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Thread: Rega Isis CD Player

  1. #11
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

    Posts: 1,059
    I'm John.

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    Sorry for the late response, been busy listening!

    Some great posts there guys, thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Obviously this is a top level player and as I have read in reviews it only differs from other very good machines in its presentation.

    Ultimately it wasn't a keeper for me (not that it was for sale anyway) but it was great to get the opportunity to try out.

    I'm loathe to say too much negative about it as I'm very aware that I didn't have the range of equipment on hand to optimise its performance and also I'm not overly experienced so wouldn't want to put anyone off the player without listening to it for themselves or in any way criticise Rega in my ignorance.

    Ultimately in spite of its many talents it just didn't grab me. I know you don't want a 'too much too soon' sound that becomes fatiguing after a while but truth is it never 'got' me, even after a long listening session. I think it was a micro-dynamics thing. My big speakers can be lazy brutes and need a punchy player and amp to bring enough life to them to make them engaging. The Isis is too even handed for this which left a feeling of subtle a lack of emotion or life. I want to re-iterate I think this was primarily a system matching thing and not a fault of the player or maybe I just prefer a slightly over the top presentation.

    I'll quickly summarise its strengths as I see it; battleship build, handsome bling free looks, great easy read display, faultless operation, natural clarity and detail resolution (not hyped), instrument timbre, easy all day listenability, musical flow.

    I don't think you can discuss this machine without mentioning its unique delivery. This is hard to describe but it has a propulsion to the sound, maybe like an idler drive turntable that just drives the song along. It's a relentless thing and un-digital to me. I think is why people say it's more analogue sounding than other CD players. Ironically I found this a bit of a spoiler with more reflective material as it didn't seem to have the poise I would have liked, it just kept motoring on! I'm guessing that's where the valve version would have the upper hand.

    Having said all that I can understand how this could be a very satisfying player for a lot of folks, it has something, that steady rolling goodness that makes it hard to turn off but in the end I found myself craving more engagement.
    Naim CDS CD player, BTE Khozmo passive preamp, Luxman Avance Z504 power amp, Lockwood Academy speakers with Tannoy HPD385 drivers, BigBottle Audio Spotfire interconnects.


  2. #12
    Join Date: Mar 2012

    Location: Ireland

    Posts: 28
    I'm colum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by simon g View Post
    I've now gone back to concentrating on CD as my primary source. If you're looking for a true high end, high quality, piece of kit then you should take a look at what I went for; the GATO CDD1. This uses the best and most relaible CD transport of all time, IMO, the Philips Pro2LF (these remain available, by the way. I checked and GATO has plenty in stock). You also get access to the DAC via USB or coaxial. Worth getting a liten or homw dem, if poss.

    My one:

    Simon, thanks for the heads up on that player, I never even heard of the Gato player before, searched for some reviews but no descriptions regarding sound presentation, again serious money but pre loved prices are at the top end of my budget.
    No chance to demo one over here In Ireland I think, I should Have gone to Munich show, best place to see uber players like this and REGA / Audionote

  3. #13
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

    Posts: 1,059
    I'm John.

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    Quote Originally Posted by greygoose View Post
    That is a friend, I have never had the pleasure of listening to the Rega ISIS, supposed to be very special from all the reviews, surprised they are subtle at first listen.
    Is the presentation very smooth or is it lively / holographic? I am considering a high end CD at the moment with my options down to Rega / Lector/ Audionote for service and musicality.
    I got a pair of Sennheiser HD800'S this year and it took almost 3 months before my Brain / Ears came to terms with what they could do, I am glad I persisted with them and happy with the result, I was not overwhelmed when I listened to them at first coming from a pair of HD650'S.
    You really have to try for yourself Collum, preferred presentation is such a personal thing and the Isis definitely has something special in its delivery which should be tried if you're in the market for a top flight player. I wouldn't describe it as lively but well balanced. I found it threw up big, chunky images of instruments and voices but this made the soundstage feel a little condensed. I preferred the smaller images in the bigger, more spacious soundstage produced by my Naim but my room is smaller so that suits me. Maybe with smaller speakers or a bigger room the Rega would be better suited.
    Naim CDS CD player, BTE Khozmo passive preamp, Luxman Avance Z504 power amp, Lockwood Academy speakers with Tannoy HPD385 drivers, BigBottle Audio Spotfire interconnects.


  4. #14
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

    Posts: 1,059
    I'm John.

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    Quote Originally Posted by simon g View Post
    I've now gone back to concentrating on CD as my primary source. If you're looking for a true high end, high quality, piece of kit then you should take a look at what I went for; the GATO CDD1. This uses the best and most relaible CD transport of all time, IMO, the Philips Pro2LF (these remain available, by the way. I checked and GATO has plenty in stock). You also get access to the DAC via USB or coaxial. Worth getting a liten or homw dem, if poss.

    My one:

    Very nice Simon, looks like a well engineered machine.
    Naim CDS CD player, BTE Khozmo passive preamp, Luxman Avance Z504 power amp, Lockwood Academy speakers with Tannoy HPD385 drivers, BigBottle Audio Spotfire interconnects.


  5. #15
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

    Posts: 1,059
    I'm John.

