One of the predominant entry-level loudspeaker amplifiers coming out of England has always been the Rega Brio. The amp has seen regular updates, and is now on its 6th reimagining in a brand new overhaul for 2017.
The new Brio still offers the same “half-size” form factor, included Rega MM phono stage and 50 Watts (into 8Ω), but this time around consumers also will get the added bonus of a headphone jack located on the front panel. The chassis has been redesigned with a more modern-looking knob and a rounded look to the front panel. We have had a last-gen model of the Rega Brio-R on hand in the lab here for a while and it does a very sturdy job on the entry level front. The 50Ws struggled a bit when paired with the 4Ω Elac UB5, but lighter loads usually walk away with a nicely defined and robust texture in the mids.
The dedicated Rega MM phono stage on input 1 did a very good job from our experience with the last generation, so our expectation on this model will be held high as well. All-in-all the amp is very much a workhorse for those wanting to get a better taste of the high end of audio. Any upward mobility to the design could only push its application further forward for those suffer from mild to sever audiophilia. More details on the newest updates to the feature set, from the press release:
A full upgraded PCB layout manages a higher specification for all critical parts. A second raw power supply is added to provide further isolation between output stage, the driver stage/line and phono amplifiers. The process improves the isolation between high and low level signal stages of the amplifier. Higher specification MUSES operational amplifiers are incorporated in the line and phono amplifier.
For headphone fans, the Brio can drive standard headphones from the internal amplifier. Adding a headphone jack was only possible by finding a way to reduce its impact on the main signal path so it doesn’t disrupt the overall sound quality. Rega engineers dedicated special attention to the switch that deactivates the main speakers. When the headphone jack is inserted, the loudspeaker output is automatically turned off and the signal is directed to the headphone.
New Chassis Design
The sleek, new chassis is designed to boost heat sink capabilities, protect and contain all internal functions. The cosmetics remain true to the traditional design features of a Rega amplifier, a unique standpoint amongst the competition.”
The new Brio is now available at retail for a “limited time pricing” of $995 USD.
More info: http://www.rega.co.uk/brio-2017.html