In comparison to what? They are a good product for the money. They are better than Denon, Yamaha, Pioneer Elite etc., but they are not going to compete with McIntosh, Krell, etc in their price range. I would say they compete well with Parasound, Higher end Marantz, etc.
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Rotel gear is very good in its price category. Well engineered, solidly built and with very good sound quality, that will tend to be more robust (in a positive way) than delicate and nuanced, but never shrill or edgy. Power supplies are typically quite robust. Theo's comments are right on target, imo.
There are a number fairly recent reviews, but you might have to extrapolate from these to the most current models which may have replaced the one reviewed. Here's what I found in a few minutes on Google:
RB-1080 amplifier: TAS Issue 132
RB-1080 amplifier: Stereophile Vol.25 No.3 March, 2002
RC-1090 preamplifier: TAS Issue 132
RA-1062 Integrated Amp: TAS Issue 149
RA-1070 Integrated Amp: www.tnt-audio.com
RCD-1072 CD Player: TAS Issue 146
They have a solid rep for good value and taking care of the customer,but a couple of pieces recently had firmware problems which Rotel is/has solved and may have spiked upward the complaints numbers.
At any rate this page branches into a wealth of info including a wonderful review collective and PDF downloads page.
Club Rotel page with good links
I have owned Rotel equipment myself, and after much research and listening, I thought it was the best bang for the buck. You can get into multi-channel for about 1 grand, or 2 channel stereo for approx 600 bucks, for what you are paying you get some nice goods. It is also of my opinion that Rotel will out perform other companies mentioned in this chain, and they are superior to Outlaw (got in a huge fight with a buddy as to what sounded better)
In the instances where I called Rotel service, they were very accomodating and friendly.
I am still using these rotel components and I would put them up against 95% of the current high end gear!
Joseph Chow feels the RHA10 tuner is in the top 10 ever built, top 5 with his mods. I also use 2 1080 200 WPC amps for my surround speakers. For the $$ they are hard to beat.
RHB10 200W 1993-1995 $2700 amplifier
RHT10 16 pre-sets 1993-1995 $1499 preamp
RHA10 1993-1995 $1800 tuner Modified by;
c/o Component Plus, USA
11713 New Albion Dr.
Gold River, CA 95670
In the RIGHT application they can make beautiful music. In particular, I'm familiar with two systems that feature Rotel integrated amplifiers feeding Vandersteen 1C and and 2Ce speakers that serve all recorded music extremely well. However, I've also heard a less than satisfactory pairing of Rotel separates of the same vintage with a pair of
Thiel CS2.2s. I don't think there is anything wrong with either component, but the combination was not very pleasing. The lesson for me was that blanket statements regarding the performance of any brand or model of equipment should be regarded with healthy skepticism. Try before you buy!
I still own a mac mc252 which is beautiful to behold but pales in comparison to my RB1090, and previously auditioned RB 1080. The preamp I use is also the 1090(forgot the letters). The 1090's offer excellent sonic performance and in my mind give up only to the vacum tube equipment as far as sonics go, of course and obviously there is a sacrifice as far as power is concerned. So the match up is not a fair one. It clearly eclipses the NAD and lower powered Macs. I think for the money and sonically they stand up on their own to many comparisons and are nothing to be ashamed of. Terrific stuff...good luck and enjoy.
funny you bring up the thiels 2.2
i originally powered the thiels 2.2s with the mc252 and was terribly disappointed...but when i tried the 1080 and subsequently upgraded to the 1090 things were considerably different. the rotel handled the very difficult speaker considerably better and brought them to life. since then i use the rotel to power a set of usher dancers which makes wonderful music
My first "audiophile" purchase was a Rotel pre-amp/amp pair. I exchanged the pre-amp within a week or two for a more expensive Classe unit, but lived with the amp for a couple of years. I still have it in my second system.
In short, I think their amps are better than their pre-amps. Not fancy looking, but nice big power supplies and clean insides. Really a good value, and good sound. A bit "lush" as others have said.
The pre-amps on the other hand seem to be trying to have a lot of "features" at the expense of clarity. A variety of pre-amps (admittedly, all a bit more expensive) sounded much better in my system.
Currently my system is based around a Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista Integrated Amplifier and I have gone through many brands including NAD, Rotel, AR Cambridge, Mission/Cyrus, ARC, Mark Levinson.
As a spare system, I still have my Rotel RA-820BX which dislodged the NAD 3020 which is coming close to 20 years now! This is running a pair of Mission 70 speakers and still sounding great!
