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Stereo system by REGA

Price: 10 810 zł (with turntable and cartridge)
lub 7200 zł (without turntable)

Distribution: Audio

02-012 Warszawa, Atelier Residence

ul. Bagno 2/21 (III piętro)
tel. +48 78 4 50 50 55


WWW: Rega

Text: Marek Dyba
Photos: Marcin Olszewski

Prices for separate elements:
CD Rega Apollo: 2800 pln
Amplifier Rega Brio3: 1500 pln
Floor-standing loudspeakers Rega RS3: 2900 pln (cherry or black, with extra cost of 290pln you can chose piano black or piano white)
Turntable Rega P3-24 z TT-PSU with RB 301 tonearm: 2750 pln
Cartridge Exact MM: 860 pln

Reset all. Clear cache. Clear history. Some computer gig would add some more similar and probably more „professional” commands. I'm an amateur when it comes to computers – I use them everyday but the command above summarize most of my computer skills. I learned them cause I had to use them couple of times in my life. This issue of „High Fidelity” is about budget devices – and it's great that we do that as everybody starts his „audio adventure” with some not expensive system and some people simply don't want or can't spend more. So surely there should be some interest in such tests that we now do. But for a reviewer (I speak for myself but I guess other colleagues have similar problems) it is not so easy. I remember the sound of many very expensive devices and they are my reference devices. But if I compare budget devices to reference system … well I better don't – it's not the point. The point is to remember price tag and refer all the findings to it.

I was lucky to get a full stereo set from REGA. Exactly same system was presented during last Audioshow (report HERE), so possibly at least some of you had already a chance to listen to it then. To be host I don't really have any special memories from this presentation, neither negative (which considering conditions of presentation is a good thing) nor positive ones. But that is exactly why this text should encourage you to give this system a try in much better environment (like Distributor's showroom or your own room).

Rega was founded in 1973 by Roy Gandy. From the very beginning their motto was to design and manufacture very well sounding devices at reasonable price. The most famous products of this company are probably tonearms – every vinyl fan at least heard about RB250 or RB300. Even though these are quite simple arms, but so good that they have been manufactured already for many, many years, and some other manufacturers use these arms for their own turntables. There are also quite some that modify these very tonearms to make them even better. Fans of British sound are surely familiar with turntable names like Planet or Planar, CD players Planet, or amplifiers called Elex. There has been a recent change of distributor in Poland – the new one is a newbie to audio market, but not a newbie to a trading world. They decided to make a strong appearance on Polish market and hence the presence at Audioshow, willing cooperation with reviewers, and last but not least – totally new showroom situated in an apartment (hence similar conditions to these many of us have in our homes) in the center of Warsaw.

This set gain its fame via a review in British issue of „Hi-Fi Choice”. Reviewer loved all the elements of the system comparing them even to much more expensive products and that's why he called it a „dreamed system” (turntable was not a subject of this particular review). An idea of such a inexpensive, complete system proves that people from REGAR remember very well how was it like when they first for sick with „audio” disease. Keep in mind word „system”. Everybody who gets his portion of audio decease has to start his own path somehow. Most of us start nowadays with visiting audio societies in the web and reading audio magazines with reviews. We find a review of some amplifier very convincing, and than some CD player, loudspeakers and probably cables. These hot-blooded go quickly to the audio shop and buy all there greatly reviewed components, bring them home, connect them together and … in many cases great disappointment starts. Sooner or later they will find out that a bunch of very good devices doesn't have to make a great system. Than they start to wonder – which component should I change first? An amplifier? Loudspeakers? Such inexperienced audiophiles will gain their experience by spending lots of money and making more mistakes. The beginning is difficult because there are no simple choices between: „it sounds good” and „it doesn't sound good”. Well if it does its OK but when it doesn't you need to figure out why not and if you lack experience you may only guess which component to blame. Some will realize such problems before they buy their first system and it might discourage them to buy anything as they will be frustrated by single question: how one can compose a well sounding system if there are so many variables in this equation?! It might seem simply impossible. For these folks REGA created an affordable system. Such an audio newbie can visit Rega's showroom and listen to the whole system designed and manufactured for a single reason – these particular components should sound very well together – integrated amplifier, CD player and loudspeakers. All he has to do is to add some inexpensive cabling. There is also an extra option – a turntable with cartridge as a second source (phonostage is integrated already into amplifier). All components from one reliable British manufacturer so there is quite a good chance it should sound well and you can surely audition it together in one place. If you find this sound good – it will be surely a very interesting proposal for your first audio system (maybe not only as the first system?).


