Rega Elex-r £949

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

Give Rega’s Elex-r a high-five; this is the fifth con­sec­u­tive year that this am­pli­fier has se­cured a What Hi-fi? Best Buy Award.

Ar­cam, Au­di­o­lab and Cyrus have all re­leased qual­ity ri­vals for the Elex-r over the years but none has been able to match the Rega’s unique set of tal­ents. This is a very spe­cial piece of kit.

The Rega clan is a close-knit fam­ily, and the Elex-r re­sem­bles its cheaper Brio si­b­ling in a num­ber of ways. Like the Brio it’s an all-ana­logue af­fair with a qual­ity mov­ing-mag­net phono stage – ca­pa­ble of han­dling turntables cost­ing well over £1000. It, too, has four line-level in­puts and a qual­ity of build that im­me­di­ately in­spires con­fi­dence.

The case­work is func­tional rather than lux­u­ri­ous but it’s neatly fin­ished and feels as though it will last for years. Un­like the Brio, though, it has no head­phone out­put. It cer­tainly takes a lean line when it comes to fea­tures, but start lis­ten­ing and you’ll soon come to ap­pre­ci­ate the value of this am­pli­fier’s sin­gle-minded ap­proach.

Lis­ten­ing to the Elex-r is pretty much like hav­ing ev­ery­thing that’s good about the Brio but lifted a notch higher – all the Brio but with more brawn. This amp de­liv­ers a fast, ag­ile sound that’s as rhyth­mi­cally sure­footed as we’ve heard at this level.

A minute or two lis­ten­ing to the tum­bling per­cus­sion of Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment’s Chil­dren Play With Earth is enough to es­tab­lish that the Elex-r is head, maybe even shoul­ders, above any­thing from its ri­vals when it comes to ren­der­ing rhythms.

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

It’s equally at home with a clas­si­cal or vo­cal-led piece like Nina Si­mone’s I Put A

Spell On You. There’s a new­found sense of raw­ness and re­al­ism in her deep, gut­tural de­liv­ery, and the Rega con­veys nu­ances bet­ter than any of its peers.

The Elex-r might have crept up in price a bit since it last bagged this Award, but if you want to get to the heart of your mu­sic and you’ve got £949 to spend on an am­pli­fier, we’d say spend it here.

Re­al­ism and en­ergy abound here – and it’s got rhythm over and above its ri­vals

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