Rega first earned its stripes when it started selling vinyl turntables way back in the 1970s. And to this day, its Rega Planar models remain global benchmarks in the world of vinyl, such as the excellent REGA RP10. But at the end of ‘90s, the analogue specialist turned its attention to digital. In its time, the Rega Apollo R made waves with its analogue-style musicality, which singled it out from other products. Today, the Apollo R and Saturn R CD players and the DAC R are also counted among Hi-Fi’s most indispensable benchmark products.
But Roy Gandy then decided to venture into what has traditionally been American and Japanese territory by releasing a no-holds-barred CD player to complement its legendary amplifier, the Osiris. So, naturally he came up with the legendary Isis!
This CD player has a large housing made from a single piece of solid aluminium, which explains why it weighs 19kg overall! The front panel displays the brand’s trademark simplicity, with just one large display in centre flanked by 2 buttons on each side: Play, Stop, Skip Forward and Skip Backwards. It is top-loading, with a lid on top of the box for loading the CD.
The rear panel is particularly well-appointed, with asymmetrical RCA outputs doubled up by symmetrical XLR versions. It also has a Toslink optical digital output and an S/PDIF digital output, as well as a USB input which lets you connect it directly to a computer with a USB port. This means you can stream MP3 and WMA files and internet radio directly from your computer in the full DAC quality offered by the ISIS. The quality of the connectors easily lives up to the high ambitions of the product. When you take a look inside the housing, this CD player is full to the rafters! The first thing to catch your eye will be the two 50VA toroidal transformers, which power the digital and analogue sections respectively. But there are also several regulation, filtering and stabilisation components that take care of the analogue, digital, logical and mechanical sections separately. All of the internal components and production are of a very high quality.
We tested this CD player with its partner in sound, the Rega Osiris amplifier.
The attack is swift and powerful, but the sound quality remains nuanced and subtle at all times. Each instrument sounds distinct and separate, giving your favourite music extraordinary clarity! The contrast between the low and high registers is striking. The timbres are full-bodied and effervescent. They work wonders on acoustic instruments, and vocals and piano in particular. The overall neutrality gives the sound an impressive sense of realism. This CD player can do almost everything its competitors twice or three times the price can. It has to be one of the top 3 or 4 CD players currently available on the market. Like the Osiris, the Rega ISIS CD player is the fruit of over 30 years of passion for and dedication to audio and sound reproduction. And it shows! Bravo Sir Gandy – an absolute benchmark! Franck
D/A converters: 2 x Burr Brown PCM 1794
Loading system: Top-loading lid
RCA output: Asymmetrical
XLR output: Symmetrical
Digital Input: USB 16b/44/48 KhZ
Digital outputs: Toslink optical and S/PDIF
Multi-function remote control: SOLAR ISIS
Dimensions: 434 x 350 x 112 mm
Weight: 19 Kg