Rega Kyte

Hardware Review

Rega Kyte
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
standmount loudspeaker
Jason Kennedy

Rega do not follow the herd, that much is clear if you look at the evolution of their turntables which are based on different principles to nearly all others, with low mass and high rigidity being key criteria. They often go to experts in particular technological fields to help them create the parts required for their products, but when founder/designer Roy Gandy came to make an entry level speaker he went to cabinet makers as he had done with the RXI range of floorstanders already in production. There he discovered that unless he went to China it wasn’t possible to buy a bookshelf cabinet at a price that would allow Rega to sell the complete speaker for sensible money. Pretty well all affordable audio components come from the far east, Rega bucks this trend by building nearly everything themselves and outsourcing in the UK alone.

So they looked at alternatives and landed on a material that has become increasingly popular in their turntables, phenolic resin is a thermoset plastic that is found in light switches and the like that Rega use for the P1 platter and for the brace the connection between tonearm and main bearing on many of their turntables. It is very rigid and both thermally and chemically stable, another benefit is that it can be precisely moulded and has a good finish, qualities that suit it to many purposes, but no one had made a loudspeaker cabinet out of the stuff before.

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I spoke to design engineer Ashton Wagner who explained that the difficulty with developing a phenolic resin cabinet is that the moulds required are extremely expensive and while it’s possible to 3D print a prototype that wouldn’t have the same properties as it’s a different type of plastic. He explained that in order to control vibration in the relatively thin walls of the cabinet Rega place ceramic plates (similar to the material used for the P10 turntable platter) on the walls and use wooden bracing to link the sides, top and bottom together. The final element is a composite wooden front baffle that provides mounting for the drivers and adds rigidity to the box. I asked why the cabinet has a sloped sides such that it won’t sit ‘straight’ on a stand without the T leg and discovered that the nature of the moulding process means you needs a gradient from the open to the closed end of the moulding.

The drive units are the same as those used in Rega’s RX1 with the MX-125 mid/bass unit that’s made in house coupled to a ZRR tweeter that is made to Rega’s specifications. Neither are particularly high tech but the fact that the tweeter is used across the company’s speaker range and the midbass is very similar to the DX-125 (it has a plastic rather than metal phase plug) found in all models is a good sign. The single wire terminals are arranged vertically on the back beneath the reflex port and above the fixing points for the inverted T shape support that is supplied with the speaker. The latter is a flat piece of phenolic that makes the front baffle vertical but can’t be easily fixed to a stand, with a speaker stand you need the steel Kyte stand adaptor that bolts onto the back and supports the front on rubber damping feet.

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The Kyte can easily be used without either support, the base is only five degrees off flat so the tilt is not very great. The review was done largely with the stand adaptors in place but they were also removed toward what was supposed to be the end of the process, but the improvement that this made meant that the listening had to go on for a bit longer. This is probably because Blu-tacking the actual cabinet to a stand provides more damping and absorbs some of the extraneous energy in the box compared with fixing the metal adaptor in the same way.

Sound quality
Most of the listening was done using a Rega Brio amplifier, when the Kyte was announced last year it was as part of a complete vinyl replay system called System One which included a Planar 1 turntable and the new Io integrated amplifier. I don’t have an Io amp so the Brio which is the next model up seemed the best choice, it certainly has a rather more appropriate balance than the Moor Amps Angel 6 that usually drives speakers under review. My listening room is a little too large and bass light for a speaker of this size so they were placed close to the wall on 60cm Stand Design metal stands and used with streaming digital and turntable sources.

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The Kyte’s strength lies in its midrange speed and coherence, it can deliver decent bass for the box size and the highs are fine but it’s in the emotional centre of the music that it comes into its own. The balance is a hint on the dry side so the smoother the music the more relaxed and fluid it sounds but this does not stope them drawing the listener in and keeping him or her fully engaged. The brilliant finger picking of Leo Kottke’s 6 & 12 String Guitar sounds as inspired as ever through the Kytes, all the harmonics are intact and you get a good sense of the reverb on the recording, but most of all you are enthralled by the combination of virtuosity and inspiration behind the tunes. For some mysterious reason this album is not on the usual streaming services which is a major oversight, but it sounds fabulous on vinyl.

I also put on Can’s Ege Bamyasi which is not always the most accessible album for the sober listener but by the time One More Night got underway it had me in its grasp, Jaki Liebezeit and Holger Czukay’s rhythms proving impossible to resist. A live track from the Grateful Dead in the same year, Cumberland Blues, is pretty dense with multiple instruments and the occasional voice jamming in a complex style that can come undone with less capable speakers. Here the sound doesn’t fill the room as well as bigger and pricier speakers but it remains highly coherent, which means your brain doesn’t have to struggle to appreciate what the musicians are doing but can bathe in their joyous noise.

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Little Feat’s Long Distance Love is a sumptuous production and suits this speaker down to a tee in a tonal sense but you also get to hear the beauty of the singer and the song, as ever with Rega the hardware is there for the music first and foremost. This should be the case with all hi-fi gear but it seems easy for engineers to get side tracked by aspects of the process that undermine the crucial connection that music provides, this is not the case here.

The Kyte’s aesthetics will inevitably be as significant a factor in their popularity as their sonic capabilities and it will be interesting to see how well a public that loves shiny boxes will take to their matte finish. However the Kyte is a capable speaker that can bring out the emotional intent and musical skills of pretty much everything you play, add in Rega’s unique lifetime guarantee and they look like excellent value to us.

Specifications: 

Type: Reflex loaded two-way standmount loudspeaker
Crossover frequency: not specified
Drive units:
Mid/bass – 125mm paper cone
Tweeter – 19mm soft dome
Nominal frequency response: not specified
Nominal impedance: 6 Ohms
Connectors: single wire binding posts
Sensitivity: 89dB 1w/1m
Dimensions HxWxD: 325 x 188 x 232mm
Weight: 3.7kg
Finishes: black
Warranty: lifetime

Price: 
£499
stand adaptor £45
Manufacturer Details: 

Rega Research
T 01702 333071
www.rega.co.uk