Rega is just one of those British brands that keep it simple, yet it continues to knock it out of the park. Be they turntables or amplifiers, from a couple of hundred to a few thousand, this reviewer
has rarely heard a misstep from Rega. Since the incredible six hundred pounds Brio in 2017 and the three thousand pounds plus Aethos (that crept out during the pandemic), I have been hoping Rega’s dynamism would move to the middle of their range of amplifiers. And here it is, the Elicit, benefitting from the Aethos trickle-down research and the dynamism of the Brio.
The Rega Elicit Mk5 has a class A/B power amplifier circuit that delivers 105 W per channel into 8 Ω loads. The Aethos is 125W, and the Brio has an unbelievable 50W per channel into 8 Ohms. As well as this the Rega Elicit Mk5 has two DAC inputs (one optical and one Co-axial), a MM phono stage and a headphone output. There are 4 Line level inputs as well as a pre-out option and a direct input and record loop functionality for the tape deck guys (I assume?).
Rega is keen to point out some features taken directly from the Aethos including the preamplifier circuitry and the Alps volume potentiometer. The DAC platform is galvanically isolated from the main circuitry and the output is via a Wolfson DAC. I recall Exposure Electronics using Wolfson DACs to great effect and the same is here, on the first listen.
The Rega Elicit Mk5 integrated amplifier features Rega’s latest heavy-bodied custom casework that matches the rest of the range, with styling points clearly taken from the Aethos front panel and it makes for a very attractive package indeed. The customary Rega Red Logo assures you all is well with the world.
This Rega Elicit Mk5 integrated amplifier comes with their Solaris remote control though this only controls the volume (incl. mute) and the input selection.
The amplifier is a solid 12.5Kg and it is (W × H × D) 432mm x 82 x 340 (D includes loudspeaker terminals). The full specification is on the Rega site, along with the dealer network.
The Rega Elicit Mk5 UK SSP price is £2000.
The Elicit has arrived in a purple patch for speakers here at HF&MS with the fantastic Kudos Cardea Super 20As still here (representing England) and there are speakers from ELAC (Germany), Eclipse (Japan) and Triangle (France) here. There are also perennial favourites from Denmark the Jern 14 DS speakers supported, necessarily, by REL (England).
In respect of sources, there is a Cyrus CDt-XR transport, feeding into the Coaxial digital input of the Rega Elicit Mk5, as well as an OPPO Blu-Ray Disk Player (BDP105) as a CD player that is analogue into an RCA input. There is the Pro-ject Debut Carbon EVO delivered to the MM Phono input 1 to the rear. There is a 2Go/2Yu streaming bridge into the optical digital input, this is the HF&MS streaming bridge of choice. The Rega Elicit Mk5 is powered with an Atlas Eos power cable connected to an Atlas Eos 2.5 distribution block, in turn, fed with a further Atlas Eos power cable.
The Elicit is driving the speakers through Tellurium Q Ultra Black II speaker cable
There’s plenty of room to the rear with the RCA inputs to the right, as you look from the above and the digital inputs in the middle, useful, I have the CD player below the amplifier on a separate shelf. well thought out. Input selection on the front panel is linear at the front, with the touch button.
The Elicit is running warm but it is June, and it is a bit stuffy in my listening space. I recall the Aethos was hot as well.
The Solaris remote is very responsive though it only really does the basics on the amplifier. It might be nice to have a power standby button in these times of high electricity prices.
Kudos Cardea Super 20A loudspeaker
I’m using the 2Go/2Yu combination here with the optical feed into the Elicit DAC. The Cardea Super 20As, still on a much-appreciated long-term loan, are very familiar now and are a benchmark reference speaker for this reviewer. Rated at 8 Ohms nominal with an ‘easy’ driving SPL of 88dB/1W/m these are an excellent match, in my view, to this type of amplifier. They are the midrange kings that can make any listener late for just about anything.
Listening to my reference tracks, I turn to Benson Boone’s Ghost Town (Tidal Master 24-bit, 44.1kHz), to listen for that low-end ‘kick-off’ at the beginning of the track. Here it is controlled, and the extension is delivered well by the Elicit. Switching quickly to Moby at 1’02” in Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? (Tidal Master 16-bit, 44.1kHz) the bass extension is weighty, and the speakers are singing with the Elicit Mk5.
In the midrange, the Elicit performs nicely with pianos such as Nils Frahm’s fizzing track Some (Tidal 16-bit, 44.1kHz) and Daniel Barenboim’s Nocturnes (Tidal Master 16-bit, 44.1kHz). Cellos are delivered front and centre too in the lower midrange with the Elicit, for example with Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach Cello Suites (Tidal Master 24-bit, 48kHz) that are delivered with the edge of the bow prominent in the soundstage.
