ROTEL RSP-985 A/V Preamplifier

RSP-985

Flagship Digital Surround Processor PreAmp

User Reviews (29)

Showing 1-10 of 29  
Kal   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 24, 2003]

The RSP 985 SW Limiter has to be set high in order to get rid of the cutting out in THX with DD 5.1. Mine is set at -4 db. You may want to mute your rsp 985 while setting the SW limiter because the bass can be overwhelming. Once your done exit the screen and turn the mute off. Presto..no more cutting out during loud LFE levels during movies. Its just a safety feature your hearing not a flaw.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
paul325   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 08, 2002]

There is a fix for the RSP 985. Go to the menu and access the SW Limiter. Press enter and set the limiter at about -10db. I realize when you do this the sub will start to shake. If your afraid of putting too much pressure on the sub just turn it of or unplug it when you set the limiter. Trust me your amp wont cut out in THX mode anymore!!!!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Jonathan Carroll   Audiophile [Jan 31, 2002]
Weakness:

BUGS! BUGS! BUGS!

It has been a while since I posted my rants and raves here about my displeasure with the 985. I received many emails from people who are (were) in the exact situation as I am. So here is the latest.

The problem with this unit is that the THX processor does not function properly. "There is not fix" (quote from ROTEL). If the THX is turned off, the cut out problem goes away, or set the rear speakers to small and the cut out problem goes away.

Rotel should have discontinued selling this product but continued to anyways. I guess profit is more important than reputation.

On another displeasing side, there is no work around for the delay of the 5.1. I have compared much cheaper units and I find the 985 is much slower at coming on line, by as much as a twice what others can do.

My conclusion, wait for the new models to come out early in the spring and ensure that the store will take it back for a full refund if you encounter any problems.

Similar Products Used: Othe Rotel and Harmon/Kardon
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
2
Steve   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 16, 2002]
Strength:

Performance, Value for Money

Weakness:

Remote, cludgy user interface

This unit replaced my old Pro Logic receiver (which has been relegated to phono pre-amp as the RSP-985 does not have a phono input)
It is driving an RB-976 amplifier.

I had planned to buy an RSP-976, but jumped at the runout price of the RSP-985. Got this for $1500 AU normally retails for $3000.

I will say this. I can't see $3000 dollars value here. Yes, it is THX ultra and is (or was) Rotel's flagship model. However it is obviously a rather old design and doesn't offer many features that you would expect as standard. However it was definitely worth the money I paid for it, and sonicly would have to be one of the best performers around.

Typically Rotel, all the effort has been put into performance, which is what this baby does best. Rotel have not spent time (or money) on bells and whistles or user interface.

Audio)
Audio is excellent. It has Stereo, Pro Logic, DTS and DD5.1
plus a few DSP modes. I like to listen to all my source material in Pro Logic mode (except for DD, DTS) and it does this very well. You can configure all of your inputs to default to a particular mode, and you can override if you want to. Being THX Ultra it also has THX re-equalisation and all of the other Lucasfilm stuff for DD, DTS modes.
There are a million and one configuration settings that determine how bass is distributed for various modes, individual pre-amp levels for each input, defaults for analog or digital inputs for a particular source and so on. More than I will ever use.

Be aware that everything you put into this thing will be put through an Analog to Digital converter, processed and then through a Digital to Analog converter. The RSP-985 does a very good job of this, better than many CD players will. It has 3 Analog Devices DSPs in it. Therefore there is no point in connecting your super duper expensive DAC to the CD input of this thing. The only way around it is to use the 5.1 DB25 inputs, which go straight out the line outs (via the volume control). I will say that I have observed the audio performance to be excellent. I am running the digital from my Rotel RCD950 into the RSP985, and things that sounded harsh and painful on my old system don't anymore.

Connectivity)
Is fair has full composite and S-video switching, but NOT component YUV. Note that the RSP-976 DOES.
It also does not have RCA jacks for 5.1 in. It has the DB25 connector. There is also a DB25 connector for the line outs in addition to the RCA line out jacks.(Again the RSP-976 does have RCA line in jacks) This is a THX thing, many of the old Rotel amps have matching DB25 line inputs. Quite frankly I think this is horrible, and DB connectors are intended primarily for data, but if the cable is of sufficient quality it should be OK. If you want to use the 5.1 input you can buy cables that convert to RCAs, or you can build one (if you really know what you are doing).
Other connections are zone2 line outs, 3 coax and 2 TOSlink digital in and a heap of line in channels.

