Very surprised to not really like the Brio-R

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Lebowski, Sep 29, 2019.

  1. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Location:
    Eastern MA
    I’ve been looking for a new moderately priced integrated amp lately. The Rega Elex-R ticks a lot of boxes for me so it was intriguing, but I’ve never heard a Rega amp before, and no local dealers seem to carry them.

    Thanks to the kindness of our own @action pact I was able to borrow a Brio-R in the hope of getting a taste of the Rega sound.

    After reading so many good things about it on this forum and elsewhere, I was expecting to be blown away. I’m sad and astonished to report that I am not really liking it.

    Granted I do think it is a very nice amp, and looks good, and seems to have way more power than than the numbers indicate. I guess it’s just not a good match for my KEF R700. The best way to describe what I’m hearing is that it seems maybe too laid back, and almost slow.

    Was really hoping to like it and then find even more of a good thing in the Elex. So disappointing...
     
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  2. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Location:
    Eastern MA
    I hope it’s clear that I’m not criticizing this amp at all. :cool:
     
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  3. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I haven't heard the Brio, but I sympathise. I have been astonished over the years to find that I perceive very big differences between theoretically adequate integrateds of similar power rating. Technology and measurements seem to indicate that these differences should be minute and insignificant (as per Harbeth's Alan Shaw), but my experiences (especially when listening over longer periods of time) tell me otherwise. And I am a man of science.
     
  4. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    That sort of aligns with the impression I get from reading reviews of the Brios. I figured what they probably do well for that price range is midrange body - weight in the 200 - 500Hz range where many entry-level amps sound as though they have a big trough. I can imagine how this would lead to an overly warm character with speakers like your KEFs.

    I think you'd get much better results with the Elex R, which sounded great in my audition of it paired with Rega RX-5s. I wouldn't judge an amplifier line on their entry-level model. Consider that they have to leave room for improvement with their pricier models. If a company makes only one variation of a component, I generally expect it to perform at least a little better than the price would suggest. If a company produces five performance tiers, I don't expect much from the entry-level piece.

    I find there are rare exceptions, however, like my A-S500 that sounds at least 80% as good as my 1100 despite their being several models between them. I could live with the former despite preferring the latter. Anyhow, I think you should still give the other Regas a shot if it doesn't set you back in doing so.
     
  5. seikosha

    seikosha Forum Resident

    What amp are you comparing it to? As someone who has way too many amps and speakers in my house, I’ll say this; it is all about synergy. It’s not which is the best amp, but which is the best with a certain speaker. Keep looking until you fine a good match.
     
    Helom likes this.
  6. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Ditto on both.
     
  7. bhazen

    bhazen Infinitely Baffled

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    The current Brio (no 'R') is a better-sounding amp.

    I had an R a few years ago with KEF's (don't recall the model #), and I didn't care for the pairing.
     
  8. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Location:
    Eastern MA
    Lately been listening to this Rega, my existing HK990, the new Parasound NewClassic 200 integrated, NAD C368, and a 1970s McIntosh MA6100. Also recently had a Yamaha A-S1100 for a week or so.
     
  9. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Location:
    Eastern MA
    There’s a used Elex-R for sale locally at a decent price, but I’m not sure they’re gonna be open to letting me do an at-home audition.
     
  10. gguy

    gguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wildomar, CA
    Try adjusting your speakers. Too laid back and slow...add some toe-in. I find that when switching sources, amps, cables, many of the changes in tone can be compensated with speaker placement.
     
  11. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    That's quite a few amps. I'd hope you'd like at least one of them. I wonder if you are expecting the amps to solve a problem that lies elsewhere - e.g. speakers, room treatment, etc.
     
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  12. jcr64

    jcr64 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana
    Maybe the R700 are just picky? My set of R500 didn't like the NAD C368 (admittedly, not as highly touted an amp as the Rega)--the sound was totally lifeless. They do much better with an Audiolab 6000A. The NAD, on the other hand, seems to work just fine in my other system with the KEF Q100.
     
  13. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    My favorite things about the Brio-R are the small form factor and the build quality. I'm guessing a standard 17.5" box that says Yamaha on the front can deliver the same sound quality for a few hundred dollars less and maybe give you a DAC too.
     
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  14. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    As much as I liked the Elex in my audition, I doubt it'd be an upgrade over your HK, especially since you preferred the HK to the A-S1100. The 1100 is still the overall best (new) integrated
    I've owned/auditioned in that price range.

