REGA Research has so far resisted the obvious marketing draw of designing a streamer, but the new Saturn Mk3 makes a concession to Rega loyalists who want to look forward while retaining some ties to the past. The Saturn Mk3, says the UK company, is essentially two products in one – a high-specification CD transport and a DAC with bells and whistles.
Connectivity options are aplenty on board, catering for up to and including 24-bit/192kHz resolution. The Saturn MK3 has two optical inputs, two coaxial inputs, a fully asynchronous USB and an added “direct digital output” from the CD playback section. Rega says this ensures the Saturn Mk3 integrates perfectly into any system and makes it the perfect partner for the forthcoming Rega Elicit Mk5 integrated amplifier.
“The Saturn Mk3 uses our proven digital-to analogue-converter and analogue output amplifier technology coupled with a pair of Wolfson WM8742 DAC ICs. The CD section power supply is a result of the research and development of our reference CD player,” Rega tells us.
The unit has a “high stability master clock and high capacity power supply in the CD circuitry, high performance PLL digital interface receiver, isolated digital inputs and high performance power supply architecture in the DAC circuitry. Signal switching between the CD and DAC functions are performed in the digital-to-analogue converter stage. The signal path of the CD section in CD mode is kept to a minimum.”
The USB DAC input has “asynchronous operation at sample rates of 44.1 to 192kHz with a bit rate of up to 24 bits. The USB input has the same galvanic isolation as used in the Rega DAC-R. The USB uses dedicated drivers in the computer, enabling full ASIO operation, thus eliminating signal degradation caused by generic windows-based drivers.”
PC users will need to download the Windows driver for hooking up the Saturn Mk3, while no driver is required for Mac OS. Both the transport and DAC sections of the unit are fully remote controllable via the supplied Solaris remote handset.
Of course, there will be questions over why the DAC section doesn’t do higher resolution, but Rega is known for following its own timetable and not adopting trends. For those still into CD and with extensive music libraries on their computers, and demanding the best possible optical disc performance for the money, the Saturn Mk3 could be a very tempting proposition.