Well I promised everyone a follow-up on the performance of this new beast. As reference, I can only compare my system’s current performance with that of its predecessor, the Onkyo TX-SR600 receiver & my brother’s B&K Pre/NAD Amp separates. All system components remained constant except for the exchange of the receiver.
As I mentioned in Part I of my review, the Rotel is all about the power, clean power. It was clearly evident in my quick THD test that in the past my Onkyo was adding extra “flavor” to the music. Cranking up the volume on the Rotel to MAX with a source muted resulted in absolutely no audible hiss from the main speakers. Only the PSW-404 gave a slight rumble, as it was clearly evident that the 200W amp used in it was far more inferior to those found in the Rotel. Audible hiss out of the old Onkyo began showing up around 89-90 clicks of the volume knob. (The old Onkyo was capable of going from 0-100 volume clicks, the Rotel only 0-90.) Granted this was far higher than I would ever play the system, distortion comes into play on high peaks of intense DVD movie playback.
Rotel’s capability to auto-detect the various digital input sources were comparable to the Onkyo’s capability. Digital signals were detected properly and the sound output was directed to the correct speakers in the system. From DVD movies in Dolby Digital & DTS to surround sound encoded music in DVD-A and DTS formats, the Rotel kept up with the mix. A nice feature new to me in this unit was the front panel display showing which channels are currently being used along with the ability to temporarily “turn off” the front panel display if the light it emits is annoying to you or you want to eliminate all sources of “noise” in the system. A fairly annoying feature (that may be disabled via remote or menu but I haven’t attempted to find it yet) was the 4-5 second OSD the receiver would broadcast on the screen every time the receiver would detect a new digital audio format being decoded. This is mostly prevalent during the very beginning of DVD playback as the menu screen loads up and/or the movie begins to play. The OSD tends to temporarily obscure information on the DVD Main Menu or credits/action at the beginning of a movie.
Another nice feature that Rotel included was the manual on/off selection of the multi-source input found on the back of the unit. These 7-channel multi-source inputs are generally used for DVD-A or SACD playback units, however they can be used for any future needs as well. By enabling the Mult-Input, the receiver by-passes all processing and sends the signal directly to amps and pre-outs. This allows you to continue to use the digital optical/coax out on the back of your DVD player for movie mode and still have the analog inputs connected to the receiver for DVD-A audio mode without having to manually enter your DVD setup screen and tell it what audio output source to use. Other convenient features of the 1055 are adjustable crossover settings from OFF to a range of 40-120Hz in 20 Hz increments. In OFF mode, the receiver internally sets the x-over to 100Hz for all speakers set to “Small” and send a full range signal to the subwoofer. This eliminates the “double” filtering of the LFE channel and allows you to use the subs variable low-pass x-over to dial in to the exact point that you find matches your system. The subwoofer level is also adjustable (-10db to 10db) for individual modes such as Dolby, DTS, Music, Stereo and Mult-Channel. Makes life easy when you like to run your bass a little bit higher for music and stereo w/o having to constantly fiddle with the volume knob on the back of the sub (Set-it and Forget-it). The biggest selling feature to me was the Rotel’s ability to “re-direct” the receiver’s amps from Main Left & Right to Center Backs 1 & 2. With the purchase of an external power amp for the Main’s channels, Rotel does not let the internal amps go to waste. The redirect allows the 1055 to go from 5.1 mode to 6.1 or 7.1 modes. Rotel built the 1055 for 7.1 capabilities but made a design choice to not include the additional amps needed to drive a 7.1 system. This allowed them to shave some costs in building the 1055 and provide it at a cheaper price, however allowed the feature of 7.1 for the “power users” that they knew existed out in the market. After all, they conducted a survey and determined that for most users, a 5.1 system was sufficient for their home theater setup.
