The first thing you should understand is that Rotel are truly a specialist hi-fi company. They are a 40 year old, family owned organisation dedicated to the design and manufacture of the finest in affordable, high performance home theatre and high fidelity components. We use the word “manufacture” advisedly. Rotel make everything from core components to complete products themselves. In their own factories. Under their own control.
They stand or fall on the quality of their components and systems. Rotel do not make food processors, bread makers, outboard motors or photocopiers. So when we say specialist we mean specialist. Rotel inhabit the same territory as companies such as Meridian and Quad. The key difference from other specialists is that Rotel make a serious effort to provide entry level products that are affordable to even the struggling enthusiast.
You should always remember that while it’s not too hard to build a very good expensive system, the real art is in putting together a great sounding system on a budget. This is where Rotel excel and the reason that we have continuously sold their products for over 25 years.
I’ll also point out that over those 25 years Rotel have proved to be the most reliable product we’ve ever sold and even their most basic little amplifier from way back then still sounds good. That kind of heritage takes some beating.
The 12 series
With the new 12 series Rotel yet again set a new benchmark for affordable 'high end' HiFi. Our pick of this exciting new range is the RA12 amplifier. We’ve had it playing in the shop with the speakers of the caliber of Sonus faber Veneres and it truly is quite something. These are very nice looking amplifiers with lots of good quality power. It has all the traditional inputs including a phono stage and digital inputs so for instance you can easily connect it (via a little Apple box), to your wireless network which then means any computer in the house can play music through it, There is a front USB input so a digital device like a lap top or iPhone can be plugged in. It has an on–board DAC makes digital inputs sound as good as a good CD player, and comes with a Bluetooth adapter as well. All these up to date facilities along with the excellent sound it produces makes it amazing value for money.
RA10 Integrated amplifier (includes phono stage) – NZ$ 699
RA11 Integrated amp with remote control, DAC, USB, Bluetooth – NZ$ 1,149
RA12 Integrated amp as the RA 11 with higher power – NZ$ 1,299
RCD12 CD player – NZ$ 799
RT11 Tuner – NZ$ 599
RT12 Tuner – NZ$ 1,199
If you own an earlier Rotel but now would like a the additional DAC, USB & Bluettooth features you could add the Rotel RDD06 DAC – so well written about in Witchdoctor. RDD06 – NZ$ 799
Thoroughly Modern Integrated Amplifiers
To run through the integrated amplifiers, the RA10 is the most affordable, yet still very capable, in the family – and winner of the 21012 'What HiFi Awards Product of the Year for Stereo Amplifiers. Perfect if it’s good straightforward sound through standard analogue line–in inputs is what you want, without feeling the need for extra features. This doesn’t mean you can’t play digital sources or add them when your budget allows. For instance with NuForce you can have Bluetooth via their 'BTR' or computer connection via their 'uDAC'.
The RA11 takes that same reliably good sound but adds in remote control, Apple USB, Bluetooth and a lovely LED screen. But most importantly is that it incorporates a high end Wolfson WM8740 24 bit/192kHz DAC DAC for making the most of digital sources. Rotel aptly refers to this as the brains of the amplifier required for todays digital listening. So to have all this along with 4 analogue inputs plus phono is pretty spectacular. The one we’ve been really taken with because it’s so very good for the money, with stunning sound to boot is of course, the RA12. It has the goodies of the RA11 but for the little bit extra it’s higher power means higher performance and even better sounding music.
The matching RCD12 CD player is very stylish looking with the same lovely LED screen and slot mechanism. Again it includes a high end DAC chip that will really make your CDs sing. With the new Rotel 12 series combined with either the Monitor Audio or Sonus faber speakers, you’ll enjoy fantastic sound – far better than anything we could do for the same price just a few years ago. The range includes a couple of tuner options so ask us if you are interested in those. This includes the RT12 which includes the Rotel Remote App for controlling the whole system via iPhone or iPad. Meanwhile our money saving tip – if you want to include a tuner but the total budget is blowing out consider a Tivoli radio which can be used as tuners in normal stereo systems.
Why do we love Rotel?
For the best part of 30 years Totally Wired have been selling Rotel. Suppliers have come and gone but Rotel, the family owned company and us have stayed the same. Well, not entirely as there has of course been progress. In the case of Rotel anyone who knows them will agree that that progress however, is well considered. They do the best they can for each product so change does not come about frequently. When you have an excellent audio component you don’t need to be constantly improving on it. Hence Rotel has always been one of the great sounding, reliable HiFi electronics we’ve sold. This in turn is reflected in Rotel’s popularity with reviewers and owners alike.
Since the 12 series was introduced in 2012 other contenders in this territory have appeared both from NuPrime and Cambridge. Whilst Rotel components inhabit a similar price territory it is NuPrime's remarkable sound quality and adoption of unique technologies that carries them far further than entry level - these are components with serious high end aspirations that will provide you with revelatory performance which we suggest are worth you investigating.
One of the things that never ceases to amaze us with Rotel is whenever a new component or range makes it to New Zealand the pricing is so sharp relative to the quality of product. The integrated amplifiers in particular never fail to have great sound yet still have useful features such as inbuilt phono amps, ability to play two pairs of speakers with A/B switching and tone controls. But the features are not over the top nor do they get in the way of the signal path impeding the sound.
Perhaps you could say Rotel are a company with wisdom and tradition. Because with the new 12 series they have carried on with all these good aspects and added some more. The '12 series' replaces the '06SE range. The look whilst similar is a step cleaner and sharper. The sound sets a new Rotel benchmark for quality for the price and some up to date features added.
The 06 series were an improved version of the 02 series. Which bettered the 900 series. Which originated way back then with the little RA820 amplifier which we remember selling absolute truckloads of – almost all of which are still out there giving great service.
You would have to wonder just how much more performance can be wrung out of an $800 amplifier or CD player, but having just got the new models in, we can tell you that, well yes, they can be significantly improved. Small changes can make a big difference; and when those changes are both numerous and to audio-critical components, that difference can be vast.
One other thing we really like about Rotel as a company is that they are very forthcoming with good quality information. If you have the curiosity and are prepared to spend a little time reading, Rotel are happy to provide a wealth of information covering system selection, set up and comprehensive details as to why they do what they do and why they (justifiably we think) claim their products are better. There is no hiding behind jargon, or stupid sexist advertising. It’s all there for you to absorb. That says a lot about the credibility of Rotel. Follow the links below for this information.
- Rotel Information pages
There are endless great reviews for Rotel – you can navigate your way through Rotel’s own site or Google to find them. These will give you a good idea of where Rotel sits in the rankings but what is really important is the final installed performance in your own home.
Because we have dealt with Rotel for so long, we know both what it works best with and how to get the most out of it. And most importantly for you we can make sure you get exactly the right models for your particular circumstances. With that in mind the best thing to do is now either visit or drop us a line – we look forward to hearing from you.
Making your amplifier sound even better
We can say by experience, and that of our customers, that using an Eichmann eXpress AC lead with any amplifier will almost always bring the performance up to another level. Thus being an ideal addition to your system when you like your amplifier but feel it’s missing something that you just can’t quite put your finger on. So rather than mess with a system you’re reasonably happy with by changing components try adding an ETI power lead!
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