Atth: Rega Ara owners

To all the Rega Ara (or even R1) owners, I wonder if you'd please give me your mini 'review' of the sound characteristics of these relatively inexpensive speakers. This question stems from another thread I started in the Digital section regarding kit upgrading in which i gleaned some good information from posters. I am, however, still last-minute debating what purchase direction i should take, as i will be buying used (ie. no return; hate reselling items).

Having said that, in my setup at the moment, the Aras, although fast speakers, seem a little thin in the lower midrange/upper bass. They are not particularly airy sounding speakers, but have relatively good upper frequency response, given their modest cost. They seem somewhat veiled in the midrange, but still have a good boogie factor (they're quick; they bounce nicely to the music, for lack of a better description at the moment).

This, of couse, is how they sound in my system. I would like to hear from other ARA owners on what they feel the speaker's character is. This might help me establish a better baseline from which to decide on what to replace at the moment (cd player or speakers).

Your help is always appreciated.
No ARA owners out there?
Hi Loose:

I have owned the Rega Aras for two plus years. I purchased two NOS pairs from Arcadia Audio and used them in two separate secondary systems ... one system driven by a tube integrated (Prima Luna P2 with a Rega Apollo CD player) and one system driven by an Outlaw RR2150 solid state, 2 channel receiver and Cambridge Audio Azur 540 DVD player. Speaker cables for both systems were QED Anniversary XT.

I found the Aras to be musically coherent small speakers and not particularly deficient in any one area. They work best in small rooms and near walls. The amount of bass was more than I expected from such a small speaker. Pleasant sounding speakers that have a nice sense of warmth and detail to them. You are right that the speakers have a good boogie factor.

Two months months ago, I decided to do a major upgrade with my Prima Luna PL2 based system and I purchased a pair of Spendor A1 speakers. Big upgrade ... improves on all the good points of the Aras, especially with vocals. This is not a criticism though of the Aras ... the Spendors cost 6X as much.

What is your system set-up and what are the Aras doing/not doing?

Regards, Rich

I drive them w/ a modified sugden A48b with a rotel 971 cd player. MIT interconnects (for now) and Ecosse speaker cables.

There is also an inexpensive Energy sub in the picture, but it's not always being put to use. I have it connected via speaker cable; the speakers are running full range and when i use the sub, i have it set to a 70 hz or so at the crossover. (I often turn the sub off, depending on the music).

What I'm noticing is that there is not enough 'air' or sense of space and the midrange is a bit veiled. HF could extend a little further...Also, the lower midrange is sort of thin.

so, I want:
more midrange clarity
more body in the lower midrange
more sense of air/ space
more HF extension.
a bit more punch

The amp is warm and robust sounding. Not the last word in resolution, but it does everything reasonably well. Despite its modest power rating, it is able to drive most speakers to which i've had it connected quite well. Not sure about the sensitivity of the Monitor Audio GS20, but the amp had them running pretty nicely at a local audio store.

Beyond that, the CD player, from my own experience, is a bit 'blasé'. It's a bit dry sounding, flat even. The treble can be a bit edgy and the bass is there, but does not have the best definition. Boring-sounding CD player. It's more or less neutral and DOES have a black background; it's just not 'exciting' like some other players.

Having said that, the CD has done well for me in higher end systems, the most recent of which was a Unico integrated and pair of Neat Mystiques. It also did well when i had a Bryston 4B st, a Nakamichi pre and a pair of NHT 2.5i (not to mention a whole slew of other speakers and amps). Therefore, despite its shortcomings, i do not believe the CD player is the biggest issue at hand.


Hi Stephen:

After 2 years of using the Aras in two different secondary systems, I decided that I wanted more from a speaker. The speaker set-ups that I had for both Ara systems, which were either inside an enclosed bookcase or on top of a bookcase, were never going to show off the best of what any speaker could do. Yet, the Aras did better than just about any small speaker that I used in these set-ups: Omega 3, EPOS ESL3, NHT SB2, Wharefedale Diamond 9.1, and B&W 302, for starters

The Ara is what it is, a small speaker that presents a good overall sound. You can do better, but I think that you are talking serious cash. For me, I went with the Spendor SA1, which fits in better price and performance wise with my equipment, but at 4 times the list price of the Rega Aras.

Which of course now leads to how much cash were you planning to throw at new speakers?


Further reflections ...

With the Aras I was able to notice when I swapped out CD players or played a CD on a DVD player. The better the CD player, the deeper, more defined, and richer the sound became with the Aras. And that is Rega's claim with the Aras, as your equiment improves, so will the sound of the Aras. After living with the Spendors for 3 months, I am glad I made the upgrade. I listen for longer periods of time and enjoy listening more.

In my other system, I went with Energy RC10's. I have still not listened enough to the RC10's to say whether it was an upgrade or more of a lateral move. The RC10's go deeper and are a little more precise than the Aras. I believe they are about as musical sounding, I have just not done really extensive listening with the RC 10's yet ... they are in the bedroom, I am recovering from my 10th spine surgery, and the only listening positions available to me are laying out coffin style or sitting in a hardback chair.