User Interface)
Is pretty poor, but you're buying this thing for audio performance, right?

There isn't even a display on the front, just rows of buttons and LEDs. That makes it hard to tell what input you are using. All the setup is done via an on screen display and remote. This isn't difficult, but it is obviously using a very old character generator, early nineties technology at the best. No pretty fonts or graphics. You can also use the OSD to determine what input is active and what mode it is in, but I am not using the RSP-985 to switch my video, so I would have to change the TV channel to see what my audio settings are.

Remote)
Is poorly laid out and hard to use. It is universal, but NOT learning. It IS backlit. There are two components in my system that it doesn't know about, and because its too hard to work out what button is what I use the remote that came with the component anyway. If you want a real remote buy a Pronto.

General Performance)
Is excellent. Once its all set up it works well.
Just a coulpe of observations.
The volume control is extremely cludgy. It is not smooth at all and takes some getting used to. For some reason the audio output levels seem much lower than I would have expected. I have the pre-amp in on the RB-976 set to maximum, and I still have to have the volume knob at 9 oclock to get any audio. I can increase the volume through the setups for the preamp levels, but I don't like the idea of winding them up too high.

Summary)
An excellent performer, but an obviously dated design.
Has no bells and whistles, but to buy a better performer you would need to spend mega bucks. Should be some good deals around as this unit is now end of life. Otherwise look at the RSP-976.

Doesn't have the newer modes but I really doubt that most people need these modes, unless they have a room large enough to set up a proper 7.1 speaker system. Most people don't have this.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
nicholas grannan   Audiophile [Nov 12, 2000]
Strength:

Sound Quality is awesome!

Weakness:

Future options

I have not purchased the Rotel RSP-985 unit yet because I am torn between the Rotel unit and the B&K Reference 30. The B&K will cost me $118.00 dollars more but it does have more options with component video inputs/outputs. The B&K also has a connection for IEEE 1394 and RS 232 for future upgradeability. I do not know if these conections are actually useable or if you will have to purchase seperate components to use them or not. I can not find anyone in Atlanta, Ga. to give me an honest and objective opinion between these two units. Can anyone enlighten me on information on these two units that I may not know about?

Similar Products Used: Comparing to B&K Reference 30
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Ryan   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 10, 2000]
Strength:

Conservative design; Excellent two channel performance

Weakness:

Brief delay (less than a second) at the beginning of new source material as the format is detected.

I arrived at the purchase of my RSP-985 through a somewhat circuitous route. I had been using a Yamaha DSP-A2 as a pre-amplifier for a Rotel RB-985 mark II five channel amp. One of the Yamaha's redeeming features is the fact that it will not digitalize analog inputs for "CD" if the DSP circuit is disengaged (I asked Yamaha engineers about this several times). I thus decided that I wanted to upgrade my CD player as the next step in increasing sound quality.

When I approached one of my favorite (and most trusted) audio shops in Northern VA, it was suggested that the RSP-985 had DACs that sounded at least as good as those in Rotel's top of the line CD player and, considereng the possible adoption of higher resolution sources like DVD-audio and SACD, this might be a better way to go. This was also a good choice for me, considering that surround sound would be far superior to my Yamaha.

I decided to try the thing out and ultimately ended up buying it. The Rotel is in another league from any thing else I have heard on a mass market level. It left the Yamaha in the dust, most dramatically (as hoped) for two channel sound. Movies, however, have never sounded so superb.

I will say that the EAD is a very impressive piece, but for an equally impressive price. The B&K, while good, did nothing to captivate me however.

Highly recommended; excellent value considering its performance, even at this price.

Similar Products Used: EAD Theater Master, B&K Reference 20 (no direct comparison between all three).
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Rusty-D Davenport   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 20, 2000]
Strength:

THX Cert., DTS, AC-




DD, DTS, THX cert. sound quality, backlight on remote, menus

Weakness:

Remote, Basic Looks, need mid-range control,

OK, this is my first step up into HT Since ProLogic 10 years ago! I figured I'd do it right and I DID! I always wanted some of this High-End Toys. I have this hooked up to a Rotel RMB 1095 and these units KICK-ASS! Can I say that? I started out looking at the Denon 4800, 5700, then to the Marantz 9000, then ended up w/ the Rotel because I was buying the RMB 1095 for the amp anyway. SO why not keep it in the family, less problems.

