One of the very best, entry-level integrated amplifiers I’ve ever heard (and a personal favorite of mine) has gotten a major overhaul for 2017: The Rega Brio. It’s not a stretch to say that the Rega Brio-R was a darling of the hi-fi press when it was released as a major upgrade to the original, and long-standing Brio in 2011. It racked up an impressive tally of awards within months, and I bought this amp unheard, and absolutely loved it. It was punchy, dynamic, ultra-smooth, and included a fantastic moving-magnet phono stage, all for $895 USD. It was impossible to fault it from a price standpoint, and even harder to fault it from a listening one.
This venerable, and popular integrated has been chugging along quietly for almost six years now, so it doesn’t really come as a surprise that Roy Gandy, and Co. decided it was time to improve on what is probably one of their all-time best selling amp designs. Personally, I love the new look, and it sounds like Gandy, and his engineers haven’t tried to fix what isn’t broken under the hood, rather only to refine, and improve upon an already proven winner.
From the Rega website:
The Brio has a completely new case to house its improved circuits and parts. It now sits in a fully aluminum two-part case which boosts the Brio’s heat sinking capabilities and improves on Rega’s already solid build quality and reliability. The new Brio has a cleverly integrated headphone socket specially designed to avoid interference with the audio circuit when not in use and as you would expect, a very high specification moving magnet phono stage is built in as standard.
Throughout the design process the Brio has been meticulously improved in every aspect, from the quality of materials to the manufacturing process, to make this new Brio a step ahead in Rega’s engineering and design for amplifiers.
Brand new case design.
The sleek and minimal look was designed to bring elegance to Rega’s classic style but still harks back to the swooped features hidden away in Rega’s past amplifiers. Combining all these aspects makes this Brio case a unique standpoint amongst the competition.
Key improvements have been made to the circuits. The PCB layout has been fully upgraded to handle higher specifications for all critical parts. A second raw power supply has been added to provide further isolation between output stage and the driver stage/line and phono amplifiers. This improves the isolation between high and low level signal stages of the amplifier. Higher specification MUSES operational amplifiers have been used in the line and phono amplifier.
For convenience, the Brio has the capability to drive standard hi-fi headphones from the internal amplifier. Adding a headphone socket 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. We have paid special attention to the switch that deactivates the main speakers.
Input sensitivities for rated output level:
Input 1 (phono) input sensitivity = 2.1mV at 47KΩ in parallel with 220pF.
Maximum Input 1 (phono) input level = 100mV
Input 2-5 (line) input sensitivity = 210mV at 47kΩ
Maximum input 2-5 (line) input level = 10.25V
Power outputs at 230/115V supply voltage:
50 Watts RMS both channels driven into the rated load of 8Ω
58 Watts RMS one channel driven into the rated load of 8Ω
73 Watts RMS both channels driven into the rated load of 4Ω
93 Watts RMS one channel driven into the rated load of 4Ω
Continued high level use into 4Ω may cause the case to exceed 40° C above the ambient temperature.
No load = 8V
32Ω = 1.8V
54Ω = 2.6V
300Ω = 5.9V
Source impedance = 109Ω
195 Watts at 230V/220V/115V/100V into the rated load of 8Ω
Record output level:Record output level (with rated input levels) = 210Mv.
Record output impedance = 470Ω
Phono 15Hz to 40KHz (-3dB Points) / 27Hz to 20.5KHz (-1dB Points)
RIAA accuracy (100Hz to 10KHz) ± 0.4dB typically better than ± 0.3dB
Line 12Hz (-1dB points) to 43KHz (-3dB points)
Remote control batteries included – 2 x AAA Alkaline.
T2AL 250V – 230V/50Hz and 220V/60Hz
T3.15AL 250V – 115V/60Hz and 100V 50/60Hz
For more information go to Rega.co.uk
Love the rega sound and the Brio-r was amazing in that respect. The plastic fascia however is really cheap looking and scratches extremely easy. I am really sad to see the new Brio with what appears to be the same scratch prone plastic covering an even larger area. I hope I am wrong about this.
I’d cut them some slack. I never had any issues with my Brio-R fascia, and the amp only costs $895… just saying.
In a way I totally agree 🙂 I would actually be willing to pay more for the Brio-R. I just wish they used metal to ensure longevity.
I’m with you Michael, it really seems as if Rega has done a superb job updating the Brio-R, much as they did when they resurrected the Planar series of ‘tables. The addition of a headphone amp will definitely make a lot of people who were on the fence take notice.
I am a huge fan of my Brio R driving my Monitor Audios. I went through a few different integrated amps until this one simply stroked me the right way. Plenty of authority and control, loads of power, and a great phono stage for my Thorens. I am eager to play with this one. Having that headphone jack is a plus these days with a young kid sleeping during my alone time for listening.