Rega Elex-r

FOR Ar­tic­u­late per­former; fine rhyth­mic abil­ity; solid build AGAINST The fea­ture count is rather lim­ited “The Rega Elex-r de­liv­ers a fast, ag­ile sound that’s as rhyth­mi­cally sure­footed as any­thing at this level”

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Michael Phelps wouldn’t be con­sid­ered the great­est Olympian of all time had he set­tled for his gold rush in 2004. Like­wise the Rega Elex-r, which won its first Award in 2014, and then beat the Arcam A29 and Audiolab 8300A last year. It must now de­feat yet an­other wave of com­pe­ti­tion to earn a third con­sec­u­tive What Hi-fi? Award. But with that com­pe­ti­tion in­clud­ing new en­tries from Cyrus and NAD, the Rega has cer­tainly got its work cut out this time.

Sense of en­ergy

Build qual­ity is as solid as we ex­pect from Rega and, while the case­work is func­tional rather than lux­u­ri­ous, it feels as though it will last. In fact, our sam­ple has been a sta­ple in our hi-fi test room for al­most three years. We’re still a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed with the re­mote, though, which lacks the so­lid­ity of ri­val hand­sets.

By us­ing the much ad­mired Brio-r as a base, and adding cir­cuit el­e­ments from the tal­ented Elicit-r (£1600) into the mix, Rega has cre­ated one of the best sub-£1000 amplifiers we’ve heard.

Any­one fa­mil­iar with Rega’s cur­rent am­pli­fier range will recog­nise the Elex-r’s sonic char­ac­ter. It de­liv­ers a fast, ag­ile sound that’s as rhyth­mi­cally sure­footed as any­thing at this level.

With Mack­le­more and Lewis’ Thrift Shop, it’s head and shoul­ders above the Cyrus One, Audiolab MŠONE or Rotel A14 when it comes to ren­der­ing rhythms. A com­bi­na­tion of im­pres­sive tim­ing, spa­cious­ness and dy­nam­ics means even in com­plex pieces of mu­sic, noth­ing ever sounds re­motely ran­dom or like the Rega is free­wheel­ing.

There’s an ad­dic­tive sense of live­li­ness and en­ergy, some­thing some ri­vals tend to tone down in the search for greater re­fine­ment. It demon­strates author­ity and scale bet­ter than any­thing we’ve heard at this price too.

It’s right at home with a vo­cal-led piece like Nina Si­mone’s I Put A Spell On You. There’s a real sense of raw­ness and re­al­ism in her deep, gut­tural de­liv­ery, and the Rega con­veys nu­ances bet­ter than any of its peers.

Ton­ally, the Elex-r edges to­wards lean­ness, so avoid pair­ing with bright or harsh speak­ers – we use a range from Dali’s lively Zen­sor 3s and Dy­nau­dio’s Emit M20s to ATC SCM11S and PMC Twenty 26s, and at no point does the Rega fail to shine.

It’s as happy pick­ing out finer threads of de­tail in the con­vo­luted sec­tions of Hans Zim­mer’s Moun­tains from the In­ter­stel­lar sound­track, as it is un­veil­ing vari­a­tion in ham­mer­ing electrics in Band of Horses’ NW Apt.

Of course a power out­put of 72W per chan­nel into 8ohms isn’t enough to make the floor shake, but this amp is ca­pa­ble of de­cent lev­els in most set-ups.

A fine achieve­ment

If you want a tra­di­tional stereo amp, the Rega re­mains on sure ground. There are no dig­i­tal in­puts – in­stead you get a good-qual­ity MM phono stage, one that’s tal­ented enough to make the most of £1000 turntable pack­ages like Rega’s own RP6, for ex­am­ple.

It’s a rel­a­tively quiet cir­cuit, one that keeps all the good sonic points we noted in the line stages. There are four line-level in­puts, one tape out, and a sin­gle preamp out­put should you need to add a bit more mus­cle.

That’s prob­a­bly enough for most purist stereo set-ups, although the ab­sence of a built-in head­phone out­put is a slight snag, con­sid­er­ing its in­clu­sion in so many ri­val amps.

The Elex-r is a mighty fine achieve­ment – the kind of prod­uct that gets straight to the heart of the mu­sic and con­veys all the emo­tion in the record­ing with ease. Two years have passed since it first scooped an Award and, de­spite the in­creas­ing num­ber of very good amps around the £1000 mark, the Rega has more than enough tal­ent across the board to con­tinue to shine.

KEY FEA­TURES Power out­put: 72W MM phono stage No head­phone out­put The case­work is func­tional, but the Rega Elex-r feels like it’s built to last

The Rega Elex-r is a tra­di­tional stereo amp, no dig­i­tal in­puts here

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