Following recordings were used during listening sessions:


  • Pink Floyd, Momentary laps of reason; Sony Music Direct Japan MHCP 685.
  • Benta Kahan, Farewell Cracow; TDC 001.
  • J.J. Bach, Goldberg variations; Bernard Labadie & Les Violons Du Roy; Dorian xCD-90281.
  • Marek Dyjak, Raz jeszcze.
  • Al Di Meola, Land of the mignight sun; CBS 81220.
  • Michael Jackson, Thriller; EPIC Sony 25 3P 399.
  • Tsuyoshi Yamamoto, Misty; ATBM 30.

As vinyl lover I decided to start listening session with … CD player as a source, just to save hypothetically better for later. I started with some rock music – Pink Floyd's A momentary lapse of reason, giving thus REGA a hard time from the very beginning. I was genuinely surprised with well defined, nicely controlled bass – a bass guitar strongly present was setting pace and rhythm very well, drums presentation was also convincing regardless of tiny size of loudspeakers. You can't expect really extended bass range going very low from such small cabinets, although some manufacturers do that – they „pump” low bass via bass-reflex which can create a first impression of well extended bass range but than you will find it sounding artificial. REGA did what physics allowed them to do with small drivers and cabinets achieving nicely defined, natural sounding low range. Designers used two simple solutions that will help with proper placing in most rooms and achieving good sonic results. First of all bass-reflex port in the front panel so one can put R3 very close to the back wall. Secondly woofers are placed at the side panels which gives you two options – they can be facing each other or they can aim at side walls – you can always experiment which gives a sound that you prefer or which better fits particular room. Somebody gave it really a thought taking into consideration that most Customers will place these loudspeakers in small rooms with limited placing options which always makes it difficult to achieve good sound.

My first impression from the second recording – Bente Kahan's Farewell Cracow – was nice soundstaging with fabulous depth. I wasn't expecting from a budget system to present such an ability to build deep soundstage with so many so well differentiated layers. During my session width of the soundstage was same as the distance between loudspeakers but it might have been the question of not too big distance between them (as I was trying to recreate conditions applicable to a small room). Yiddish vocal is quite tricky to reproduce but Rega handled it really well – sibilants sounded natural without exaggeration, and characteristic timbre of Bente's voice was also nicely reproduced. When listening carefully I realized small problem within treble range – as I lack a better word I would call it a bit „glassish” sound. That is a characteristic feature of loudspeakers that are not fully broken in – this pair I received wasn't quite new and they played for some time in my place but I can't really know if they were fully broken in. So there is a chance that this small flow would disappear after some time. And even if it wouldn't this „glassish” sound can be heard only with some female vocals, and it wasn't bothering me at all when listening to Pink Floyd. Male vocal like one of Marek Dyjak, sounded also quite good – a characteristic hoarseness of his voice should have sounded bit more rough but the way it was presented was acceptable.

Classical music played by chamber orchestra (Les Violons Du Roy) sounded in energetic, dynamic way, with nice timbre of most instruments. Soundstaging was OK with very good depth. Also ambiance of the room was well presented.

Next day – turntable's day – one of my favorite records landed on P3-24's plate – Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Misty. Record comes from legendary Japanese label Three Blind Mice, and recently reissued by American Cisco, and it's a jazz trio session, with its leader Tsuyoshi playing piano. Most systems don't have to much trouble with proper presentation of bass or drums but they can't handle piano in the right way. Such systems present Tsuyoshi as he was hitting pianos keys with all his strength and possibly not just with his fingers. The reason might be the way this piano was recorded – microphone might have been placed very closely. Rega's system handled this recording all right – I mean Yamamoto was banging keys but surely not with all his strength I wouldn't call this the best listening session with this recording I've ever had, but I listened it with pleasure. Not the greatest bass timbre but it wasn't that bad – I could hear both strings and „wood” - what was missing was a differentiation of sounds, which is offered by higher class systems and which makes sound much more colorful.

