Reviewed by:bt54 (AudioPhile)
Review Date August 5, 2009
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Value Rating 5 of 5
Used product for 1 to 3 months
Audiophiles are always searching for the Holy Grail. I’m on that mission and like many of you I have a Beer budget and Champagne tastes. Reviews like this have been important to me as most of my equipment is purchased used – reputation and user reviews are what I depend on.
I’m going to preface this review with my prejudices. I LOVE Rock but let’s be realistic – the Bose sound has adequate quality for most rock music. My tastes have grown and I listen to all types of music so rock is not my deciding factor – jazz, classical and vocals put far more demands on an audio system. I have owned and enjoyed Denon Class A\B receivers and am completely sold on B&W speakers.
You don’t know where you are until you know where you’ve been…..
I owned a 90wpc Denon receiver for about 5 years – and it drove my B&W CM4′s beautifully. I upgraded to B&W 9nt’s and a Denon 4308ci and the combination produced beautiful sound at 280wpc. Next came B&W 703′s (are you seeing a pattern) and the Denon 4308ci could not make them sing. The sound was veiled, laid back – it had no soul. Research revealed that B&W 703 speakers required more power than the 4308ci could deliver. My holy grail had hit a wall. Bryston 7st and 7sst’s were consistently rated as the best matched amps for B&W with Rotel as the second choice. Pre-owned Brystons were out of my budget. I found a set of pre-owned but sealed Rotel RB-1091 monoblocks (500 watts) for almost half price. My only question was – how fast can you ship them ?
The Monoblocks Arrive !!!!!
I connected the Rotel RB-1091′s to my Denon’s pre-out connections and moved my speaker connections to the four terminals on each monoblock. Next, I ran the Denon’s Audissey auto configuration program to balance the system. My first test was to listen to some Jazz. I selected Chris Botti Live in Boston because he hits unbelievable high notes and his guest artists included Josh Grobin and Yo Yo Ma. This combination would push the limits of both the speakers and amps. The B&W 703′s immediately started to SING as I had never heard them before. The notes were clean, crisp, well defined, the bass was tight – the fast decaying of notes provided openness to the songs. Subtle notes that I had not heard before appeared. The presentation was so pure that I got chills during some of the passages. I moved on to Bruce Hornsby, Diana Krall, Steely Dan and Procol Harum with the Edmington Symphony Orchestra to get a more rounded evaluation. The sound continued to be PHENOMINAL regardless of artist. Some reviewers wrote that Rotel amps could be bright as they are Class D and with extended listening could be tiring. I completely disagree with their conclusions. I’ve listened to the Rotel\B&W combination for extended periods and have never tired of their sound. The tiring factor they wrote about may exist with other speaker combination but the Rotel\B&W combination is truly a joy to listen to.
If you need to add amplification to make your B&W speakers SING the Rotel RB1091 monoblocks are impressive. Their solid clean power will make your speakers sing. They are priced “reasonably” at about $3k new and a better deal if you can find them used. Some reviewers wrote that Rotel amps could be bright as they are Class D and with extended listening they could be tiring. I completely disagree with their conclusions. I’ve listened to the Rotel\B&W combination for extended periods and have never tired of their sound. The tiring factor they wrote about may exist with other speaker combination but the Rotel\B&W combination is truly a joy to listen to.