I've owned tons of audio equipment over the years, and in my experience my expectations far exceed the reality. I’ve also owned tons of gear from Rotel over the years, including the RSX-1065, RCD-1070, RX-1052, and soon the RCD-1072. All were good in their time, all were an excellent value for the money spend. All Rotel gear I’ve owned has always held its value when compared to other manufactures. I’d even say that Rotel gear holds its value percentage wise better then ANY other gear I’ve ever owned.
Now on to the Rotel RSDX-02 all-in-one home theatre receiver, which I recently purchased on Audiogon on a closeout for only $900. At this price I didn’t expect much, especially with distortion specs of 0.8% and 80 watts per/channel. Even Rotel themselves seemed confused on where exactly this unit fits, placing it on their site under the DVD Section. However, specs can be deceiving and when you take a company like Rotel and allow them to develop a completely new product from the ground up…one must come to expect greatness.
Big things do come in small packages. I have an incredibly looking all in one unit that has very informative displays and the most exceptional remote control I’ve ever seen in my life. The remote control alone is probably worth over $200-. It’s a fully programmable remote, with an LCD display panel, done in matching silver. It is truly a piece of technology and artwork at the same time. It will take some getting used to and you will need to read the directions. Even though it has a fully touch sensitive display, similar to what one would expect on a palm pilot.
I paired the RSDX-02 with a set of PSB Image Speakers, which I’d all but given up on. I was recently considering upgrading my speakers to B&W’s, perhaps the 600 series or something a little better. No upgrade of the speakers will now be necessary; the Rotel RSDX-02 pumped them alive. Finally I can just sit down with a single remote and open the CD/DVD tray and put in my favorite movie. It will fully decode almost any format available and knowing Rotel it probably has an upgrade path for future formats. There are other choices in the all-in-one theatre in the box, but the Rotel system is intuitive (to some degree) and build with serious quality.
Ok, how about the sound. Isn’t 80-Watts per/channel for wimps? The sound is absolutely on target, and the ability for the unit to drive speakers is effortless. To many people get caught up on wattage. I recently showed someone my Cairn 4808 Class A amplifier that’s only 30 watts and they asked how powerful the unit was; when I said 30 watts and they you must be kidding – they were thinking at least 100 watts per/channel. Loudness has a lot more to do with the quality of the current and efficiency of the speakers then wattage. The RSDX-02 drove my PSB Image speakers with authority. In addition, the sound was incredible on HT, and also very good on DVD’s. Ok, it’s not as good as my Cairn Amp with Triangle Celius 202’s, but it’s better then any Bose or NAD system on the market. The only competition out there would be the Arcam Solo, which I have not yet heard. My experience is that Arcam is not as good at HT, but excels with music.
The progressive scan DVD player worked flawlessly, it was configured for widescreen proportions out of the box which gave stretched faces, but a quick view in the manual and a few touch screen buttons later and the problem was fixed.
Overall, I’m extremely pleasantly surprised and impressed with the RSDX-02. Personally I don’t hear any notable distortion, my guess is they put in that rating to be able to list the wattage at 80 watts per/channel. At normal listening levels its as clear as ice and just as fun. I plan on reorganizing my DVD collection, which has gathered some dust over the years and start reliving my home theatre movie molements.