Sam Tellig loves the Brio R!
 ЗАМ 5 Е
Sam Tellig
Minimalism still rules at Rega. And
the gear is still assembled in England.
It 15 not DESIGNED AND ENGI-
NEERED IN ESSEX ENGLAND,
and MADE IN PRC. That's People's Re-
public of China. Of course, not all the
parts come from England. The beauti-
ful casework is Swiss.
The remote tells the story: six inputs,
a Mute button, and volume up/down.
There are five line-level RCA inputs
and one phono input. There is no pre-
amp output, but there is a Record Out-
put (the volume control doesn't kick |
in) for recording stuff, or for connect- |
ing an outboard headphone amp.
Otherwise, the Brio-R is feature
free-o. No balance control, no tone
controls, no headphone jack. No
speaker selector switch. No way to in-
dulge yourself with frivolous fripperies
like biwiring or biamping, It comes in
silver or black, and it’s diminutive: 8.5"
(220mm) wide by 3.25" (80mm) high
by 13" (330mm) deep, from the tip of
the volume knob to the back of the
speaker terminals. It weighs just under
14 Ibs—what the British call one stone.
That's four pounds more than Maksim,
Musical Fidelity M1DAC, using
the Musical Fidelity M1CDC
transport.
The Rega Brio-R delivered
a relaxed, nonfatiguing, solid
tight, taut bass) sound that
idn’t quite exhibit the sweet-
ness of tubes—or tube fsuris (trou-
ble). Compared to my reference
solid-state integrated, the LFD
LE IV, the Brio-R lacked ulti-
mate definition and detail. I got
the cat's meow but not the cat's
whiskers. What do you expect?
The LFD sells for $3695—more
than four times the price of the
Rega Brio-R. It lacks a remote
… and a built-in phono stage.
The Brio-R showed the excellence
that's possible when a manufacture
aspires to deliver less. Less power
than usual, Smaller size, Fewer fea-
tures. When you consider that a small,
British-built integrated amplifier cost
around $400 some 30 years ago, $895
seems most reasonable.
I was impressed by the quality of the
Brio-R’s phono stage. I used my Rega
P25 turntable with Goldring 1042 car-
tridge. I hate to spoil Roy Hall, of im-
pu Music Hall, with more publicity,
ut the Goldring remains one of my
favorites. You're not limited to mov-
ing-magnet cartridges with the Brio;
you can use a high-output moving-coil
with an output of around 2.0mV or
more. One of my favorites is the Dy-
navector 10X53.
I pulled out more vinyl, including
one of my favorite LPs: Ben Webster's
At the Renaissance, recorded in 1960
(Contemporary/QJC/Analogue Pro-
ductions AAP] 011, out of print). I en-
joyed that analog sense of ease, even if
the resolution was not quite top-notch.
With a very high-resolution system,
I can make out snatches of chitchat
among the audience. Did those folks at
the Renaissance Club, on Hollywood's
Sunset Strip, know who Ben Web-
ster was? (The Doors’ drummer, John
Densmore, calls the place “a sacred
gin joint” See http://articles.latimes.
com/2008/may/25/entertainment/
ca-densmore25.
There are more powerful and high-
er-resolution amplifiers, including
some fine ones from Rega. Now, with
the added motivation of rattling Roy
Hall, I'm motivated to check out some
of them.
Christmas is coming. The geese are
getting fat.
www.Stereophile.com, December 2011
SAM'S SPACE
our cat. The Brio-R is solid: tightly
built, muscular, like Maksim, and ready
with riposte. Its put together like a fine
feline or a Rolls-Royce motor car.
The power output is specified as
50Wpc into 8 ohms or 73W into 4
ohms. Not 70W, not 75W, but 73W.
The amplifier is said to be able to drive
“awkward loads as low as 1.7 ohms,” be-
low which the amp “is protected against
shorted speakers and reactive loads.”