The Super 20As excel in resolution and there is no better track than Celeste’s Strange (Tidal Master 24-bit, 44.1kHz). It is breathtakingly delivered here by the Elicit, with everything laid bare.
Moving onto rhythm, I’m looking for bounce and fun from the Elicit and there is no better track than Miles Kane’s Don’t Forget Who You Are (Tidal Master 16-bit, 44.1kHz). Here the Elicit is dynamic and bounces along to such a great track.
I have a pair of Eclipse TD510zMk2 loudspeakers rated at 6 Ohms, they have a lower sensitivity to the Super 20As. The Elicit has little trouble driving these speakers though the low end is thinner given the speaker design. Again, the midrange is sparkling from these loudspeakers that are characterised by accuracy, intimacy, and insight. Sarah Vaughan’s Lullaby of Birdland (Tidal FLAC 16-bit, 44.1kHz) is a great example of these speakers revealing the crisp midrange with the snare working softly away. By the way, if you want intimacy, take 4 minutes and 46 seconds of time to listen to Taylor Swift and Justin Vernon sing exile (Tidal Master 24-bit, 44.1kHz), it certainly stopped me in my tracks with this Eclipse speaker.
Elac Uni-Fi Reference loudspeaker
The ELAC Uni-Fi reference speakers have a similar spec to the Eclipse but have a fraction more in the bass. They come across nicely with the two-way design offering a similar soundstage at a remarkable price.
Triangle Antal 40th Anniversary loudspeaker
Switching to the impressive Antal speakers rated at 8 Ohms, these beautiful floorstanding loudspeakers may appear to be a natural choice with the Elicit, given their size and price ticket. The three-way design offers the bass extension similar to the Super 20As and they confirm the impressive credentials at the low end of the Elicit.
The DAC feed co-axial from the Cyrus CDt-XR into the D1 input is very pleasing indeed and it feels super clean with the Super 20As. A full run-through of OK Computer (HMV Records, £13.99, 1997 copy) is required. After the opening fuss (Airbag) the album settles into Paranoid Android, Subterranean Homesick Alien and the unparalleled Exit Music. For me, musical perfection, and a really good strong and powerful presentation with the Kudos speakers, just get yourself in the mood and lose yourself.
The 2Go/2Yu optical input to the D2 input is as described above and the DAC treatment appears to be faultless.
MM Phono stage
you would be hard-pressed to find fault with this turntable phono stage
At this point, you might prefer to have a Planar 3 or 6 available with the Elys2 MM cartridge at this point but I happen to have the Pro-ject Debut Carbon EVO, which is fine for my needs at this time. Necessarily, I put on my new red vinyl copy of Radiohead’s recent Kid A Mnesia just to immerse myself in the experience. For sure I’d prefer to have a Magic Groove turntable, but this is a very pleasant experience indeed and you would be hard-pressed to find fault with this turntable phono stage. The output is strong and clean and the convenience of having a competent MM input at this level, especially if you do not have one, is a real plus point with this package.
Slipping on a pair of Beyerdynamic 900 Pro into the headphone output, I am very impressed with the output, and the neutral 900s (open backed) offer Subterranean Homesick Alien with scale, warmth and detail.
As a preamplifier
You may not particularly do this but for me, this affords a check to see how well the preamplifier section is organised. The preamplifier output into the Moor Amps Angel 6 power amplifier offers that added dimension of power that only Moor can deliver for me.
Rega Elicit Mk5 integrated amplifier is a powerful and comprehensive package at this price point
This Rega Elicit Mk5 integrated amplifier is a powerful and comprehensive package at this price point, and with recent experiences, this is a high-quality piece of electronics if you are moving up the amplification ladder. The decent headphone option and the MM input mark this amplifier as a must-audition.
We have recently heard the Exposure 3510 which is a fine amplifier and if you already have a decent phono stage and a DAC in place that is a strong contender at this price point. The ATC SIA was also a muscular amplifier at five hundred pounds more with a strong built-in DAC (but no phono option).
I am clearly enjoying myself and this manifests itself in full CD album playback and lots of Radiohead listening. I am reminded with this Elicit of the Roksan K2 integrated amplifier of five or six years ago. That seemed to be the go-to integrated amplifier of its time and maybe this Elicit Mk5 our modern K2, it will stand the test of time.
The Rega Elicit Mk5 is a brawny amplifier with a full package for the odyssey of the audiophile journey. The excellent and comprehensive DAC treatment, the high-quality MM phono stage and the decent headphone output make this the leading contender at this price point in my view.
MM phono stage
Standby on the remote?
It is quite hard to think of anything
Full details are on the company’s site.