In my many years in the HiFi industry, I have listened to the Rega Aethos amplifier quite a few times, but I had never sat down to do a review of it or a comparison vs the Elicit Mk5, which in its current incarnation is a great sounding amplifier and one of my favourites in the shop at present.
For the purposes of this test, I will be using the new Rega Saturn Mk3, the Rega Planar 8 fitted with an Ania Pro MC and an appropriate phono stage. This will all be connected to a pair of Fyne Audio F501SPs. We also used this system at our November Bring Your Own Music Night event connected to a pair of Fyne F1-8s.
First impressions are that the Aethos is a heavy amp and noticeably heavier than its younger sibling, weighing in at 17.5kg compared to 12.5kg for the Elicit Mk5. The Aethos sports thicker casing and a bigger transformer, and is able to deliver 125wpc compared to 105wpc for the Elicit Mk5.
There are 5 line inputs as well as a direct input for an AV amp. A pre out and high-quality headphone output are also included. We could ask the question: why does it not have any digital inputs like the Saturn or the hotly anticipated Elex Mk4? This is a fair question, but then the same question could be raised as to why it does not have a phono stage. I feel the answer is simply that the Aethos is a stereo integrated amplifier designed with one purpose: to be the best it can be for the money.
The pre amp stage uses class A discreet circuitry and a custom wound toroidal power supply to provide a no-compromise product, designed to deliver the music as faithfully as possible at the price point.
Having spent a few days warming up the amp, I spun up some of my favourite discs on the Rega Saturn Mk3 CD player. Starting with a band that I spent several years live engineering for, called Glo (who then changed their name to Audio 1).
I can honestly report that I don't think I have ever heard this album sound this good; there is a synergy between the amp, CD and speakers that is indescribable. Anyone who has read any of my recent blogs or attended any of our events will know how much success we have had with Rega and Fyne Audio working together, but with Aethos in the system it takes it to yet another level of performance again.
Next, switching to something much more well known - Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street. The Aethos images brilliantly and the vocals are smack in the middle, and then when the saxophone kicks in, it's with an almost holographic quality. The bass line is very tight and rhythmic, thanks to the extra grunt the Aethos gives combined with the efficiency of the speakers.
I'm now extremely excited at the prospect of hooking up the Fyne Audio F1-8s to see how they sound with the rest of the system. Spinning up one of my favourite tracks, "Save The Best For Last", the system now paired with the new speakers leaps in to life with lusty bass notes and beautiful open vocals, again showing how good a job the Aethos is doing of bringing the whole system together and having a grip over the loudspeakers.
Switching over the Planar 8 to spin some vinyl, Queen's "A Kind of Magic" album, and listening to one of my favourite tracks, "Who Wants To Live Forever", the haunting sounds of the organ drift through the soundstage and the very simple back ground drum beat from Roger Taylor thumps you in the chest like the heartbeat it is meant to represent.
I will be honest, I really do love the Elicit Mk5 and it is certainly a step above the Mk4, but for a bit of a stretch on the budget the Aethos is simply a cut above the rest. I think it would comfortably hold its own against other amplifiers on the market costing significantly more.
If you would like to hear the Rega Aethos amplifier then please give us a call on 01507 499047 to make an appointment or drop into the shop, where you will still find it running in my demo system; I'm having a hard time stopping listening to it!
All the best for the season.
John | General Manager
You can also watch our YouTube video in which we unbox, set up, and give a brief demo of the Regas Aethos amplifier: