I have one of the new Rega DAC's coming from Audio Advisor tomorrow, so I will be posting my impressions shortly. Hadn't seen any discussion here about this unit, but as a previous Rega Planet CDP owner, I have always like Rega's sonic approach to digital. Aside from Rega's focus on musicality as opposed to hifi attributes, I was encouraged by the fact that it is a NOS design and has selectable filters including an apodizing one similar to the Meridian and PS Audio PWD.
Since I am using this with a Mac Mini music server with built-in toslink, the 16/48 limitation on the USB input is not a show stopper for me.
More to come
UPDATE - DAY 1 (T+7 hours):
Concentrating so far on RedBook playback via USB using a Wireworld Starlight cable that I had bought for my brief HRT ownership but that was never broken in. I have been alternating playing music and running track 2 from the Isotek burnin CD. I have breifly tried the different filter settings, but have settled on #5 (minimum phase apodizing) for now. Very subtle differences there. I am using a Pangea 14SE power cord with a cryo'd C5 adapter. The cord was previously used for a couple weeks, so likely minimal breakin effect on that. I have not done a comparison with any other cord (including stock) - just put it in out of faith.
Very nice so far. Stone cold, it was sort bright and hard (no surprise there from other reports), but the sound has changed pretty dramatically already. Strikes me as very even tonal balance with a slight warm tilt. Pretty good detail, but it is not (nor did I expect) a detail queen where you hear all kinds of stuff you never noticed before. Extremely musical - I realize I'm tapping my toes on a lot of stuff without thinking about it. Very smooth in the sense of no sign of anything I would call grain or extra-musical texture. Upper mids still have just a hint of sharpness I did not notice on the Apogee, but I'm sure we are not done on burnin yet - this thing is changing (for the better) on an hour by hour basis. I will leave the Isotek track going on repeat overnight and see what tomorrow brings.
So how is it so far compared to the Apogee Duet? Closer than I expected, which is a huge compliment to the Duet. The Duet is definitely even warmer to the point of sounding a little out of kilter in the mids. The Duet also has less bass slam and transparency in the lower mids and bass. I also routinely had bouts of thinking the Duet was a little grainy, something I have not detected in the Rega so far. Both DAC's are very musical and in that sense they are similar in "flavor". The Duet immediately comes across as "colored" relative to the Rega, however. In fact, it is significant enough that I had suspected it without any other DAC in this exact system for comparison. Euphonic coloration, but not "right". The one thing I think the Duet might have over the Rega at this stage of Rega burnin is a little more sense of air or space. It is really unfair and full of hyperbole, but the Duet is more like vintage tubes (warm and rolly-polly with exaggerated mids) and the Rega more like contemporary solid state (impact, linearity, more "in control"). I am pretty confident the Rega is significantly better DAC that will become more obvious with another 24-48 hours on it and the Wireworld cable.
I was a little taken back at first power up (I had thought about putting the Isotek track on repeat until tomorrow before even listening, but I was weak), but I am pretty excited at what lies ahead.The Duet is a surprise though I suspected it might be similar to the Rega based on some comments I read in a couple threads elsewhere - a gentle man was comparing some very high-buck DAC's, and threw out the comment that the Duet was the most musical and analog sounding.
Working on memory here, but I'm pretty sure the Rega even at this point is nicer than the Rega Planet 2000 CDP I used to have. It is warmer, more organic sounding.
I am listening to Alan Jackson's "Precious Memories" album as I type this (Alan and his wife and daughters singing traditional hymn with acoustic, country flavored backup) and I just realized I am tapping my toes and bobbing my head to the music and had goosebumps on a couple more intimate tracks. Must be something to that Linn/Naim PRaT business
More tomorrow (Sunday)
Edited by khollister - 1/29/11 at 4:00pm