The circuit design is new, as is the
look. According to the product manual,
Rega's engineers (in this case, Rega's
US rep, Steve Daniels) developed “a
low-source impedance emitter fol-
lower class-A driver stage. This is based
around a complementary pair of 150
watt Sanken Darlington output transis-
tors . . .” My eyes glaze over. My ears
don't. “The Brio-R is capable of driving
all normal Hi-Fi fond eben: Rega
recommends using loudspeakers with a
nominal i of 8Q. It is possible
to run speakers as low as 4Q however
such units may cause the case to exceed
40°C [104°F] above the ambient tem-
perature.”
Speaking as an awkward load myself,
Please to put a penny in an old
man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a
ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got ha'penny, then
God bless you.
This would make a swell Christmas
present for Dad, especially if he's into
vinyl. Fix him up with a Rega turn-
table, too.
“It’s an "umble table,” a British re-
viewer wrote about the Rega Planar
3 more than three decades ago. The
Brio-R is an 'umble amp, too, It's Re-
gas entry-level model, and few manu-
acturers make one as good. It could
be exit-level, too. Its strong points are
its compact looks, solid build, included
phono stage, and easygoing tonal bal-
ance. Goodness knows, I tried enough
different speakers. I found the sound
slightly e never on edge, yet never
bloated—or so rhythmic that the thing
sounded harmonically threadbare. In-
deed, I thought that the sound came
very close, tonally, to my LED Integrat-
ed LE IV. Direct comparisons showed
that the Brio-R lacked ultimate resolu-
tion, that images were less well placed
in space, that bass was less tightly de-
fined and tuneful, that not as much air
was there, It would be easy to find fault
with the Brio-R, but it's obtuse to do so
when it costs only $895.
No integrated amplifier that I have
heard for under $1000 has a finer built-
in phono stage.
And the Rega Brio-R almost fits in-
side a stocking—not that I'd risk damag-
ing it by dangling it from the mantel.
Rega Research, Lid., 6 Coopers
Way, Temple Farm Industrial Estate,
Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England
552 STE, UK. Web: www.rega.co.uk.
US distributor: Sound Organisation,
159 Leslie Street, Dallas, TX 75207.
Tel: (972) 234-0182.
Web: www.soundorg.com.
Rega Research Brio-R
integrated amplifier
'Umble-pie eye-fye is something the
British do so well (along with review-
ing phono stages that aren't there).
The Rega Brio-R is like the Musical
Fidelity X-Pre that resurfaced. Like my
LED LE IV integrated amplifier. And
the original Naim NAIT integrated,
which I reviewed in 1985 (Vol.8 No.5).
The NAIT was neat, and about the size
of the Brio-R.
Previous iterations of the Brio, in
their minimalism, lacked a remote con-
trol, which (not thai) is that for which
the R stands. The Brio-R costs $895—
$300 more than the previous Brio.
common sense is called on from you as
well as Rega. You would not use such a
small amplifier to drive large, current-
guzzling loudspeakers in a large North
American listening room. The Brio-R
is best suited for small-o systems in
smaller rooms with no more than mod-
erately difficult speaker loads. I encoun-
tered no problems with any speaker I
tried. The case never ran more than
slightly warm—even in July and August,
without air-conditioning, the need for
which does not exist in Great Britain.
They don't have heat, either.
Small amplifiers often sound bet-
ter than larger ones, especially smaller
amps that use a single pair of output
transistors per channel—resolving,
sweet, intimate, offering the kind of
sound that draws me in instead of driv-
ing me out (of the room).
It was a breeze to take the Brio-R
from room to room, so I tried half a
dozen different speakers: the Dyn-
audio Focus 160 (not yet reviewed
by me), Epos Epic 2, DeVore Fidelity
Gibbon, Triangle Cométe Anniver-
saire, and ProAc Tablette Anniversary.
I alternated the Rega DAC and the
Rega Brio is free-o of frivolous features,
but does have a remote,
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