ROTEL RCD-991 CD Players

4.52/5 (61 Reviews) MSRP : $1300.00


Product Description

Rotel's Best CD Player


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Reviews 1 - 5 (61 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Rotel RCD 991AE a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: December 6, 2016

Bottom Line:   
I am a classical musician and performing artist. I have owned many players over the years and have come to the conclusion that the real key to audio nirvana is to EAT LESS CHEESE! The digital realm is 1&0's. D-A conversion has been very good for at least 20yrs or so now. Current players and sellers claim great differences, improvements, etc. I say that 99% of the differences only your dog can hear. The Rotel 991AE if used with the balanced outs and a good cables into to a good amp with balance inputs will yield a result that is as satisfying as you will ever need. Spending hrs buying into the myth that there is always something better can become not only nerve racking but a complete distraction. Get a good set of speakers and EAT LESS CHEESE! This is a great player that if set up correctly not only competes with but even betters many on the current upscale Market. Use common sense and start enjoying music instead of being over analytical. If you can find a nice one in good condition it is still not only a great player but great value as well. SPEAKERS are the place to spend your $$. ENJOY!!

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2003



Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by electricladyland a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: June 1, 2016

Bottom Line:   
I bought the Rotel RCD-991 sometime around 99/2000 as a demo unit for AUS$1k. As I found CD playback very ordinary around that period I was reluctant to spend much on a player. It was passable at the time although my Sota Star T/T was much better, so it was vinyl for more serious listening and CD for more casual listening.

When I decided to get back into some serious listening around 2011 I bought a new player and could no longer listen to the Rotel. It sounded anaemic, flat, undynamic and one dimensional. It sat there for 2 years unused. After reading positive reports on the Burson upgrades I decided for $350 it was worth the risk. They upgraded the OP-Amps, clock/crystal.

Well, what a difference! The RCD-991 has gone from unlistenable to having dynamics, soundstage and less fatigue. It has upgraded the player many times in sound, (dollar wise I would estimate about $1.5k improvement) although it stll sits behind my three best players I've heard for the money. In order Unison Research CDE, Vincent CD-S8 & Vincent CD7-DAC.

So if you have the RCD-991 or can pick one up cheap the Burson upgrades are mandatory.

As is the Rotel struggles to get 2 stars, upgraded it is 4 star.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1999



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by templetech a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: September 27, 2015

Bottom Line:   
I was using a bench DAC1 and wanted something that was warmer and more musical. I had a California Audio Labs transport which I loved so thought...I'll get a better DAC. Research took my to Burson Audio who had excellent reviews and stellar reputation for reliability. I called them to discuss a direct purchase and to my complete surprise they asked a lot of questions and determined my best option was not a DAC but a CD player upgraded with some of their discrete opamps.... a much less expensive option than their DAC! I asked which CD player they'd recommend upgrading and they said an exceptionally well built CD player that sounds fantastic with upgraded opamps and is very reasonable to buy on the used market is.....wait for it......the Rotel RCD991. I found one and decided to listen for a while before doing upgrades. I never did the upgrades! With a good power cord, interconnects and line conditioning this unit was rich, deep and musical. I realized that in my quest for perfection I had gone to more and more analytical equipment and further from the music. The RCD991 struck such a perfect balance between detail retrieval and organic presentation that I didn't want to mess with the opamps in case I took it back to the analytical side. Not to contradict others on this forum; we all have different ears, rooms, systems etc. but I found the bass deep and tight bringing out the best in the Gallo Reference 3's 10" drivers, the mid band transparent but with enough warmth to not sound thin and the treble like a crisp mountain stream. I sold it with the rest of my kit when the fruit of my loins commandeered my life and started throwing balls at my tube amp! If you get a chance to pick one of these up follow this advice. Do not treat it as a piece of midfi, it is far more than that. I would also look into the Burson opamp upgrade...looking back I regret not trying that.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1999



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Hans Wurst a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: August 31, 2010

Bottom Line:   
I use the Rotel 991-AE since 10 years. It is still the best cd player I have heard in my system. After bying it and connecting with my stereo system, I was first very dissapointed because it sounded terrible (harsh, not musical, not clear, no space). But the sound was getting better and better after some months (!); it seems to have a very long burn-in time. The strengths are resolution, speed, space, bass control, dynamics, natural voices and instruments. But the sound may be over-analytic in a system that already sounds thin and analytic by itsself.

I experimented of course with some cables, placement and so on: I now use a pair of balanced Straight Wire Virtuoso R - interconnect cables, Straight Wire Megalink II Digital cable (to CD recorder), XLO ER-10 power cable and a Lovan Classic II base. The Cardas Crosslink cable does not completely reach the performance of the Virtuoso, but was the best of the "cheaper" cables (Kimber PBJ, van den Hul 102, Clearaudio Trident, AVM Bi-Coax...) I had tested and is a good alternative, if the Virtuoso is too expensive. Like the components, the cables connected with the Rotel better should have a slightly warm then an over-analytic tendency.

I compared the Rotel with some other CD-players, for example the Audio Analogue Paganini, which is a little more expensive. It looks nicer and sounds a little "nicer" (softer) than the Rotel, but had no chance in all other hifi criterias (speed, resolution, dynamics, bass control, clearness...).

If you find a used 991 AE in good condition, it should not be so expensive and is still a cd-player, which is a good source in an audiophile system. There was no defect in between 10 years.

I rated it in the "overall rating" with only 4 stars, because I think 5 stars should be reserved for absolutely "State of the art"-components. Many people here in audioreview give 5 stars to beginner or mid class components in "overall rating". Perhaps they had never heard really top components...

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   Pre 1995



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Stevenk a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: August 29, 2008

Bottom Line:   
This is a follow-up review. I originally reviewed this in 1999 and purchased in 2000. See review far below.

I had the unit for 5 years and enjoyed it for many years but I did eventually upgrade to a Classé player. Rotels RCD991 is a high resolution unit that gives a taste of high-end sound with the use of 2x 20bit processors that are strong in retrieving details. Totally walked over lower-end units ie Rotel 971, 975 and even their new units of today.
The only glitch that ever developed was a sensitive loading tray that would close while trying to put a CD on it. This unit did play better once tweaked; using setting 3 of dither, better power cords, AC conditioning and balanced wires. The largest improvement in performance I could remember was when I upgraded the preamp from the Rotel 1090 to a Classé cp-500. This brought out the best performance ever. The presentation and realism of instruments and vocals were completely better. So much so, that it seamed as if a different version of the same recording was played. Goes to show you a preamp really makes a diffence.
This player is an over achiever and was a good investment in the old Rotel catalogue especially for its price and I had to be really convinced to let it go. Yet its in a different class when comparing to a Classé player.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Purchased At:   Local Dealer




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