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This review first appeared in the June 2009 issue of hifi & stereo magazine fairaudio.de. You can also read this review of the Rega Elicit in its original German version. We translated it through a syndication arrangement with our German colleagues. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio.de or Rega. - Ed.
Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: Analog deck - Acoustic Solid MPX; tone arm - Phonotools Vivid-Two, SME M2 12-inch; carts Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Shelter 201, Zu Audio DL-103; digital CD player - HIFIAkademie cdPlayer; Computer & Co - Logitech Squeezebox, Readynas Duo NAS-Server, HP Notebook; D/A converter - Aqvox USB2DA-MKII, Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: Phono - Aqvox 2 CI MKII; preamplifier - Octave HP 300 MK2; power amplifier - SAC il piccolo monos; integrated amplifier - Accuphase E-212, Electrocompaniet Prelude PI-2, Fonel Emotion, LUA 4040 C, Myryad MXI 2080
Loudspeakers: Sehring S 703 SE, Thiel CS 2.4, Thiel SCS4, Zu Audio Druid mk4
Racks & Stands: Creactiv, Taoc, Liedtke Metalldesign Stand, Shale Audio Base
...plus diverse cables...
Review component retail: €2.200 (€150 for optional MM or MC phono board)
Have you ever picked an amp on the coolness of its heat sinks? I did. Once. Nearly. Deep in the grey past, I owned an entry-level integrated from a big Japanese maker. It sported numerous functions such as balance and tone controls, two tape loops, headphone socket. In short, the works. I was merely pissed about features like extreme crackling when touching the balance control; or the occasional complete drop-out of a channel during source switching. And this after less than 3 years. A new amp was needed. To put it mildly, I was so not chasing for the highest number of buttons which might screw up in short order.
With different things on my mind, one evening walk carried me past a lit hifi shop window. A small turn deposited me at the mother of all black boxes, a Rega Mira. Nose on glass, two items instantly warmed my cockles. One was the dearth of fascia knobs - just a power mains, source and volume control. The second was the chassis. It looked like a metal shop had been ordered to cast something nicely solid, then flex into its right a heat sink. At least that was my somewhat romanticized first reaction. A week later I owned one. And yes, I did first listen to it. Once home, it functioned sonically without hiccups; at least until my small compact monitors made room for grown-up tower speakers. Those boxed the Mira's power delivery into a corner.
Well, times change. I give nothing away by saying that today's review subject presents little reason to fret over power or impedance stability. You'd have to leash up piggish gas guzzlers before Rega's Elicit buckles under. These Brits' newest, biggest and thus far costliest integrated is a strapping knave despite a 2 x 82wpc spec that seems far from brutish. Like the earlier Mira, the Elicit maintains brand fidelity by exuding a certain machine shop cool. It appeals to clean liners and heat sinkers.
Trim & technicals
Admittedly the red LED oroborous snaking fancily around the volume control to indicate level defies extreme minimalism. But, it's dimmable. And the face plate does remain uncluttered. A push on the small central button converts the volume control into an input selector, with the small adjacent vertical LED strip confirming the active source. Five RCA line level inputs are standard and there's an optional, also retrofittable €150 MM or MC phono board to convert input N°.1 into vinyl gate. Besides the left power mains -- no standby function -- the face plate carries three further knobs farther right which nearly cover the entire functionality of Rega's biggest integrated.
1/ Direct hints at multi-channel integration. The rear input thus named takes an AV receiver output to bypass Rega's volume control. It can of course also accommodate an external preamp. 2/ Record contains a tape loop but Rega adds a second 'record out link' to supply signal to a headphone amp for example. 3/ Mute does exactly what it says. If you turn the Elicit around, there's one further RCA pair without a frontal equivalent - a pre-out for biamping or subwoofing.
Rega claims to have spent extra attention on the thermal stability of its output section and a stout and functionally decoupled power supply. The two quite sizable cooling fins and fat central toroid certainly look the business. Extra air floor is prompted by curved through-holes for a full chimney effect and even the base plate looks heat-sinked. The output stage runs two Darlington transistors per side to amplify both signal half waves in a common class AB push/pull array. Darlingtons aren't exotic either but simply high-current transistors, two bipolars per casing coupled to multiply individual gain factors (refer to Wikipedia or the Elko page for details).