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REVIEW: Rega APOLLO CD Player/Recorder

Category: CD Player/Recorder
Suggested Retail Price: $995
Description: Single Disc w. MP3 and WMA media capability
Manufacturer URL: Rega
Model Picture: View

Review by Doug Schroeder (A) on January 21, 2006 at 15:05:18
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for the APOLLO

There's a special feeling when you're one of the first to own a hot new product in the country. Not oten that happens to me, but in this case, yup, I got an Apollo early. Dave Holmes at Audio Emporium in Milwaukee sized things up correctly by reading the signs of early reviews and industry comments - so he put in an early order, and I among a few blessed others benefit.

Ok, so on to the good stuff. Same aluminum case w. nice deep charcoal color. Some rag about the lack of innovation on the looks. I say, excellent move on Rega's part to actually not stick the customer for unnecessary frills. Innovate the guts, that's what makes the music! But, it is a classically good looking unit.

The top loader is much more sensible now; gone is the whirling dirvish center weight. A clean dark window replaces that. The cd is placed onto the drive similar to portable players; it snaps into the "spindle" which has those three ball bearings to keep it in place. Decidedly low tech, but I've never seen a more sensible system. Kudos to Rega for going to that setup.

The BIG DEAL about this unit is the special laser assembly which is supposed to readjust the distance which it reads each disc. I guess sort of like focusing a projector for each movie, or like the old VHS tapes where you'd see "tracking" and the little bar jumping around on the screen while it adjusted. So, it takes about 5 seconds to get its act together and go into the ready mode. Not long at all; it's done by the time you sit down and grab the remote.

The sound? GLORIOUS! I owned the Planet 2000 prior to this. I was utterly shocked at the difference in quality when I first heard the Apollo in my system. It sounds like a completly new technology (I guess it is with the new adjustable laser...). About two months ago I was at Quintessence Audio in Illinois and heard a wonderful very high end system with vinyl source. Rich, very rich, but I can't stomache the snap, crackle, pop of vinyl. The very first thing I thought when I heard the Apollo was, "Vinyl is in trouble!" Same richness, live sound, but without the noise.

Treble. The Apollo really softens the high end while extending the cymbal taps. The treble shimmers softly, it doesn't pinch the ears to listen to it. Many of my cd's which were tough to listen to because the higher electric guitar notes, or monotonous cymbal tapping are now lovely to hear. No listening fatigue from the high end!

Talking with David from Audio Emporium, he said that the Apollo has such black background, it made the Planet 2000 background sound "grey". Yes, the instruments sound like they are playing in "purer space". The room in which the recordings are done and other nuances comes through clearly. One does not have to strain to hear an echo of reverberation.

I had been introduced to Joss Stone's work by a fellow audiophile recently. Putting on her cd, one can hear her lips part or her breathing when she sings a particular line. The nuances are amazing.

I will have to spend more time listening to catch the whole perspective of the soundstage. If I had to guess now, I'd say it's a bit more forward than the Planet. Not much.

Bass is very rich and full. In the whole spectrum there is nothing I can find (at least at this early time) in the presentation which the Apollo does not do well. The music is presented in a much more coherent manner than with the Planet. With the Apollo one forgets that he is listening to a cd. With other disc players in the past, I would find myself watching the readout on the display, thinking "I can hear the digitalness of the music." the seconds tick by and I sense it's churning out the data rather mechanically. The Apollo, on the other hand, seems to "flow" music. I'm not staring at the display, which says to me it's not sounding digital.

There have been very few products that I am willing to go full price on. The Apollo is a no brainer. Value way in excess of good. The addition of this player into a moderatly priced system can jump up the quality so that it sounds very high end. Paired with a superior set of speakers the musicality is profound and highly moving. I am finding that even music which I had not been too enamored of I am being drawn into because of the sheer beauty of it. It's being repoduced so well that I cannot ignore it.

I have found that I'm listening at slightly higher levels since the quality of sound is so good that at louder volumes it does not seem to be harsh on the ears. This increases the "live" feel, like a private concert.

I have not heard the Jupiter, but can tell you confidently, if you're gonna buy a Planet, skip it. Save your pennies and go for the Lexus experience, the Apollo. I think Rega's gonna sell a ton of these. I'm just glad I beat you to it! ;)

Product Weakness: If you've gotta have a new case, you'll be disappointed.
Product Strengths: Musicality, vinyl-like sound, seems like world class sound for a song. Better loading than former models. Neat appearance. Sounds like a genuine technology breakthrough!

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: PS Audio HCA2
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): PS Audio PCA2
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Apollo!
Speakers: Chapman T-7
Cables/Interconnects: Tice Audio with TPT
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Smooth Jazz, instrumental
Room Size (LxWxH): 23 x 13 x 8
Room Comments/Treatments: Tuned with Auralex panels
Time Period/Length of Audition: 3 whole days!
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Tice Audio
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner
Your System (if other than home audition): Home Theater

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Topic - REVIEW: Rega APOLLO CD Player/Recorder - Doug Schroeder 15:05:18 01/21/06 (24)

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