i bought this combo as i wanted to sway towards h/t setup with audio still in mind. i have not been running this setup long so i can only give my thoughts on the stereo side. when i first connected this system up i was immediatly impressed, ok so its not going to eat a dedicated hifi pre/power combo of equal value nor even half but i personaly feel that this is certainly there with good £7-800 intergrateds wich i feel is superb considering all the digital wizardry this amp can acheive.
the first thing i noticed on fire up was the transparency and lack of background noise common in a lot of h/t amps, i am unable to give any views on the h/t side as of yet but for an audio/h/t prossesor this is a winner as an audio pre and a great partner for the 1075 forget the 1095 it has more power but much less finnese and does not do the 1098 justice.
ok so this maybe an expensive combo but in the price range there is not a lot else out there, sure the parasound may sound better, but its in a different catagory.
so, to sum this up this is a great amp and i can't wait to play with the h/t side, if i manage to sell my wife and buy more gear i'll rewrite this view with more of an insight to the h/t bits.
please note i paid £1500 for the pair rsp and rmb and it was 3 weeks old so for me it was great value for money
I have used this pre-amp for 6 months now, and every day has been a joy. I have the benefit of comparing to several other pre-amps: Krell Showcase, Parasound AVC-2500, Proceed AVP and the ADA Cinema Reference. Here are my thoughts:
LCD Panel - What a great idea to have the panel built into the unit... and a widescreen one at that. This allows you to perform all setup via the onscreen menus without having to look over at the monitor. It will display the built-in menus and any composite source material. Great for setting Tivo or VCRs to record while the family watches regular tv, and if you have Escient equipment, you can choose DVDs and CDs right here. Other competitors are sprouting LCDs as well, but this appears to be the largest out there now at this price. Quite a head-turner, anyone who sees it will comment. You can set the display to turn off after a few seconds of use.. so it isn't on all the time.
Setup - Nice menus. Easy to use. Covers all the items a typical home theater needs. Front panel allows you to perform all menu selection and navigation with one knob! Outstanding... no remote control needed. Performing the upgrade to the latest software provides even more options. Almost everything is customizable... even cross-over points by speaker by input. Inludes equalization if you need it.
Bass Management - Number one issue with most processors is that they pass DVD-A and SACD signals without processing. The Rotel gives you the option of adding signal processing to the 7.1 input to route bass to the sub. Great option if your player lacks adequate bass control.
Inputs - Has just about everything anyone could want. Analog is covered well. I have one complaint that the Rotel (and its competitor's units) lacks sufficient optical inputs. Only three... These days, everything has an optical output, and coax digital outputs are harder to come by. Three digital sources is pretty skimpy for a full home theater. If you have a DVD, CD, CDR or DVDR and a couple DirecTV tivos, you're short.
DSP - Nice full set of music and theater modes including straight through stereo in analog - in all other modes analog is converted to digital for processing.
Video - full bandwidth component video for HDTV. The Rotel will up-convert composite and S-video to Component - great! No conversion is performed between composite and s-video. Great ability to view one source on the LCD while viewing another on the TV/monitor.
Surround Performance - Dolby Digital and DTS processing is fantastic. Has Pro Logic II and several DTS options. On par with other processors that cost more. 7.1 and lots of DSP options for analog sources. I could not tell the difference between the Rotel and the Krell Showcase. Slightly more detail than the Parasound AVP-2500 and ADA Cinema Reference.
Stereo - Solid performer, though there are better. I have not heard a processor do better stereo than the Proceed pre-amps.
Build - this thing is a 30 pound tank. Makes the Krell Showcase seem pretty wimpy. And the weight is not all pretty packaging. Look inside and this unit comes fully loaded with a great power source and lots of capacitors for power when needed. All input and output cards are fully shielded! The face is solid and the rack handles are fantastic... you definitely need them to haul this unit around. Make sure you have a solid rack or shelf for this.
Upgrades - A+++. Not only has Rotel regularly provided updates and enhancements for the unit, but it is all available free and easy on the web site! Just download, connect the Rotel to your PC with the special RS-232 cable, and upgrade at will. No dealer needed. Just try that with Parasound (you need to ship it back), or Levinson/Proceed (again ship it), or Krell. A dealer can do it for you if you don't feel comfortable with the PC instructions...
Control - Fully controllable by external systems like Crestron and AMX. The RS-232 port provide access to all functions + some that are difficult to access with the standard remote.
Warranty - Well, you don't get the great Parasound 10 year warranty, or the Levinson/Proceed warranty transfer, but 5 years parts and labor is pretty good these days.
I heard the 1098 on two different occasions and was impressed with the sound. So far my experience was limited to HT. I heard and listened to the Latest James Bond movie and was blown away by the detail and clarity. I actually realized that there is so much detail I am missing from my listening experience. Note the 1098 was hooked up to the B&W latest 704's with transparent cable and the RMB 1095 amp and 1060 DVD player. I was immensely impressed with the elevated level of experience the 1098 brought.
I can't wait to replace my Sony ES receiver I am using as a pre-pro to my 1095 amp