Review: Rega io

Mini amplifier with maximum sound

The small Rega amplifier Rega io is an affordable entrance ticket and the sound is in a class of its own.

Karakter
Rega io
We think
Playful dynamics, good bass control and open sound image. Lots of fun for the money.
No streaming, only - three - analog inputs.
Specifications
  • Type: Integrated amplifier
  • Power: 2 x 30 w RMS 8 ohms
  • Technology: Transistor, class AB
  • Connections: Two unbalanced
  • Turntable input: MM pickup
  • Headphone output: Yes
  • DAC: No.
  • Network: No.
  • Other: Remote control
  • Dimensions and weight: 18 x 29 x 6.8 cm / 2.9 kg
Ad
forfatter

Simple, inexpensive and well-playing amplifiers are not easy to find. Ever since NAD turned the market upside down with the 3020 in the 80’s, there has always been a selection of bargains in the very lowest price range.

But lately, the selection has shrunk as prices have risen, and the good old 3020 is long gone.

For now, it’s streaming that counts.

This means that the small analog amplifiers, the ones that are so perfect to upgrade a fully analog system with, are hardly to be found.

Those who have an amplifier or receiver singing the last verse must look to find a good replacement. Right should be right, NAD makes an integrated analog amplifier called C316 V2, a cheap and usable amplifier with turntable input and remote control. Marantz and Rotel have their own, and Rega has long had one of the best in the small Brio of 50 w.

Now it has a cheaper alternative in io, which is a 30 w integrated with fewer inputs, in a simpler chassis, but where the technical is very similar to what we find under the top cover of the Brio amplifier.

Three inputs

It only has inputs for two audio sources, plus an input for turntables with MM pickup. It holds for those who have a turntable and a CD player, which then has a free entrance to something else.

Simply equipped, but with turntable input.

The compact dimensions are a bonus with Rega io, which is easy to find on the bookshelf. It does not get so hot that it needs a lot of air around it, and everything can be operated with the remote control. On the front you will also find a headphone output that is not something Rega has just thrown in, it is connected to the output stage via relays, and delivers 5.7 V at the output when a pair of 300 ohm headphones are plugged in.

Inside, the small amplifier has a relatively large ring-core transformer, and the output stage and turntable input are built in the same way as in the more expensive Brio.

Rega has not been stingy although the price is nice. The amplifier has both volume control from the Alps, and output transistors from Sanken.

Same output as in the larger Brio amplifier.

Lots of fun

It may look elusive, but beneath the modest exterior resides a playful, dynamic and enduring 30w amplifier. Forget the numbers, it plays much tougher than you think, and has a bass reproduction that is rarely the case in this price range. The amplifier raised the sound pressure on the tiny Sonus faber Lumina 1, to well above the expected level, and it had control all the way.

The much larger 702 S2 Signature from Bowers & Wilkins was also no challenge for the small io, which took immediate control of the four bass elements, and held it until it finally ran out of power. But then it was loud enough, I thought.

The little Rega amplifier also sounds very good, with a rich and open sound image that is very reminiscent of Brio, which has even more power, but also costs a lot more. If you want streaming, a Sonos Amp is the natural alternative, but it does not have a turntable input and lacks the Rega amplifier’s engaging playfulness and dynamic contrast.

Rega io: Conclusion

Rega io is pure minimalism on the outside, and maximalism on the inside. That it is a complete analogue is a minus for some, a plus for others, but in any case this is the most well-sounding and engaging nut amplifier we have tested so far. It is perfect for those who need a better amplifier in an existing system, and a good place to start for those who want to build a system. Add a Pro-ject or Rega turntable, a pair of small Klipsch speakers in the RP series, and you have a great vinyl rig.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Also check out

It's no coincidence that the McIntosh C22 looks like it's 50 years old, nor is it a coincidence that it plays as well as it does.

Electrocompaniet has updated its phono stage, but the changes are subtle.

NAD uses the same fine Purifi amplifier modules as in the much more expensive M33. That can hardly go wrong.

The NAD C658 contains more than what is apparent from the looks. Behind the gray facade hides a versatile preamplifier, DAC and streaming receiver that can also control your listening room.

Sonos' first portable speaker impresses with integration and convenience.

The new 2021 Mercedes S-Class is brimming with innovative and discerning solutions for both eyes and ears. We have spent a few days behind the wheel to see and hear what the newcomer has to offer!

With Celestee, Focal has surpassed what we thought was possible from closed headphones in this price range.

JBL Live Pro+ are complete with active noise reduction, and although they sound mediocre right out of the box, they are saved by a fabulous EQ in the app. Thus, they can still get class-leading sound.

OnePlus 9 Pro has a lot to live up to. The new top mobile does not quite hit the spot, but the camera is the best so far.

You deserve the best sound - even outside! You need to have a set of outdoor speakers.

Electrocompaniet has updated its phono stage, but the changes are subtle.

With a well-made little "MacBook killer", Razer shows that they can do more than just gaming PCs.

The large, well-sounding floorstanders, DALI Oberon 9, bring back the fun in hi-fi.

Looking for a simple, no-nonsense soundbar? Then TCL has a reasonably-priced alternative.

Active noise cancelling in wireless headphones usually costs more than this.