|Rega - DAC - Digital to Analog Converter
Video Review - Click on the Video Tab Above
"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.
- 16/20/24-bit at 32 kHz to 192 kHz DAC
- Pair of parallel-connected Wolfson WM8742 DACs
- Input stage: Wolfson digital receiver with a high-stability low jitter reference clock
- Receiver, PLL, and oscillator have their own dedicated power supplies
- The output amplifier employs a discrete differential multiple feedback filter and output amplifier
- Five user-selectable digital filters
- Two isolated coaxial digital inputs
- Two Toslink SPDIF digital inputs, and an isolated USB input
- Coaxial and optical digital outputs
- RCA analog output
- Custom aluminum case
- DAC: Two Wolfson WM8742
- Frequency Rresponse (100K load): Low data rate 44.1/48 kHz Filter 2 = 10 Hz -0.05 dB to 20 kHz -0.1 dB;
Medium data rate 88.2/96 kHz Filter 2 = 10 Hz -0.05 dB to 30 kHz -1 dB; High data rate 176/192 kHz Filter 2 = 10 Hz -0.05 dB to 41 kHz -1 dB
- Total Harmonic Distortion (24-bit, 96 kHz): 0.006% @ 1kHz
- Signal-to-noise ratio: -105 dB (Relative to maximum output level with a 100 Hz to 22 kHz bandwidth)
- Maximum output level: 2.175V into 100K load
- Bit resolution: 16 to 24 bit (USB is limited to 16 bit)
- Supported data rates: 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176, 192 kHz
- Power consumption: 7.6W
- Dimensions: 8.5" wide, 3.1" high, 10.6" deep
- Weight: 9 lbs.
- USB Isolated (16-bit, 32/44.1/48 kHz)
- Input 1 Optical/Toslink (24-bit, 32/44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192 kHz)
- Input 2 Optical/Toslink (24-bit 32/44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192 kHz)
- Input 3 Isolated 75 ohm Co-axial (24-bit, 32/44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192 kHz)
- Input 4 Isolated 75 ohm Co-axial (24-bit, 32/44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192 kHz)
"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
||Makes music human again!
|I have owned this DAC for nearly 12 months now, and I am convinced that it is a keeper for me. I use it with a Logitech Squeezebox Touch playing FLAC encoded CD rips or higher resolution material at 96kHz / 24-bit or higher when available. This DAC pulls off a difficult trick of communicating the detail and presence of recordings, but totally eliminating the digitally induced stress and edge that have often accompanied digital playback in the past. There is a sense of analog ease, but not of boredom when listening to music rendered by this DAC. There may be more detailed and in your face DACs on the market, but there are few that convey the essence of the music in a more organic and human way. If you want your DAC to let the music speak rather than showing off its own party tricks, this Rega piece is a good bet. Take it from someone whos keeping his.|
|- Charles R, CA|
|This unit is amazing. Flat out amazing. It provides full rich sound that has been missing from many current products due to the explosion of digital media, ipods, file compression, etc. I use the Rega with a networked PC, a wadia iTransport, and an old Marantz CD player. I cannot put into words what a difference this thing makes. I play files from my itunes library over a LAN. They sound like a CD. Individual sounds are fully differentiated, the quality of the sound is way beyond expectations. I would go so far as to say the sound is tube like. As long as you have a good quality source file - you will be stunned at how good it can sound. If you are a serious listener, for the money, it is a super deal. Lots of input options as well. You will love this DAC. YOu can listen to this unit for hours on end - it just sounds so warm.|
|- Bill T, NJ|
|Bought the demo which may have been broken in already.When comparing side by side with my Krell showcase with hdmi as both a transport and pure direct in via Audioquest King Cobra balanced xlrs,the Rega Dac is a dramatic improvement in detail and sound. I am using a Marantz pre pro with a Parasound Halo amp and Theil 1.6 speakers.When switching back and forth between inputs,I am amazed at how great the sound is from the REGA DAC.I am using a standard optical cable from the Krell to the DAC and using AudioQuest Jade Rcas from the DAC to the Marantz.I am presently using filter 4 as a reviewer posted that as his favorite,but i can also agree with the other reviewer online here at AUDIO ADVISOR that I do not really hear a difference between filters.When changing the playback in the Marantz from pure direct to stereo,all EQs off, which allows my Velodyne sub to kick , it has a different and terrific sound.Once again the REGA DAC out performs the dacs in the Krell.Now that is saying a lot!I would love for this Dac to have Balanced XLRS,but at this point the rcas are great.If you are looking to upgrade to a high end cd player,consider this Dac and your present player as a transport.The results will be amazing.Please note that a high quality interconnect for the RCAs is recommended.I have had a DAC /transport setup in the past, the quality of this DAC makes me smile that i tried it again.|
|- Gene p, NY|
||Quantum leap in sound quality improvement
|What makes one audio component better than another? I ask this question frequently, as I think anyone spending lots of money in this area should. I know, for instance, that I have only heard a handful of artists whose CDs I own perform live. None of these performances were in my listening room, however. So how can I judge the accuracy of my audio system? Herein lies the subjectivity of this obsession... I know when I like something better, but is it more accurate, or just different?
These comments in mind, I have listened to the Rega DAC for nearly a month through a music server in the following configuration: JRMC 16 - Asus xonar bit perfect SPDIF - Rega DAC - PS Audio PCA-2 - PS Audio GCA-100 - Soliloquy 5.3s. I also used it with a Cary Audio CD308 and the disc drive of the media PC. Via the bit perfect out, playing CDs ripped using Exact Audio Copy, the sound is a quantum leap over the Cary CD spinner, even when that player is run through the DAC. The bass was big and loose, and soundstaging / imaging poor through the first 20 hours or so, but after that I have found it to excel in these areas. Other qualities, including detail retrieval, treble reproduction, and speed, are all there in spades as well.
This DAC is NOT transport independent, as one would be lead to believe. As above, the Cary CD308 is inferior to the music server through the DAC, and CDs played on the CD-ROM drive of the PC are several notches below this.
As for the filters? Not so sure I hear much in the way of differences - at least not enough for me to prefer one over another.
I have not compared this to other DACs in a similar price range breaking one of my long held rules in high-end audio, however, it just sounds so good Im sticking with it. And that brings us right back around to the beginning of this review. And you know what, I can live with that.|
|- Ryan F, MI|