Well, I have to say the previous reviewer seems to have bought a lemon as far as his 930AX is concerned - I bought mine in the last few days of 1999 and it's the last quarter of 2003, and no buttons have come loose, despite some less-than-perfect handling on my part. For example it has been between Sydney and Melbourne (900 kilometres) in the hold of a bus (boxed), and once just in the luggage rack! It's been carted around a few times in an overnight bag, no packing material at ALL, and still all the controls are as good as new - same with the internals, sounds just as good as ever. Maybe Rotel have a problem with varying quality control on the build - mine thankfully has been a tough cookie. Sonically I agree with nearly every other reviewer - very warm, very natural sound. At the time I compared it with the entry level NAD player, and it was much of a muchness to be honest...but I felt the Rotel to be slightly more subtle sounding, and the NAD a little brighter. For me the NAD's ever-so-slight tweaking towards brightness I felt might get annoying with longer term usage. Also the Rotel was more conservatively styled, I had an inkling that I may be buying secondhand high end products sometime in the future, and it would gel better visually.
I can't fault me good old faithful 930AX, it's served me well. Whenever I've plugged it into a friends mass market (say for example Sony) system they've gone "wow, that sounds so much better!"...and that's what I noticed when I first got it, having been used to Teacs and the like. The Rotel NEVER skips I find, it is very forgiving of scratched discs that cause other players to baulk - I should qualify that and say it DOES skip - but only when the disc is pretty damaged. I rarely use the remote, but I like it's clean no-fuss lines, however the buttons are rather small.
I have just purchased an Accuphase E-205 integrated amp, and about to buy a pair of Amber Bambino bookshelves, so I'm thinking time to get a new player in a year or so - but there's really no need, to be honest. I compared the sound of my 930AX to a player that cost 5 times the price, an Amber, and YES, it was better, and YES I longed for it...but you know what? The difference in sound was only in the order of about 10-15%.
This player was my first step into real audio, and I don't regret buying it for a second. It's been connected to a NAD 3020 amp and generic speakers that are pleasant, but a bit boomy. Despite the shortcomings of the speakers, the quality of the Rotel player shines through - I tried an old Teac the other day and then put the Rotel in again, everyone said "gee, that CD player sure sounds heaps better". PS that NAD 3020 is a GEM!!! What a fantastic amp.
To sum up, if you don't have a lot of money but are tired of the obvious faults in mass-market offerings and like true high quality sound - go the Rotel RCD-930AX if you can pick one up 2nd hand. I got mine new for the equivalent of about US$180.00 and as I say it ran a credible second to a boutique branded US$1000.00 - thanks Rotel for creating products for those of us with champagne tastes but only beer budgets!;)
PS can't wait to get my Accuphase E-205, got it on ebay for a song and it's hand made, like all their products - I checked the list price of the current Accuphase integrated that is similar, US$4000.00...and apparently the E-205 is just as good today as it was then. I paid (drum roll) AU $571.00, the equivalent of about $330.00!!!! Strangely enough I'm pretty excited - honestly with some brands and products it doesn't matter how old they are, it's the SOUND and build quality, you can get a brilliant system for thousands less if you aren't obsessed with "new new new" and choose carefully.
I've had the Rotel for 5 and a half years now, and it has endured many moods, starting with the joy of rediscovering my CD collection the first few weeks I owned it, and ending with the disgust that led me to drop 6 floors down my elevator shaft last week.
Here's my final analysis: the Rotel sounds great; to my ears better than anything else in its price range when I bought it. It's more revealing, crisper, more natural, more live sounding than the other $300 players I listened to, and is better sounding in every way than consumer mass market players. Rotel seems to have the same philosophy as NAD: put all the money into the guts. Put in a nice transport, nice converters, nice power supply, and skimp like crazy on the non musical stuff--the box, the display, the buttons. Only trouble is, I think they went too far. The buttons started breaking off of mine three years ago. As of last week, Play, Pause, and Eject were gone, and I had to push the little holes instead. Two years ago the display started blinking on and off. Mostly off. Two weeks ago, it started ejecting discs when I pushed Play. Then it started doing this all the time. I finally lost my patience and removed the Rotel from planet earth.
I'm awaiting a used California Audio Labs DX2, which has a reputation for being held together with more than maskng tape. I'll let you know what I think in five years.
PS: I swear, not counting the elevator shaft episode, this unit never saw any abuse. It sits side by side with some cheaper, older components that go on and on and on without a hiccup.
