Question Rega system .......Amplifier upgrade, new Phono amp, or do nothing ? - Help appreciated !

martinhenry

Active Member
I recently added a pair of A6 Spendors to my system , and have been impressed both with them , and by the ease my Rega Brio (2017) drives these ......never have to go above 12 o'clock. However I have always found the phono stage on the Brio a bit laid back ...great for Jazz, but a bit lacking in drive for vocals and for prog rock / Gilmour solo's .... to the extent that I swap in the phono section of my old Creek 4140s2 and connect this into the auxillary sockets of the Brio for listening to rock music.

I am therefore wondering whether upgrading the amp to a second hand Rega Elex-R or Elicit-R would give me a better phono stage and at the same time be a better driver for the spendors ?
Or alternatively , I could keep the Brio if there would not be an appreciable improvement in driving the Spendors and instead add a pre-amp such as the Rega Fono mk III ?

Opinions / suggestions plea se ?

Martin
 
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martinhenry

Active Member
The Brio sta rts at 6 .....I normally play it about 9 , sometimes up to about 10.30 for rock . It has a 50 watt output .....I do wonder if a bigger amp would get more from the Spendors ....
 

Mr Broon

Standard Member
Never had my Brio past 11 o'clock. Now sitting with Dave Gilmour and Andy Latimer at max 10 o'clock on my Elex - a great upgrade.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The Elicit has a very good phono stage and I think many are happy with it. I don't have vinyl (well I do but it's all packed away) and rely on a good SACD player into my Elicit and absolutely love it's control and soundstage. HT by-pass is a bonus if you want to integrate into a home theatre set up. Never been over 12 o'clock.
 

martinhenry

Active Member
Does anyone know the difference between the Phono stage in the Brio,Elex and Elicit ? I have heard that the latter two share the same design , but don't know if this is a marked step up from the Brio...?
 

martinhenry

Active Member
Thanks for the inputs ! Of course there are other makes available .....:)...........no, that would be heresy😱 .......
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
It's interesting that Rega have dropped the phono stage from the Aethos siting that an external pre-amp such as their range of phono pre-amps are better suited. Perhaps draw your own conclusion from that statement with the built in ones on the Elicit, Elex and Brio. It was one review that mentioned the phono stage of the Elicit as being of a different quality to the Elex and Brio. I'm not in a position to check not having a TT.
 

martinhenry

Active Member
Thank you for all your inputs ! To summarise the discussion so far .....

Having added Spendor A6's to my rega system I have a nice sounding set up, but with two niggles ...

a) I suspect, and the consensus of inputs here support this, that an amp upgrade might bring more out from the speakers .....( though I do not know exactly what ) ....

b) I play a variety of music, prinarily on vinyl , for which the Brio phono section ( highly rated) is great for Jazz but which I personally find lacking for rock / vocal music especially where there is a lead vocal / instrument ( think Gilmour, Dusty in Memphis, Dire Straits) . I currently swap in my Creek integrated amp for use a pre-amp for most rock music , which brings more upfront mid's ...however I am concerned constantly swapping leads will cause connection problems in time.

The solution , I hoped, would be to upgrade the Brio to the Rega Elex-r , bringing more wattage and a better (?) phono section ....thus solving both problems for an reasonable outlay ( buying and selling second hand. However it remains unclear if the phono would be better .....

I might instead investigate adding a Rega Fono mk iii pre-amp ....... not too expensive , but need to audition to see if better than what I have now ....

Or of course I could sit on my hands and be grateful with the system I now have ......however we all know that , once there, that upgrade itch never goes completely away 😏
 

Ascotbilly

Active Member
Martin - I'd take a punt on the Rega Fono £199 Amazon. Easy to set up and return if you're not happy.

I have the Rega Fono, when connected into my previous Yamaha amp it's the best upgrade value for £ I've bought. I upgraded to the Brio, I still use the Fono.
 

martinhenry

Active Member
Thank you ......could you give an opinion as to how does the sound compare when using the Brio as integrated versus with the Fono ?
 

Ascotbilly

Active Member
You know what I've never bothered, I guess as I already had the Fono I connected it into the Brio, guess I didn't want to think I'd blown £200 as I'd bought it only a few weeks prior. I've never tried the phono stage on the Brio but if I get time over the week I'll connect the TT to the Brio phono stage and check the difference.

It made a huge difference on my Yamaha RN602. The sound was excellent on CD and streams but quiet and muted on most records. Adding the Fono stage was a game changer. I'm sure I read somewhere prior to buying the Fono that it is the same Phono stage as that in the Rega Elex-r
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Dusty in Memphis
Maybe a bit of topic but I thought this was awful on vinyl, very recessed vocals. The remastered Analogue Products SACD goes someway to rectifying this and is dynamically better in my humble opinion. Great album as far as content goes.
 

martinhenry

Active Member
You know what I've never bothered, I guess as I already had the Fono I connected it into the Brio, guess I didn't want to think I'd blown £200 as I'd bought it only a few weeks prior. I've never tried the phono stage on the Brio but if I get time over the week I'll connect the TT to the Brio phono stage and check the difference.

