Rotel about to launch new DAC and more…

I don’t get invited out much these days and I don’t know why – I’ve been an agreeable chap with practically no blots on my coffee book. So imagine my surprise when I was invited to a lunch ‘do’ with Tony Chandler of International Dynamics to discuss Rotels new upcoming product range with Mike Bartlett of Rotel of America last week. He’d popped into the country for a quick visit and had some great news for us audiophiles, the first being a brand new affordable DAC.
Similar in size and shape to the latest Mac Mini, the all-aluminium cased RD-D06 boasts up to date features such as bluetooth, an asynchronous USB input as well as coax/optical, and a handy front USB input for those amongst us with music stored on flash drives etc.
I didn’t get to see or feel the svelte new baby in the flesh, but Mike gladly allowed us to publish pictures of him holding the DAC whilst wearing a relatively ‘loud’ stripey shirt.


The remote controlled RD-D06 is able to handle ‘bitperfect’ 24/192 source material (used to be called music, now called ‘files) natively via its Wolfson 8471 DAC chip, is configured for Windows (Mac drivers will be available on disc) and is expected to retail for around $800 when it lands.
I’ve been promised a review sample when the first shipment lands (thanks Tony!).
A matching 25wpc (power rating to be confirmed) amplifier using the same case is also in the works, this will be an all-analogue affair and would be a perfect partner for the RD-D06 – price TBA.
Also on the horizon (ahoy!) is the very serious looking 40Kg RB-1592 power amplifier with 380wpc of class A/B grunt and its partnering RC-1590 preamp, and the new RSP-1580 flagship HT processor/preamp, with no less than 4 HDMI v1.4 outputs and all the processing power and format support this side of the Mason/Dixon line.


I asked Mike why Rotel hadn’t considered using ICEpower class-D modules for the RB-1592 instead of good old class A/B and his reply was interesting. Rotel have decided to use class-D amplification for Home Theatre products only because the technology produces less than acceptable distortion below 30Hz when compared with conventional amplification. Mike also commented on the use of digital ‘chip amps’ when used in subwoofers, as they operate in this frequency range and as such must produce inherent distortion.
This was interesting to hear, as there are numerous amplifier manufacturers pinning their hopes and future on Class-D amplification.
Anyway, back on topic. Bringing up the rear but probably just as (if not more) significant as the flagship gear and new DAC is the upcoming RA-1570 integrated amplifier – rated at a wholesome 70/80wpc, the first 10 watts of power will be biased into class-a and will include onboard D/A conversion and an iPod input.
Interesting times then indeed at Rotel, I’ll keep you all updated as information becomes available.

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5 Comments

  1. AG says:

    Coffee book?
    Blot!

  2. B.H says:

    whens this landing.. this article been up awhile now.. left me hanging!

  3. PP says:

    I own the Rotel RDD-06, bought it from Paul Money few weeks ago. It’s the only reasonable sounding DAC that play back from a flash drive or portable HDD.

    One warning this thing don’t connect to your PC without a driver. It is not plug and play like other USB DAC. I tested on both Win7 32 and 64bit both gave me a box saying no driver found for this USB device. And Paul Money told me they packed the wrong drive in NZ so in NZ you don’t have the CD to go with it. So until now I still have not try it as USB DAC.

    At the moment I play back mainly via USB flash drive and a little coax. Frankly for me USB flash drive with 320k sound pretty dam good compare to 192k Flac from coax, not as good but very very near. I use NAD C352 and Polk Rti6 maybe it’s the limit of my other gear.

    The play back from flash drive is very primitive, actually less control then your CD player only forward, back, stop, pause and play. It will play all playable files in the drive even ones under folders.

    As for the sound it is basically the same DAC section as RCD-1520 that is WM8471 with 3 sets of OPA2604/DIP. As I don’t have RCD-1520 I can’t comment anything. But from a short review in Japan the guy think RDD-06 does much better job then RCD-1520, he said RCD-1520 digital out to RDD-06 sound better image, clean and open then RCD-1520 by itself. As all Rotel gear it more on the cool side match nicely with warmer gear I have. Depending on personal taste it can sound very fast and clean match with cool gear like Rotel, B&W, Paradigm. Or open and lay back with warm gear like NAD, Proac, Nami.

    Fact is it’s RCD-1520 DAC section without all the noise source (CD player, transport, transformer) around it pack inside a metal case with external power supply, even less noise. The only noise source is the switch mode power supply’s square wave. Put a ferrite core on the exit end of the switching power supply and roll as much DC cable around it, you will get a dead silent DAC powerful bass and very clean high. Don’t put ferrite on AC power cable but DC it’s better off with one DC don’t get effected by impedance load. For me it took about 100 hours of play back to settle it down nicely. Not huge difference but defiantly more bass and cleaner after 100 hours.

    If you search for RDD-06 image you will found it the most fully packed DAC in it’s class. And the only DAC in it’s class actually use real analog output stage large caps and loads of metal oxide resistors.

    Rega DAC I think it might be better in output stage but it cost nearly twice as much. Frankly I don’t believe it will be twice as good, as any audio gear’s rule of thumb. For DAC new babe the company can say they use the best DAC available like push pull twin WM8471 but if you got a cheap output stage like most DAC under NZ$1k do, they sound crap due to all the high frequency in digital sound processing. Fact is a twin WM8471 DAC only cost less then NZ$100 to make as a home electronic hobbyist, analog output stage is the expensive stuff. That is why a lot of old 16bit DAC can sound so much better then today’s cheap 24/192 DACs.

    Anyway I like RDD-06, simple yet very flexible and sound great. Since I don’t use it as USB DAC without the drive it’s not that much a big deal for me.

    Ah, nearly forgot about this. It comes with a clear blue plastic bluetooth USB dongle at least the one I bought from Paul Money does. Some Korean version has the much smaller black dongle which match the color of the DAC. Anyway it works like magic. Plug it in turn DAC on then use your media player, pad, PC, laptop, nettop, phone, any thing with bluetooth function search for Rotel Bluetooth type in bluetooth matching code in the manual. Set your player to play sound via bluetooth done. I try play back music via my android pad and phone works like magic. Sounds bad though as anyone would have expected from bluetooth. Why would anyone use this instead of plug USB flash drive or HDD is over me.

  4. AshK says:

    Andy Baker’s review of Rotel’s new DAC is almost done and will be loaded soon. Thanks for the comments….

  5. dennis says:

    Any info on the new rotel integrated? was planning on picking up a ra-1520, but if there’s a new one coming in, i’m gonna wait.

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