Rega/Totem combo wow!


Was out of town for work last week and managed to stop into a hifi shop downtown after work one evening.  I forget the name of the place but it was right in Cincinnati (audible elegance i believe).  I had always wanted to hear a rega/naim amplifier.  Long story short, they had a rega brio and elex r hooked up to a pair of Totem Rainmakers (which is a nice compact speaker for my space) and I have to say that I was really impressed by the speakers even through the lower powered brio.  The gentleman switched from the Brio to the Elex to hear the difference.  And yes, there was a difference. The Elex provided more bass and a little smoother sound to my ears but both amps sounded superb and although the Totems are 4ohms, I was more impressed with the little Brio handling them quite well.  I haven't really heard many people talk about totem speakers on too many threads but like I said, there seemed to be a really good match there between the regas and the totems.  Has anyone else had a similar experience with these two brands playing together and if so what were your thoughts?
mgrec42
@mgrec42,

Thanks for the post. Yep, that's Audible Elegance in Montgomery (suburb of Cincinnati). I saw the Regas and the Totems last time i was in there, but didn't take a listen. I happen to own the the Rega Elicit-R (bigger brother to the Elex-R) and I own the Rega Saturn-R CD player/transport/DAC. I find them to be fantastic sounding pieces.

Just curious, what were they using as a source? Was it a music streamer of some type? I know they carry Antipodes and Blue Sound and stream Deezer and also have a Roon Core and various Roon End Point Devices. Do you know what they were playing? Or was it vinyl?

They had both vinyl and the matching rega cd player. Not much streaming but I based all my listening through the cd player and elex r since I don't have vinyl at home. Something just seemed to blend really well with all the sources and speakers. Something i haven't experienced before. It was probably the first time I understood what the whole PrAT thing was about. I didn't get a chance to listen to the naim but the elex r is going to be my next purchase since that's what I went to demo. Just a great piece and it just sounded like music of that makes sense. 
I heard the Elicit-R and Rainmaker combo a few months back in NYC with a friend.who was looking for a system for his relatively small apartment. They did sound great but he ultimately picked the Arro. To our ears, the Arro just sounded so much fuller with a lot more weight, almost uncanny of it diminutive size.
@kalali - I had always heard that the Totem Arro had a big, full sound, especially for it's size. However, I had never seen them in person until recently. They are TINY! I was really surprised at the relative small size of all of the Totems. Really cool if they work for you. One of these days I'll have to sit down at my local dealers showroom for a listen.
They really do sound big. If you have the room to leave a couple of feet of space behind them, they can create a nicely believable soundstage much bigger than you'd expect from their tiny size cabinets. Part of it is the element of expectation where the size vs. sound combination gets a bit distorted and somehow doesn't quite add up. We also heard the larger Forest model which was very musical but the Arros made a more profound impression on me just because I didn't expect as much. I think most owners agree that Totems in general do require good clean and moderately high power despite their size.
Haven't heard Totem speakers in years but always liked them.

But I did recently hear the Rega integrateds plus the Saturn R CD player at a  dealer and was impressed - they were powering, among other things, GoldenEar Triton 3+. I liked the Saturn (and of course, the Isis, but that one's way beyond my reach) so much so that I'm keen to audition the Rega DAC-R.

I would think the Rega amps would be great partners for many British speakers.


That's a great match. You might just love the Naim Nait 5si with the Rainmakers even more.....or not.
I've heard mixed reviews on the naim with totem. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to listen to the naim. Have you heard them both with the totem? If so what we're your thoughts as far as sonic differences? I've heard people refer to rega as a poor man's naim. Unfortunately for me, nearly 2k for an amp isn't cheap by any means
Yes, you are so correct. It's kind of pointless to compare products in totally different price categories.

I have heard the little Nait with the Rainmakers and thought that it was just great. Many on the Naim Forum use the combo.

