It’s a good sign that at least some AXPONA exhibitors showed systems that were more budget-friendly than most. On the door to room 666 (perfect, right?) was a piece of paper affixed with blue painter’s tape. Handwritten in all-capital letters, it read: “WARNING! DO NOT ENTER IF YOU WANT TO SPEND A FORTUNE ON YOUR HIFI.”
Behind that door I encountered a simple but really good-sounding system that didn’t call for apologists to stumble over themselves ‘splaining. It was a new all-Rega setup: a Rega Planar 1 turntable and tonearm with a Rega Carbon MM cartridge installed ($595 inclusive), Rega Io integrated amplifeir ($275)baby brother to the Brio integrated, and a pair of Rega Kyte speakers ($895/pair, above). The whole kit can be bundled into what’s dubbed the Rega System One for $2115 MSRP.
The 30W class-AB amp has a built-in MM phono stage and is equipped with two RCA pairs in addition to the phono input. The 89dB/W/m-sensitive, two-way Kyte speakers have a ZRR tweeter and a handmade MX-125 mid/bass driver. The ported cabinets are made of phenolic resin instead of wood (due to its hefty cost increases). They contain ceramic plates and aluminum crossbars for bracing their non-paralleled walls. Stands aren’t included.
A couple tracks on my Calexico Spiritoso live LP showed nice non-beamy, non-aggressive dispersion and inter-driver coherence with decent bass response. On that album and the Bach Trios from Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer, this small setup sounded bigger, better, and fuller than it “should have” given its size and proportions (and price). It would make a great starter system for those new to vinyl. Or a gift that keeps giving.
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