My CD source is a Rotel RCD990 which is over 8 years now. I tested many CD players at the time and during the last few years and I have not found anything below 5000$ with a big enough improvement to make we want to change.
I have a Rotel RB1080 and RC1090. Together they do seem to have synergy, but you don't hear much about them because they are considered "budget". I think they perform very well at their price point.
Stereophile said the RB 1090 is one of the best buys in all of audio becuase of its price/performance. Not that I always agree with them. I've never heard the RB 1090. So, I don't know about that.
All this being said, it's definately not the at the pinnacle of high end, but it doesn't cost $10k either. Its closer to $1-2 k.
I think it is well known that Rotel makes excellent sounding amps. To out do them your going to spend considerbly more and the improvements are in very small increments. If you want to bring these amps to a higher level you can invest in a better preamp, maybe consider a quality tube preamp. I didn't find Rotel preamps as satisfying but maybe the new line preamps offered by Rotel have improved.
I don't like Rotel stuff. While I haven't heard every component under every circumstance I found the amps either bright, boomy in the bass, or veiled / fuzzy sounding. The CDP wasn't much better. Cambridge audio is pretty bad too.
I like NAD better and generally NAD is fuzzy but none of the other faults of Rotel. IMHO Rotel is just another budget mfg'r who has positioned themselves to the "audiophile" market.
There are comparably priced Harman Kardon, Sony and Denon amps that are in the league, and maybe better, than the Rotel RA-01, etc. Just not hyped as audiophile stuff here in the US. Nor are they set up for critical listening in stores. But check out the Brit mag's (or hifichoice online) and you will find a more open minded viewpoint.
Cdc, a local stereo shop called Advanced Audio carried the Rotel line for a while. This means very little unless you understand that they normally carry the very best and the most expensive gear. Anyway I will repeat what someone said one time in the forums & I agree with it. "One mans bright sounding amplifier is another mans extended amplifier". I personally do not use a Rotel amp as my main amp but I'm looking to buy one soon again as an alternative. Keep in mind that all we are really trying to do is match up the amp to our particular speakers. It is good that people do have differences of opinions otherwise if we all liked the same things, the forums would be boring or non exsistant at all. Your opinion is appreciated.
I agree with CDC...I have never been that impressed with midfi Rotel gear...I heard a recent all ROtel setup and found the sound bright,thin,hard,fatiguing, with very little bass extension..I find comparably priced NAD gear to be far more musical albeit maybe less "accurate"...at any rate...this is just my .02...they also...like NAD...had some horrible past reliabilty issues...although these seemed to have been addressed...
Phasecorrect you could be right on some Rotel gear but like any other Mfgr, all given models manufactured at different times are not always equal in sonic performance. You shouldn't condem the whole Rotel line over one system you heard. The type of front end & speakers you have, will have a major impact on the final results. I built my system around my speakers as I think putting most of the money here is three quarters the battle.
I prefer NADs to Rotels. Like Phasecorrect said, I found Rotel's sound to be a little too thin and less musical. The NADs I have heard seemed a little more dynamic. NADS are cheaper. Additionally, I don't know if you need to spend 50% more to do better than Rotel. I went to a tube integrated that, for me, far outdid either a NAD or a Rotel setup. I've heard most of the NADs and Rotels because the shops where I live only carry these two products. Bummer!
PS. Don't get me wrong. Rotel products are great and if I didn't have what I have, I'd be happy to own a Rotel. I thought the RCD-1072 was a good fit with my tube integrated when I tried it (I know, this is the Amp forum). Who knows, maybe my speakers (axiom M60s) shape my opinions. I've only ever heard people describe Axioms as, at best, "neutral" and at worst, "bright".
My friend owns Northwest Audio Labs in Corvallis Oregon. He sold Rotel for many years. I owned Rotel power amps, pre amps, and CD players. He recently switched to NAD (many years back he switched from NAD to Rotel but that's another story) and I currently own an NAD C162 pre amp and C542 CD player. I have heard their integrated and power amps with many different speakers much as I have Rotel. They are both great products and great values. Rotel is built like a tank. Much heavier build quality than NAD. But whatever money is not going into heavy build quality for NAD must be going into sound. In my opinion the NAD pre amp sounds better than the Rotel, and I should know as I replaced my Rotel with my current NAD. Both are very musical and mate well with different equipment. The best way I can describe the difference is that I now enjoy all of my music regardless of the genre where before I was not satisfied with my Rotels ability to communicate every genre equally well. Another thing I noticed, and please don't laugh, is that the NAD had a different rhythm. My old funk cd's got my feets a movin'. So not only was my classical and jazz records making more sense so was my popular music given back the rhythm that made me like it to begin with. Anyway 'nuff said.
