Editor choice

Rega Fono MM MK3 Review

1

Smarter-and cleverer

Phono stage

FOR Detailed and spacious performance; timing; design

AGAINST Nothing

The aim was to align the MM’s styling with the MC, but the also sounds better

There is always room for improvement; though sometimes that margin is so fractional it can be difficult to comprehend just how it could be achieved.

Take the Rega Fono MM as an example of said conundrum. Since the MK2 version received a What Hi-Fi? Award, it has had plenty of competition, but none sufficient to relieve it of its crown. Even now, that incarnation remains one of the finest phono stages available for the money.

Yet Rega has decided to release a third generation of its amplifier for moving- magnet cartridges, and has also managed to wring out another few drops of performance from an already-superlative product. We reckon that’s commitment to the cause if ever we saw it.

Family resemblance

The main motivation appears to have been aesthetic, to bring the Fono MM’s design into line with its moving-coil stablemate. It would be difficult to exaggerate just what a difference those kind of alterations to an amplifier’s chassis, regardless of incentive, can make to the eventual performance.

Inside, though, modifications are minimal. Rega wisely taking an “If it ain’t broke…” approach, and making only minor – but obviously well chosen – tweaks to the board in order to reduce noise levels.

Given that our only minor qualm with its predecessor was that some competitors offered a little more in the way of absolute detail – though none performing so charmingly across the board – in theory, the Fono MM has now boarded up the only remaining possible weakness in the defence of its title.

The virtue of simplicity

The MK3 is certainly noticeably sleeker than its nearest forebear, but the genius in its simplicity remains. There is just one button, which is for power, and. to its rear, one set of phono inputs with earthing peg and the AC socket. It is worth noting that Rega advises you to use the Fono MM MK3 only with its supplied PS1 mains plug, though a replacement will set you back.

Placing the Fono MM MK3 between a Clearaudio Concept deck and our reference amplifier, we play Frightened Rabbit’s Painting Of A Panic Attack, and our testing

“That Award-winning sound of the MK2 oozes through our  speakers, yet with the lowered noise floor offering more clarity”

could have been over before the closing bars of the opening track, so clear was the the Fono’s talent.

Rega has once again succeeded in all it set out to do. That Award-winning sound of the MK2 oozes through our speakers, yet with the lowered noise floor offering more clarity and expanding the horizons of its dynamic range. We could have stopped there, taken it to the photography studio and trotted off to write this review.

Delicate confidence

But why would we. when we could continue to bask in this machine’s bold, powerful strokes, tempered by that confident yet delicate handling of timing and dynamics Rega has for so long mastered in its turntables and amplifiers?

A wide-open soundstage has been another of the company’s trademarks over recent years, and again you might need binoculars to search for its boundaries. Texturally sparse arrangements such as the aforementioned Rabbit’s The Wreck benefit

The MK3 is sleeker than its forebears, with just one button for power

immensely from the space offered to each line, allowing a sea of reverb to lap against the shore, while a taut but generous serving of bottom end offers solidity to Scott Hutchison’s vocal, even in falsetto.

Trademark sound

Meanwhile more energetic offerings are engaged with that similarly trademark Rega punch and enthusiasm. Presented with such recordings, the Rega shows off a fine sense of rhythm and a confidence to be precise without being regimental, letting dynamics drive the percussion as much as having a firm grip on timing.

Difficult as it was to see just how Rega could eke out any more from the Fono MM. with the MK3. it has essentially succeeded. It’s just like the MK2, only with less noise to disturb its class-leading performance. What better way for Rega to strike the ball back into its rivals’ court?

WHAT HI-FI? says VERDICT

Rega has managed to take a near-perfect product and squeeze yet more improvements from it

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Rega Fono MM Mk3 High-performance Phono Preamplifier

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Last update was in: 2017-12-10 2:40 am
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Rega Fono MM MK3 Review

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