changed, a top loading crude looking device not favoured at all...

P.S. the reason why I've gone on about the UK industry and its history as I experienced it is to balance the wider-world opinion of this brand, especially as regards pricing and hopefully, to give a little more background as to the thinking that may well exist behind its performance (like older Schiit gear - good enough to be largely inaudible and nobody's going to drive it hard into 4 ohm speakers anyway). Some vintage brands have philosophies behind their thinking and component limitations of the times and that's something few younger bods would know unless anal like I was/am. As tested in Sterophile, the Brio R seems a better product and as I said, the dealers here tend to feel it 'sounds better' too. ASR is an internatiunal site I accept full of reviewed products not all available in the UK - a tragic shame that our own niche products seem to do so badly (Chord dacs seem ok but prices are mad here too). The market, dealers and sales will tell if it's a success or not but not sure how many dealers will tune in here to see the annihilation it's suffered.

P.P.S. Maybe Amire should try to obtain classic Krell amps, more ARC models, Levinson oldies and perhaps other classic prosumer amps of yore (Crown and Adcom that Ken Rockwell hasn't looked at). I bet there's some genuine gold nuggets as well as unmitigated disasters there too - not just us who've done some less good 'uns...)
 

DanielT

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Sorry if I am a bit (or totally) dense but I don't understand how we will get closer to the answer if Rega io is good, bad or mediocre amplifier by learning about British audio history and inner workings of their audio dealerships.
Technically, in terms of performance, compared to competitors, do you mean?
It's pretty clear by now where IO is. Amir rates relative to other amplifiers he tests. There is no doubt about that what IO is capable of (or is not better to write)

If, on the other hand, one is to try to understand Rega IO and pricing, its opportunities to find buyers in the Hifi market, I think that DSJR's description of English Hifi is of the utmost importance. Without the understanding of the Rega brand that DSJR conveys, it is difficult to understand how Rega IO could sell. Brands sell. The values that are loaded in brands sell.
 
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MacCali

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I recently saw last year a rega Elicit I believe it was on sale as an open box for nearly 700 dollars off.

I contacted rega because there’s no measurements of anything. I spoke to the company direct who turned me over to one of their engineers.

He said,
“At rega we don’t post any measurements, we don’t believe that influences sound. We listen to our products and they are in the, higher tiers/more expensive, excellent products that outperform the competition.”

Immediately hung up after that, and did not buy the unit.
 

DanielT

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I recently saw last year a rega Elicit I believe it was on sale as an open box for nearly 700 dollars off.

I contacted rega because there’s no measurements of anything. I spoke to the company direct who turned me over to one of their engineers.

He said,
“At rega we don’t post any measurements, we don’t believe that influences sound. We listen to our products and they are in the, higher tiers/more expensive, excellent products that outperform the competition.”

Immediately hung up after that, and did not buy the unit.
There, everything fell into place regarding Rega IO and its rather lousy performance.Thanks for the post.:)
 
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