Review: Rotel RC Stereo Control and Power Amps

Natural Sound Quality for Music Enthusiasts

Rotel RC-1082.

The Rotel brand has been a respected name for decades, offering power amplifiers, control amplifiers and home theater products for value-minded audiophiles. The Rotel RC-1082 Stereo Control Amp and the Rotel RB-1072 Stereo Power Amp are components designed with the audio purist in mind. Its individual electronic components are selected to provide the best musical fidelity and its circuit design is intended to prevent any noise and interference from external sources.

In this review of the RC-1082 and the RB-1072 I discovered something I haven’t heard in awhile: true analog sound quality.

Rotel RC-1082 Stereo Control Amplifier - Overview and Features

Upon unpacking the Rotel RC-1082, I discovered something missing – it has no coaxial or optical digital inputs. In fact, there is no digital circuitry in the RC-1082, it’s an analog-only pre-amp. Any digital processing is left to a CD or DVD, such as the companion Rotel RCD-1072 CD Player. Most components use extensive shielding to prevent interference between analog and digital circuits, but Rotel eliminates digital circuits in order to keep the analog signal as pure as possible. The Rotel RC-1082 is designed for the audio purist with emphasis on phonograph and analog sources only. However, it doesn’t lack up-to-date features and has two 12-volt triggers to activate other components when the control amp is turned on, and a computer port for controlling the RC-1082 from a PC running third-party audio system control software.

Two infrared inputs can be connected to industry-standard IR receivers for remote control when the unit is in a concealed location. It even sports a built-in head-amp for a moving coil phonograph cartridge.

The RC-1082 has a generous complement of analog inputs including a front panel input for an MP3 player.

It’s also a good choice for recording enthusiasts with two tape inputs and outputs and has separate listening and recording selectors on the front panel for each input.

The RC-1082 has a simple front panel layout with just the basics, suggesting a purist approach to design, and lighted indicators make it easy to operate.

Rotel RB-1072 Stereo Power Amplifier – Overview and Features

The Rotel RB-1072 Stereo Power Amplifier is a Class D switching amplifier rated at 100 watts per channel. Class D amps do not need large power supplies or heat sinks and are smaller and lighter than Class A or Class B amplifiers. They are also more efficient and generate much less heat, which makes them ideal for equipment cabinets.

The RB-1072 has two sets of banana-plug speaker terminals for each channel so it is bi-wire capable. Bi-wiring means that the woofers and tweeters are connected separately to the amplifier.

The RB-1072 has 12-volt trigger connections so it can be turned on automatically when the control amplifier is turned on. A cable with a 3.5mm jack on each end interconnects the amp and control amp.

Among its other design characteristics, the RB-1072 is a high-current amplifier, delivering up to 11 amps of current to the speakers, and the amplifier has a damping factor of 200.

 

Rotel RC-1082 Control Amp and RB-1072 Power Amp - Audio Performance

Rotel engineers follow a three-part design philosophy called Balanced Design Concept, which relies on selecting high-quality parts, symmetrical circuit design and critical listening evaluation to achieve a distinctive analog sound quality. The Rotel RC-1082 and RB-1072 make it clear that analog audio is alive and well. Even when listening to CDs, they have a warm musicality typical of analog sound that I haven’t heard in some time. One of the sonic characteristics that separates analog from digital audio is the reproduction of the natural timbre of musical instruments.

It’s a full sound with lots of warmth in the mid-bass and midrange frequencies, yet its high frequency details are equally balanced with the rest of the sound.

The guitar in Sara Ks “If You Close That Door” (Chesky Records) had a smooth, fluid sound quality with lots of clarity and detail, but was absent the sharp, sometimes steely sound quality of digital reproduction. The saxophone in the same track had a wide soundstage with lots of front to back depth, making it easy to visually place the singer and instruments in the recording venue. As clean as digital audio can be, analog sound still has a musical fidelity that I find very appealing.

The Balanced Design Concept has a lot of merit, especially because it employs critical listening as part of the engineering evaluation process. It’s all about the music, and you can’t tell anything about the sound quality of a component when you hold the spec sheet up to your ears.

Summary

The Rotel RC-1082 control amp and the RB-1072 power amp are mid-priced components ideally suited for a two-channel music system where sound quality is critical. The control amp is also a good choice for recording enthusiasts who dub tapes between two tape decks or hard-drive audio recorders. Its phono input section with selectable moving magnet or moving coil inputs is a real plus for vinyl fans. The Class D power amp is small enough and runs cool enough to be a good choice for a zone amp in a multiroom audio distribution system. I would easily recommend the Rotel RC-1082 amp and RB-1072 pre-amp for serious music enthusiasts where audio purity and natural, warm musicality is essential.

Specifications: RC-1082 Stereo Control Amplifier

  • Total Harmonic Distortion: less than 0.004%
  • Intermodulation Distortion: less that 0.004%
  • Frequency Response: Line level input 4Hz-100kHz
  • Frequency Response: Phono input 20Hz-20kHz
  • Signal to Noise ratio: Line level input 100dB
  • Signal to Noise ratio: Phono input 70dB moving coil / 75dB moving coil
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 17 5/8" x 3 5/8" x 13 9/16"
  • Weight: 16.53 lbs.

    Specifications: RB-1072 Stereo Power Amplifier

    • Power Output: 100 watts x 2 both channels driven, 8 ohms, 20Hz-20kHz, 0.02% THD
    • Intermodulation Distortion: less than 0.2%
    • Frequency Response: 10Hz-40kHz (+/-3dB)
    • Signal to Noise ratio: 109dB
    • Damping Factor: 200
    • Dimensions (W x H x D): 17 7/8" x 2 7/8" x 13 2/4"
    • Weight: 10.14 lbs.