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    Quote Originally Posted by petrat View Post
    I've lived happily with the Isis Valve for 8 years now. I agree about it not being immediately impressive, John, but it's well worth persisting. I've had audiophiles listen to mine for a couple of tracks and be rather underwhelmed ... presumably they were expecting some hyper-real sonic firworks, or something? I took it to one dealer to hear against a Naim 555, and he clearly thought the Naim was streets ahead. I thought the Naim sounded like a very good CD player, whereas the Rega sounded like real music. Admittedly, if you're used to typical CD players and DACs, the Isis Valve's presentation can seem rather different, and seems to leave new listeners a bit nonplussed at first. Each to their own, I guess, but the Isis Valve is, overall, the most satisfying source I've ever had ... certainly I've spent a small fortune trying, and failing, to get my vinyl rig up to the same standard. Vinyl, it seems to me, is swings and roundabouts, whereas the Rega pretty much gives it all ... as far as my needs go, anyway
    That's a cracking post Peter, I think each to their own is key, there is a lot of good equipment out there but probably only a few that will really reach you personally. I love my Naim CDS 1, it so completely trounced my Rega RP6/Exact that I realised to get that level or better on vinyl was going to be too expensive and tiresome to even bother so I didn't. I suspect that I would enjoy the CD555 but I won't know till I hear it. Glad you're enjoying the Isis Valve.

    Didn't realise you had changed amps. How does the Radford compare to the Leben, you obviously prefer the Radford!
    Naim CDS CD player, BTE Khozmo passive preamp, Luxman Avance Z504 power amp, Lockwood Academy speakers with Tannoy HPD385 drivers, BigBottle Audio Spotfire interconnects.


  6. #16
    Join Date: Jul 2011

    Location: Northamptonish

    Posts: 1,658
    I'm Peter.

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    Actually, until recently my second system had a Naim CDX2 ... so, I too am a fan of some Salisbury CD players. The CD555 struck me as very even-handed, but for some reason it had the same lack of emotional engagement (for me) that I'd found previously in the top-loading CDS3. Not that it has been unusual for me to have that reaction with digital sources... no matter how many times I hear DCS stuff, for instance, it still leaves me ambivalent.

    Yes, I went to Cornwall last summer, and came back with the big Radford, the STA-100 being simply the best amp I've had for my 15 inch Tannoys to date. It's been a long journey, but it does pretty much all I require. Not that it's a criticism, but I suppose some might like a smidgen more 'warmth' to the presentation, which is where the Leben CS-1000P was very good. The current owner of the Leben told me that he replaced the KT120s with some KT150s, to great effect ... so, I probably missed a trick there. I must say, though, that I am delighted with Will's creation, and the construction quality of the Radford Revival STA-100 certainly matches the Leben ... which is quite a compliment imo.

  7. #17
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

    Posts: 1,059
    I'm John.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeMusic View Post
    The Isis is excellent.
    Had an Isis SS for years before the much more expensive TAD persuaded me to move on
    Hi Mike, I take it the TAD unit is an all in one pre-Cd-DAC?

    How does it compare to the Rega amp and CD you had?
    Naim CDS CD player, BTE Khozmo passive preamp, Luxman Avance Z504 power amp, Lockwood Academy speakers with Tannoy HPD385 drivers, BigBottle Audio Spotfire interconnects.


  8. #18
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

    Posts: 1,059
    I'm John.

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    Quote Originally Posted by petrat View Post
    Actually, until recently my second system had a Naim CDX2 ... so, I too am a fan of some Salisbury CD players. The CD555 struck me as very even-handed, but for some reason it had the same lack of emotional engagement (for me) that I'd found previously in the top-loading CDS3. Not that it has been unusual for me to have that reaction with digital sources... no matter how many times I hear DCS stuff, for instance, it still leaves me ambivalent.

    Yes, I went to Cornwall last summer, and came back with the big Radford, the STA-100 being simply the best amp I've had for my 15 inch Tannoys to date. It's been a long journey, but it does pretty much all I require. Not that it's a criticism, but I suppose some might like a smidgen more 'warmth' to the presentation, which is where the Leben CS-1000P was very good. The current owner of the Leben told me that he replaced the KT120s with some KT150s, to great effect ... so, I probably missed a trick there. I must say, though, that I am delighted with Will's creation, and the construction quality of the Radford Revival STA-100 certainly matches the Leben ... which is quite a compliment imo.
    If you’re using JJ valves which I think Will does in the STA25 I found them a little etched. Might be worth trying something like Gold Lions Peter.
    Naim CDS CD player, BTE Khozmo passive preamp, Luxman Avance Z504 power amp, Lockwood Academy speakers with Tannoy HPD385 drivers, BigBottle Audio Spotfire interconnects.


  9. #19
    Join Date: Dec 2018

    Location: Torquay, Devon.

    Posts: 850
    I'm Shane.

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    Still yet to hear the Rega Isis. I miss the little Rega Apollo-R. That was a nice budget CD Player.

    S.
    Shane Lonergan.

    Home Hi-Fi Chat UK (Facebook Group)

  10. #20
    Join Date: Jul 2011

    Location: Northamptonish

    Posts: 1,658
    I'm Peter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJo View Post
    If you’re using JJ valves which I think Will does in the STA25 I found them a little etched. Might be worth trying something like Gold Lions Peter.
    Thanks for the tip, John. Will Moores set up the STA-100 for minimum distortion with the JJ valves fitted, so I'm a bit reluctant to mess with it atm, but I'll certainly try a few altrnatives in the future.
    Come to think of it, I've yet to do any valve-rolling with my pre-amp either, even though I've got some nice Mullards to try. Maybe that just shows how satisfied I am with the way things are

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