Rega Saturn. Is it really a giant killer?

Everything I read on the Rega Apollo says it kills anything in the $1,000 price range and above. The few criticisms say it could be better in the bass and high end.

I also read that the Saturn is a giant killer and a considerable step above the Apollo. More delicate, refined, detailed, great spatially, with very good bass.

Same modest Sanyo transport, same chassis. Can different parts and power supply make this much difference? It still is a relatively light piece (no 40 pound heavyweight) with no special vibrational features or construction that I know of. I've seen a picture of the inside, and it is pretty simple with one decent size transformer.

Then I read someone saying it beat out their Marantz SA11, which is an incredibly built piece with a high end, metal transport, supposedly using some audiophile caps, etc.

How much of this is truth and how much is hype?
I've considered the Saturn for a while now to. However, I recently purchased a solid state integrated so now I'm thinking more about a new tubed player instead. With the "giant killer" question you're asking, you're likely to get responses that will fall on both sides of the fence. Some may say it could very well be a giant killer and some may say it isn't. Only you will be able to decide if it sounds like a big league player in your room, in your setup, and based on the other players that you've listened to. Take my word from experience, with issues like your room, your cables, synergy with the rest of your equipment, and the quality of your power, etc, no one can give you a definitive answer. I learned this the hard way a few years ago by when I bought the highly regarded Simaudio Nova cdp. (ended up selling it here) Musicdirect sells Rega and has a return policy. Maybe you can try it out in your setup.
Can't remember what mag...but, I read that the new Saturn is very similar to the Apollo in sonics. Not much better overall..just a bit more of the same, and certainly not worth nearly a $kilobuck more according to the reviewer.Your best advice will certainly come from those who have owned both.. That said, I really didnt warm up to the Apollo didnt have much interest in the Saturn player.YMMV.
I own the Apollo and it's a great cdp. I've been through Jolidas, YBAs, Classes, Rotels, two Planet 2000s and two Jupiters and this is my last CDP. Pick up an Apollo and save the dough you would have spent on the Saturn and buy a nice vinyl set up. My P3/AT/Slee combo kills the Apollo musically. YMMV
I agree with Foster-your ears and the synergy of your system is what matters most. However, I have heard both the Saturn and Apollo hooked up to the same amp/preamp and speakers. Given that equipment, the Saturn was law of diminishing returns. So if it were my money, I would take the advice above and go with the Apollo.
Kehut, you said you didn't warm up to the Apollo. Could you describe what you heard?

The review you were referring to is Tellig's recent review in Stereophile on both players. He was inconsistent in that review, as first he said there wasn't much difference, but then later said there was a considerable improvement. Oh, well, can you trust reviewers anyway? Especially when they make decisions based on headphone listening? has a review. Search their archives to read it. It is quite complimentary.

Check out another bangup review on

The reviewer is a vinyl guy and he thinks it is the first digital player that brings this much musicality to digital.

New pieces often get hype that later turns out to be overstated. Wonder whether that is the case here or not.

Yeah, that was the review..I went looking for that stereophile last night, but remembered I threw them all in the trash :-) so much for mags and reviews/reviewers opinions eh!

As for the Apollo...I was actually very impressed with it upon initial set up in my system..but, over some seemed forced and rather "digital" to me. The highs in particular were not smooth, and seemed a bit detached. I prefered the NAD 542 that replaced it. Even though the NAD was a bit less seemed better balanced and had more resolution in my set up.Again, this is just my opinion of what I heard in my this day..I actually prefer an older 18bit CAL Icon MkII to them all... but, I have tin what do I know!///best, ken
Thanks, Kehut. Was the Apollo burned in enough? I know you said, "over some time", but if that was say, 50 hours, maybe it wasn't enough.

I also went to and read the reviews there by owners. Some were glowing, others were not. I'm glad I went there though, because more than one person said the plastic faceplate and the overall finish was kind of cheap looking. And that the hinged lid didn't inspire confidence either. Curious what others think of these things.

I had the Apollo for about 6 mos. Used pretty often. Im sure it had well over several hundred hours on it by the time I'd had enough of it. My first one had some of the well documented early "glitches" of the programming computer, the dealer took that one back, and the one I had for ~6 mos was without issue.Just not to my liking. Im just not a big fan of Rega stuff.
The more I research these players, the more I find that bothers me. In Stereophile's review, March 2007, p. 27, Tellig quotes Rega's owner: "With the given technology we had to build it as inexpensively as possible." Now, that's a mouthful. It's $1,000, not $300. It really gets me that these manufacturers have to make the maximum profit possible. Now I understand why the unit has a tiny transformer and lacks some in the bass department. Man, can't you spend the extra $5 or $10 for a larger transformer? A plastic faceplate?

