Rega System One review

 

Rega System One review


The Rega System One is a complete Hi-Fi system that uses a turntable to listen to music. This can be described as an unusual take on an all-in-one system, as it ends up in one box rather than being mounted in one case.

Rega System One review


Hi-Fi devices designed to perform multiple functions have been around for quite some time. One may recall the Chord Mojo DAC, one of the first attempts in this area. The Naim Audio Mu-so was much more capable and could actually work on its own or with models on the same streaming platform. Rega has a different approach to this. Since the company is known for its hi-fi components, its all-in-one system should also include them. The choice of a vinyl player as a signal source is also not accidental - Rega players are very popular. It took almost two years to develop and finalize System One, which speaks of the company's serious approach. It remains to find out what the efforts expended led to.

Specification and Design

System One consists of three different devices, each of which is available separately. The system is supplied in one box and is equipped with speaker cables (the player has a non-removable connecting wire).



Planar One is the most affordable model among Rega turntables. In general, it is built on the same basic principles as the mighty Planar 10, but it also has significant differences. The most important thing is to reduce the overall mass of the player's structure. The Planar 1 has another thing in common with the Planar 10, which is that its disk is not made of glass, as is the case with most of the company's other models. While the Planar 10 has a ceramic platter, the Planar 1 has a thermoplastic composite polymer platter. It's not as pretty as glass, but works well as a record support due to its rigidity and considerable weight.

The RB110 tonearm and Carbon cartridge are designed to work together, giving System One an added edge. The tonearm does not require anti-skating adjustment, as it is already fully adjusted for this pickup. There's even a pre-installed rubber ring to push the counterweight to the correct downforce of 2 grams. This means you can take the Planar 1 out of the box and put it together for listening to records without using any meters at all, and very quickly.


The reason the Planar 1 was chosen for this system over the Planar 1 Plus is because System One's Rega Io integrated amplifier has a built-in phono stage. Io works in class A/B, and its body is made of metal. It develops an output power of 2 x 30 W at an 8 ohm load resistance, is equipped with two line inputs (in addition to Phono) and takes up no more space on the table than an A4 sheet.

However, Io can not be called a minimalist amplifier. The device is equipped with a remote control and has a headphone output. Yes, this amplifier is small, but it does not look like a toy. The device has only the necessary set of functions, but for this reason it is great for daily use.


Also included in System One are the Kyte speakers, which are new to the Rega catalogue. They are interesting only because they demanded from the company's engineers the ability to make high-quality speakers (corresponding to the Rega philosophy), but at a very modest cost. In fact, if you decide to build a hi-fi speaker in the UK using an MDF cabinet with Rega-level construction and finish, add speakers and a crossover to it, then this system will not work within the budget of this system. Therefore, Rega abandoned the usual technologies and made Kyte speaker cabinets from a thermoplastic composite polymer. Why not? This material allows you to get a solid structure, speakers can easily be given an attractive appearance, and such a case will cost significantly less than made of MDF. Certainly,

The result is rather unusual acoustics, at least in this price category. Kyte cabinets are a monolith of polymer, with the exception of the wooden front panel to which the speakers are attached. The body tapers towards the rear, which, given its molded structure, is fairly easy to achieve. Inside there is a cruciform screed to dampen vibrations. At the back there is a phase inverter outlet and a pair of terminals for connecting to an amplifier. Since all sides of the speaker cabinet are slanted, when placed on a flat surface, the front panel will angle upwards. That's why Rega comes with a pair of stands that attach to the back of the speakers to level the Kyte.

The acoustics are equipped with a 125 mm MX125 woofer with a cone made of impregnated paper and a ZRR soft dome tweeter. The tweeter is loaded on a cut inner cone and has a special design to eliminate distortion due to re-reflections of sound waves. It is also a time-tested proprietary solution. The speaker impedance is 6 ohms, and the sensitivity is 89 dB. The frequency response is not specified, but this is a compact bookshelf speaker, so you can expect bass from 40 Hz in the room.




Rega System One review


The resulting system has two important features. First, it looks and feels like a Rega system. With the Planar 1 and Io, this isn't all that surprising, but with the Kyte, which doesn't look too much like a Rega, it works too. I think this is because, like most of the available Rega models, there is nothing superfluous in this speaker. It is this lack of "decorations" that makes the Kyte look great and yet completely recognizable.

