Jolida JD100 versus Rotel RCD-1072
I recently got an awesome deal on a beautiful black Rotel RCD-1072 from a fellow polkie. I put it up against my Jolida JD100. These are two players that are always mentioned on the short lists “bang for the buck” CDP’s. But comparos are hard to find. A couple folks asked that I post the results of my shootout, so here goes. I’d intended to spend a few weeks listening to both before making any decisions about them but after two extended critical listening sessions and further casual listening the differences are strikingly apparent. Disclaimer: I don’t claim any expertise as a reviewer.
I evaluated the players as follows:
Warmed up both players by playing a full length CD in each.
Played a track or portion of track in one player, swapped disk into other player to repeat the track/section, then proceeded through the track and swapped back. Often I repeated the same track or section more than once in each player.
Varied the volume levels up/down to ensure no volume bias, especially in areas of critical difference
Took notes throughout to record impressions real-time. I used the book “The complete guide to high end audio” by Robert Harley as my guide to critical listening (thank you DK for recommending this book).
Equipment: Audioquest Sidewinder IC’s for both players, ModWright SWL 9.0SE tube preamp, Aragon 8008 MkII SS amplifier, Polk LSi-15 speakers. The JD100 is equipped with Shuguang Psvane 12AX7 tubes ($80).
Audiogon Blue Book values as or November 2010: Jolida JD100 – $570, Rotel RCD-1072 - $430
Albums: Parades – Foreign Tapes, Gorillaz – Plastic Beach, Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown
Tonal Balance: The Rotel is a tad brighter than the Jolida. But I don’t perceive the Jolida to be rolled off at all. I noted a couple of times that the upper-mid to treble region on the Rotel was a bit hard or boxy compared to the Jolida. This was fairly subtle and may just be the tubed versus non-tubed player situation. The midrange on both players seemed about equal tonally. In fact they are both pretty damn good in the mids… very nice to listen to. In the bass spectrum the Jolida beat the Rotel hands down. The Jolida had noticeably better depth and extension. I perceived the Jolida bass as “visceral”. The bass images were three dimensional, clear and deep. You felt them and could perceive them moving in space. The Rotel bass was subdued in comparison, the images more two dimensional.
The soundstage width of the players was about equal, extending speaker to speaker (my speakers are about 12 feet apart, my listening position about 9 feet from each. Speakers are slightly toed in.). The depth of the Rotel staging is fairly flat while the Jolida has quite a bit more perceived depth. The Rotel seems to focus on vocals. The vocalist image is centered and solid and stands forward a bit, in other words it’s very nice. The remaining instruments sit back and all occupy the same somewhat flat layer. The Jolida has equivalent vocal position in the soundstage as the Rotel but provides more layering of the other instruments giving a sense of deeper fwd-aft soundstage.
In terms of imaging and detail the the Jolida literally kicks butt on the Rotel. The Jolida images exist in dynamic 3 dimensional space. They have air, bloom, and detail. You can focus on them and pick out the nuances of the timbre of the instruments quite clearly. On the Rotel you couldn’t hear the same detail except perhaps in whatever was front and center. A couple of times in my notes I wrote “lack of timbre” and “lack of detail” on the Rotel. The Jolida gives bells and acoustic guitar plucks (and similar sounds like snares) a nice “ring” and decay that the Rotel doesn’t quite match. I’d describe the Rotel soundstage as slightly veiled. As I described earlier the vocals (or center-front instrument) stand out nicely. Most everything else exists slightly behind that and is veiled in comparison to the Jolida. A couple of times I listened to a track on the Rotel and didn’t really notice that an instrument was present until I heard it on the Jolida and then went back to the Rotel. Then I could find it. Maybe another way to describe the situation is that the Jolida is more transparent. More of the instruments are represented by their own image, and you see deeper into the soundstage, whereas in the Rotel some of the images were combined with others, presented flatter, and sometimes hard to discern. In my listening notes I recorded several times that the accompanying instruments were “muted” and “flat” on the Rotel.
The images from the Jolida are bigger than the Rotel. This isn’t necessarily an advantage. There were a couple of times that the soundstage of the Rotel seemed “cleaner” than the Jolida due to the Jolida images overlapping. Also, the Jolida could be described as being forward in comparison. I prefer a more laid back presentation, but there’s always trade-offs, aren’t there?
In my system the Jolida JD100 is a more musical and engaging player than the Rotel RCD-1072. The Jolida provides a more three dimensional, transparent, and visceral musical experience.
As always YMMV. Synergy is a key issue and many folks love their Rotel players. I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m dissing on it. This is strictly a relative comparison. As I’ve learned here on CP you need to lay your ears on gear to really know what’ll be best for your system. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this player. I highly recommend that folks try multiple players in their system. You may not know what you’re missing.