I learned a lot by comparing the Apollo to my reference Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista SACD player (a $6500 unit with vacuumtube analog outputs). The more costly player offered greater smoothness, more highfrequency “air,” even more finely resolved details, better soundstage width and depth, and perhaps a touch better bass. But the surprising thing was that despite these performance differences the overall gestalt of the two players was actually quite similar. In fact, I found it tempting to picture the Musical Fidelity as the more mature and polished embodiment of core sonic virtues that were already present in nascent form in the Rega.
This is precisely why the Apollo deserves to be considered a breakthrough product. While other mid-priced CD players have been edging toward sonic excellence by making gradual, incremental improvements, the Rega has moved forward with giant, confident strides to deliver sound reminiscent of that of multi-thousand-dollar players. Though this CD player’s musical reach may occasionally exceed its grasp, the Apollo takes listeners closer to the absolute sound than any other sub-$1000 player I’ve heard. Once again, Rega has given us a digital player that offers breakthrough performance at a bargain price.