 Have not heard the Rega combo, so can't comment, but I have always liked their CD players.
I have heard the same as well about their players. I plan on going back there in a week or so and make a decision. The elex r and and naim nait 5si are closely priced. I think the naim is maybe $300 more? If the naim is that much better I will probably go for it. I was initially intruiged with the rega for the pre out for a sub as well as a few more inputs than the naim had. The only concern I was reading when it comes to the naim is in their recommended speaker wire. I use audioquest type 4 cables and with the naim I'm not sure what works best. I would hate to invest that much in am amp and then have to worry about small things like wire and then get kind of stuck with the upgrade path you can fall into. Would the audioquest wire work with naim or would I have to go with their own wire?
I didn't say the Naim was better; you should listen to both and make up your mind. I do prefer the build quality if the Naims, YMMV.

Your AQ wires will work just great with the Naim Nait. In the old days, the Naim amps did not have an output inductor in the amps, instead relying on the inductance of the Naim speaker cables to stabilize the output stage. A very elegant, if somewhat limiting, solution.

Those days are long gone and the last few generations of Naits are unconditionally stable. Now they may sound better with one brand of wire, or another, but that is true of all amps.
Sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound like you said the naim was better. I listen at low volume levels mostly. Never really push past the 9 o'clock position. Unfortunately the dealer doesn't have the 5si on display to demo. As far as low volume control goes, might have to do some more research. Any idea on which amp performs better at lower volume levels? I know that's almost impossible to answer.
Another plug for Audible Elegance! Several weeks ago I listened to a few setups. A Rega Apollo-R > Primaluna Integrated > Totem Acoustics Hawk wired with Cardas Parsec interconnects and speaker cables. It was very nice. And it is a great system for money. Zach, Mark and everyone were very accommodating. 

N
I don't have personal experience but I recall reading that Parasound amps sound good with Totems as well and their Halo line of integrateds get good reviews. Might be worth an audition. 
The Nait 5si mates a passive preamp to a high-gain power amp. iMHO it is not particularly distinguished at very low volume, YMMV.
I think that's a great match. I've seen few revs saying Rega amps works well with other speakers

Hi Fi Choice (UK) featured a six integrated amp shoot out and the Rega Elex R won.  The Naim Nait 5si finished second.  The speakers used in the test were ATC SCM40 wired with Nordost Frey cables.  All amps used Valhalla 2 power cables with a Nordost power conditioner.  Sources were Cyrus cd transport feeding a Chord Hugo dac and a Project Expression table.  With this equipment the amps were allowed to perform at their best.  The Rega was also less expensive than the Naim.  The report ended with the Rega being the most musical and engaging of the amps under test.  As always personal preference will make a difference.  This was also reported as a blind test. 

I have no personal experience with any of the amps.    

Personally a big fan of the Totem line. Heard the Model-1 for the first time in 1998 paired with a Jolida tube amp they were divine, but I couldn't afford the combo at the time... eventually, I ended up with:
a) the Rainmakers as a desktop speaker paired with a simple WooAudio Firefly DAC (and headphone amp) and a very simple AudioEngine N22 amp, very dynamic combo and beats any self-amplified speaker pair
b) the Totem Fire bookshelf as my TV speakers and kitchen music paired with a Devialet 200, great for movies, and the Devialet remote is non-directional so i can hide the amp behind the TV
and c) the Totem Earth floorstanders paired with a Chord Hugo and a Cary Audio SLI-80 signature tube amp...
for pure musicality, just as I experienced 20 years ago, the tube amp gets the best of the Totems in my opinion, it is superlatively good, especially with live material like jazz club or  concert (eg Jarrett's Koln Concert or Brubeck's Concord)
in all cases, the Totems are exceptionally well built and not that difficult to match
I was lucky to be able to purchase a demo Rega Osiris from a local audio dealer for about 34% of retail.  I have seen a used one or two go for close to that amount.  It is very good.  Because of it's list price of $9995, that it is made by Rega plus it does not look extra fancy in looks, I don't think that it has been a great seller.  It's sound I would compare to that of the upper level Naim products.  At ten thousand dollars there might be better choices, but at a significant discount would be hard to beat.  Oh yes, Rega's repair service is unbeatible.
I have a Rega Elex-R, and I tried the Rainmakers with it (a demo form my local shop), and I found the combo way too bright. I went with Dynaudio Excite X-12's at the time, and that combo sounded much better to my ears. I now have Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2's, and I am set, as I think they sound fantastic - they don't image quite as well as the X-12's, but they are a bit fuller sounding, and the highs from the ribbon tweeter are extremely detailed and sweet, without being too bright, or fatiguing.