|the perfect couple: maggie and rega|
we applaud generously. i think HP, (alto' a bit old in the tooth), besides the former HI-Fi+ editor, roy gregory, is about only one in audio journalism that calls a spade a spade without fear or favor. too many hifi reviewers, past and present (more in the present than in the past actually) are merely doing lip service to the dealers for the fear of losing their advertisement income. in being politically correct, they also lose credibility and trust. well, audio journalism... too much we can and have to say and we will leave it for another day.
since the arrival of the too-good-not-to-cuddle mini maggie, we have been looking high and low for a suitor. a suitor with enough money (power) in the saving accounts (transformer). if you buy the maggie for RM6K, you are not going to pair it with an amp costing Rm10K, are you? since mini maggie is touted as the "best desktop speaker in the world", its natural habitat has to be a study room or a bedroom. and it happened that we have cleared out the mess in our bedroom with enough room for a smallish hifi system.
so we set the budget of sub-RM2K for an integrated amp. just for memory's sake, we haven't played an integrated amp since 1988 and the last great integrated amp we had was the magical, ARC-aspiring musical fidelity A100, which you could double up as mini grill for your fried eggs or bacon and sausage.
we auditioned a couple of great integrated amps, namely amp #A and amp #B, both award winning in that lets-count-the-stars magazine. amp #A has a refined sound but guess what, it clipped many times driving the lustful mini maggie, even playing at moderate volume! had it not been the power issue, amp #A would have been our choice at this amazing price point of RM2,200. amp #B has so much more brunt and muscle, but lacking the ultimate refinement that goes in tandem with the mini maggie's superb resolution.
so we have only the rega brio-R left in the competition. its satin-finished shoebox casing is attractive in its own way. in fact, it is the most handsome of the three amps. the rega engineering is first-class, even the user's manual is classy. according to the specs, the 70w into 4ohm, almost class-A rating can satisfy crazy loads, not to mention the 4ohm of the mini maggie. rega warns that with 4 ohm, the amp can run hot and hot it does, almost 40 degree celcius on the casing!
but the sound! the sound has meat and body that is lacking in amp #A. it is supple and energetic, feeding plenty of required juices to the mini maggie. harmonically it is also the richest. it has refinement aplenty (british amp what!) which is lacking in amp #B. everything just sounds and looks right.
so, deal la. RM2,500, that's all you need for a blissful and lustful marriage. the mini maggie has been satisfied.