Rega IO vs Brio - Paired with Planar 3

backgroundtom

Standard Member
HI all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I recently upgraded my TT to a Planar 3, and speakers to B&W 607. This has led me to wanting to change my amp. I currently have a Pioneer A10.

The room i listen in isn’t big, about 3mx3m, and I don’t listen at loud volumes (about 1/4 to 1/2 a turn on my current amp).

I was thinking the IO would suit me better due to the lower power output, but it seems like no one pairs it with a planar 3. Is it just not good enough for that?

Is it worth looking at a second hand Brio R?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I've not listened to the new io so have to go on reviews and it apparently punches well it's weight. It's not so much the TT, although I don't own one so commenting on that I've leave to others, it's the 607s. They are 8 ohm and 84dB sensitivity so quite a difficult drive for the 30 watts dished out by the io. I would try and audition one at home, AudioT do a home loan service. Obviously there is going to be good synergy with the Planar and the io.

Brio may make more sense with the extra headroom and the phono is pretty good as well. Used Regas will still be covered by their lifetime parts warranty which is transferable.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
@backgroundtom I've moved your thread here as it's for HiFi kit and welcome to the Forum.
 

backgroundtom

Standard Member
I've not listened to the new io so have to go on reviews and it apparently punches well it's weight. It's not so much the TT, although I don't own one so commenting on that I've leave to others, it's the 607s. They are 8 ohm and 84dB sensitivity so quite a difficult drive for the 30 watts dished out by the io. I would try and audition one at home, AudioT do a home loan service. Obviously there is going to be good synergy with the Planar and the io.

Brio may make more sense with the extra headroom and the phono is pretty good as well. Used Regas will still be covered by their lifetime parts warranty which is transferable.
Thanks, my worry about the Brio is that it may need to run too loud for me to sound good. A home demo sounds good - i dint know whether AudioT would bother with something this low down the pecking order in terms of costs! We have one in town so I’ll give them a shout.
 
D

Deleted member 824153

Guest
The Io is a cracking little amp and sounds great. The Brio is its big brother with 50W to the Io’s 30. The Brio is a marginally better amp but, at £220 more, you’d expect that. They both have the same phono stage so either would work a treat with your turntable,
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Thanks, my worry about the Brio is that it may need to run too loud for me to sound good. A home demo sounds good - i dint know whether AudioT would bother with something this low down the pecking order in terms of costs! We have one in town so I’ll give them a shout.
I have a Rega Elicit-R and it is very good at low volume. That is not going to be a problem with any Rega amp to be honest. Excellent amps right through the range. I've bought a lot from AudioT and have always found them friendly with excellent customer services. Below is their home loan commitment.

 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
I heard the IO demoed at the Bristol HiFi show in the "before times" as part of the Rega One system, with a P1 and the Rega Kyte speakers (89dB). Have to say it's VERY impressive for the size.
I don't know about the B&W speakers, but it would be a great match to the P3.
This was in a rowdy hotel room bigger than your 3x3m room and it absolutely held its own.
 

backgroundtom

Standard Member
I heard the IO demoed at the Bristol HiFi show in the "before times" as part of the Rega One system, with a P1 and the Rega Kyte speakers (89dB). Have to say it's VERY impressive for the size.
I don't know about the B&W speakers, but it would be a great match to the P3.
This was in a rowdy hotel room bigger than your 3x3m room and it absolutely held its own.
Sounds good - I’d rather not spend the £220 extra, but if the IO is a pointless buy, its better to spend now, then spend twice is my view
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
Sounds good - I’d rather not spend the £220 extra, but if the IO is a pointless buy, its better to spend now, then spend twice is my view
Absolutely agree. If, as @gibbsy says, you can get a loan from Audio T and try at home (or take your 607s to a shop for a demo) should clinch it.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Absolutely agree. If, as @gibbsy says, you can get a loan from Audio T and try at home (or take your 607s to a shop for a demo) should clinch it.
I miss my trips to Crwys Road. My missus doesn't. :)
 

backgroundtom

Standard Member
I miss my trips to Crwys Road. My missus doesn't. :)
Haha! I have only just got the Planar 3 and 607’s and my missus is exasperated that I’m talking amps now. Luckily she loves music and is supportive of getting vinyl, she just doesn’t see the need to spend money on making it sound good!!
 

hifisurfer

Standard Member
For what its worth, I had the Rega Elex-R and the Rega Io in house at the same time. Running ELAC UB5 Slims and the original LS50. And I sold the Elex-R because I much preferred the Rega Io. I was very surprised to come to that conclusion, but the IO is quite a remarkable little thing.
 

backgroundtom

Standard Member
For what its worth, I had the Rega Elex-R and the Rega Io in house at the same time. Running ELAC UB5 Slims and the original LS50. And I sold the Elex-R because I much preferred the Rega Io. I was very surprised to come to that conclusion, but the IO is quite a remarkable little thing.
After testing them both, I am going IO over Brio! I was surprised but just sounds much clearer!
 

backgroundtom

Standard Member
Luckily, my local Audio T (shout out to Andy if you are reading this) arranged a home demo for me of both amps. It seems very few people on the internet has down a side by side comparison. I am not a reviewer, not the most experienced audiophile but I thought I would share my initial thoughts. I have another day of listening yet so may update in the fullness of time.

The Set Up

All tests were done using my Planar 3, going into B&W 607 (first edition). Speakers are 1.5m apart, focused on the listening position which is 1.5m from each speaker. The room is a small room, and speakers are about 30cm from the back wall. There is no sound treatment on the walls. Volume knobs between a quarter turn to a half turn at all times as this went from comfortable to loud for me.