I am not, and most of audiophiles also aren't, a guy who listens only to „audiophile” music. So the next record was … Michael Jackson's Thriller – to be honest what reminded me of this record was the movie That's it. Whatever they said about this man's private life, he was a great professional and he was The King of pop music. Rega allowed me to recollect all these great hits slightly forgotten now. Rhythm and pace in title piece were presented in a way that made my foot tap in „dead man's” rhythm There was no exaggerated warmth which often kills electronic music, not was the sound too „technical”. I mean of course with electronic music you get electronic bass, drums, piano and other instruments but the point it they should sound as they were real instruments – otherwise pleasure of listening diminish significantly. I would recognize this ability of Rega's system as one of its real advantages – many other inexpensive systems can't really do it.

I am going to end my description with Land of the midnight sun by Al di Meola. Lots of dynamic, energetic, rough guitar sounds and riffs. Such a dense, bit rough music cause some trouble to the amplifier – it was having problems with keeping the pace while presenting appropriate drive, and it couldn't maintain soundstage in orderly manner. But it happened only with the most intense moments of music and most of the time it sounded good.

To summarize – first of all it is a good proposal for or audio newbies giving them also strong bases for future system development. It should also attract attention of these seeking for their second/third system to bedroom or office. These newbies will get nice sounding system with very reasonable price. The latter get a small system that will not really compete with their beloved main system but it will not hurt them to listen to it even when comparing to main system. In my opinion (although I didn't have a chance to try each component separately) the best ones in this system are both sources – turntable and CD player, and the first element one would exchange after some time to get higher quality sound would be amplifier. That's why I called this system „strong bases for development” - after some time, when you get familiar with the sound of the system, you will realize its advantages and flows, and what's more important realize what you want to sound better you should start with trying another amps (possibly also more expensive ones from REGA's range). Both analogue and digital sources should be able to keep up with better amplification. Loudspeakers are strongly „room-dependend” - if you put them in a room like mine (24 sqm and over 3m high) they will not show their top performance as it is too big. But place them in 8-18 sqm and they should do fine. You will start of replacement only after some more powerful, higher class amplifier will join your system.

System offers nice tonal balance maybe slightly shifted up but in small room with proper placement of RS3 you might be able to get rid of this small flow. You will never get very deep bass because you can't full physics, but what you get is good enough to make the system sound good, not light, and the bass is fast and well defined. You can really appreciate vocals – these sound natural with nice timbre even though it is not always a 100% true one. Presentation of all kinds of music is fairly good – the most problems systems has in dense, hard music, when it looses the pace from time to time and the soundstage looses also sometimes its orderly manner. Quite a strength of this system is presentation of acoustic instruments. You can't expect truly neutral sound from a system at this price level but again – what you get i fairly acceptable. To make a long story short – this system gets my honest recommendation for all audio newbies – it will give you a reliable, strong start to your audio adventure and you can achieve that without spending some huge money, and without making mistakes with wrong components selection


A full company's name is Rega Research and that's what they do – a lot of research, and than their own new developments are introduced to their products.

CD player Apollo is a result of re-thinking of how the player's mechanism should work. It is, characteristic for Rega, toploader with cover mounted on some kind of hinges – you need to lift it up, place a disc inside and than close it again. There is quite easily readable red display in the middle of the front panel. On the left there is w „power on/off” switch, and on the right four function push-buttons. Shape of the casing remains same as for all Rega's devices with kind of narrowing in the middle. Back panel contains RCA outputs, digital ones (Toslink and Coaxial) and power inlet. A new high quality mechanism has been used which incorporates a three-point mounting ball chuck – something that is commonly used in mobile players, which should increase stability of the disc in the mechanism and precision of data reading. When disc is placed inside it is firstly analyzed which takes few second so that the mechanism can adjust to particular disc for optimal performance. According to the manufacturer some special technology was used in laser head to optimize information processing. Designers decided to use Wolfson's delta-sigma D/A converter WM8740.