Maybe this is why some audiophiles are choosing to turn to Chinese brands, like Shanling and others, because they want something for their money, and not just the bare minimum. In the end, this doesn't help the company's image or popularity. If the parts, chassis and mechanism are all made as "inexpensively as possible", owners discover this and it turns them off to the company. It seems the sonics of this player that have merit are due mostly to the new chipset that is used. Rega had the fortune of discovering this company and convincing them to use Rega as a beta tester for the chipset. In turn, Rega gets to buy the chipsets. Rega, give the customer more for their money. Even the Saturn uses the same transport, chipset, and chassis, with the exception of a metal faceplate, but costs 2.4 times more. Hardly giving the consumer his money's worth either.
You can read my review of the Saturn on
Are you worried about it breaking because of the parts or how it sounds? Rega cdps don't break and sound great.
I compared the Apollo and Saturn and the Saturn was better in the bass and more detailed and refined. It was noticeable. That said, the value was in the Apollo unless the rest of the system is already somewhat bright.
I was in the store for about 1 hour and a half, comparing the Shanling Cd300 with the Rega Saturn Cd player, the Saturn sounded like a very congested player, with no dynamics, just very boring....dead honest opinion, the Shanling cd300 was superior in every single aspect.
That's what I heard.
Listen for yourself,thats the only way,And dont forget for one minute despite what people will say,its all about the money.
I just got the new Jazz Times. Their reviewer raves about it. Which considering it isn't vinyl nor tubes is pretty amazing. He claims it is the best player he has ever heard, period. Based on that, if I was looking for a CDP I would have to give it a listen.
With all due respect to Mr. Schroder, he is a reviewer, and many of us have come to distrust reviewers after finding the product isn't what they say it is. I'm not saying that is the case here, but I don't know.

It seems the consensus here is that the bang for the buck is in the Apollo for the price difference. Also there are a few people who don't seem to like the Rega. Without having it in my system, I guess it will be hard to know, since everyone doesn't have the same opinion here.
You can try it in your system and return it if you don't like it. As far as reviewers go, in my opinion, Mr. Schroeder gives his honest opinion. I don't know about the others.
Do you Saturn owners leave it on 24/7? I see there isn't a "standby" mode.
I leave mine on continuously, which was recommended by the US distributor. I turn the display off most all the time.
I have mine plugged into surge protected power conditioner so I leave it on 24/7, only consumes 15 watts or less.

I don't like the term "giant killer" since this has a cynical or hyped tone to it, but I think the Saturn is very high performance for the money, great for audiophiles with real world budgets. I also think it looks very stylish and love the top load door function, very elegant.

I had both the Rega Saturn and the Meridian G08 for a few months and decided to keep the Saturn, it was a tough decision though. I have not heard the Appollo but have read comments from several other owners at other forums that lead me to believe Saturn is noticeable improvement.

I run my Saturn through a tube hybrid integrated which gives me a very nice full balanced sound.
I have owned both and have put in at least 200 hours with each at this point. I originally purchased the Apollo when it first hit the market and was very pleased overall. I felt it could have used a little improvement in sound stage depth and it was also a little weak in the bass and was slightly lacking in the way it handled the upper 3 octaves but considering the price, the Apollo was very musical and revealing. I liked it so much in fact that it got me into playing my CDs again, something I hadn't done for a while. It also motivated me to see what else was out there in CD players.

I ended up trading up to a Saturn after listening to a Meridian G08, a Krell SACD Standard and a Marantz SA-11. Regarding the Krell and Marantz, I was more interested in the CD playback since I don’t have a SACD collection and didn’t want to start collecting again in another format. I felt that the Saturn was the best value of this group.

Getting back to the comparison between the Apollo and the Saturn, the Saturn is a more refined version of the Apollo. It has a similar sound but an expanded sound stage in both depth and width. The bottom end is more detailed and extended and handles the upper octaves with a lot more naturalness. It is without reservation, a significant step up. Is it worth 2.4 times the Apollo-another AGner pointed out the law of diminishing returns and I must agree. It was worth it to me to trade up but if I were on a limited budget, I could be very happy with the Apollo.
I agree with Bmontani. Saturn is a significant step up from apollo. I had Apollo and upgraded to Saturn. Saturn is less bright and has more detail in the bass.
There seems to be some consensus that the Saturn has a more natural treble and better bass. But then people are divided as to how much better the Saturn is. Some think it is not worth 2.4 times the price, and could live with the Apollo. Others think there is a significant difference.

