Best stereo amp E400-E6OO
AWARDS 2012
Best stereo amp £400-£600
Rega Brio-R £480
The Brio-R had its first taste of one of our
Awards in 2011. And now Rega's talented stereo
amp is back for seconds.
Few amplifiers will impress straight out of the
box, but from the second you dial in the
volume, the Brio-R grabs makes a hugely
impressive sonic statement. It's one that
similarly priced rivals struggle to match.
A small, stocky powerhouse
The amp takes the form of a compact
half-width unit, which uses an
impressively robust casework.
Rega takes a simplicity-first
approach to hi-fi design, and this is
reflected in the relatively basic
feature set. You'll find just four
line-level inputs and a remote
control handset - (Which is where the
‘R' in the model name comes in) - and
that's just about it. If you want a headphone
socket, tone control, built-in DAC, or other
niceties, you'll have to look elsewhere.
The Brio-R does have a fantastic moving-
magnet phono stage, however. That shouldn't
come as a surprise, given Rega’s reputation for
creating high-quality turntables. It sounds
sensational and we've found it to be the perfect
medium through which to use Rega's similarly
brilliant RP3/Elys 2 (see p100 of this issue).
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Switch to the line-level inputs and the Rega
continues to impress. This is a veritable musical
maestro, majoring on rhythm and agility, but it's
also equally deft at communicating emotion
and subtleties hidden within a track. With a
relatively modest 50W per channel into 80hms,
the Rega doesn't produce the weightiest of
sounds butit's still good enough to drive a huge
range of speakers. We'd suggest partnering the
Brio-R with Tannoy's DC6 standmounters (back
_ on p64) as a starting point. For a
» suitable CD spinner, the Rega would
work well with machines from
-— Marantz's budget CD6004 all the
The Brio-R is refreshingly
old-school in its features. The
nearest it gets to a modern
concession is a remote
handset.
Best stereo amp £600-£1000
Cyrus 6a £700
We've been surprised, yet delighted to see
Cyrus adopt an aggressive pricing policy for its
latest generation amps: the entry-level 6a
delivers sensational value for money. It's a
considerable £200 cheaper than last year's
equivalent model, but still manages to retain
the same Cyrus hallmarks, one of which
mn happens to include
y sound quality to die
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Cyrus's half-width aluminium chassis will be
familiar to many. On the front panel are buttons
for input selection, a customisable setup menu
and a volume dial.
Connections round the back amount to six
analogue inputs, twin speaker outputs for
bi-wiring, and a headphone socket. The
amplifier delivers 40W per channel and shares
core technology with the £1200 8a.
Sonically, the 6a doesn't stray from the
traditional Cyrus sound. This means there's a
speedy delivery, excellent levels of detail, and a
PHONES
This is a veritable musical
maestro. It majors on rhythm
and agility, but is equally deft
at communicating emotion
way up to the lofty Roksan Caspian M2.
Alternatively, you could even go for Rega's
matching DAC (£500).
Safe to say, though, that whichever path you
tread, though, the Brio-R's Award-winning
talent will shine through.
breathtaking level of clarity across a wide
variety of musical genres. Spin Paloma Faith's
30 Minute Love Affair, and her vocal sounds
open and expressive as the Cyrus presents it in a
spacious soundstage. Dynamic bursts are
wonderfully controlled and the Cyrus can keep
pace with even the most frenzied and
complicated of beats.
An authoritative sound
Compared with previous Cyrus amps at this
level there's more authority to low frequencies,
which is an added bonus given the reduced
price. Another bonus is the Cyrus upgrade path.
This includes the possible addition of the
standard DAC or the upgrade Ox and/or one of
its power amp solutions.
Rivals such as the Roksan Kandy K2 boast
more power and fuller sound, but can't match
the Cyrus for precision and agility - unrivalled
at this money.
It's a speedy delivery, with
excellent levels of detail and a
breathtaking level of clarity
across a wide variety of music
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