Rega’s Elex-R and Elicit-R stereo amplifiers have collected eight What Hi-Fi? Awards between them since their arrival in 2014, so please forgive us for being pretty excited by the arrival their more premium sibling.
First spied at The Bristol Hi-Fi Show back in February, the Aethos is Rega’s brand-new integrated amp, promising next-level performance thanks to the combination of a fully discrete FET based line amplifier, Class A circuitry throughout the pre-amplifier stage, polypropylene capacitors throughout the signal path, regulated supplies for both the amplification and driver stages and a high-current output stage comprised of four 160-watt transistors per channel, to name just a few of its features. And yes, that's all housed in a newly designed chassis too.
The power amplifier used in the Aethos is a higher power and supposedly improved version of the one used in the Elex-R and Elicit-R, delivering 156 watts per channel into 6 ohms, and combining a low impedance driver with the transistors to good thermal stability and lower standing currents in the driver stage.
The Aethos uses the volume control and line amplifier originally developed for the Elex-R, too, but improvements have also been made here in the name of better performance. The level and tracking between the right and left channels is set by the close tolerance parts in the pre-amplifier circuit and less by the actual potentiometer itself, which Rega says further prevents the mismatch of channels due to volume control tracking irregularities, and improves the performance of the potentiometer.
The Aethos has a switchable direct input and a pre-amplifier output in an effort to play ball with a wide variety of system, and care has been taken not to obstruct the headphone output signal path by ensuring the speaker switching is performed by the output mute relay.
As with its siblings, there's no DAC; only line-level inputs feature on its rear panel. Another omission is a phono stage – including one would, Rega says, have obstructed its “no compromise” goal to “to deliver your music as faithfully as possible” – but the company would naturally point you to its Aura MC phono stage, of which it has been designed to complement.