ROTEL RB-1090 Amplifiers

RB-1090

380 Watt Power Amplifier

User Reviews (38)

Showing 1-10 of 38  
Doug   AudioPhile [Jul 12, 2016]

So I stumbled across one of these on eBay a few months back and always wanted to hear for myself what all the rave about this amp was about. I remember when these first came out and had a choice of buying one of these new or a slightly used Proceed Amp2. Since already at the time had a Proceed Pav I decided to go with the Amp2. Smart choice now that I've heard this amp.

First the pros:
Excellent build quality and nice looking.
Specs look great on paper...
No one will bother trying to steal it as it weighs 3 tons
Relatively modest price for wpc.

Now the cons:
Compared to the Amp2 and a Paraound HCA 2200 MkII I still have ( all of which were the same price when new) this amp is not very musical and has virtually no micro dynamics. The soundstage is fairly wide, however instrument placement is not realistic or well defined as compared to the Amp2. The Parasound completely blows it away on low extension speed, tonal accuracy and weight. Surprising for an amp rated at 380 wpc. This thing really struggles to drive my Platinum Audio Solos, which aren't the most efficient, however the Amp2 at 150 wpc drives them with ease. To me, this amp sounds more like a mid level Carver TM series amp. It might make a good sub amp for home theater but compared to other amps in its price range it lacks a lot to be desired. Some reviewer compared this to a Krell Kav 300. Are you kidding me? Even the 150wpc Krell has magnitudes more of bass slam compared to this amp. Now in all fairness this amp is not harsh and has a "smooth" presentation, but hardly draws the listener into to presentation.
This might make a great amp for some, but after comparing it to 2 equally priced amps and my reference Mark Levinson 27.5, I would hardly call this an audiophile amp. It might be better suited hooked up to some Klipsch speaker blasting disco music at a party..

Test Equipment
Krell KRC 3 pre
Platinum Audio Solos speaker
Snell C/V speakers
PS Audio Perfect Wave Dac
Theta David Transport
Kimber Select Speaker cables
Kimber Silver Streak XLR Interconnects
PS Audio P3 power conditioner
Dedicated 30 amp breaker

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
pattaya   Casual Listener [Mar 22, 2009]

the best economic power amp i have ever used

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
tilepronc   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 24, 2009]
Strength:

Good lower end Great soundstage,, just a good mid priced amp

Weakness:

Heavy

I agree with most fo the past reviews,This beast (85+lbs) sounded better than I was expecting.Run cool, no hum, great lower end,good mids,and good highs.I know I could have gotten better for more $ but I think this amp is well worth the price .Even new @ 1950. Its well built and sounds great.

Similar Products Used: Rotel RB 1080
Mcintosh
Peterson Kluas
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
aztekkhundergod   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 23, 2007]
Strength:

Complete musiical sound at both frequency extremes and in between . Great at picking up high frequency details.

Weakness:

Bass is not very defined and not very extended.

Runs out of power too soon/The rated 380 Watts must be milli-watts.

Hello there , thought id drop in my two cents on this marginally overated amplifier. ( i swear half of you reviewers must own stock in Rotel ). Some time ago i was in the market for a very powerful amp . So ( going partly because of the great review the piece had gotten right here on av reviews) i went with the rb 1090.
What wasnt to like ? The stats on this thing are monstrous , something like dual 1.4 kv transformers and 80k farads per channel.
The amp arrived and i hooked it up to my paradigm monitor 11.4 ( an excellant , easy to drive speaker at a very reasonable price). The first thing i noticec about the amp was a very complete musical sound from top to bottom with a very good soundstage. Low level treble detail was extraced very well by the rotel.

However the bass was not very defined at all, and not as extended as one would expect from a 380 wpc , 85 lb behemoth.

Worse yet, i couldnt crank the volume on this thing very much without it running out of power waaaay too soon.
Despite its shortcomings, the rb 1090 has a very musical sound, but it runs out of power too soon , and its bass is marginal in extension as well as definition.

Similar Products Used: Paradigm monitor 11 v.4

Vincent sa 31 preamp
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Tulfi   AudioPhile [Mar 31, 2007]
Strength:

You will get all your cd's (lp's) out of their case again. You will be a child again. You will be proud (once more) to have this great audio-hobby. You will dream of 1090, even when it's not around. It's like an Aston Martin. Grace and power.

