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Rega Apollo vs. NAD 542

 

Bronze Member
Username: Betamax

Canada

Post Number: 72
Registered: May-07
I already have a NAD 542 and just bought a Apollo, and I'm really, really happy with the Rega.

I want to give credit to a few posters who helped my decision to get the Apollo -- Stu, Nick, Art and MR, who probably don't even remember now but they posted about the two models in some long-ago comparisons that I searched for and read before buying the Apollo.

I bought the Apollo second-hand in mint condition for a reasonable price, so I figured I could always sell it if I didn't appreciate the differences, but the differences were profound. Having both CDPs allowed me to do A/B comparos with my amp and headphones, which was really beneficial.

With the Apollo, the highs were clearer and better articulated, yet more natural sounding, with tighter bass also. The highs on the NAD had a slight glassy shimmer which I found fatiguing when using headphones, though it didn't bother me with the speakers.

One of my test CDs is Laurie Anderson's Strange Angels. The 3rd track, Monkey's Paw, opens with a mash-up of percussion instruments that just sounded like a bright mess on the NAD, but were a clearly defined delight on the Apollo. I had only planned to listen to the first few tracks on each player, but I ended up listening to the entire CD on the Apollo. That happened a couple of times.

As Art wrote in an old thread: "The Apollo is infinitely more musical in the sense of making sense of music where the NAD simply plays the music."

I agree 100%.

That said, the NAD is a decent player for the money, and I'm keeping it in the system for my wife -- she doesn't like the top-loader on the Apollo and is more comfortable using the NAD, so we'll keep the it. She's more of a casual listener anyway, so that's cool.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Betamax

Canada

Post Number: 73
Registered: May-07
Doh, the 2nd-to-last sentence should read: "...so we'll keep it."

Saw the typo right after posting.....
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2298
Registered: Nov-05
Frank, glad you like the Apollo, it really is a great machine. When I first compared them, I noticed the things you did, but we switched from one to the other in the dealers shop, and I honestly thought there must have been been some power problem with the C542 as it just seemed so sluggish compared to the Apollo - but it is the Rega's PRaT that was the cause. Happy listening!
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2775
Registered: Feb-07
Good stuff Frank. I really gotta hear an Apollo someday....
 

Bronze Member
Username: Betamax

Canada

Post Number: 74
Registered: May-07
MR -- yes, the PRaT of the Apollo was distinctly evident; I forgot to mention that in my post.

David -- like the 201, the Apollo takes 20 seconds to initialize when loading a disk. Waiting seems to be the sacrifice made for good sound...
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 10154
Registered: Feb-05
Glad you are enjoying your Apollo Frank. I'm still loving mine almost 3 years later.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2779
Registered: Feb-07
I guess the long loading time is necessary for the great sound quality. I've read something along the lines that the Apollo reads the entire disc into memory, analyzes the data and corrects and errors in reads before playback. I guess the 201 is doing the same thing.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3372
Registered: May-05
Congrats on the Apollo Frank. You've got a phenominal system, from source to speakers.

David,

I don't think that's what's going on. I think the Apollo samples parts of the disc and adjusts the laser so it can read the disc the best way.

Maybe the 201 is doing the same thing?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2781
Registered: Feb-07
Might be Stu. I was paraphrasing from memory an article in Stereophile from memory. I could be wrong.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3375
Registered: May-05
I was too
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2299
Registered: Nov-05
It does both actually guys: from Positive Feedback review.

Let's start with the controller, since it's a honker. It boasts 20MB of memory and 32 bits of processing muscle, for those that get excited about such things. For liberal arts dolts like me, what all those bits and bytes really mean is vastly improved error correction that, according to Rega, far surpasses anything that has come before. The control system also allows for another interesting feature: the ability to analyze a CD and optimize the laser's tracking position and focus spot size for optimum data recovery. (When you pop in a disc, the display reads 'INITIALISING' as the servo controller does its thing. There's also a slight lag after you press play, during which time the buffer fills itself with data from the CD. Both processes usually take only a few seconds--in fact, my Denon DVD changer takes longer to read a disc than the Apollo.)
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 3698
Registered: Sep-04
MR, if that's the case, that must be one of the slowest loading DVD players in the history of the world. But it is true that DVD players are slow loaders generally...
 

Gold Member
Username: My_rantz

Australia

Post Number: 2307
Registered: Nov-05
But it is true that DVD players are slow loaders generally.

They got nothing on my Blu-ray player, Frank. Talk about slow!

I don't find the load time on the Rega's that slow or even annoying. By the time I put a disc in the hole, close the lid and return to the couch or whatever, it's ready to go. I prefer having to start play myself than auto start anyway.

I tried the Cobra 3 today and I'm still using it to burn it in a little. Very little difference and I'm trying to describe to myself what it is and can't quite put my finger on it. Slightly more musical maybe? But why? I think have more comparing after giving the new cable some more time.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 2800
Registered: Feb-07
I guess I had just gotten used to my 640C. You pop the disc in, and that sucker begins playing right away. Then again, the player is probably not doing the amount of reading/processing that a Rega or McIntosh would do.

M.R., my blu-ray player is so slow, I can pop a movie in, visit the restroom, grab a beer and pop some corn long before the menu comes up.
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 3709
Registered: Sep-04
MR, yes, most BD players are disgustingly slow too. That said my PS3 is really quite quick!

The only thing that annoys me about the Rega is the fact you can't just hit the play button and let it start whenever it's initialised itself. It really should have a buffer so you can select track and play while it's sorting out its optimisation. Interestingly, Naim have just released a new version of their CDX2 player which does similar optimisation. It starts playing very quickly indeed, pretty much as quickly as a typical CD player.

Frank.
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