In comparison with a reference integrated amp such as the Pass Labs INT-250, I noted a slight loss in mid/upper treble eloquence and air, a subtraction of bloom and saturation that lightly impacted the resolution of string sections and winds. The Aerials grew slightly shaded on top, and a little darker character prevailed overall. The Pass threw just a little additional light onto these upper octaves that lifted inner detail and harmonics. It was classic Rotel core values at play: Rather than over-reaching and upsetting the whole sonic applecart, a little conservatism is often the better path when so much performance has already been attained.
Turning to computer audio (via iTunes/PureMusic3, Audience Au24 SE USB cable), the Rotel was as smooth, consistent, and musical with digital files sourced from my hard drive as it was with discs through the superb T+A MP 2000 R media player (review forthcoming). Imaging remained precise, as did midrange tonal character. The differences were modest but during symphonic music, the Rotel conveyed a modestly shallower orchestral soundstage and during Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” a heavier, darker bass character overtook the timpani and bass drum cues—colorations that seemed to cloud timbral detail somewhat.
In the past I probably wouldn’t have mentioned the RA-1592 headphone jack but today that would amount to reviewer malpractice given the segment’s current popularity. Alternating between two top headphones, the Audeze LCD-X and the HiFiMan Edition X, the Rotel’s headphone input performed quietly and accurately. The efficient and flexible HiFiMan was very well suited to the Rotel; its warm, approachable tonal character emerged true to form. The more difficult to drive Audeze experienced a slight sag in dynamic energy and bass extension, a thin cloud settling over its vaunted transparency. If you’re pining for a fancy outboard headphone amp, be my guest, but all things considered, Rotel’s built-in headphone out is up to the challenge for most midrange ’phones.
There’s a lot of capability and complexity in today’s high-end electronics and with that comes high expectations and little to no room for excuses. To that end, Rotel connects with a one-two punch of glitch-free performance paired with a level of connectivity that will appeal to listeners across the generational spectrum. The RA-1592 delivers on the promise that Rotel made years ago—rock ’em, sock ’em performance at a stingy, blue-collar price. Well played Rotel, well played.
Specs & Pricing
Power output: 200Wpc into 8 ohms
Analog inputs: Four RCA, one XLR
Digital inputs: Three coax, three optical, USB, iPod USB
Outputs: One pre, two subwoofer
Dimensions: 17" x 5 7/8" x 16"
Weight: 37.04 lbs.
ROTEL OF AMERICA
54 Concord Street
North Reading, MA 01864