Impressions of Rega RS3
I had the pleasure of listening to the Rega RS3 compact floorstanders on Friday afternoon.
My local dealer had a loan pair from Rega and phoned me last week to see if I was interested.
They set-up a demo with an Arcam Solo-Mini (like my own) and I took along my laptop and Beresford TC-7520 DAC (with my Chord Crimson interconnects to keep things as consistent as possible.)
I asked to have the RS3's side facing speakers pointing inwards and to have the toeing-in corrected so they were facing straight ahead and they were about a metre from the rear wall. (My own R3's are about 05.m from a rear wall and face across the width of my living room.)
The pair they had on loan from Rega were a 'special' finish. Gloss piano black. This looked great but looked better on the RS1's I heard a fortnight earlier. (My wife and I prefer the Maple finish we have already.) There was a touch of the "2001 Black Monolith" about them!
I had put together a 'demo' playlist on iTunes consisting of a mixture of rock/pop/jazz/classical/acoustic/speech etc.
The sound of the Rega RS3's was immediately familiar to me. Very open, good space and detail and tremendously musical. I would say that (compared to my R3's) the RS3's sounded a little more 'gritty' and had slightly more bass (bordering on boom until the speakers were faced inwards and the toe-in removed when the 'focus' gelled.) In a larger dem room having the side speakers facing out may have worked better, but in the smaller dem room there was a little too much interaction with the side walls. Happily the RS3's allow for such flexibility of positioning and correction of such problems is the work of seconds.
I was able to give these speakers almost an hour going through everything from Frank Sinatra (live at The Sands) to The Shamen and Primal Scream and some BBC spoken word (from their Eyewitness series) and The Hilliard Ensemble doing Bach Motets. These RS3's are happy with everything it seems. (I should not be suprised.)
However, even making allowances for the dem-room and the brand new speakers (I would like to hear them after a few weeks of daily use), they are too close in sound to my own Rega R3's to tempt me into a £684 purchase right now.
I would say though to anyone who has never heard the RS3's (or the R3's) that they are incredibly good speakers.
I did hear a better 3D soundstage from their smaller Rega RS1 standmount speakers on a previous visit (and on my own speakers at home) but I think this tends to be the case when there is far less baffle/cabinet to get in the way and was not a fault of the RS3's but just a fact of life/physics and - to a certain extent - the dem room itself. Maybe in a different/better space and when run-in it would improve.
So far then; my own R3's (at home) 4.5/5, RS1's 5/5 (for their price and size). RS3's 4/5 (but probably 4.8/5 when run in and taken out of the dem-room setting.) And not enough improvement over my R3's to make me want to reach for the plastic as a reflex action!