This set up is phenominal! Cleanliness is next to GODliness. This has some great clean sound. Bass was astounding. I had to turn my 90 watt sub way down this baby puts out so much Bass! Problem is too much in the high end. I have the Treble turned almost all the way down, but this could be partly the speakers. Wish I had a mid-range control.

I do wish they put the tos link in for video 4 w/ the others and not the phono tos input. Lets keep things together. The phono should be off by itself anyway. But this is a minor peave.

I have run several DTS DVD's thru it and it has performed Flawless! I can't stop watching or listening to these units. I will be deaf soon, and so will my neighbors. I have max out the volume on CD w/ impressive results, Clean Loud sound. As for Movies, well that would be way too loud even for me. My ears can only take half volume or up to 0 db depending on movie.

I am still figuring things out. Right now I have s-Video and coax hook up and am having problems w/ On-Screen menu fluttering. I am sure its the dual cable set up because it degrades picture and color. Will change coax connection tonight. I got this unit for a great price too. I would recommend this to ANYBODY looking for HT quality. High End or on a budget. It beat out much higher priced units hands down.

Similar Products Used: Marantz AV 9000
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Tom Martin   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 18, 2000]
Strength:

Has many features (DD, PL, DTS, THX, 5.1 input, bass mgt.)

Weakness:

Price. I do not understand why preamp/processors cost $2K and up.

The Rotel replaces my 20 year old PSE preamp and 5 year old Rotel processor. It's an improvement over both in sound. I have Legacy Focus speakers (each with 3 12" woofers). I also have a Velodyne FSR-12 subwoofer which I use only with movies. When I want to turn the subwoofer on, I need to readjust the bass management system. It was easier with my old Rotel processor. It also had an knob in the back to turn up the signal strength which the new Rotel does not have, but I guess the old Rotel didn't have a bass management system. I also was able to use both s-video and composite video to the same input with the old Rotel. I can't do this with the new Rotel. I wish the Rotel had a turntable input (need to keep my PSE just for the turntable.) The Rotel 985 has a 5.1 input, but I do not feel confident that I'll be able to upgrade the Rotel as things change.

Similar Products Used: Rotel 960 PL processor and PSE pre. $400 Pioneer receiver.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Pete   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 05, 2000]
Strength:

Simple setup and operation, few fake surround modes, Good value

Weakness:

No front panel access to THX or mute functions (remote only). Should have left out the fake surround modes it does have.

Sounds great. Major improvment over the Rotel receiver (which beat the Denon hands down). I'm using it with a Rotel RB-985 5 ch amp and old B&W Matrix 3 speakers, cdm center, 601 surrounds, ASW1000 sub. Each input can be configured for 2 channel or surround modes, thx status, etc. which makes the system easy to operate. Also has seperate record outputs and a second zone output. Stereo performance on music is outstanding. The speaker setup is fairly simple (no variable crossover points for the sub) but it seems to get the job done without any problems. The first unit I got from my dealer was brain damaged (problem decoding DD and dts) but the replacement is fine.

Similar Products Used: Mid range Denon AV receiver (2700 I think), Rotel RSX-965 Receiver.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Miguel Alcantara   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 07, 2001]
Strength:

Excellent stereo sound and superb DD/DTS playback

Weakness:

Remote control, lack of EX decoding, limited toslink inputs

I've been using this preamp/processor for about 6 months and I have to admit that I'm really blown away. It's stereo reproduction is excellent specially with my Marantz CD-63 Mk.II K.I. Signature CD player. Although I've used my cd player's digital output and bypassed the D/A conversion of my cd player. This is because the rotel does not have an analog pass thru meaning it converts analog signals to digital and reconverts them to analog for playback. I don't want too much conversion since it somehow affects sound quality.
Another thing I've liked about my Rotel RSP-985 is in it's DD/DTS playback which is topnotch. I've tested it with my DD and DTS dvd collection and I've never heard anything that not comes up to standards. In fact, it surpasses all my previous gear by a mile.
My only regret is the remote which is confusing although I fixed that when I bought a Cambridge Audio touchscreen remote.
My advice to those who are still undecided to audition this piece of kit (RSP-985) and you won't be disappointed specially that prices are still dropping for this wonderful product.

Similar Products Used: Onkyo TX-828, Denon AVR-3300,Rotel RSX-965, and Rotel RSP-966 A/V Preamp
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 29  

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