Rega Brio amplifier gets "The Nod" from Stereophile

BRIO front offside NB illuminated.jpg

Not only does Ken Micallef love the sound of the Rega Brio, it also makes it onto Stereophile's vaunted 2017 Recommended Components list!

Arriving on American shores at the beginning of 2017, the new Rega Brio integrated amp reaffirmed Rega's position as the leader in reasonably priced audio. The 2017 Brio is certifiably best in class for sub-$1000 integrated amps and receivers. Beefed up power supplies and revised internal circuits improve sound quality. Cool new casework freshens the look and feel, all while improving heat dissipation. The improved turntable phono input makes sure that your vinyl record player sounds better than ever. And can lovers will rejoice over its great sounding built-in headphone amplifier, a first for Rega integrated amps. This half-sized charmer is beefy enough to run most speakers and is the best buy in our book. Stereophile thinks so, too. Keep reading for excerpts from the review and then check out their Recommended Components list for 2017.

Rega Brio sells for $995 here in the states and is available from retailers around the country. Find a Rega dealer near you.

Brio front and back.jpg
Kudos must be paid to Gandy, Bateman, and the Rega Research team. When almost every contemporary hi-fi manufacturer outfits its integrated amplifiers with DACs, VU meters, Wi-Fi, video processing, Bluetooth capability, and myriad digital inputs—to some, the equivalent of sonic whammy bars—the Brio’s skill set is simple and minimalist.
The Brio took a bolder tack: Not only did it expose nuances in Bickle’s narration and all its menacing, seemingly drugged enunciation, it revealed the music’s rich top-end and booming low-end notes: trumpets blatting and careening, bass drums pounding, low-pitched violas violently churning. The Brio also did a great job of expressing the rich, lustrous tonality of Tom Scott’s tenor saxophone solo in “Theme from Taxi Driver,” as lovely and sweet as it is heart-shattering.

Like all great components, the Brio so impressed me that I couldn’t instantly be bothered with its deficiencies—in this system with this LP. I can’t name one—and was instead totally caught up in the music. The Brio’s top end was highly elucidating without ever sounding bright or forward. The Brio’s sound was truly rich in all the right ways.
IMG_2704.JPG
Though the Elacs smudge the sounds of most recordings, they do so with spirit, a huge soundstage, and heartfelt ambition. The Brio was a prime enabler of the Elacs’ need to please. Now Travis Bickle was in my face and scarier than hell. The Brio-Elac combo simply made everything sound full-scale, front-row, and more home theater than strictly hi-fi.
The performance of the Brio’s onboard phono stage confirmed Terry Bateman’s comments to me that Rega’s history making turntables has given them a wealth of resources when it comes to dialing-in their phono electronics; that it sounds so natural, elegant, and robust is testament to Rega’s successful evolution.
Brio back panel detialed.jpg
Inserting a $995 integrated amplifier into a music rig totaling about $17,000 (sans CD player) may sound crazy, but the Rega Research Brio was hardly out of place, and was only barely outpaced. The Brio revealed itself as a consummate music maker that conducted itself as if to the manor born. It didn’t deliver the last word in transparency or absolute detail, but it did something more important: It made me toss away my reviewer’s cap and take to the dance floor—I got to boogie down! Can you tell how much I like this mighty mite? I’m unashamed to quote Watts’s own titans of 1970s R&B, the Sylvers, to make my several points: the Brio makes music swing, jump, and dance.

At the end of the day, I want to forget the gear, pull on my faded old-man jeans, pour a glass, and let the music have its way with me. Rega Research’s Brio integrated amplifier understands me. It’s a cracking brilliant music maker with big tone, big beat, and big ambitions. With the Brio as my guide, I felt totally sated with the sound of music. It lets me forget my cares, forget websites and hi-fi mags, and simply be one with my music. At $995, the Brio is better than it should be. Roy Gandy has done it. Again.