Rega Ear: A bargain!!

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by WhyAyeMan, Jun 30, 2004.

  1. WhyAyeMan

    WhyAyeMan
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    I paid £118 for this Rega ear amplifier....

    [​IMG]

    It was brand new, and decided since I felt the Perreaux was not really for me (a bit too laid back and "tubey" sounding), and also the fact I felt the Perreaux couldnt provide the bass kick I like for my dance music with these power hungry Beyers (250 ohm, 94 db sensitivity / mW).

    I felt the Rega Ear would be a good choice, since its designed for power hungry headphones like these; probably not such a great choice for high sensitivity and low impedance headphones like Sony's, as getting the right volume would be "interesting" to say the least - this thing has tons of gain. Even on my most dynamic music (where the normal level is set quite low for dynamic purposes), any more than 12 o clock even with these insensitive headphones would almost certainly cause my ears to bleed - I actually had to use my old Perreaux at almost full volume sometimes and even then it could be louder I felt.

    It has to be said, I am very impressed with this little amp for the money. £118, and yet its easily capable of taking on just about any sub £300 design and beating it! (and before anyone says anything, I have owned quite a few more expensive amps) It has a strong sense of timing and rythym, excellent punchy bass, enough volume for even the most sadistic listener, good clarity, plenty of detail and importantly a VERY sweet sound. How they have achieved this kind of sound for that price when other headphone amps can hardly match it despite costing over double the price, suggests to me that they either have a REAL winner on their hands with this amp, or that other manufacturers are not offering good VFM with their amps; for example, the Rega Ear runs from a walmart adapter, and yet offers a very powerful, full bodied sound. Yet the X-Can v3 costs twice the price, does not sound as powerful or clean as this (or as groovy), and yet the cheeky bastards are going to charge £200 for an X-PSU to make it better. Its quite obvious that a headphone amp does not need a big torroidal transformer to sound good, based on this one.

    Anyway, this amp is a bargain, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a headphone amp with excellent VFM and a sweet sound.
     
  2. cwick

    cwick
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    Where from for £118 ? Would match my Rega Mira 3 amp nicely ;)

    Edit .... Nevermind ... found it at Audio Excellence. :thumbsup:
     
  3. sceptic

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    Of all the pieces of my HiFi/AV kit the headphone amp is the one I'm least satisfied with. Not that it isn't any good, but the money I paid (£400 for a 2004 Solo) is out of all proportion. I really wish I'd been more sensible and opted for something like the Rega Ear or even used the headphone socket of my amplifier which is perfectly acceptable.
    It still galls me that I paid that much and have no chance of reselling for anything its cost.
     
  4. WhyAyeMan

    WhyAyeMan
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    I agree wholeheartedly, but at the same time sympathise with you, as I have been there myself....

    I have gone through a number of headphone amplifiers, including the X-Can v2, X-Can v3, Perreaux SXH1 and Meier Corda HA-1, all of which were more expensive than the Rega Ear, and none of which are as good. I agree that headphone amps are possibly among the most overrated of hifi kit, and given that I feel the Rega Ear is better than all of those, I think it means that a lot of manufacturers are a bit greedy with their price for these things. There wont be anything fundamentally wrong with your Solo, at all, but I think its just that you have found (like me) that the effect of a headphone amp is in many cases overrated.

    That is why I would advocate anyone in the market for a headphone amp, to consider the Rega Ear VERY carefully, because its a good quality, solid product with a sweet sound for very little money.
     
  5. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    No offence, pbirkett, but if your headphones are Beyer DT-531s, then it is probable that they, and not the headphone amplifier, will set the limit on the sound quality of the system. DT-531s are very nice 'phones for the price, but they're not state of the art. In your case the Rega amp very likely does sound as good as more expensive amps, but that doesn't necessarily mean the same would apply for someone using high-end 'phones.
     
  6. WhyAyeMan

    WhyAyeMan
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    No offence taken, but I can vouch for the DT531's quality, as I have owned the Sennheiser HD650, Sony CD3000, Beyer DT880, DT931, DT990, AKG K240S, K271S and I like the DT531 better than all of them.

    Yes it is my opinion as well after owning several more expensive amps, like X-Can v3, Perreaux SXH1 and Corda HA-1, and using a variety of headphones with them.

    Just because they are not "state of the art" as you put it, does not mean they arent any good. And I dont equate price with quality either.