BRIO 3 is a third generation of basic model amp from this company. Comparing to its predecessor power supply has been modified with using new smoothing capacitors with capacity of 10 000 µF as well as up-rated toroidal transformer. It is now rated at 49 W per channel at 8 Ω. Sanken and Darlington transistors take care about amplification. Shape of the casing is the same as in all Rega's devices (CD Apollo included). Two knobs at the front panel – volume control and input selector plus on/off switch. Back panel includes 4 RCA inputs including one directly to MM phonostage incorporated inside amp, tape recorder's loop, speaker posts and power inlet. It is an inexpensive device with some cheap RCA posts and surely most people will use some inexpensive cables with it. But I really don't think that leaving some more space between posts would mean any additional costs for manufacturer and it surely would allow to use cables with bigger connectors like in my Komako IC with fantastic Xhadows. I managed to install them but I really feared that I might have damaged posts (which fortunately didn't happen).

RS3 loudspeakers
There are really tiny floor-standing loudspeakers. All drivers used are hand assembled in house. HF20-ZRR tweeter is uniquely designed by Rega. By removing unwanted rear reflection the design of the ZRR tweeter helps maintain a distortion free response. A classic RR125 mid-range drive unit is housed in a sealed section. This offers excellent control of driver resonances, resulting in a smooth mid-range response. RS3 also include a side firing 5" woofers, which utilize an 8 layer voice coil.

Rega P3-24 turntable with TT-PSU and RB 301 tonearm is a third from the bottom model in Rega's range. It is quite simple design but what's interesting manufacturer added both TT-PSU and new tonearm RB301 – both used in more expensive models. RB301 is a successor of legendary RB300. The new plinth whilst being slim and attractive, offers high levels of rigidity by using phenolic resin laminates, with a high quality edging. This particular piece I received for a review looked really great with the red color – and it's THE red color that most guys would love to have their Ferrari in. The P3 - 24 uses the same very high quality low vibration motor, which is used in the P5 & 9 turntables. The clever controlling circuitry can be adjusted for phase angle of the motor coils resulting in very low vibration levels from the complete motor assembly. The TT PSU first developed for the P7 turntable is a high quality outboard power supply offering increased musical performance, by conditioning the electrical supply with a synthesized low distortion crystal controlled ac input. This also gives the added convenience of electronic speed change control. The same high quality drive belt/main bearing and glass platter are carried over from the cast P3 2000. The famous RB300 has been modified to improve production and give a higher musical sound performance. An improved vertical bearing housing has been used, which gives improved rigidity in the tonearms mounting, reducing the stresses in the main 13mm bearings. This assembly is topped off with the improved RB700 bias housing phono cable.

Technical data (according to the manufacturer):
Line Output Maximum Level 2V (load impedance minimum 10kΩ)
Digital Output Maximum Level 0.5V (load impedance 75Ω)
Digital Sampling Frequency 44.1kHz
Mains Voltages 230V (minimum 190V maximum 250V) @ 50/60Hz
Power Consumption 12W
Dimensions 435Wx100Hx270D

Brio 3
Power output: 49 Watts both channels driven into 8Ω (64W at 4Ω)
Phono input sensitivity: 3mV at 47kΩ.
CD, Tuner, Line 1, Tape input sensitivity = 206mV @ 24KΩ.
Power consumption: 148 Watts @ 230V
Standby power consumption: 11.5 W

Dimensions: 797mm (H) x 246 mm (D) x 224 mm (W)
Weight: 9kg
Impedance: 6Ω
Sensitivity: 89dB

Type: moving magnet (MM)
Output: 6.8 – 7.2mV
Fixing: Rega three point fixing
Color: yellow
Recommended tracking force: 1.5g

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Reference system: