Lets be reviewers ...

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
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Here's why I like certain products but perhaps also things I don't like about them. As with everything its subjective and my personal opinion, so I don't expect everyone to agree. Feel free to ask questions or contribute but be honest, nothing's perfect. So I'll start with one which has not been reviewed yet by the forum provider ... others to follow;

Rega R3

+ For £500 its a speaker that, given adequate amplification/source, genuinely combines the qualities of a very good small standmount with the benefits of a floorstander. It does imaging very nicely though there are other speakers that do ultra large sound stages better. Where it scores highly is focus. Voices sound 'real' and solid, not phasy as with some others and they never 'tower' over you unnaturally. The same applies to (certain) instruments. Acoustic guitar is 'in room' and live. Plucked strings have real bite and edge to it and slide of hand are heard exceptionally well, no blurring there! Drumkits sound like they should, fast, dry and again focused where they should be, normally towards the back of the stage if recorded that way. Treble has an exquisite shimmer and metal instruments such as triangles retain their metallic 'twang' and decay beautifully into thin air above the soundstage. Piano is beautiful to listen to. It floats in the air with lovely full timbre, not dry and tinckly, and when hammers hit string the initial impact is clearly heard. Bass is tight and very well controlled compared to many other speakers. Its not an overtly warm or fruity bass so the speakers can initially sound leaner than others but the upshot is that its nicely delineated and shows clearly what goes on 'below'. It also reaches deep and can be genuinely felt provided the amplifier is able to explore that aspect. These are fast speakers by most standards. Rega point out in their sales literature that their tried and tested drivers have excellent self damping properties and you can hear it. It really makes a lot of other designs sound slow and muddled. Easy to drive and sensitive, they partner well with valve amplifiers and good quality solid state designs. The R3's, being front ported, are also easy to place and should fill reasonably large room with relatively little power with sound though if yours is exceptionally big you may want to look elsewhere or the larger 5's/9's. Dynamics, because of the two bass and midrange drivers are never lacking and better than most standmounts but a large multi driver floorstander will outplay them in that respect, naturally.

- There are other transducers that sound cosier and warmer but if you are familiar with some of rega's older designs this was probably never going to be high on their design priorities. Soundstage extends outside the speaker boundaries with good though not exceptional height (however, it is there, just listen to well recorded piano and the decay of instruments) and good depth. I was able to hear some unwanted sound from the front port at a certain midrange frequency. It manifests itself as a sudden bloom/honk to a voice or instrument but disappears just as quick. I also thought I could determine very slight boxy colourations, perhaps a result of standing waves feeding back through the paper main driver to the front. I am nitpicking here but I said I would be honest.

All being said, I personally think this is an expectionally musical speaker that will bring a smile to many peoples faces. It looks unobtrusive, is lovely made and is far less of a compromise than many other designs at or above the price. It does'nt highlight deficiencies in partnering equipment as long as you avoid harsh sounding components, think of the companies brio as the minimum but it will shine with good quality stuff. Love it.

Discs I use when listening to gear: Keb Mo (Just like you) Naim (Pure Audio Sampler) Showcase (Opus 3)

Boxes used when listening to this speaker recently: Naim Nait5i system, cyrus 8 system, New Arcam FMJ systems, Denon system
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Excellent review there Drummerman.

May I add that the R3s sometimes benefit from being raised at the front slightly so that the drivers fire upwards a little. This is clearly down to taste, room, etc, but helps with their diminutive size.

Having heard the R5s on the Rega Mira 3 and Apollo I can affirm that they perform extremely well for their price. Given the right room acoustics I suspect they are matched by nothing else under £1k. Be careful though, in a 'hard' room with lots of reflective surfaces they can sound a bit too peaky with certain kit.

So, what's the next review Drummerman? I would post one myself but I'm not sure I have the experience to get it right!
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
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Sure you can Igg. What about your SA-1s in detail, I'm sure a lot of people would like to know more, especially from an owner.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
drummerman:Sure you can Igg. What about your SA-1s in detail, I'm sure a lot of people would like to know more, especially from an owner.

Yeah, I'll have a think and come back...
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Excellent review, Drummerman. You certainly have a knack for this, I think!
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Musical Fidelity X-Ray 8 (£800) with Triple-X Power Supply (£299)
Attractive deals to be found!

Tested with Spendor SA1 & Rotel RA03...

This two box solution from MF seems to follow on their line of smaller, entry level components that give you a glimmer of how their high end stuff can sound. That's quite an attractive proposition for those of us that can't justify nearly two k on a cd player. The Triple-X PSU can be used to power the matching Xplora DAB radio and XT-100 amp if so desired but in my case it's all about the CDP. The transport features the usual navigation buttons and has a coaxial digital out alongside the usual RCA out; no balanced connections here.

The key difference between this and the more upmarket MF players is the lack of a valve output stage. Quite cunning really as you can almost imagine how much sweeter this player would sound with valves. Don't get me wrong, the sound is already smooth and powerful with a sweet and slightly lifted treble but you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a sampler of what the MF house sound really is. The bass is deep, tight and fast providing excellent timing and punch. The midrange is very focused but lacks that last dash of realism compared to players like the Unison Unico. Voices are convincing but could do with a tiny bit more body and boldness. The optional X-DAC with valve output stage probably resolves this perfectly but so it should at list price of 1k; now we're in the realms of the A5.5!