    But at the end of the day, take it as you want, I dont have to justify myself, and I speak with some experience I think you'll find ;)

    Maybe it is you, not I who is insecure at the thought of bang for buck budget products giving kit that you may own a clean pair of heals :p
     
  7. dunkyboy

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    [Not to resurrect an ancient thread, but...]

    I'd just like to report very different findings to pbirkett's. I've had a Rega Ear for years, and only just recently stumped up the cash for a Graham Slee Solo (the current model, SRG, without PSU-1) for my Sennheiser HD-600s (also had for years). The Solo is leaps and bounds ahead of the Rega! Resolution, clarity, openness, soundstaging, separation, tonal colour, microdynamics, treble extension - everything is better by rather a lot!

    The Ear has always been a bit disappointing, being worse than the headphone jack on my Dell workstation in most regards. (To its credit, it is sweeter, less harsh and has a warmer balance, and perhaps slightly better presence - but it's also less detailed, softer, less dynamic and muddier!) The Solo on the other hand, is better than both the Ear and the headphone jack by a country mile - and it isn't even run in. Its balance also suits the Senns better than the Ear, as it's a bit lighter, tighter and more "sparkly" in the highs - which helps the Senns' somewhat bottom-heavy balance and "veiled" treble.

    Of course, the Solo is over twice the price, so it's no surprise it's better - just wanted to point out that pbirkett's experience isn't universal. :)

    Dunc

    P.S. - Just discovered this blog - fascinating, and somewhat painful as an Ear owner (though mitigated by the fact that I'm actually a soon-to-be-ex-Ear owner!) Random Acts of Upgrades: The Rega EAR Gutted!
     
  8. WhyAyeMan

    WhyAyeMan
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    As the author of the thread, I've gone and been through loads of different amps and headphones since I wrote this.

    In the end I've flogged all my headphones and amps, and am now running simply a pair of Goldring DR150s out of my Beresford DAC. Its not as good as what I was running in my sig, but it comes decently close for an outlay of £30 for the headphones and the "freebie" jack on the Beresford (compared with nearly £400 for the rig in my sig).

    Fact is I hardly ever use headphones much these days so I dont need such a good system anyway, but I still think I could make do with this. Most of the time I use 'phones now I use my iphone and FS atrio M5s and its fine for my use.

    I still think amps are overpriced and overrated. I used a £30 Behringer headphone amp and it didnt sound much worse than stuff I used costing up to 10x more.

    However, thats my opinion, and your mileage may vary ;)
     
  9. Evad

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    Have to agree pbirkett, I've been through x-cans versions a few headroom amps and currently have a GS SOLO + PSU-1. Headphone wise have tried bought and sold various Beyer, Sony, AT models and still have Sennheiser HD-600 and AKG-701.

    Have found I prefer my Sennheiser HD-25 plugged into either a samsung MP3 player or a beresford 7520 then any of the more expensive stuff I've owned.

    I'm not discouting dunkyboy's view of his upgrade, just be aware that more expensive doesn't mean better sounding.
     
  10. dunkyboy

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    Thought I'd update this ancient thread for a second time. :)

    A while back I was forced to abandon open-back headphones at work due to a change in office circumstances. Sold my beloved Senn 650s and Stax, and bought AKG K550s. I LOVE the AKGs - best closed phones I've heard by a country mile. But they really didn't get on with my venerable Graham Slee Solo headamp. Bright, thin, grainy, fatiguing... yuck. Tried a few others (Beresford DAC headphone jack, MF X-Can V3), both better than the Slee, but wasn't completely satisfied.

    In a moment of inspiration I dug out my dusty old Rega Ear from the attic. Woah! THAT's what the AKGs are meant to sound like! It's a match made in heaven. The Rega's punchy, full-fat mids and bass complement the AKGs' top-heavy balance perfectly. And they're so much fun! Groove and PRaT in spades, but effortless and non-fatiguing. Utterly addictive.

    The Ear is far from perfect - it lacks treble extension and air, soundstage is ok not great, midbass has a bit of a hump, and bass doesn't go very deep. Mids are a bit grainy, unrefined, lacking tonal colour... I know the AKGs are being held back in those regards. But with all those faults I still just love the sound. It's not terribly "hifi", just music and fun. If I can find a higher-quality amp with the same fundamental character I'd be over the moon, but for now I'm too busy enjoying me choonz and losing myself in the music. :)

    Just goes to show how important synergy and system matching are!

    Cheers,
    Dunc
     

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