Secondly, the whole system does not look cheap or randomly assembled. It is thoughtful, well-executed, easy to use and will look great in the living room. The Planar 1 has a protective cover, and while the Kyte doesn't have grilles, the tweeter's own protection should keep it safe in a world with kids and pets.

And finally, the obvious. On its own, this system only plays records, and for a lot of people reading this, it won't make much sense. However, it is important to emphasize that adding a digital source to System One is not a problem and can currently be done without great expense.

How System One was tested

The Rega system components were placed on a Quadraspire QAVX stand (electronics) and Soundstyle Z60 stands (speakers). The electronics were powered by an IsoTek Evo3 Corvus surge protector and I didn't use the included speaker cables because I have two Chord LeylineX cables ready. In both cases, I do not believe that there will be significant differences in sound, I just found it easier to use ready-made connections. Then I started adding and removing system components, which I'll cover later. The musical material used was mainly presented on vinyl, although FLAC and AIFF files were also used, as well as Tidal and Qobuz services (read on how exactly).

Sound quality

I assume that many of you think that I am going to show how upgradable this system is, and only say a little about what it is in itself. Yes, upgrading System One is possible and interesting, but first of all, this is a starter kit for a music lover. Combined with each other, these three components provide a concentrated dose of true British Hi-Fi. The Prayer from Bloc Party sounds great and invigorating through it. Planar 1 is a complete and very correct solution for the smooth flow of music. The sound is very exciting and at some point you realize that this is how you want to listen to music.

What is important here is that all three components are fully coordinated with each other. The Io is an inexpensive compact amp, but it has the same tonal balance and accurate timing as the Planar One turntable. It's funny in the sense that one-component systems of comparable price are not capable of such a captivating sound. System One doesn't have any DSP or fancy processing, and while I don't want to come across as a retrograde "used to be better," it's great, and the system just sounds great.


Kyte fully conveys the character of the rest of the components. I would go further and say that this is one of the most unusual affordable speakers I've listened to in a while. It has it all: detailed and refined highs, decent tonal balance and, although not too large, but well-researched soundstage. The bass, of course, is not seismic, but on a pair of reliable stands it is quite sufficient for most musical genres. The Kyte are somewhat reminiscent of my own Acoustic Energy AE1s. They also make you want to nod your head and stomp along with the music. At the same time, Kyte are much lighter in load and have a more comfortable overall sound character than AE1. Listening to Ode to the Big Sea with its whimsical and complex rhythmic pattern on System One, you experience what


Rega System One review


Rega System One not only allows you to evaluate the quality of the recording, but also to enjoy the sound of music. I find it difficult to name a system of any components of a comparable total cost that would be capable of this. Just as importantly, most (not all, but most) of this same ability is retained when Io and Kytes are used with a digital source. I tested the System One with both the iFi ZEN DAC MkII and the Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M, and the same great energy filled the sound of the music. And I suspect that adding, for example, the Rotel CD11 Tribute to this kit would give an excellent result.

And now about a possible upgrade of this system. When the time comes, you can, for example, install an Audio Technica VM95 series cartridge into the Planar 1, or make other modifications to it. You can swap it out for a Planar 3 or even a Planar 6 and the Io amp with Kytes speakers will let you hear the boost in sound quality. For fun, I even used a Planar 10 with a Vertere Saber cartridge in this system. And again I heard a change in the sound. Has the potential of this player been revealed? Of course not. But it was a very brave attempt.

In fact, the experience of testing System One allows me to make the following bold statement. You can replace any of the three components in the kit with a component that costs several times more, and the overall sound quality will improve markedly. I put the Q Acoustics Concept 30 in place of the Kytes and the result was great. The streaming amplifier Roksan Attessa instead of Io gave a slightly less impressive result, and we have already talked about the possible use of a Planar 3 player in the system. No one-component system will provide such flexibility in use.


Conclusion

It probably won't come as a big surprise if I report that the System One is a very good deal. This is a real Hi-Fi kit, which you can now purchase "in one box". The system is easy to install and connect, and it's a real Rega, both in sound and appearance.

What music lovers get with System One is an instant result in my 20 years of research and building hi-fi systems. Yes, I can afford (and use) higher-end components today. But I envy those who can start their hi-fi journey right away with System One. This is without a doubt a "Best Buy" to date.

Post a Comment

0 Comments