Hi Rich,

Your thoughts and opinions of the Aras are really helping me quite a bit, here, i must say (and obviously very appreciated).

For the price i paid for the Aras, i really could not have done any better - not a chance in hell. I paid $175 CAD for them, so w/out a doubt, they were a good interim solution.

In terms of what i want to spend on new speakers, I'm thinking of buying used, in the 600-900 range.

I have my eyes on the lookout for a pair of Monitor Audio GR10 (predecessor to the GS10). From what i've read about the GR10 and based on what i heard when listening to the GS10 (assuming the GR10 is about the same), i feel that they might do the trick.

I really like the Epos M12.2 once upon a time, but one of my audio dealers who used to sell Epos claims they would not work well w/ the sugden (i'm not sure if he's trying to dissuade me bc he no longer carries the line or if it's actual fact that they are not a good match w/ my sugden).

Yes, exactly as you stated, the Aras are what they are. Nothing outstanding, but good overall. I'm not firm in that speakers will be my next upgrade prior to a cd player upgrade.

BTW - off topic - I'm very sorry to hear about your condition. It's hearing/ seeing things like that that put life into perspective for me. I sometimes bitch and complain about how 'bad' my life is when in reality, things could be far, FAR worse.
Hi Stephen:

I just don't know enough about Sugden amplifiers to comment one way or the other. Here is a link from Audio Review regarding your Sugden. The first two posts talk about speaker loads.

In a way it's easy, you like the Monitor Audio speakers with the Sugden. I have found MA speakers to be a bit forward in the treble, which probably mates well with a warm sounding amp like the Sugden. No doubt, you are probably driving yourself crazy thinking you can do better. It's a great hobby.

I owned the EPOS ES 11 in the past and they were great speakers. Definitely what you are looking for. I ran them with Adcom amps. I would not rule them out. HCM Audio is always running a good deal on EPOS speakers.

My back woes make it interesting, in the least, to pursue a "sit in one place and listen" hobby. Hey, the day started above ground and there are still enough CDs out there to buy.

Best regards,

Heya Rich:

I've read the Audioreview posts regarding the Sugden... Most are referring to earlier models than the one i currently own.

My synopsis, based on pairing the sugden A48B w/ several speaker brands: Warm, full sound. Good bass. Very nice midrange. Not the most extended in the HF, but good nonetheless. Does not have pinpoint imaging, but is no slouch in that department. Sounds 'more powerful' than its power rating. Fairly dynamic (but again, i believe this can be improved upon w/ the correct speaker pairing). It's a good all-rounder and definitely performs much better than it looks (just a basic, black box).

IMHO, i believe it should be paired w/ speakers on the brighter & more dynamic side to balance out its warm character. This was the same case w/ the Unico i once owned; brighter speakers worked very well with it. Since the Sudgen shares many similarities to the Unico (albeit the unico was smoother and more open-sounding overall in the midrange and a little more extended up top), i believe speakers which would work well with one would work well with the other (hence my inclination that EPOS would work well with the sugden, since EPOS worked very well with the Unico).

I think i'm just going to bite the bullet and go for it (as soon as i can, when funds allow - which will soon be the case).

Fact of the matter is, although i do not like reselling things i've purchased, I can always resort to that if i have to. If all goes well, i'll simply pick up a pair of GR or GS10s and that will be that! (of course, then i'll find something else 'wrong' with my system, but that's what this merry go round is all about, isn't it? lol)

ps. apologies for the poor spelling and grammar here... just writing on the fly during a time when i SHOULD be working! hahaha
Hi Stephen,

We are looking at this the same way ... warm sounding amplifier with more detailed sounding speakers. It may be why the Aras are not doing it for you, as they are on the warm sounding side. This may be of interest to you:

new EPOS 12.2 in your price range.

If you consider upgrading your CD player, I can vouch for the Rega Apollo and the Music Hall 25.2.


Hi Stephen:

Check out the latest HI Fi + magazine (#63). They review a system based on the Sugden A21 with Focal 806V speakers.

Regards, Rich
For the moment, i will only be upgrading one component; either the speakers or the cd player. At this point, i'm leaning much more towards speakers, as i believe it will be the more noticeable improvement (not downplaying the validity of a strong source, mind you).

I wonder which would be the better match: the Epos m12.2 or the Monitor Audio gr10? The epos can be had for around 650 CAD mint on the used market.

Rich - i'll look for that review on the sugden, too. Plus, i've heard good things about the Apollo, but i'm thinking a naim cd5i (italic) would fit the bill for me. The verdict is still up on that, though. I have yet to compare the two. Haven't ever STARTED seriously looking at cd players yet, though...i'm afraid. I'm very afraid. hahaha

In all seriousness, I wish i had more money for this hobby so i could swap gear at will. The way it stands, i have to consider everything VERY carefully when making any purchase, which is why i hem and haw over everything (and which is why the help i get on this forum is invaluable).

Thanks everyone!