There was only one person who found it to sound congested, with no dynamics, and boring. Interesting differences of opinion. Thanks for your thoughtful responses, and any further ones are welcome.
There is no such thing as a "giant killer" in audio. Yes, there are pieces of audio that belie their costs, but it is very unlikely that a $ 1,500 piece of audio is comparible soundwise to a $ 10,000 unit.

Try a Raysonic, put everything to bed.
I owned a Apollo, and had the chance to do side by side compaison with the Saturn. Now I own a fairly decent high end rig, and try as I might I could hear damn little difference between the two players. Rest assured as some of you might think, I'm not deaf, but I did extensive testing for about four days and clearly to me it seemed that the Saturn was not worth two and one half times the price of the Apollo. I matched levels as closely as I could. If anything the Saturn seemed ever so slightly brighter. The dealer told me the Saturn was fully broke in. Don't get me wrong, I think they are both darn fine players,but ultimately I prefer the Cambridge Audio Azur 840C to either of these players, but that is just my opinion and two cents worth.
but ultimately I prefer the Cambridge Audio Azur 840C to either of these players

Mr_m, why so?
Tonyptony has ask me why I prefer the Cambridge 840C over the Rega Apollo and Saturn. First, please understand that this is just an opinion and is what my ears hear in regards to these players. As I said before, I've had both the Rega Apollo and Saturn in my highend system for extensive listening comparisons. When I put the Cambridge player in my system, I immediately heard an air and openess around instruments and vocals that gave them an incredibly live characteristic. To the extent that I never heard from the Rega players. Timbral accuracy in the lower midrange was also uncanny, to the likes I've never heard in a CD player before. Very analog like if you will. Couple that with a more powerful and defined bass line and smoother less bright treble presentation. This is why I prefer the Cambridge over the Regas, and this is why I now own the Cambridge Azur 840C...
To my ears, not hardly. I got a chance to listen to the Apollo and the Saturn at a local audio dealer this weekend. The Apollo sounded so bad in their listening room that it was all I could do to not squirm out of my chair. It was completely lifeless (it was a pretty "dead" room anyway). I kept wondering if something was wrong with it. Then they hooked up the Saturn and the difference was immediately obvious. The Saturn sounded much more "alive" than the Apollo.

So, I took the Saturn home on a home trial. I use Magneplanar MGIIIa speakers and an early Adcom preamp and amp. My current CD player is an old CAL Icon MkII. I love the CAL, but one channel is going out. I might be able to get it repaired (the company is now out of business, but there are people who repair CAL CD players), but I wanted to see what I was missing in a new player.

In my system, in my listening room (YMMV), I thought the Saturn had decent but not great highs overall, a clear, detailed midrange, and a reasonable amount of deep bass. But I decided that this was not the player for me. It is more detailed than my player and the sound seems better controlled or damped.

I like rock, jazz, jazz/fusion, and electric blues the most. These all have two things in common:

First, they need pretty solid mid-bass and deep bass for the lower notes of the electric guitar and the notes of the bass guitar to seem solid enough. The Saturn (and other players I've listened to recently) do not have this quality.

Second, it has to have "drive". I don't know what it is that gives a player "drive", but I would explain it as "punch" - the impact of the low end, the rhythm, the power, that drives rock and jazz/fusion and anything electric. The Saturn does not have this drive/power/authority/punch that is so needed for electronic music. I found listening to electronic music - classic rock, Al Dimeola's jazz/fusion electric guitar, John Scofield, recent ("modern") blues, etc. to be totally lacking in power. The Saturn just didn't make me want to "move". There was no drive to power the music along. It was analytical rather than fun to listen to.

One other thing I didn't like was the way the midrange was presented on my system. The higher midrange - where the bite of the electric guitar is, female voices, choruses voices higher in the midrange frequency, came through nice and clear and detailed, and right up front where I like it. A little bright, but it sounded good. However, the lower midrange where male voices are and some female voices was distant, like being in the nose bleed section of an auditorium. I can't attribute it to any particular CD or artist, and my CAL player doesn't have this problem. If I were to venture a wild guess, I would say that the Saturn is purposely tuned this way. It reminds me a lot of what I noticed when I bought my Grado SR325i headphones - the same general feeling. This was, according to Grado, a decision that Joe(?) Grado (whichever Grado family member it is that runs the place now) made to try to add some better soundstage characteristics to these headphones. I'm beginning to wonder if a similar decision was made when voicing the Saturn.

Listening to Eric Clapton/BB King's CD "Riding with the King", Clapton and King's voices seem so distant that I can barely pick them out of the mix and it is hard to really here what they are singing. Yet, Clapton and King's guitars are noticeably more forward than the voices. I also listened to a vocal CD called "Circle of Light", and the voices in the chorus sounded like they were far away from the microphone. Some of the female solos with lower-pitched voices sounded that way too, but when the voices - individually or massed - reached into a slightly higher range they moved forward out of the background.

