The Rega io Integrated Amp may seem small, but it packs a powerful punch. Released in 2020 as Rega's entry-level amplifier, the io was to be eventually paired with the Planar 1 and Kyte speakers in the Rega System One. While the System One wasn't released until the end of 2021, the io has had time to become quite well known in the audio world. Simon Wilce at HiFi and Music Source received a Rega io last year and shared his thoughts in a quick review.
The io amplifier follows in the footsteps of its larger cousin, the Brio. Rega needed an amplifier more in line with the price point of the Rega Planar 1 and ;Rega Planar 2 turntables, thus the io was born. While certainly not as powerful as the Brio, the io still offers 30W per channel and mimics the Brio in performance and sound quality. To test the Rega io, Simon had the little amp power a pair of KEF R700s. Wilce had been using a Naim Uniti Star as the amplifier in his system, but relegated it to just streaming preamp duties for the test. However, he thought he had perhaps hooked up the system wrong, as the io's 30W was just as dynamic and expressive as the Naim's 70W. Streaming Daft Punk and Dire Straits from Qobuz, the io was able to handle the tracks with ease.
Moving on, Wilce switched sources to the Rega RP3, the precursor to the Planar 3. Fitted with an Elys 2 mm cartridge, the RP3 could be plugged directly into the io without the need for a separate phono stage. Again, the io was able to present a wide soundstage and easily conveyed the energy of War of Drugs and Peter Gabriel on vinyl. He also tested the io on powering a pair of Klipsch Heresy IV speakers with a higher sensitivity rating (99dB), and the io passed with flying colors when playing Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. To finish the testing phase, Wilce tested the headphone output using a pair of Focal/Bentley Radiance cans and another pair of Focal Spirit headphones. In both cases, the io offered fast response and exceptional performance.
My time with Rega’s Io integrated amplifier makes me remember how much fun I had when starting out on my hi-fi journey, in my case with the similarly powered NAD 3020e. Rega has achieved such a terrific performer that there really is not anything to dislike at this price. It might form an entry into the hi-fi world, but the Io would support your upgrade path for years to come with this performance. With an amplifier, really it is all about tone and soundstage for me. The tone is perfectly fine and the soundstage from the Io is remarkable. As a package with 2 line inputs, a remote, a headphone amplifier and a very good moving-magnet input stage, this is an absolutely outstanding amplifier.