It made a huge difference on my Yamaha RN602. The sound was excellent on CD and streams but quiet and muted on most records. Adding the Fono stage was a game changer. I'm sure I read somewhere prior to buying the Fono that it is the same Phono stage as that in the Rega Elex-r
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If you could find the time that would be awesome ...... It would be great if there could be a noticeable improvement ...but I don't want to lead the witness !
 

martinhenry

Active Member
Maybe a bit of topic but I thought this was awful on vinyl, very recessed vocals. The remastered Analogue Products SACD goes someway to rectifying this and is dynamically better in my humble opinion. Great album as far as content goes.
one of my favourite records....though agree the quality of the original recording it is poor , and the fairly typical recessed vocals found in soul records of the time ( think Aretha Franklin) doesn't help. I have three recordings ........the first edition remains the best , the 3 men with beards should be avoided. This is a occasion the Creeks forewardness really shines .....
 

Ascotbilly

Active Member
Martin - Just done a quick demo.

Rega Phono stage, setting on amp at 10 o'clock on dial.
Sounded good no marked difference from my usual expectations.

RCA's into the Fono, setting on amp at 10 o'clock on dial.
Sh*t what was that !!! much louder, same clarity.

In summary, definite improvement with the Fono connected into RCA input 2 on the Brio.

I'd kept an open mind to the trial as I'm considering a second system when I revamp a room later this year and I would've used the Fono for that if I couldn't distinguish between the two so in my mind I wasn't trying to justify hearing the Fono and a better sound.

£199 definitely worth a punt....
 

martinhenry

Active Member
Thank you very much for taking the time to compare the two .... much appreciated !

In the meantime I have researched and found the Phono stages are the same in the Elex-R and the Elicit-R ....now need to compare this with the Fono ......
 

Ascotbilly

Active Member
Thank you very much for taking the time to compare the two .... much appreciated !

In the meantime I have researched and found the Phono stages are the same in the Elex-R and the Elicit-R ....now need to compare this with the Fono ......
Happy to assist, I’m sure I‘d read somewhere previously that the Fono is the same Phono Stage as in the Elex-R...
 

gibbsy

Moderator
fantastic, saving me a job.. thinking about upgrading my Brio to an Elicit-r , but then again what difference with an Aethos + phono stage make, diminishing returns and all that..
It will lighten your bank balance by a further £1500 give or take. The good news is with the Aethos you won't have to buy a headphone amp.:smashin:
 

martinhenry

Active Member
The Aethos , and probably the elicit, is definitely outside my (wife's ) budget 😊 .......

if our local rega dealer has his show room open will try to get a demo of the Brio , Elex and fono .....
 

Apollo83

Active Member
Martin,

You may be on to something with an improved phono stage...
But can you just confirm something.

Do you have a rock/vocal track you know well on Record and on another source that doesn't go through the phono stage.(e.g. CD, CD quality Flac)?

If you compare the two at same volume (not necessarily same position on volume knob), how do they sound? Similar? Or is only the Record that is 'lacking in drive'?

(We need to eliminate the Speaker sound signature being driven by the Brio as the cause)

Also what does 'lacking in drive' mean to you?
Less clarity / detail. Less attack/decay speed? Less volume in a particular frequency range?
 

martinhenry

Active Member
Thanks for the suggestions .....

The problem with comparing the same track via record and cd is that each can be influenced by its player , in my case both are Rega ( RP3 and Apollo) , and by the IC used ( van den hul D 102 Mk III on CD). The rega signature is a fairly laid back sound , and I find that the mids ( guitar solo's, vocals , Jazz saxophone ) are recessed into the mix. This occurs on both the spendors and the Q Acoustic 3050's.

I use the Creek as a phono stage because it has a much more upfront mids , though it cannot handle classical / jazz quartets well. And trying to get piano tone right is a nightmare .....

All very difficult to explain in words I am afraid !

It may be that I just find the Rega sound a bit too smooth / reserved for some of my music .

I will however listen to Brother in Arms through each system sometime today and see how the cd sounds compared to the Vinyl ...( not too hard a job ....:) )..... Knofflers guitar solo's offer an instant comparison .....
 

Apollo83

Active Member
If I compare a CD on my Apollo to a Record through my Planar 3/Azure/Goldring1042 and Brio phono stage I find the sound dominated by the Amp/Speakers combination (with Speakers taking the lion's share).
There are minor differences between sources.
The CD has a cleaner sound and the record player a richer sound - both are detailed and dynamic and fairly neutral frequency curve (due to Monitor Audio Speakers I'm assuming).

Your 'Knopfler test' (TM) should help eliminate the Spendor sound signature as driven by the Brio.
It could be the 50W Brio is a little underpowered for the Spendors and a new (power) amp is the order of the day... or it could be only the record-player path is lacking in which case a new phono stage should be worth investigating.

Let us know how it goes...
 

Alter3go

Member
If you're gonna upgrade, I would opt for a system that has your phono amp external, with a separate amplifier, so you don't run into this situation again where you're essentially throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
 

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