Adding Rega DAC-R or Chord Hugo DAC to Rega Apollo-R

antskip

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I listen 99% to classical music soprano/mezzo with piano. My existing system is a Rega Elex-R integrated amp with Apollo-R CD player, driving a pair of Kef LS50 speakers. I am looking to improve it. I tried replacing the Apollo-R with the Rega Saturn-R, but felt the difference was not sufficient for 3X the cost - it did became more detailed / clinical, but was surpised to find I did not enjoy it as much as the Apollo. For 1/3 cost of Saturn-R I could instead keep the Apollo and add a Rega DAC-R; or at 2/3 cost add a Chord Hugo. I today listened to the options in a showroom (but not with the Kef's), and found the Rega DAC-R gave further body and warmth to the Apollo sound, without the level of detail of the Saturn. The Hugo seemed to replace the Rega sound with an entirely new one, - detailed but smaller, without the warmth of the Regas. I have been advised that part of the problem is that I am used to the warmer, less clinical sound of the Apollo, and in time I would appreciate more the greater detail of the Saturn and the Hugo. I would appreciate any comments or advice.
 

stevebrock

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i presume you want to add the DAC so you have more flexibilty?

I may got shot down for stating this, but as you point out the £1600 Saturn R was not much better than your current Apollo R, the Apollo R is a cracking CD player. as i found out when I demoed the Saturn R directly with an Apollo R/DAC combo and to be honest only a cigarette paper between them.

You already have the Apollo R so the Rega DAC is a no brainer IMO, and they look great next to each other. Rega have got the analogue side of the DAC so right.

Hope your enjoying the amp, the Elex R is getting some great feedback, my friend has just purchaased one and he is as happy as pig in the proverbial I had a listen with his RP6 and it sounded great.
 

yani

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I have an Elex R with the original Saturn (Not R). I seen the the Rega Dac was on sale due to the Dac R being released and decided to purchase. I was wanting to future proof mys system should I ever decide to download files.

My findings are that the Dac sounds exactly the same as my Saturn. I have both plugged into the amp and on switching can hear no differences at all even using different filter settings. Some may disagree with this but I am only saying here what I have found.

Hope this helps with your decision.
 

chipd

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I've can also recomend the Rega DAC-R very highly, it goes superb with the apollo r. I've had a lengthy listen to it at my local dealers recently through an elicit r and it sounded amazing. I'll be looking into getting this combo myself at a later date.
 

Covenanter

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To be frank I think you are looking at the wrong end of your system! The LS50s are ok (although far too artificial for my taste) but you should listen to the R500s or R700s. I have heard all these speakers and my musical taste is similar to yours and IMO the LS50s simply are not in the same league as the R series, especially for vocals. Listen to the Netrebko, Garancha I Capuleti e i Montecchi for example.

Chris
 
stevebrock said:
Rega have got the analogue side of the DAC so right.

Hi stevebrock

I agree
thumbs_up.gif


All the best

Rick @ Musicraft
 

antskip

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thanks, everyone, for very interesting and helpful replies so far!

stevebrock - i am mostly aiming at improving on the system sound - but flexibility and future possibilities of digital downloads a smaller but real plus. love the speakers, and the elex-r is great.

yani - you found playing CD's on the orginal Saturn was not improved at all by adding the DAC?

Covenanter - I love the sound of Kef LS50's. I wish to leave them be for now. I am trying to maximize the support I can give them. I have so far made big improvements through installing a dedicated electricity supply, upgrading the RCA interconnects, and by replacing the Rega Brio-R integrated amp with the wonderful Rega Elex-R. I thought I would turn my attention to the source area - CD player/ DAC.

has anyone heard the Chord Hugo DAC for comparison?
 

ChrisIRL

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Hi Antskip.

Like you I have the LS50s and think they're great. But also like you I have been looking to improve them that little bit more. I've swapped out several amps and dacs over time and all have had their pros and cons but none resulted in any big changes. My favourite amp so far has been the Rega Brio r, so I too considered upgrading to the Elex r, a brief in store demo I had was positive. However an offer I couldn't refuse came up for a Roksan Kandy K2 BT. What can I say, these speakers need power! I argued against this more than most and indeed something like the Brio r is very good with them but it is far from doing them justice. The Roksan sound may not be to your personal liking but try out some high powered (high current) amps with them, you'll be amazed. For the price of the Hugo you should have many options.

It could be that the LS50s are not to your liking as much as you think, the Roksan is certainly showing me their limitations in terms of bass extension and higher volumes more than any other amp did, but until you hear them with a high power amp you are not hearing them properly at all.
 

antskip

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Hello, ChrisIRL! Thanks for your post. Replacing the Brio-R with the Elex has done wonders to the LS50's. From your account, you seem to have almost bought the Elex-R too, after listening too them? But instead, an offer too good to refuse found you buying the Roksan KandyK2 BT. Perhaps you would have just as much enjoyed the Elex-R?...Almost all advice I have had, in person and on the net, has been that the Elex is more than up to the job. Of course my happiness with them could well be even greater with a more powerful amp...! My focus at the moment, however, is on the source component(s) that feed into the Elex-R and the LS50's.
 