    I wonder if you'd find more of what you're seeking in a good tube amp -- one that's transparent rather than rolled-off. Maybe not though -- I sold my CMII as it wasn't really any better than my 1100 in A/B comparisons.

    If anything, I'd search for a pre-owned Cayin or Line Magnetic in your vicinity. It took some mistakes and experimenting for me to conclude that my Cayin is a kick-@$$, super transparent integrated with even enough balls to drive Maggies. It's just freakin awesome. That might be the case with your HK?
     
    Lebowski likes this.
  15. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Active Member

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Put a power conditioner in front of it, connect it with a good power cable(>80$) to the amp and try again (unless you are doing this already).
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
  16. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Location:
    Eastern MA
    Yes, I liked the MA6100 quite a bit, but I believe it needs significant work. I also mostly liked the Parasound 200 but felt it was maybe too detailed and energetic. It might still be in the running.

    The NAD C368 seemed to be smearing details in a way that I didn't like. It was maybe too dark for my KEFs.
     
  17. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Location:
    Eastern MA
    Did I say that I liked the HK over the 1100? I'll have to revisit that thread. If so, I misspoke. I think my issue with the A-S1100 was that I liked it but didn't feel it was enough of an improvement over the HK for the additional expense. But I'm rethinking that. The 1100 has a better phono stage than the HK, so I could maybe sell my Lounge to defray some of the money spent. Also it has those nifty meters! And a warranty! And doesn't run hot enough to fry an egg.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  18. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    If you can, try to run two of these various integrateds as separates, one as a preamp and one as the power amp. This could give you a good idea of whether separates may be your worthwhile upgrade path.
     
  19. LARGERTHAN

    LARGERTHAN Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eire
    Your dilemma to me seems obvious - your HK990 is at the very least the equal if the not the better of all those amps listed. As a Brio owner, I'd say the HK990 is its superior - more power, features etc. The HK engineers knew what they were doing with that amp.

    It's well regarded pretty much everywhere.
     
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  20. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Location:
    Eastern MA
    Thanks. This is actually something I've been considering. Running one of the integrated's pre-amp stages into the HK's monster power amp...
     
  21. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Location:
    Eastern MA
    Yes, you may be right. But it runs very, very hot. And it's a rare bird; I imagine at some point it's going to need parts, which may be hard to find.

    I don't use many of its extra features. I think my digital sources have better DACs, and the DSP features aren't really interesting.
     
  22. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City!

    Location:
    Fonthill, Ontario
    Why would you expect to be blown away?
     
  23. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Active Member

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Lebowski, reading how many amp’s you have (tried), I think you should seriously consider power conditioning. These amp’s can only reveal their true quality with CLEAN power. Some will handle dirty power a little better than the other, but ALL will clearly improve with clean power.

    I have also been on an amplifier search in the past and none really excited me. At that point I tested a much more expensive Audio Note amp and I was still not thrilled. That’s when the penny dropped and I installed a power conditioner and the difference hit me right in the face.
     
  24. fully_articulated

    fully_articulated Forum Resident


    This is funny, I thought I was the only person on the internet that wasn't impressed by the Brio-R. In fact, I've often wondered how out-of-whack my listening preferences must be that I couldn't get onboard with the near universal praise for it.

    My first real system was all Rega. Starting with a P5 turntable, then slowly saving to add RS5 speakers and the Rega DAC. The Brio-R was going to be the final piece of the puzzle - until I heard it. I don't want to seem like a hater so won't go into too much detail, but I found the Brio-R to be generally limp, unrefined in the treble, and absent in the lower mids. The Rotel RA-05 I was using at the time was much preferable.

    As I couldn't afford the Elicit-R, the plan of settling with an all-Rega setup seemed dashed. But a few months later Rega released the Elex-R and I took a trip back to the local dealer. Basically the Elex-R 'fixed' all the problems I had with the Brio-R while retaining the 'Rega-sound', and I also enjoyed it more than similarly priced Naim Nait 5si they had kindly set up for me.

    I've moved on since, first to a Pathos Logos integrated and then seperate pre/power amps, but have kept the Elex-R as a backup because it's so good. It has competed well with any amps I've compared it to, including the Rotel 1590 and Yamaha AS-1100. It's still worth giving a shot if you can.
     
  25. theron d

    theron d Forum Resident

    Location:
    Baltimore MD
    get yourself a used Rogue Cronus Magnum II good deals out there since people are upgrading to the III. I had a Rega Brio-R for a split second. Not close imo
     
    avanti1960 likes this.

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