I also listened to "Ancient Echos" - a male Russian choir. Their voices sound full and and sometimes reach into the bass regions of the male voice (deeper voices) - this is on my CAL player. With the Saturn, the voices are noticeably more midrange, and there are no lower pitched bass(?) voices.

In general, I thought the Saturn sounded thin,detailed, almost clinical sometimes, but overall not very involving or dynamic in my system.

It may sound completely different in your system, with your speakers, in your listening room, but it is, IMHO, not to be bought (especially at $2500!) without at least a few days of home trial.

I'm still looking for a CD player with the positive qualities of the Saturn, but that is fun to listen to, involving, and has enough oomph to rock, yet is delicate enough to do simple vocal music too.

I'm thinking now of listening to Naim or Primaire.
Timoteo, that is quite a surprising evaluation you have done for the Rega Saturn. The last words I would use on the Saturn would be anything but thin and almost clinical. If you want a more dynamic and involving sound, you might want to scratch Primare off the list. Naim players may have the PRAT that you are looking for. Nevertheless I seriously think it might be your Adcom amps that might not be driving the Magneplanars optimally in producing the drive, punch and dynamics that you are seeking.
Ryder - thanks for your comments. I would agree that the Maggies might be underpowered except that my CAL Icon MK II cd player that is probably 15 years old doesn't have any problem providing the dynamic and involving sound I like. But it is slowly dying, and I'll eventually need to replace it.

I seem to have plenty of amplifier power as I can play the Maggies at very realistic volumes and not hear any audible distortion and get plenty of punch and dynamics, and that's with the preamp volume control only set at 11 o'clock.

One thing I just noticed listening to Al Dimeola's "Land of the Midnight Sun" just now is that his electric guitar has a "fatter" sound with my CAL than with the Saturn. The other thing is that while the bass guitar line with the Saturn has a somewhat light sounding "thud, thud", with my CAL the bass line is a more solid "THUD THUD".

I would guess that my system is not the best setup for the Saturn to shine for some reason. Maybe the Saturn is allergic to Magneplanars? :)
Hi Timoteo. Good response.

The Saturn is my first CDP and I really feel the mids and vocals are outstanding with this player.

I guess I could see where someone might consider the Saturn on the polite side.

I would love to try another player to pin it against the Saturn just to form another opinion one way or the other.

I will not go there until I add a dedicated stereo pre-amp to my combined HT/Stereo rig. This is next on the list.

Currently I am running the Saturn into a NAD Masters pre/pro and I really want to correct this.

There are times when I am blown away and there are other times I would like a little more sparkle. Guess it depends on the recording.

Playing Lyle Lovett "Road to Ensenada" as I type and that track brings me to my knees with my set-up.

I know there is the great debate but I also swapped the stock cord out and now use Synergistic Research Tesla.

I also keep the player powered up unless I am going out of town.

I seem to be pretty happy with the Saturn but now that my system is evolving and especially after I add a stereo pre I would like to borrow a Simaudio to try out and compare.

I also admit that I use a REL B1 sub with stereo and my speakers are Dynaudio Confidence C1 monitors.

Seems to be a good match but I got an itch to try another player to compare..

Thanks for your input and at times I can understand your comments and other times I am thrilled...
One problem I ran into with the home-trial Saturn I had over a weekend was that it seemed to demand pristine disks.

Some of my CDs have a few scratches on them, but generally nothing serious. The Saturn got very upset over a couple of my CDs. I took them out, looked them over, and really couldn't find anything obviously wrong with them. I listened to a lot of different brands of players at the local audio store and this is the first one that got upset with some of the CDs I like to use for testing players.

One CD started skipping a bit - barely noticeable at first - kind of like a skipped heartbeat - but then it started getting stuck and skipping in some places, and in one place it decided it had had enough and simply froze - it stopped advancing the time and muted itself. I had to skip to the next track. I put the same CD in my own player and it played fine. I had this same problem with an Apollo they had at the store too. I'm pretty sure they both use the same transport, so that shouldn't be too surprising.

If you get to home-trial the Saturn, play a lot of CDs to make sure it tracks them well before you plop down $2500.
Timoteo, do you know if the Saturn you took home for trial is current production? I'm asking, as I wonder if Rega has fixed the programming "glitches"
I borrowed the player only a few months ago, so it should be fairly current.
Trade-up program now being offered by Rega - bring in any CDP, working or not and get 15% the Apollo and 25% off the Saturn.