On the plus side the soundstage is very wide with good depth and is absolutely crisp. The external PSU is meant to move interference out of harm's way, lowering the noise floor and removing any grain from the sound. It works. That's slightly subjective as you can't try the player without the external PSU but the blacks are very black and the sound very solid. What's more is the amount of detail you get, especially in the treble.

How does this compare to the Roksan Kandy MkIII, my last player? Listening to Amy MacDonald 'Mr Rock and Roll', what is immediately apparent is the bass. Yes it goes deep like the Kandy but it times a lot better, rather it stops and starts with more confidence. Immediately the music is more tuneful and any fear of boom vanishes. This CD can sound a bit harsh on some systems, the Kandy not being a good remedy with it's occasionally glassy sheen that gets applied to the treble and upper mids. The MF seems to sweeten the recording making the music more enjoyable and removing the risk of tinnitus or frustration.

Moving on to Janet Jackson's A Velvet Rope, track 1 is a good test of bass and soundstage for any system. Immediately the music opens out to a stage wider than the speakers, with the initial bass being tighter than the Kandy giving a punchier rhythm. What I'm interested in is how the player copes with the very low bass that comes in the violin solo. The ultimate bass test. Bearing in mind that I'm relying on a REL Quake to help here the low registers switch on and off over the course of the solo beautifully. I suspect that there's other similarly priced players that can dig out a bit more but this is tight, defined and better than the Kandy. This CD seems to be about layers of music that have almost been produced entirely separately. Track 6, 'Free Xone' is full of sound effects layering the bass and midrange all over the place. The MF copes with this a lot more convincingly than the Kandy. It's certainly not laid back about the sound but makes it seem like easy work. It's almost tempting to say that it's enjoying the challenge.

I could go on and on about this little delight so in conclusion:

·Excellent bass depth and control
·Very crisp and open soundstage benefiting from a (sweet) tweak in the treble

·Generally there is no harshness (there's always a recording out there that only valves can soften)
·Very controlled with excellent timing and copes well with complex music
·Don't partner with bright kit

Where's the catch? You want to go out and buy the player's big brother knowing that you're going to be in for a treat...
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
1,245
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Rega R3's...

I have to agree (broadly) with drummerman. My pair are built exceptionally well (maple finish) and don't 'shout' their design at you. I feel utterly confident listening for long periods knowing nothing is going to catch them out. Musical, natural and not at all fatiguing unlike more upfront speakers I have bought in the past and got fed up with after a short while.

I scratched my head about the low position of the tweeters at first but it is not a bother at all. Whether I am listening seated (quite high up) at my desk or in the armchair, the treble is never muffled or compromised in any way. I experimented at first with the levelling but realised after a short time that I was doing this because of the 'rule-book' about tweeter positioning and not because of the reality of the sound in my room which was fine.

I use these speakers far more nowadays with CD, FM, DVD, and even Television far more than my old stand mount MA BR1's and way more than I ever did with my old KEF Q35's as well. For the first time in years they have made me want to buy a turntable (coming soon).

My family (and especially my wife) enjoy them also which is a bonus. They don't need massive amplification or huge volume to give a satisfying sound. They are neither warm nor harsh or brittle either.

For some inexplicable reason they sound fantastic with FM radio especially BBC Radio 3, 4 and Radio 2, even better than with CD which is odd. As good as FM can be (I have a professionally installed FM roof aerial in a good reception area) I have never heard it as good as through these R3's. Quite a few times I have sat there unwilling to get up until some bit of music has finished and wondering how the radio can sound like that!

Soundstage is not HUGE (just as drummerman states) but it manages to sound good in most of the room, even well off axis (sometimes well off both axis). There has never been any frantic hunt for some 'sweet spot'. This makes life more comfortable and probably explains why my wife especially likes them because they are not 'hifi' in any demanding way, they sound good all around the room and sound good at normal levels (ie levels you can converse comfortably over from different ends of the room).

Before I start to make them sound like a comfy pair of slippers, I should add that on those occasions when I am in the house on my own during the day and decide to turn the wick up they can really excite. However the volume does not seem to serve quite the same function any more. With the R3's the volume has now become a 'bigness' rather than a 'loudness' control. When loud (big?) they still sound natural and open and musical. I have not managed to get them to turn harsh yet even with accursed modern recordings like my daughter's Ting-Tings CD (which sounds great by the way.)

Some of my crappy old 1970s recordings used to sound a bit 'nails down a blackboard' (or coarse) because of built in distortion playing havoc with the Monitor Audios (and the KEFs) but I have noticed I can play any of these CDs in comfort now because the distortion is now obvious in its origin (the band and their instruments and mikes) and no longer seems to come from the speaker but from way back at it's source. In fact there are some Stranglers tracks (from Rattus Norvegicus) which I gave up listening to until the R3's came along and put it all into proper 'context'. (Gawd i'm rubbish at expressing this but I know what I mean. Sorry.)

If I have ever had a pair of speakers that could make sense of bad recordings it is these.

Well done Rega.
 

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