Weakness:

Official Rotel information, then speaks of 1 transformator (1,25 kVA) and later also of two. I am still not sure: I will ask about this at B&W / Rotel and I will also open the case myself to have a look. But: with this sound, I couldn't care less. I only want to know.
When you have to lift it: you might think there are 6 transformers and 2 Aston Martins in it.....

I’m a critical audiophile. I want: high quality recordings on CD. And then: My hardware to pass it through as neutral as possible. I know the upgrade virus (or 'bottleneckshifting' )

Before I bought this 1090 recently, I read all the 33 reviews on Review.com. Some of them are more useful than others, but I learned a lot. Thank you all. I spent a lot of time on Google too, which offered me more reviews and articles.

I also know Rotel for quite some time now. History from 1995 on: RCD 975 (double dac) + Integrated amp RA 935 BX Mk 2 (wow!), RA 980 BX, RC 972 + RB 990 BX, and then RC 995 (Tuned version).

Cd player and Pre amp could be upgraded (I allready have an itch) but still they are very, very good! All are fed by Mainsstream powercords from Van den Hul (no uprgrade will ever be needed here I think).

I also have Vifa Carat speakers with upgraded cross-over electronics (highest quality of capacitors, copperfoilcoils and very large ‘Trafokernspoelen’ (that’s dutch. In english: transformer-core-coils?) on the low sector. All hardwired and built externaly, away from the units. After a long study and being sceptic at first, I added two pieces of audiofile REL Quake subwoofers. Believe me: it works: have a look at the reviews!. (I think of an upgrade there too....)

I use biwired Audioquest Bedrock speakercable with WBT connectors. My interlinks are homemade: copper / silver conductors with teflon shielding and Neutrik Profi connectors: very clear and open sound.

I thought that changing cd players would give a better soundupgrade than changing poweramps. And I allready have plans to buy a Rega Saturn or Creek Destiny cd player for instance (Rotel RCD 1072 isn’t good enough to give up on the RCD 975 I think). But after reading and dreaming, I knew I would first buy the RB 1090 poweramp. I got this one secondhand from a marketplace site. I paid 1300 euros (I believe that’s 1700 dollars) for this 3 year young machine. And now I know you can get a great upgrade at poweramplevel too!

Allways inportant to think of: the sound you hear, really comes from more than the Amp alone. Someone in these reviews said that if the other reviewer hears some disturbance trough the 1090, it's more likely the player or pre-amp. I agree and add to this: it could be the speakers, acoustics of your room or positioning (or combinations of them). Try to be sure of the source of insufficiencies you might hear! Of course the 1090 is not 'perfect' and of course there's ML and Krell and so on. Nevertheless I’m absolutely sure this 1090 is very good: with top recordings and setup: it’s impossible to say anything else! The fact Mark Levinson and Krell are so often named with regard to this 1090, is just a great fact: at this price! No-one can take that away.

The RB 990 is allready a great Amp: look at the reviews. I fully agree on them. I even didn’t think it would really bring much more to upgrade it. But it's really true: with the 1090 I hear a lot more information now: timbres in the lower frequencies, but also a more precise soundstaging and more transparancy (again: rb 990 is also very good at this!). It seperates the elements of music superbly and within the notes you hear more 3d info and colour. It plays with great ease but also with more bite. The presence is incredible. There's no hardware anymore! Only soundstage (except for the bad recordings: shame on these artists!) Definition is better and all sounds faster: I'm hooked on this now. I'm as happy as a child and long for this sound every day. Think of this again: my CD player and pre-amp could easaly be upgraded! I,m sure the 1090 has to offer even more then.

Rotel RB 1090: with a good study and setup: negative reviewing just isn't possible. Period.

Similar Products Used: None (RB 990)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Tulfi   AudioPhile [Mar 29, 2007]
Strength:

Ease of sound and flow of current. Power and detail, transparancy.
Ballanced design: quality for your money.

Weakness:

=Weakness of some bands: bad recordings sound as bad as they are.
And yes, it's a backbreaker, but who cares? The only thing that really matters: soundquality.

