Rega fono Mk2 vs Naim stageline / XS3 phono stages

I recently walked into my dealers to replace a worn cartridge for my Rega planar 3 and came out with an XS2 on demo, a good price with the XS3 release. Not one to pass up a bargain, I walked out with it, along with a Rega fono Mk3. Mightly impressed over my current Rega Brio and good synergy with my ProAc Studio 140Mk2’s, but with the XS3 coming I thought the phono stage ought to be great and the XS3 would keep the box count down.

So I returned the XS2 with a view to an XS3 demo that I got when in the UK last month. Almost 2 years ago I demo’d a Rega RP8/Apheta2, Rega Aria, Supernait, with my ProAc Studio 140Mk2’s and decided that was ideal, testing the Naim Stageline and Rega Elicit 2 to reach that conclusion. Since then other interests have diverted funds and I’d reconsidered such grandeur, until the XS3/SN3 release lowered the price of XS2 & SN2 stock…

I bought a Rega fono Mk2 secondhand a few weeks ago and had been enjoying that addition to my current system. I’ve recently added a Swagman Signature Linear Power supply to that and which was a worthy step toward the Aria.

I Demo’d the the XS3 with a Rega Planar 3/Elys2 (my current set up) & Spendor A7’s. It didn’t excite me and I was left feeling that I might just prefer a Rega phono stage sound. It didn’t sound as dynamic and the the sound stage didn’t have the same presence as the Rega fono Mk2. The Demo began with a rather confused and boomy sound which had us repositioning the speakers further off the wall. That helped but it didn’t come to life as I’d hoped or remembered the Rega fono mk3/XS2 sounding.

That left me deciding to return to a path toward my ‘ideal’ and go for one of the ex-Demo Supernait 2’s available locally. With a view to upgrading my phone stage and deck in the future. I pick up the SN2 next week and look forward to seeing what that can do with my front end.

I find it difficult to get excited about the Stageline, although I have a nagging suspicion that the sound might grow on me and that part of it’s 20 years enjoying the Rega bounce. Putting a Swagman power supply on Fono Mk2 in place of the wall adapter, has clarified the sound / spaced the instruments further and I look forward to seeing how that sounds with the SN2 next week.

I do wonder if the XS3 / SN3 are a perfect for folk that want a the simplicity of a low box count Naim sound, on board phono stage ease and the other inputs give the upgrade heads the ability to find a phono stage to thier taste with these great Naim intergrated amps.

Hi Holmes, Thanks for report of your experience. Mine is that I have never found the Stageline comfortable with a Rega MM cartridge, so I can easily understand why you might prefer the Rega Fono.

That said I love the Stageline, both the S that I own now, and the N that I had when I had a MM cartridge.

It will be interesting to see how the built in phonostages are received when the new integrated amps really start shifting.



I agree with Chris. I’ve never found the Stageline N and Elys a particularly good match. The slightly dark and earthy character of the Stageline N can just end up sounding flat and muddy with the wrong cartridge match. I find it best matches brighter, lighter carts such as A-Ts and the like. The Rega Elys should match well with the Fono MM.


I guess there’s a whole world of cartridges out there to be explored, but I’m keen to get a system set up and get on with life and enjoying the music for a good while, so I’ve settled with the idea of the Rega MM’s for now and that’s as much about what my dealer sells

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I’m on a Sn2 with Rega and Elys. After trying the Rega pre I moved on to a Tisbury audio phono pre. I’m very pleased with it and bought another for the second system.It’s adjustable gain etc so I increased the gain and a little and it’s a fuller sound than the Rega. No overload etc About £150

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What were you’re thoughts on the XS3 overall?

I was listening for the phono stage and had already made my mind up that unless it was a more pleasing sound to my ears, than the XS2 / Rega fono MK3 I’d demo the week before, I’d go for an ex demo SN2.
I was not demoing in simlar conditions so it wasn’t entirely fair, but I thought the XS2 was close enough / sounded better to me, with the Rega fono than the XS3, so I would go for an XS2 or SN2 or put the money into improving my source rather than an XS3.

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