ChrisIRL

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I have no doubt the Elex r is great with the LS50's, I thought the Brio r was great too and mostly perfect. I suppose what I'm trying to suggest is that the source may not be the answer for improvement. Various dacs I tried did not improve sound as much as the powerful amp. I don't know how much more powerful the Elex is than the Brio, spec wise not much, but perhaps you are still not reaching what the LS50s need? What improvements are you looking for exactly? In my experience and in my opinion in terms of what made biggest improvements to sound enjoyment, 1. speakers, 2. amp, 3. source/dac. Best of luck with however you choose!
 

antskip

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Thanks, ChrisIRL! I agree entirely on your hierarchy of improvements! I have built my system around the Kef LS50 speakers. The Elex-R improved the sound 100% (yet I was not unhappy with the Brio-R). I really like the Rega sound. The next amp up from the Elex-R is the Elicit-R - in power about 50% more, as is the Elex-R over the Brio-R. I have not tried the Elicit-R - maybe I should!

If money was not an issue, of course I would just buy the Rega top-of-the-range Osiris amp and the Isis CD player - plus a set of Kef Reference speakers! But I do have a budget.

If I were to start out afresh with no existng stereo capital, I would power the Kef LS50's with the Rega Elicit-R, and feed them through the Rega Saturn-R.

As things are now, I have existing stereo capital of Kef LS50's, Rega Elex-R, and Rega Apollo-R. It is from this specific position that I am trying out a few possible incremental improvements...
 

ChrisIRL

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Well if your position I would certainly audition the Elicit r, in theory you should maybe find the same jump in quality you found going from the Brio to the Elex. I thought your budget was considerable, isn't the Hugo £1400? Too much for a DAC I feel, it can only improve things so much regardless of how good it is. We agree source as least important in main system components. If I had £1400 and was looking for a more analytical sound, which it sounds like you might be, I would prefer to purchase something like a pair of ATC SCM 11s and a perfectly competent Arcam irdac for the same money. Much better value for money. Swapping between the 2 systems every so often may then eradicate system boredom which is the cause of most upgrade attacks!
 

James7

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Going back to your original post, it seems what you like about the Apollo R is the warmth it nrings and if the DAC retains that while adding greater resolution that seems the right way to go, and as it is significantly less expensive than the Saturn R or Hugo you can put some cash aside towards perhaps auditioning the Elicit R later on. I would be wary of allowing anyone to tell you what you prefer, or what you would prefer if only you could forget your preference for a warmer sound - if having compared the Saturn R and Hugo with the DAC you prefer the DAC, then there's your answer: you personally prefer the sound the DAC produces. Of course, if you are in any doubt and feel a much more extended audition is needed to confirm your choice, see if you can get one or both on a home loan - that would allow you to here them with your speajers too, which might make a difference.
 

yani

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[

yani - you found playing CD's on the orginal Saturn was not improved at all by adding the DAC?

[/quote]

I only had to press select on my remote to hear what the DAC played in relation to the stand alone Saturn. There was no time lapse where my mind decided they were both the same. It was virtually instant and I for the life of me can tell no difference. I am an avid listener to music and have been for many many years. I have also had my system in the same spare room for nearly 15 years so I am pretty sure of what I am hearing. As I said in my previous post some may disagree with me on this. I can only give my opinion.
 

yani

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One other thing is that when I purchased the DAC I thought it would give me a little variation on the sound I heard. Thinking that maybe with Jazz, or acoustic material I might just prefer the DAC. I had intended to switch about depending on my preference. Now I virtually just play the Saturn. I am happy though with the price I paid considering I may download in the future. It also gives me backup should the Saturn ever be away for repair. I will just plug in my Marantz as a transport
 

antskip

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My Hi-Fi shop is lending me the Rega DAC-R for Good Friday, so I should be able to reach a final judgement. I attempted to listen to the differences among the DAC-R, the Chord Hugo, and the Saturn-R with a Rega Elex-R at the shop, but the speakers, cables and environment were so different from home that I did not feel very confident about my conclusions. Thinking again about what I heard, to me the Chord Hugo was detailed but cold, the Apollo lovely but nowhere near the sumptuous sound at home with KEF LS50's and my own cables. The external DAC seemed to give the Apollo back its body and beautiful sound; the Saturn-R seemed the best compromize - more detailed than the Apollo without losing any warmth. Quite different to my home audition of the Saturn-R. My home audition of the DAC-R tomorrow I expect to be decisive, one way or another. Thank you everyone for your helpful posts!
 

antskip

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I have heard the Rega DAC-R on my system (see my signature below), and it is just wonderful! Improved the sound as much as the earlier upgrade from the Brio-R integrated amp to the Elex-R. I am absolutely over the moon.
 

yani

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Is there a big difference between the sound of the DAC R and the original DAC which I have at present ?

I was under the impression that they are near identical in sound quailty with mostly the usb input now upgraded. Just from what I have seen and read.

I may be wrong in my thinking and am open to any comments regarding this. I have not heard the new DAC so have no experience as to its sound quality.
 

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