Before I bought this 1090, I read all these 33 reviews. Some of them tell you more than others, but I learn a lot by reading them. Indeed: the sound you hear comes from more than the Amp alone. Hardware (complete chain) acoustics and positioning are all very important. Someone said that if you hear some disturbance trough the 1090, it's more likely the player or pre-amp. I add to this: it could be acoustics or positioning, all in combination. Of course it's not 'perfect', but what is perfect?

I sold my RB 990 BX. I use my 1090 with Rotel pre-amp RC 995 and CD player RCD 975. These two could easily be upgraded (I allready have an itch) but still are very good! Have a look at the reviews. All are fed by the best powercords from Van den Hull (viva Holland).

I also have Vifa Carat speakers with upgraded electronics (highest quality of capacitors an copperfoilcoils, all hardwired and built externaly) I use biwired Audioquest Bedrock cable. Also homemade interlinks: silver/copper with teflon shielding: very clear and open sound. I added two pieces of REL Quake subwoofers, after a long study and sceptics at first. Believe me: it works. (Allthough I think of an upgrade there too....)

So I know Rotel for a long time now. History: Integrated amp RA 935 BX Mk 2 (wow!), RA 980 BX, RC 972 + RB 990 BX and up untill past week: RC 995 (Tuned) + RB 990 BX. All with RCD 975 (double DAC).

I also read a lot of reviews about the 1090. Thats why I knew enough to buy it secondhand from a marketplace site. Payed 1300 euro (I believe thats 1700 dollars) for this 3 year young machine.

I only had a few days of listening with it now. But I'm allready sure it's a very good amp. It's really true: I hear a lot more information now: timbres in the lower frequencies, but also a more precise soundstaging and more transparancy. I hear more detail overall and the souvernty is really outstanding. There's more bite, which I was looking for! The best upgrade will be from the source on, but this also proves to be a great one! I was very surprised and happy as a child. I long for it every day (childish, but o so true).

I will listen to it much more the coming weeks and months. I think I will return to this place to give you a short, but more refined review. I'm convinced this amp deserves it. Let's keep two channell listening alive!

Similar Products Used: RB 990 BX
RB 991BX
So I can't tell the difference yet between this 1090 and other real Highenders.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
dario@telvia.it   AudioPhile [Jun 18, 2004]
Strength:

price well balanced. mid quality amplifier. if you look for the same watt among mark levns or mcintosh the prices are crazy.

Weakness:

grain armonics too bright

Good boy. For the price it is a good deal. Not really the best in audiophile area. Lack of armonics and mid bass. May be I am a bit overcritic because I listen it with maggies 1.6. which are very unpolite to any amplifier. Anyway grain is quite high, compared to my mbl 8011 (but it costs 4 times as much!) I am using a couple of this rb 1090 in biamping while my other amplifier is gone for manteinance. one or two the sound does not change much. If you find the right speaker this amp could be a surprise. Dynaudio 1.8 mkII fit it better.

Similar Products Used: no similar product all in an upper category
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
5
Thomas   AudioPhile [Jun 09, 2003]
Strength:

Open Sound Stage, Round and Full Bass, Extended Treble, and Smooth Midrange.

Weakness:

Heavy

Calling all Music Lovers!! I wrote a review on this amplifier soon after I purchased this amp in late 2002! Now that the break in period is done, the amp performs even better than it did without the break in period. The soundstage is open and wide; The bass has become deeper and fuller; The midrange is smoother with the details; and the treble is extremely detailed without the extra grain and harshness that are normally produced by larger amplifiers. Anyone considering purchasing an amp with the gravitas to boast its weight around, should strongly consider the Rotel RB 1090. You will be completely satified! I listened to the Adcoms, Levinsons, Krells, and Sunfireof the world. Each amp has its own distinctive sound, but for the money, the Rotel RB 1090 is a very good amp for the money and power. My system: Rotel RB 1090 (Black and Silver Finish) Adcom GFP 750 Arcam CD72T Musical Fidelity A324 Upsampling DAC Cambridge Audio D500SE HK CDR 20 MSB Link III DAC MSB P-1000 Powerbase Power Supply Monarchy Audio 48/96 Upsampler PS Audio Ultimate High Current Outlet Monster Power HTS 3600 Line Conditioner Bose 901 Concerto Series VI Speakers and Active EQ (1988) Interconnects and Cables: MIT Optical Cable Kimber Optical Cable Silver Serpent Digital Cable Silver Serpent BNC Digital Cable MIT 330 Series II 3 Pairs MIT Terminator 2 Speaker Cables 1 Pair MIT Terminator 2 Interconnect 1 Pair Nordost Solar Wind Interconnect 1 Pair Nordost Blue Heaven Interconnect 1 Pair PS Audio Mini Lab Power Cables (2) PS Audio Micro Lab Power Cables (6)

