Rega Brio – Review

Rega Brio – Review


I must say, this is very exciting amplifier indeed. Can there be better value from an amplifier priced at this level, I doubt it to be honest?

This is a review of Rega’s brilliant Rega Brio, a baby amplifier of outstanding class.  With 50W (8 Ohms) per channel of power this is revelatory listen.  The Elicit-R, two models up from this, was fantastic a while back but I’m just left asking myself, how can Rega come up with such a dominant and powerful sound from such a small box?

Design

I am not really familiar with the previous incarnations of Rega’s Brio (this is the 6th generation Rega Brio), but I do know enough to understand the respect it demanded from previous listeners. The Rega Brio redesign includes a case re-design and full upgrade to the PCB design, there is a new separate amplifier power supply for the MM input to improve isolation and therefore reduce noise.   The new model now features a headphone output that was previously not available on other Brios.

Rega BrioThe Rega Brio, then, is a no frills analogue integrated amplifier, there is no hint of anything digital at all. It features an excellent Phono MM input and 4 line level RCA inputs.  There is not much more to say other than the box is slimmer than most, the sort of half width chassis style.  The chassis itself has the soft touch metal finish with a plastic fachia and a slightly disappointing volume control on the front.  There is no display output at all, save for five illuminated numbers indicating the input source, with 1 being the MM Phono input, and a mute indicator. There is an anonymous input selector next to the indicators and next to this is the headphone output, a proper 6.5mm ouput to make me happy, this automatically switches the speaker output off.  The power button is to the left.  There is also the familiar red glow of the Rega logo, front and center that gives you a sense of satisfaction when you are happy and listening to music.

The rear of the Rega Brio is actually quite cramped with the speaker terminals stacked above each other.  The RCA inputs are spaced nicely, though quite snugly.  To the right there is a record out for those who have a tape machine, I may dig mine out at some point too.  There is no subwoofer option.

There is a functional remote control that I have barely used but it does the volume so I suppose that is good.  I’m guessing it controls other Rega sources.

The Spec from Rega’s site is below.

Specifications
Input sensitivities for rated output level:
Input 1 (phono) input sensitivity = 2.1mV at 47KΩ in parallel with 220pF.
Maximum Input 1 (phono) input level = 100mV
Input 2-5 (line) input sensitivity = 210mV at 47kΩ
Maximum input 2-5 (line) input level = 10.25V

Power outputs at 230/115V supply voltage:
50 Watts RMS both channels driven into the rated load of 8Ω
73 Watts RMS both channels driven into the rated load of 4Ω

Headphone output:
No load = 8V
32Ω = 1.8V
54Ω = 2.6V
300Ω = 5.9V
Source impedance = 109Ω

Power consumption:
195 Watts at 230V/220V/115V/100V into the rated load of 8Ω

Record output level:Record output level (with rated input levels) = 210Mv.
Record output impedance = 470Ω

Frequency response:
Phono 15Hz to 40KHz (-3dB Points) / 27Hz to 20.5KHz (-1dB Points)
RIAA accuracy (100Hz to 10KHz) ± 0.4dB typically better than ± 0.3dB
Line 12Hz (-1dB points) to 43KHz (-3dB points)
Remote control batteries included – 2 x AAA Alkaline.

Dimensions:
345mm (D) -inc volume control x 216mm (W) x 78mm (H)

Weight:
5.1kg

Performance

I could listen to ‘Everything’s Not Lost’ every day of my life and not get tired of it, particularly through this Rega Brio

This really is an exceptional piece of equipment, all of the excitement that I couldn’t find in A29 last week is here but I cannot for the life of me understand why or how this happens, but it just does.   How can a bunch of electronics be so different?

Rega P3 into Rega Brio

Rega BrioFirst thing to do was put a record on.  My Rega P3 should be an ideal match with the Elys 2 cartridge digging out the deepest sounds.   Input straight into the MM Line 1 input this set-up could no be simpler. And sure enough the sound is enveloping and beautiful.  I’m listening to the thundering ‘Telegraph Road’ for its dynamic range, changes in pace and wonderful rhythm.  The sound is truly dominant, exciting and wide.  With my trusty and well worn B&W CM7s there is a sense of pure enjoyment.  Before I know it I am digging out my favourite piece of vinyl,  The War on Drugs’ “Lost in a Dream” and it is just that, a dream.  I feel this system is nicely balanced in respect of both price point and compatibility and the result, whilst dominant and powerful, is really easy on the ear, soft, controlled and that wonderful thing, effortless.

