Rega Elicit £1595
18th Jul 2011 | 14:30
The latest amp under this name is a sophisticated performer with singularly purposeful rhythmic flow
The original Elicit, we were astonished to be reminded, appeared in 1990. Any resemblance to the current amp is superficial at most, as this design is new in concept, specification and design.
It's an 80-watt-rated amp built into a familiar-looking Rega case. In common with most current Rega electronics, it incorporates a heatsink on the underside: but since that's not adequate in that position for two 80-watt channels there are also internal heatsinks at each side of the chassis.
All around the centrally mounted mains transformer are the components, mostly surface-mounted, that do the controlling and amplifying. It's not a lineup of everyone's favourite parts, and there's plenty of evidence that the design is unique in several ways, though some features are familiar enough.
Inputs are switched by relays and volume is adjusted via a Wolfson electronic control, while output is handled by modern bipolar transistors with onboard temperature sensing.
The six regular inputs are line-level by default, but an internal phono stage is an option. There's also a power amp input for future expansion or upgrading.
One area where Rega is very much in line with a lot of audiophile thinking is power supplies and there is extensive regulation of supplies for different stages of the amp. On the other hand, the mains transformer, while perfectly capable of supporting the output power rating, is not as over-sized as some.
To a large extent, good regulation will compensate for this and if cost is in any sense an issue it's not always the most efficient route to put in a huge transformer.
One of our listeners just didn't quite click with this amp, though he acknowledged that it has many strengths, especially soundstage and scale. Despite that, he missed some clarity and insight in the sound.
That's a shame, because according to his colleagues he was missing some full-bodied, red-blooded music-making of considerable emotional power. The fact is that the individual concerned is one of our fussiest regulars about dynamics and pace, from which it appears that this isn't the most dynamic amp ever. But it's far from the least and in many ways it has a very good line in dynamics, it just lacks the last word in 'kick'.
It also has very fine bass. As one would certainly hope at this kind of price, it's extended, but it is also exceptionally clear and well tuned, making low melodic instruments unusually easy to follow. This same quality provides a great underpinning for multi-layered music and sounds like symphony orchestra benefit with excellent clarity and tonal differentiation between the instrumental groups.
Meanwhile the excellent imaging helps maintain a sense of precision which proved especially useful in our track of unaccompanied voices. Just occasionally the sound can seem a little too bright, but on the whole treble is well balanced and midrange is nicely neutral.
And despite our observation above about dynamics, the rhythmic flow of a piece of music is well presented, with an unhurried but vigorous sense of purpose.
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