I auditioned the Rotel 1055 against a NAD T762 on a pair of Paradigm Studio 40 speakers and a NAD C541i CD player and a T562 DVD player. Both units were equally priced with the NAD offering 100WPC as opposed to the Rotel’s 75WPC. A better choice would have been to compare the Rotel to the NAD T752 HT Receiver, however the T752 was not in the same price class as the Rotel 1055. The difference between the 1055 and the T762 were very subtle and in a double blind test, I personally doubt I would have been able to tell the difference between the two in normal playback mode. Some say the NAD has a slightly more punchy mid-bass and the Rotel tends to “roll-off” on the mid-bass making it sound more natural. Once again, I would have been hard pressed to distinguish this. Ultimately the final decision came down to the fact that the Rotel had a 5 year warranty as opposed to the NAD’s 3 year warranty, and the little man screaming in the back of my head going…”NAD’s had some bad reliability with their prior year models, what makes you think this year is going to be any different.” The Rotel it was…
As for performance of the unit, I can honestly say that it rivals that of a Mid-Fi separates system. After the storeroom demo, I brought the RSX-1055 over to my brother’s house. He has a mix mash of gear, but his main 2 channel rig is a B&K PT5 Pre w/ a NAD C270 amp. I still don’t think he’s made his mind up yet on the speakers, but he has some Studio 40’s and some LSi9’s (both bi-wired) that we were able to audition the Rotel 1055 on. First up to bat was the 1055 running the LSi9’s. Very sweet setup indeed! Sound was very natural and warm considering the “hard” environment of tile floors and spacious openings. The highs were crisp and clear. No harshness at the end at all. I couldn’t tell if it was the Rotel or the sweetness of the Vifa ring tweeter on the LSi9’s. The 1055 had power to spare playing the LSi9’s. As mantis put it, ”ALLDAY MAN ALLDAY.” The Studio 40’s were next. Once again, highs were very crisp and the mid-bass was very smooth. The harshness of the Studio 40 tweeters could be no match for the LSi9’s smoothness. We then hooked up the B&K/NAD combo to the Studio 40’s and gave them another listen. Once again, it all sounded very good. We were both hard pressed to claim a winner between the Rotel 1055 (all-in-one) or the B&K/NAD separates. This is a good sign indeed in Rotel’s favor.
I brought the Rotel back to the homestead and got ready to hook it up to my RTi series of speakers. I had prepared myself for a disappointment considering I had just auditioned the Rotel on probably the finest set of speakers I have ever heard (the LSi9’s). Boy was I in for a shock. I was pleasantly surprised once I had the Rotel warmed up and the RTi70’s playing. Obviously they were no comparison to the LSi’s, but I’d be willing to bet that they could give the Studio 40’s a good run for there money. First thing I noticed about the Rotel on the 70’s was the fact that everything sounded open and forward and the details were there. Made me think if I were playing my 70’s in their shipping cartons before w/the Onkyo. Happy Happy, Joy Joy…….Continued to listen to some Natalie Merchant, Enya, Evanescence, DareDevil Soundtrack and some Sting. The real seller to me came with the Jewel: Spirit album, Track 13, ~ 4:40 into it. If you’re not familiar with this disc, there is a hidden “easter egg/track” sort of. After the main song on track 13 finishes there is a long pause of about 1-2 minutes. The CD continues to play however it’s just complete silence. I was enjoying the silence, eyes closed; just chilling, thinking the jukebox was done when all of the sudden a duet began playing. Talk about scaring the crap out of me. For a quick second I though someone was in the room and got chills down my back and goose bumps on my arm. Oh the sweetness……
- The remote
- The inability to adjust some of the receiver settings without needing to hook it up to a video source for the OSD
- Bass management a bit complicated
- EDIT: Cost (if you're on a tight budget)
- EDIT/ADD: No switched outlets on the back of the unit.
- Extremely ridiculous power
- Sexy look
- Sound is comparable to a mid-fi seperate system
- 7.1 Speaker Redirect
- Solid construction
- Did I mention a ridiculous amount of power for only a 75Wx5 rated receiver?
- EDIT/ADD: Receiver is capable of 100WPCx2 in stereo mode.