Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rega Apollo Top Loading CD Player

Why Apollo CD Player?


Rega is famous with its turntable and for CD Player, Apollo is one of its brilliant invention.

The world has moved on since then, for better and for worse: better in the sense that digital sound has continued to improve, worse in the sense that the major corporations with the technology for making integrated digital control systems-the basic servo and data-control chipsets-have shifted their focus toward DVD and away from the humble music-only compact disc. That state of affairs has prompted Gandy and company to tap a different technology source, and to launch an entirely new player: the msrp RM4,599 Rega Apollo.

Rega Apollo incorporates more than 20MB of memory, along with true 32-bit processing capabilities. That's several times the power of early digital control systems. The CD comes with a great operating mechanism and a better power supply. It supports MP3 playback as well thought audiophile seldom opt for mp3 compressed audio. But you never know when you need this feature so it's always better to have it :)


The Apollo is built into the same casework as the Rega Planet, with one key difference: The new player's transport holds the disc with a three-point ball chuck instead of a magnetic puck. That means the motor has less mass to spin, so the disc can accelerate and decelerate with greater ease. It also means that Rega's already elegant transport lid is now a single, undisturbed expanse of smoked Plexiglas-which looks very nice indeed.

The Apollo's transport, manufactured by Sanyo, is compliantly suspended from the upper portion of Rega's standard chassis of cast aluminum alloy. The D/A converter is Wolfson's top-of-the-line WM8740, a dual-differential chip that operates in sigma-delta mode and supports word lengths of up to 24 bits. The output section, which is said to apply class-A amplification to a digital source component in an entirely new way, is Rega's own design.

Apart from all that, the Apollo is a straightforward thing, with a front-mounted board for the logic bits and a single main circuit board for all the rest, fastened to the bottom of the chassis alongside the smallish toroidal mains transformer. RCA and optical digital output jacks are on the rear panel for those who wish to use an outboard DAC, as well as the usual pair of phono jacks for line-level analog output. In addition to the mains switch, the front panel has only the most basic start, stop, and track-advance buttons, while those and a full brace of other user controls appear on the nicely styled remote handset-including a button that can be used to kill the display lights. To jump ahead just a bit: As with the same feature on recent CD players from Naim Audio, that last one really did make an audible difference for the better; all of my comments on sound quality below refer to the Apollo's performance with its display dark.

There is only one little tiny catch on Apollo, that is when a disc is loaded and the transport door closes, the player does not respond further. It will wait for around 5 seconds or so before you can press the PLAY button to start reading the track. The culprit, if you want to call it that, is the new Cambridge-sourced chipset and its attendant surplus of memory: Each time the user loads a new disc, the Apollo reads the whole of the CD's subcode data into memory, analyzes it (footnote 1) and then selects the most appropriate of four levels of error correction. That way, the music is never overcorrected per se, and the integrity of the original datastream is kept intact to the greatest extent possible.

Apollo sounds "Cleaner" as compared to few of the products I have heard. It is more "revealing" and speak out most of the tiny details within the CD track. I can now hear "more" on Apollo than other lower end CD player ( I mean audiophile range CD Player here; not the consumer brand DVD or cd player that you get from the electrical shop that sells fridge and aircond).

Be warned when you feed Apollo with recorded CD media or even odinary CD from the shop. Noises and even some background sound are visible. You can straight away tell if the CD media is original or not or should I say, good recording or bad. At times, I feel Apollo sounds a little too crisp in the high side. For the price tag of msrp RM4,599, is it worth the buy? I strongly recommend it.