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.