"Best Stereo Amp £400-£700" What Hi-fi? Magazine Awards 2011 Issue
"Rega Hit the Ball Way Out of the Park"
Rega's new Brio-R integrated amp improves upon its popular predecessor with redesigned power supplies, an improved phono stage, and more. So what does the 'R' in 'Brio-R' stand for? Remote control, of course!
So if you're shopping for a quality integrated, and you love the British approach to hi-fi, the Brio–R embodies all the necessary ingredients. It incorporates a substantial toroidal transformer, generous power supply components, rugged output stage, plus the use of film capacitors in the signal path and at all critical positions within the phono amplifier.
"Showed the Excellence That's Possible"
"The Brio-R showed the excellence that's possible when a manufacturer aspires to deliver less. Less power than usual. Smaller size. Fewer features," notes Sam Tellig in the December 2011 issue of Stereophile. "I was impressed by the quality of the Brio-R's phono stage… No integrated amplifier that I have heard for under $1000 has a finer built-in phono stage."
"Better Than The Best of the Budget Amplifiers"
"This Rega is a clear level better than the best of the budget amplifiers," reports England's What Hi-fi? magazine, which awarded the Brio-R top honors as "Best Stereo Amp £400-£700" category in the magazine's Awards 2011 issue. "The Brio-R is an immensely musical amplifier. It sounds agile and detailed, and sniffs out a rhythm track brilliantly."
"This time, Rega hit the ball way out of the park," raves Jeff Dorgay in his review for Issue 38, June 2011, of ToneAudio magazine. "The Rega Brio-R sets the benchmark for an $1000 integrated amplifier and then some. While it’s easy for those that regularly hear the world’s best (and often most expensive) gear to get excited about great sound, it’s truly thrilling to hear this level of sound quality from an amplifier with an $895 price tag."
New Output Amplifier
The Brio-R delivers 50-watts-per-channel RMS into 8 ohms, and 73-watts-per-channel RMS into 4 ohms for plenty of room-filling power.
For the Brio-R, Rega's engineers developed a newly designed output amplifier using a low source impedance emitter-follower 'Class A' driver stage. This is based around a complementary pair of 150w Sanken Darlington output transistors. Although the technical and sonic improvement gained by the use of low impedance drivers is well known, this approach can result in high standing currents in the driver stage when using standard transistor configurations. By combining the low impedance driver with the Sanken Darlington transistors (with their imbedded thermal bias network running at a lower standing current) this combination forms a complementary emitter-follower emulating 'Class A' conditions with good thermal stability with lower standing currents in the driver stage.
Remote control has been added to the Brio-R without compromising the sonic design of the amplifier. This was achieved by keeping the remote circuit separate from the audio circuit and giving the circuit its own dedicated power supply. There is no direct contact between the micro-controller and the signal path. The micro-controller controls the relays, while the volume control motor uses DC control voltages.
High Quality Inside and Out
The Brio-R takes advantage of the highest quality components and design standards to achieve the best sonic performance. The output amplifier is capable of driving awkward loads as low as 1.7 ohms. Below this, the amplifier is protected against shorted speakers and reactive loads.
The power supply uses a low noise generously rated toroidal transformer and 10,000 uF smoothing capacitors that provide enough current to drive the most awkward of loads.
During the design process, Rega reviewed the circuit and improved the low- and high-current power supplies, coupling capacitors, and bypass capacitors. The phono stage has been improved to reflect the current improvements in the Rega Planar turntables; the input sensitivity has been increased along with a revision of the sub-100 Hz part of the phono frequency response.
Housed in a brand new custom case, the Brio-R draws on the pedigree of the previous three incarnations of this model.