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Rega Apollo Impressions

post #1 of 83
Thread Starter 
Like the Greek god Apollo, this cdp may be the centerof the digital universe in terms of price. The build quality is excellent as is the sound quality. It is an example of the innovation that should be expected if we, meaning the West are going to compete with the wonderful products coming out of China. I mentioned build quality. As you can tell from the following photo, the Apollo looks identical to the Planet, which it replaces:



This is probably a good thing in that it may have enabled Rega to keep this much improved cdp at the same price as the Planet ($995). I owned a Rega Mira 3 integrated amp which uses essentially the same case. It is as rock solid a case as you are going to find. It's not too bad to look at either. The remote is the Solar, which will also control the Rega integrated amps. It's plastic but well laid out. The transport has gone from a magnetic puck design to a 3 point mounting ball chuck design (much of the technical information is from the Rega website). If you look at the top where the cd is loaded the Apollo only has smoked glass. This is very different design from the Planet and Jupiter. It is the only noticeable difference when looking at the player.

The differences go deeper, however. It is what is inside that has changed dramatically. I don't have the technical expertise to understand what is the significance of the changes, beyond the upgrade in sound quality. However, in reading the website and other reviews it is clear what Rega has done is significant and innovative. From Rega, "...a highly advanced servo controller which uses the very latest signal processing techniques to ensure that the raw data that is recovered from the disc is of the very highest quality. Because our fully digital servo can use highly advanced algorithms the laser spot is kept in the optimum position for data recovery in terms of focus spot size and tracking position." You can go to the website and read for yourselves but I thought I would point out one of the highlights of this new design.

I had an opportunity to spend about an hour and half comparing the Apollo to my E-Sound CD-E5. The E5 is a bargain at $700 and gave other players costing more a run for their money. My first audition with the Apollo was at Let There Be Sound, a local audo store. The owner Oz has become a friend of mine and has opened his store to us head-fi nuts in the past. While not a headphone guy, he has participated in meets by his attendence and allowing me to hijack his gear to bring to meets. Here are some pics of the system the Apollo was in during the audition:









Now to the impressions. What became clear on the various recordings I used from on of Oz's sampler cd's is that the E5 is a brighter and thinner sounding player. The Apollo exibited a nice sense of warmth without sacrificing it's ability to produce detail. There were some recordings where the cymbal hits sounded somewhat sibilant. The same could not be said for the Apollo. I probably should have qualified my statements about the E5 by saying that nothing I found during this comparison takes away from the E5. At it's price it is a winner and has been a welcome part of my system for a number of months now. That said, the Apollo is, imo the better cdp.

Another area of difference was in the ability of the Apollo to seperate the instruments both side to side and front to back. There was a greater amount of air between instruments which, when compared to the E5 made it somewhat thin sounding. I haven't compared the two using headphones yet. I hope to do that tomorrow night. I don't believe you can as easily demonstrate these particular differences using headphones as you can when listening through speakers. This is especially true when they are excellent speakers (System Audio SA 1750), Preamp (Herron) and Amp (Berendsen- The ASL Mono's were not used do to a problem with one of the tubes).

The Apollo also produced the deeper bass, although this was not as obvious as some of the other differences. Vocals tended to be a bit forward of the instruments as you would expect in a live venue. This allows you to feel the performance as you would imagine it would feel were you present during the recording (I obviously don't know what the actual recordings sound like but I think you know what I mean). The room I was in is Oz's reference room and is acoustically treated. A bunch of head-fiers can attest to how nice it sounds in that room.

I hope to add some additional comments by the weekend when I have a chance to audition the Apollo at home with the Woodied HF-1/Raptor and HE60/Stax SRM-1 mkII. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the Apollo sounds. Of course, everything I've said is in my opinion. I don't pretend to be an expert but over the last 2 years I believe I've learned a few things about audio. I would love to here some other comments from others who have heard the Apollo to see how they compare to mine. I hope to have an Apollo at the February 18 Miami Meet.