First impressions are that they are both great amps that pair well with my set up. The sound is clear and lively and definitely a step up from the Pioneer A10 I am currently using. The Brio definitely sounds bigger, with a slight more "umph" than the IO at the same volume. The character is good, and drums sound big and in your face. The IO has plenty more high end though, and to my ear, sounds a bit clearer. I found that I could take the bungs out my speakers with the IO, whereas they definitely needed to stay in for the Brio.

The test tracks:

Breathe - Pink Floyd
Warm and large on the Brio, but not as clearly as defined as the IO. Both sounded clearer with more personality than my current set up. The first track I demoed. Brio felt like it had more emotion to it for me (if that makes sense).

Sigh no more - Mumford and sons
Started with the Brio and it sounded big, but a little muffled. It was like the mid range and top end was getting lost. Turning it to the IO and the top end suddenly came back and you could hear all the vocals clearer.

Reprise from Spirited Away - Joe Hisaishi
Big song, and sounded lush on the Brio. Warm, big and engulfing. Switching to the IO it was noticeable that some of the power (although the same volume) was missing. There wasn't as much kick to it - however the trade off was that the IO was clearer and gave a better picture.

Helicopter - Bloc Party
This and the next song is where the Brio shone the most. Oh man the drums have never sounded so good. Punching me right in the face, matched with the energy of the song. Absolutely brilliant. Familiar story for the IO, more top end gave a bit more clarity, but lacked the energy of the Brio. This was the first song that made me think of taking out the bungs on my speakers and it did help a bit, but not a match to the Brio.

Millstone - Brand New
Again, big song and the Brio delivers. Massive soundstage and feels like you are in the room with them, with all the emotion that brings. The IO handles it well, just overshadowed by that power. The better top end makes it clearer to my ears again.

Harder, better, faster, stronger - Daft Punk
After the above experience I was expecting the Brio to win this one hands down, but surprisingly it was the IO that I thought sounded the better here. It picked out the character of the song better, and at no point did I feel ti was lacking.

Wouldn't it be nice - Beach Boys
The IO shows its talent in this one, picking out the instruments better and producing them clearer - again I was expecting the Brio to do better here. The Brio was good, but sounded muddy compared to the IO. Decided to listen to the rest of the album through the IO.

Final thoughts
These are two great amps, but with different use cases to my ears. The Brio has a big warm sound - it puts you in the music and makes it feel live. The IO gives the detail and presents it almost forensically but with a bit more of a human touch than that sounds. If I was going to be playing rock music, or big songs all the time, and at a high volume than I'd be going Brio all the way. However, this is going to be an everyday listener, and with some subtler songs at times. So for me, at the moment it is the IO.
I hope this is interesting/helpful for you. My recommendation would be to go listen to the amps, consider what you will be listening to and how, then make your decision. There isn't a bad amp between these two, just the one for you and the one not for you.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Sigh no more - Mumford and sons
Can only pick up on two tracks that you used that I know well. There is a lot of mids and highs in this track and you need an amp to make them sparkle. Very little bass although what is there is quite fast and tight. Your observations mirror what I experience with the Elicit-R so kudos to the io.

Wouldn't it be nice - Beach Boys
Very clean track on whatever media you listen to it. An album that I've owned in every incarnation from the first mono vinyl released in 1966 right through to the stereo and mono SACDs. The open drum is very precise and the way Wilson builds in the rest of the instrumentation, throughout the album is masterful. It's so detailed that it does take a good amp to bring it all to the fore.

Great comparison between the io and it's bigger brother. Hope you have many hours of enjoyment.
 
D

Deleted member 824153

Guest
A thorough audition and you’ve trusted your ears. Just how it should be done. Enjoy! Welcome to the Rega club 😉
 

backgroundtom

Standard Member
Can only pick up on two tracks that you used that I know well. There is a lot of mids and highs in this track and you need an amp to make them sparkle. Very little bass although what is there is quite fast and tight. Your observations mirror what I experience with the Elicit-R so kudos to the io.


Very clean track on whatever media you listen to it. An album that I've owned in every incarnation from the first mono vinyl released in 1966 right through to the stereo and mono SACDs. The open drum is very precise and the way Wilson builds in the rest of the instrumentation, throughout the album is masterful. It's so detailed that it does take a good amp to bring it all to the fore.

Great comparison between the io and it's bigger brother. Hope you have many hours of enjoyment.
Wouldn’t it be nice was 100% picked to see how well it could pick out all the different instrumentation. Sounded great :) My fiancé has told me that she would be upset if we had to go back to the lesser quality of my current amp!!

The brio is deffo a good amp, just not suitable for my room to be honest.
 

backgroundtom

Standard Member
A thorough audition and you’ve trusted your ears. Just how it should be done. Enjoy! Welcome to the Rega club 😉
Dead chuffed, i think with the Planar 3 and the Io I have become a fanboy!!

I got my partner to do some blind tests on it and she could pick out the Io every single time.
 

happycamper515

Active Member
I am really interested in both Rega amps to pair with Elac Uni-Fi 2.0. I've been led (or misled) to believe that the Elacs require tons of power and neither of these Rega amps was recommended to me and told buy something with more power. Anyone use either Rega amp with Elacs as they are all 6 ohms and would require similar power to run?
 

hifisurfer

Standard Member
I am really interested in both Rega amps to pair with Elac Uni-Fi 2.0. I've been led (or misled) to believe that the Elacs require tons of power and neither of these Rega amps was recommended to me and told buy something with more power. Anyone use either Rega amp with Elacs as they are all 6 ohms and would require similar power to run?
Rega IO sounds great with my UB5s. You'd be good. But the UB52s definitely need some break in.
 

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