CD (Line level) Input

Next, I hooked up a T+A CD player to the Brio.  Again the detail is very good indeed and the warmth and power are evident again.  I’m finding the vocals to be particularly lively with the CDs I’m listening to, Coldplay’s Parachutes comes across perfectly, pianos are really nice from this Brio too. I could listen to ‘Everything’s Not Lost’ every day of my life and not get tired of it, particularly through this Rega Brio.

Bluesound Node into DAC to Brio

Finally, it was time to hook up the Bluesound Node to my DAC, a Musical Fidelity M1 DAC.   My first listen to the new Brio was at the Bristol HiFi Show earlier this year where it was paired with Auralic’s fabulous Aries Mini and a pair of Spendor A2s.  It was the outstanding room in my opinion and it is clear now that the Brio was the star of the room.  And here too, the Bluesound Node presents a beautiful signal to the Brio which amply passes the detail through with ease.  I must say, this is very exciting amplifier indeed.  Can there be better value from an amplifier priced at this level, I doubt it to be honest?

Auralic Altair streaming DAC into the Brio

As I was concluding my review I have just been left with a superb Auralic Altair streaming DAC.  Again with the Brio this is an absolutely brilliant set-up with a bright energetic and rhythmic sound.  With hi res music flying via Qobuz to the streamer and into the CM7s from the Brio this is  a fantastic set-up and the CM7s have not sounded better.  I’ll be looking at the Altair in the coming weeks but it does recreate the brilliant electronics I referred to at the Bristol HiFi Show which featured the Auralic Aries Mini with the Brio.

Headphone Output

The headphone output is really very good, I was using a pair of Focal Spirit Classic’s which are nicely detailed and easy on the ear.  The headphone jack is the larger 6.5mm jack that I much prefer, it is a very satisfying sound and there is plenty of detail.  I can’t see Rega selling too many ‘Ear’ headphone amps, this is so good.

Control

The remote control is nice enough and has a mute button that illuminates a little light on the front.

Overall

The Brio is a very impressive piece of equipment, particularly at this price.  I just can’t really understand how they have done this at Rega but they have and this is special.  In particular, to recreate such a dominant sound in such a small box with a Phono stage built in as well is remarkable.

Love 

Dynamic Sound

MM Input

6.5mm Headphone

Simplicity

Like 

No Frills

Wish

For Nothing

More information is on the Rega site here.  The Brio is retailing near £600.

21 Comments

Add yours
    • 2
      Simon Wilce

      Hi there. Harsh, no, thin no, bright, well maybe yes, but I prefer a brighter sound tbh. Plenty of warmth for me though. The Brio is my highlight of the year so far without doubt, the fact it is just 600 quid is even more impressive.

  1. 4
    Geoff

    What i wanted to know was if you experienced any emphasis on the s and t’s. Sibilant it’s called in English i believe.

    Best regards

    • 5
      Mognificus

      None whatsoever, mate. The old Brio had an issue with sibilance (through my ageing TB2’s) and was harsh at times. The new Brio has had all of the old flaws eliminated and for me, is the best value amp out there. Sounds amazing playing records too without any need for a seperate phono pre-amp either. Can’t comment on the headphone socket as I haven’t been able to use it due to a mental puppy…

    • 7
      Simon Wilce

      I would say you would probably look at the Elicit-R which is a bigger more powerful analogue option for an RP8 (lucky you). Great sound still. Alternatively, find a good retailer and try the Brio.
      I’ve got experience of the Hugo, I know it is good and I’m sure would work well with the Elicit-R or the new Brio. Good luck

  2. 8
    John

    Some amplifiers portray an up front in your face presentation as opposed to amplifiers that have a relaxed somewhat distant presentation. I wonder how the new Brio compares to the Dayens Minuetto? Sound staging and imaging are my top priorities. I like depth, 3 dimensional imaging with excellent separation.