1/25/06

I didn't have as much time tonight as I would have liked. I spent all my time with the HE60/SRM-1 mkII. Unfortunately, the amp is probably holding back the headphones. My findings a pretty much the same as they were when using speakers. The differences are probably a bit more subtle than with the speakers. While the HE60 are excellent headphones, I don't believe they can match the speakers in conjunction with I the Berendsen amp and Herron Preamp which are probably in the range of $6000. The speakers are $2700. With the HE60's, there is less compression when using the Apollo compared to the E5. Madeleine Peyroux' voice sounds more natural and with more weight through the Apollo. The E5 is a bit thinner sounding. Again, I can't emphasize enough that this is not a night and day difference but a difference there is. I am looking forward to others getting a chance to hear both cdp's to see if they come to the same conclusion as I have. For those who are considering this player over the E5 remembe, there is still a 30% difference in price. If the $300 difference in price is not an issue, the Apollo may be for you. Otherwise, no one should feel that they aren't getting their moneys worth with the E5. I am leaning towards buying the Apollo. I've been told that I am expecting a visitor from the ranks of head-fi next week. I don't think it will take much to get him to lend me his ears for an opinion. I should add that the Apollo is not yet fully burned in yet.
post #2 of 83
Nice, keep us updated
post #3 of 83
Great pictures! Rega products have always been great sounding for relatively not much money!

Regards,
cansman
post #4 of 83
Tyrion very nice write-up and great pics too. I look forward to reading more of your impressions.
post #5 of 83
Here's another enthusiastic reaction at Audio Asylum. As I contemplate a source upgrade, my primary decision is not among CDPs but whether to shift to computer/wireless/DAC. I had pretty much made up my mind that the computer-based solution was more attractive but the Apollo has the potential to change that.
post #6 of 83
I've been thinking about upgrading my source next... I was nearly set on the E5 but now a new rega is out... hmmm it could go either way. Its certainly something I would want to test at a local shop first though. So I can compare it to my old Mk1 Planet

Please keep us updated, I'd love to hear what you think with the headphones.

Cheers,

Dean
post #7 of 83
Thanks for the impressions Mike. I am looking for a new source exactly around that price. I had been thinking about the various professional DACs like the DAC1 or Lavry which potentially offer good sound for the money.

I used to own a Rega Planet. While the sound was inviting overall, it was overly warm and wooly in the bass. I imagine that an improved version may be right up my alley.

Is the Apollo more neutral in sound compared to the Planet? Any thoughts as to how the Apollo may compare to the old Jupiter?
post #8 of 83
Well, ya had to do this, diden't ya. Now I want one too. Lets organize a group buy from from that audio source in Florida. I don't know where to buy one, in the states right now anyway. Nice review Mike.
post #9 of 83
Been thinking of buying one of these, will be waiting to hear your review
post #10 of 83
As Jeff E noted, your comments almost mirror those posted in AA! Please post more impressions as you have a chance to listen at home. I held off on buying the Planet, but along with the Apollo, I am considering a TRL modded Sony CE-595.
post #11 of 83
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canman
I used to own a Rega Planet. While the sound was inviting overall, it was overly warm and wooly in the bass. I imagine that an improved version may be right up my alley.

Is the Apollo more neutral in sound compared to the Planet? Any thoughts as to how the Apollo may compare to the old Jupiter?
Brian, I have not done a direct comparison to the Planet. There is one in the store, so it would be pretty easy to do it. I will try in the next couple of days. At the very least, I will ask Oz if he has any thoughts in that regard. As to the Jupiter, I've never heard one so I can't comment. I've read that the Apollo is "better" than the Jupiter. I will try to find a link to where I read that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikey01
Well, ya had to do this, diden't ya.
It's payback for not selling me back the 2A3.

I should have the Apollo home tonight so I should be able to post some additional impressions tonight. I will take some more pics as well of the the unit itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by replytoken
As Jeff E noted, your comments almost mirror those posted in AA!
You didn't think I came up with this stuff on my own?
post #12 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by tyrion
I should have the Apollo home tonight so I should be able to post some additional impressions tonight. I will take some more pics as well of the the unit itself.
Mike, take a listen with the HE-60 and report back post haste
post #13 of 83
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canman
Mike, take a listen with the HE-60 and report back post haste
That's a given.
post #14 of 83
Mike, thanks for the impressions. Do you happen to know what type of TT was set up at Oz'?

Cheers! Matthias
post #15 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff E
As I contemplate a source upgrade, my primary decision is not among CDPs but whether to shift to computer/wireless/DAC. I had pretty much made up my mind that the computer-based solution was more attractive but the Apollo has the potential to change that.
Funny, I'm already using that (and it sounds quite good BTW) but am thinking about buying the Apollo and going back to primarily redbook listening.
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