I must add that I recently replaced my Denon AVR1801 with my first set of seperates; a Rotel RC-1070 preamp & Rotel RB-1070 amp. My reviewers have commented about the brightness of the preamp. I must say I have never heard the clarity of the bass response so clear as I have with the seperates. My powered towers (Polk RT20p) now have come to life - I actually have had to turn the amp/bass down on the towers. I am very happy with my purchase which came to $1236 with tax.
I just replaced a pair of mono blocks with a 1070. For $700 I can't imagine what someone would expect that would be better. I have warmed it up for about a month and it sounds damn good. As to the guy with bass speaker output problems - what are you driving - the Grand Slams? This amp has mega power. It is a tad bright. I have it matched with an Adcom pre. As stated above an opinion is just that. I've used some entry level Class A equipment and had to replace my monos and for $700 I am real pleased with the sound of the Rotel. NAD is nice. I'd like McIntosh or (in keeping with Rotel) Classe but I am a frugal audio enthusiast and a best bang for the buck kind of person. I haven't heard the NAD 162 separates but I am sure that they sound nice too.
If you like an " extended" high and a bit forwarding sound or should I say in a nicer manner " it brings you closer to the soundstage" as some reviewers stated, then Rotel sound will be your cup of tea. Nothing wrong with Rotel gears...they are not bright but too much up front type of sounding often resulting a feeling of listenning fatigue .
Depends on your budget. I've been through lots of Rotel gear, and some of it is better than others. If you're loaded, you can buy better sounding gear. One thing I've noticed about big bucks gear vs. inexpensive gear is that if you want great bass definition (that is, not just big bass, but big 'defined' bass), you have to spend money. But for "low-end high-end", Rotel can't be beat. And it's durable. From what I've owned, the RB 980 bx is a GREAT amp for under $300. Better than far more expensive amps I've tried. The RCD 975 is a real nice CD player for $300, and the RC 995 is a good preamp for $400. I almost sold my Rotel RB990 amp until I tried it in my second system, and now it's a keeper--I have it paired to the RC995 and B&W CDM9nt speakers, and it's great--esp for the money. That illustrates another point--some components sound better with certain other components and in certain rooms. Enjoy!
Rotel has exceptional customer service. I believe their amplifiers are built robustly and perform like workhorses with a robust and rather forward sound. Unfortunately, my experience with their preamps only tested how good their service and customer service departments were; I had three consecutive preamps returned with electronics issues before being upgraded for free to the next higher model. That unit was defective within a year as well. It sounded fairly good, but I don't think I'd buy Rotel again. I've owned Arcam equipment in the past as well, and I think that might be a better choice for a bit more money.
My Rotel pre has been exceptional from a quality vs. cost standpoint. It is absolutely dead silent in the system (as is the volume control). Very nice phone stage as well. No repair issues whatsoever.
It took a PS Audio PCA-2 at 4 times the price (5 times once I buy a phono preamp)to take make me see what I was missing...
I purchased a Rotel 971 preamp many years ago. It has performed flawlessly. Never one problem. I hear nothing from it causing me to initiate pursuing replacement. It is paired with an older Hafler 9180 driving Thiel CS2's. The sound is non-fatiguing, uncolored, detailed, realistic and so forth. I would get to a Rotel dealer and take your time doing a lot of auditioning. Know what you want from these products. Take note of the dealer's speakers used, room size, program material, etc. Best to bring your own vinyl or cd's. Focus on what you hear and not what the sales rep is saying.
To my ears, Rotel has both good and bad traits:
-Very good build quality and attractive looking faceplates
-Crystal clear and sometimes "glass-like" clarity
-Hyped up detail
-Soundstage is very forward, like you're in the front row
-Voiced to sound dynamic (can be good or bad depending on perspectives)
-A bit too forward in the upper-mids/treble
-Not enough wamrth
-Bass is lacking in texture and definition
Another area of bad is that all-in-one Rotel systems are usually set up with B&W speakers. Depending on the B&W speaker demonstrated, it can bring out all of the negative traits in Rotel.
Pair Rotel with speakers on the warm side, and those without metal dome tweeters.
Rotel have kept costs down with Chinese manufacture, some of their Power Amps are ok mid-fi products at reasonable cost. The Michi Power Amps were quite good. They generally have a tendency towards being bright. They lack the transparency, spaciousness, air and overall resolution, musicality and dynamics of higher end Power Amps. They have a pretty good rep. for reliability.
The Pre-Amps are best avoided IMO.