Similar Products Used: Mark Levinson, Krell, Sunfire, Adcom, etc
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
zz5573zz   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 02, 2003]
Strength:

Hits the whole spectrum of sound spectacularly. Bass is impressive, midrange is warm and inviting and the highs don't show a bit of harshness or grain. Power for any kind of speaker set-up(it will run stable down to 2 ohms). Tremendous imaging, soundstage and timbre. Nowhere else can you fing an amp this good until you shell out 3 times as much and for that I can honestly say you are the fool for doing so.

Weakness:

Sheet metal is a bit flimsy on top, but for Godsake people NOTHING is meant to be on top of ANY amp, nevermind this one. Jesus, what a stupid complaint from the idiot above. Ventillation, ventillation, ventillation!!! Put it on the floor or a nice amp stand.

I can honestly say for $2000 or less, this amplifier is absolutely wonderful. It has prodigious power WITHOUT sacrificing detail or soundstage. Not many products can say this. It is better than the B&K 200.2 and the Parasound HCA-3500. Dare I say it is a close second to the Krell KAV-300. I'm serious guys. Everyone gets wrapped up in the name(whether it be Krell, McIntosh or Mark Levinson) and the pricetag, but why spend the money for the badge?? This product is so close in sound quality it is ridiculous. And further more, if you truly fell the need to dump 7 or 8 grand on an amplifier, I hope the rest of your system is worth approximately $20-22,000. I'm serious, because without that kind of investment, you are ripping yourself off and not doing justice to the last 3% of premium quality that separates the Krell from Rotel. Now, back to the Rotel. If you are power hungry- you'll be in heaven. If you enjoy imaging and detail, believe it or not, you're going to be in heaven too! This baby, according to a source I have at Rotel, will put out roughly 30 watts of pure Class A power. Impressive, huh? Without writing a technical dissertation(go to Stereophile or Audioreview where they pay them the big bucks to do that) this amp simply will not disappoint you. It has a warm(tubelike anyone???) supple midrange and thankfully a non-fatiguing high range. Very impressive above 4000Hz. Bass is what you would expect from an amp with these credentials(1000 damping factor and roughly 125 amps of peak current per channel), very tight and extremely hard hitting. In a nutshell, worth every penny. How could you go wrong with an amp like this for $2000, or hell, even if it was $4000. I'm really that serious. Ask your local shop for a night with this baby in your home.... I rest my case!! Rest of system: B&K PT-5 Pre-amp Sony XA-20ES CD transport Monster Reference Power Cond. HTR-2600 Tributaries Siver Series interconnects Monster Cable M2.4 Series Bi-wire Klipsch RF-7's Klipsch RSW-12

Similar Products Used: B&K Reference 200.2, Yamaha RX-Z1, Parasound HCA-1500, Adcom GFA-555II, Krell KAV-300
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
W Z   AudioPhile [Mar 04, 2003]
Strength:

Lots of power.

Weakness:

Mine died after two years. The outer case is very thin and too weak in case you wanna put something heavy on top of it.

This is a good amp. I run mine so hard that the light in the whole house fades from the current surge when the bass is booming (it's a small villa though, but still very cool!). Someone wrote here that the amp smoked and finally died when it was on. Mine did too, and I know the probable reason: Faulty inrush current limiter. I did replace mine with a bigger one and now it works fine. If you wanna have a small disco or house party then this is the amp for you. Beware that it gets hot and requires good air flow. Not only does it output plenty of power, it sounds good too! Definitely a good choice to power front speakers in any surround system.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 38  

(C) Copyright 1996-2018. All Rights Reserved.

audioreview.com and the ConsumerReview Network are business units of Invenda Corporation

Other Web Sites in the ConsumerReview Network:

mtbr.com | roadbikereview.com | carreview.com | photographyreview.com | audioreview.com