    • 9
      Simon Wilce

      Hi there, apologies for the delay. I recall the Brio as very good fun, musical and warm with an enveloping sound, I would not call it an upfront sound. I recall vocals to be precise and clear with pianos also perfectly presented. In respect of the Dayens, I’ve not heard this I’m afraid, but it looks similar in category. All I can say is try and listen to both with your speaker choice but the Brio is amazing for the price and the Dayens would be going some to sound as good as this Brio. A good retailer will help you. Good luck.

  3. 10
    Vince

    Really helpful review, thanks. I’m considering the new brio (upgrading a rotel ra-04) to use with planar 3 / Elys 2 and MA BR5 floorstanders. Did you notice any room-size limitations where it might be worth looking at the elex-r instead for a bit more power (my main listening space is 4.5m x 3.5m opening up into hallway)? Thanks Very much.

    • 11
      Simon Wilce

      The Brio was absolutely brilliant, as you’ve read. I was in my listening room which is quite big with B&W CM7s . I’ve not heard the Elex-R but the Elicit-R was similarly wonderful if you can afford it, for a larger space, the Brio will be fine, I’m sure. Ask your retailer for both and see which you prefer with your speakers. Good luck.

  4. 12
    Alessandro

    Hey, I am trying to pair my Mission LX-2 speakers (rated 6 Ohms nominal and 4.4 minimum) with a good amp PURELY for Turntable use. I’ve sent back a few I’ve been testing (Onkyo etc) as they just cant seem to deliver. Would this amp be able to push out good volume and maximise the great sound of the Mission LX-2’s ??? any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

  5. 14
    Mike

    Hi, after reading your nice review I need to ask your help trying to solve my problem. A also have a Planar 3 TT, a Rega Fono MM phono stage and for now I am using an old Sony A/V receiver as amplifier, and I don’t really like the sound, no bass at all, and all the sound has no detail.

    Many people say that no A/V receiver has the quality to play Hi-Fi music and that I need to buy a dedicated stereo amplifier to only play music (vinyl and CD), so I am seaching for the best choice but still have many doubts.

    Is the Rega Brio the best solution, regarding his sound quality and his contained budget or must I pay a little more and go with the Rega Elex-R? Does the Elex-R deserves the difference?

    And what about the Cambridge CXA60, with a little more power (60W) and with several digital inputs that could be important in the future?

    Thanks in advanve for any help 🙂

    • 15
      Simon Wilce

      I think the Brio is absolutely brilliant and sounds perfect for your problem, you have noted the digital limitations but I think it is more than outweighed by analogue performance. What speakers do you have, try and have a trial run to satisfy yourself but I was amazed by the Brio.

    • 16
      Roskov

      I was hesitant between the Rega brio and the cxa-60 but after a demo in my local music store I end up buying the Rega Brio. The sound is precise and enveloping. It is warmer and less in your face vs the cxa60. Depends on yohr taste but imho the cxa60 is a little bit to bright for my taste. On the other you have to accept the no powered sub out and the omission of any digital in or out.

      • 17
        Simon Wilce

        Yes, the Brio is an analogue solution and it depends on what you want to do both now and in the future. I would have a digital solution separately and go for the Brio myself. But, as always have a good listen.

  6. 18
    german

    Hi! I have a pair of BW DM601 S3 speakers and I’d like to buy a new amp for these speakers, I´d like to ask you if the Rega Brio is a good choice for these speakers (does it worth it for the extra money) or the Marantz PM5005 would be enough. (as you can see, english is not my mother language 🙂 Thanks!

    • 19
      Simon Wilce

      Hi there, I would expect the Brio to be a great pair for your B&W speakers. I am not familiar with the PM5005 though, at that price maybe you should try and have a listen if you are on a tighter budget but the Brio is absolutely brilliant. I was listening to a pair of B&W CM7s and the sound was sparkling. Good luck.

    • 21
      Simon Wilce

      Hi there, apologies for the delay, I’ve been on holiday. I really couldn’t say about you speakers but the Brio is fabulous and I’m sure would drive those nicely. Definitely give the Brio a listen if you can before you buy, those speakers look good to me. Thanks for the comment.

+ Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.