the cd player was the last thing i replaced in my audio setup,since i didn't think it would make such a difference.boy,was i wrong.i auditioned for about 2 months to replace my faithful and reliable 9 years old entry level cdp250 from teac,and after reading some reviews on this site started harassing the local audio dealers.well there are alot of very good cd players for under 500$ in the u.s. and europe,but here the prices would be 600-800$.i especially liked rotel 971 ,cambridge audio d500se,teac cdp4500,amc cd6b,arcam alpha 7se.also auditioned marantz cd48,cd67,cd63se,cd5000,and cd6000ose,rotel 951,pioneer 507.also mission dac5 together with simple dvd player(lg)...fabulous, and amc dac8 with cheap yamaha cd. well i didn't really consider the rcd 930 ax,but when i saw it at a local repair shop for less than 150$, i went to audition it.it sounded much better than my old teac,better than the marantz cd48(more involving,more natural) which i auditioned in the same session and only moderately less good than the amc cd6b(with 4! 24 bit burr-brown dacs).so i went back and got it . this unit has a very solid feel about it,the tray doesn't have a cheap feel about it and opens and closes smoothly and quietly.it has a good transport and reads some scratched cd's flawlessly where my teac and dvd would skip.the sound may not be as refined as some of the more expensive players,but it's still very good ...i can hear bass parts without need to use my sub as i used to.and the highs are quite smooth and non-fatiguing. i wish it had a digital out as i feel it would make an excellent transport with an external dac,but it doesn't. the remote is nice and for me has all the functions i need. at full retail price (400$ locally) it's still should be considered ,but if you find one used or demo,it's a real bargain...and a giant killer of a cd player. i wonder what tweaking it would do? maybe try the op-amp upgrade from lc audio,did anyone try this?
my system cd player rotel rc 930ax(150$,local retail 400$) rotel rsp 960 pre/processor&power951(400$ for both) rotel integrated ra980bx(600$,local retail 900$)(the 951 i"ll use for surrounds) kenwood kt 500 tuner late 80's?(70 $) nakamichi cr1 tape deck(350$) dantax vision one loudspeakers(700$,retail>1000$) tannoy msub10 (500$,retails 650-800$) cabletalk 3.1 biwire various interconnects:van den hul hybrid,qed qnect1,monster 400mk2,and el cheapos
I have had this player since I got into hifi about 5 years ago, and have never felt the need to upgrade or change it. When I bought it, I tried comparing it to a range of yamaha players, and it was equal to the top of the line yamaha (which was about US$500).. needless to say I took home the rotel for less than half the price :) Over the years I have read a lot about different aspects of fidelity: frequency balance, spectral decay, image and soundstage, pace rhythm and dynamics, and also about musical satifaction. I am pleased to say that in my system I have always been pleased with what results I have (even after reading reviews of $expensive$ players, I can still identify with their comments, and hear what they describe in reference recordings that I have in common with the reviewer).
I have recently done a few experiments and a few tweaks that may be of interest: - there is a tweak that involves checking the components in your chain for microphonic suceptability.. it involves taking the output of your poweramp and putting it into the line in of another amp, and listening to the noise floor and other very low level effects (obviously, you never play music while it is set up like this - you would do nasty things to the second amp!) when it is set up like this you investigate the components and the case by tapping on them and seeing if there is any audible output through the signal chain.. from there you can isolate sensitive components (valves are especially sensitive) and you should be able to improve performance.. I am happy to report that the rotel was almost completely inert as far as microphonics go.. I found the following: when you ingage the drive (by hitting pause) it makes some electronic noise while the drive is seeking and reading the disc at first (but not while playing the disc) it has some low level noise (maybe 50-100Hz area) that is almost barely noticable when playing, but makes a low gurgle when the mechanism is stopped apart from these, there was nothing to comment on (I was willing to add damping and tweak different things, but there was no need!)
- I have it sitting on a homemade suspension system: (from the bottom up) - what is is sitting on (stand/shelf) - bicycle innertube (inflated to low pressure) - solid shelf (mdf) - sand bags (sand in ziplock bags) - player - more sand bags the idea is that the stuff on the tube is heavy and the inner tube is slack, making a very low resonant freq. this acts as a low pass filter (with very high Q factor) and so it will isolate the player from freqs about 5Hz and up from it's resonant freq. all you do is inflate the inner tube, put the stuff on and then deflate the tube till it's low enough (press and release a corner, how fast it sways is its resonant freq) the sangbags also damp the case
it works VERY well, I have the whole system sitting on my subwoofer, and not only does it never skip, but I have listened to the case with a stethascope, and it's quiet.
downsides are the build quality (as a lot of people have written about rotel) my experience is that the plastic controlling the eject button on the front was fatigued and I had to open it up and glue it back on to restore the 'springiness', but it was fine after that.. (and i'd had it 5 years.. :)
the other thing that I should mention is that I am using it with my diy passive preamp, which consists of: in -> input selector, mono switch, volume controls -> out as the rotel puts out a good strong signal from it's outputs this combination works well, and there are no problems with bass dropout or other problematic things.. (I have compared it to a rotel pre-amp, and both sounded very nice, but I prefer the passive option)
my system: rotel CD player rotel amp (can't remember what model, but it's a 60W per side, and it's from the 800 series..) diy passive pre-amp (just a resistor in a box really :) diy active sub (10" 200W) diy speakers (being worked on all the time, but approximate market value for the sound would be US$600 - $800) speakers are bi-wired connects are cambridge audio
overall, I think it's a good player, with no real faults that are problematic. sonically it's very nice. for the money, it is brillant.
My previous cd player (marantz CD 42) used to give me a headache after about an hour of listening. One of the reasons I suspect was inaudible (over 20khhz ) noise given out by the marantz. I did not realize this until i bought the Rotel. It was bought to my attention by my girl friend (Who Can actually hear ultrasonic noise - silent dog whistle etc) and actually did not know that i had a new CD player said " I cannot hear the high pitched noise anymore ". (What are you talking about? my response.