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"Rich, Full-bodied, Tube-like," Says Stereophile
The legendary turntable and electronics pros at Rega have turned their expertise to digital-to-analog conversion, and the results are every bit as extraordinary as you might expect. The Rega DAC is a 16/20/24-bit at 32 kHz to 192 kHz DAC incorporating an enhanced version of a Rega-designed circuit. Developed to be simple to set up and use, the Rega DAC is designed to optimize performance from any two-channel PCM digital audio source.
With the PC now widely accepted as a creditable medium for storing and streaming music, the use of high quality lossless files such as WAV, FLAC and ALAC offer performance through the DAC equal to and in some cases better than Redbook CD. Great care has been taken by Rega's engineers to remove noise generated by the PC and other input sources. During development this was identified as a major drawback with many DACs on the market today.
"You'll gravitate toward the Rega DAC for its distinctively Rega sound quality: rich, full-bodied, tube-like," reports Sam Tellig in the May 2011 issue of Stereophile magazine. "I can't think of any better way to upgrade while keeping, say, a Rega CD player as a transport."
"I found the sound of the Rega DAC more akin to that of its flagship turntable, the P9 (which has been a long-term component in my reference system)," notes Jeff Dorgay in Tone Audio magazine for December 2010.
"Powerful and Dynamic"
"The Rega DAC sounded particularly powerful and dynamic (via coaxial S/PDIF) with a sense of immediacy that commanded attention to the music," opines Hi-fi News magazine for June 2011.
Wolfson DACs and Five Selectable Filters
Housed in a custom aluminum case, the Rega DAC boasts a pair of Wolfson DAC ICs, five user-selectable digital filters, two isolated coaxial digital inputs, two Toslink SPDIF digital inputs, and an isolated USB input.
The input stage uses a Wolfson digital receiver with a high-stability low jitter reference clock driving the receiver PLL. The receiver, PLL, and oscillator have their own dedicated power supplies. The DAC stage comprises a pair of parallel-connected Wolfson WM8742 DACs, which are driven via a buffer stage, which ensures the integrity of the data being fed to the DAC ICs. This is similar to the arrangement used in Rega's reference Isis CD player.
The output amplifier employs a discrete differential multiple feedback filter and output amplifier, with a high cut-off frequency for use with higher sample rates. Rega decided not to use a sample rate converter and process the data at the incoming sample rate in order to keep the signal processing to a minimum. Jitter was minimized by synchronously clocking the digital data with Rega's receiver PLL removing any jitter from the input signal.
All the capacitors associated with the analog signal path are Nichicon FG bypassed with MMK polyester capacitors, and low impedance conductive polymer capacitors are used for DAC decoupling. The power supply utilizes a toroidal transformer, fast rectifier diodes, and again, Nichicon FG capacitors. There is a power supply for the control microcontroller, separate from the digital the analog audio stages. Special attention has been paid to the inter IC control signals in order to ensure that the control data noise is kept to a minimum.
"The Rega DAC really excels at tone and timbre. Acoustic instruments sound natural and, quite honestly, way better than even a digital snob such as myself expected a $1,000 DAC to sound."
"The Rega DAC is an excellent choice for anyone thinking about archiving vinyl, provided you have an excellent-quality analog setup with which to capture it."
"I still couldn't help thinking that this DAC was something special with standard 16/44 files, whether played with USB or SPDIF."
"On many levels, I found the sound of the Rega DAC more akin to that of its flagship turntable the P9 (which has been a long-term component in my reference system). It shares the P9's quick and open presentation with a healthy dose of pace and timing."
- Jeff Dorgay, Tone Audio magazine, December 2010
"You'll gravitate toward the Rega DAC for its distinctively Rega sound quality: rich, full-bodied, tube-like… I can't think of any better way to upgrade while keeping, say, a Rega CD player as a transport."
- Sam Tellig, Stereophile magazine, May 2011
"The Rega DAC sounded particularly powerful and dynamic (via coaxial S/PDIF) with a sense of immediacy that commanded attention to the music."
- Hi-fi News magazine, June 2011