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Vol. 10, No. 1 Spring/Summer, 2007



NEW PRODUCTS

Rotel

Rotel RT1084 HD tunerWe talk a lot about preamplifiers, amplifiers, loudspeakers, video displays, etc. in this newsletter, but you haven't heard us presenting much about FM tuners. That's because, even though companies such as Fanfare and Magnum Dynalab make some very high quality tuners, FM sound quality has always been limited by the inherent limitations of the FM broadcast standard. Those limitations came to a screeching halt a few months ago when we got our first chance to audition the new Rotel RT-1084 high definition, (HD) digital tuner. In addition to being able to receive conventional FM broadcasts with the usual high level of Rotel quality, this tuner can also receive the digital HDFM programs that are now being broadcast by many FM stations. These HD broadcasts are invisible to conventional tuners but can be decoded by an HD-capable model. In fact, many FM stations send out up to three different HD streams, so those owning an HD tuner have access to additional program material that does not show up when a conventional tuner is used. However, the most exciting aspect of this HD tuner is the exceptional sound quality obtained from those HD broadcasts. This sound quality is so head and shoulders above what you hear from a conventional FM broadcast that it doesn't even bear comparison. There is so much more detail, spatiality, clarity, and image depth that a non-HD program sounds dead by comparison! You will not be able to listen to FM in any other way after hearing this tuner. The RT-1084 has another interesting feature. It has three sets of inputs on the back to which you can connect up to three Sirius satellite modules. (These modules are available from Sirius for $50 each.) When one or more of these modules is attached, the RT-1084 becomes capable of receiving Sirius broadcasts, and you can tune and control Sirius reception from the same controls as you use for conventional or HDFM. Since the RT-1084 can control up to three of these modules, you can send as many as four different FM, HD FM, or Sirius program streams to different rooms of your house with this one tuner. The sound quality and flexibility of this new tuner make it a must for anyone interested in the highest quality radio programming.

Rotel RB1072 Class-D power amplifierIn issue number 9, we talked about the new, Class-D switching power amplifiers that had recently been released by Rotel. We discussed three offerings, the RMB-1077 100 watts/channel, 7-channel home theater version at $2,499,the RB-1092 500 watts/channel, 2-channel version at $2,499, and the 500 watt RB1091 mono block version at $1,499. As spectacular as the reviews and sound of these products were, there was no modestly-priced, lower power version. Rotel has solved that problem by releasing the RB-1072, a 100 watts/channel, 2-channel version selling for $899. The RB-1072 has all of the same fine sonic performance of the other three models, which we discussed in Issue 9, but it is more practically sized and priced for many music systems. In fact, there's no finer sounding solid state power amplifier available at or near its price. You are welcome to come down and audition this, another innovative product from Rotel.

Rotel has taken the excellent RSX-1056 home theater receiver and made it more flexible with the addition of HDMI switching. The new model, the RSX-1057, has two switchable HDMI inputs and sells for the same $1299 price as the prior model.

Rotel RVE1060 Video scaler/switcherFor those who need more sophisticated video switching and/or want video upsampling or scaling that will enhance the video being sent to their TV, Rotel has released the RVE-1060 video scaler. The RVE-1060 seamlessly brings together analog and digital video sources. Devices such as VCRs, cable TVs, satellite set-top boxes, and DVD players can all be routed simultaneously alongside digital video sources such as high definition off-air signals, HDMI set-top boxes and DVI-adaptable devices. The scaling functions are so advanced that the RVE-1060 will calculate the appropriate resolution for your specific display device. Whether it's 1080i or 720p, your high definition television will be maximized for optimum performance, no matter what your source might be. The RVE-1060 provides users that already own Rotel surround preamplifiers or receivers with an excellent upgrade path for video. There's no need to replace any of these units, just add the RVE-1060 to handle all of the video scaling and switching, and you will immediately enjoy the benefits of digital video. The RVE-1060 will communicate with Rotel receivers or preamplifiers through the rear RS-232 connection, folding the two menus together. This is a seamless integration, and all switching of audio and video occurs with one remote control button push. The RVE-1060 also features a complete set of discrete IR codes that will provide easy integration solutions when combining the RVE-1060 with non-Rotel brands. It's important to understand that this isn't just a switchbox. The RVD-1060 will take any input such as composite video, S-video, component video, and lower resolution HDMI video and will convert it to high resolution, digital (HDMI) that is 720p or 1080i, depending on the capabilities of your TV. This is the quickest and simplest way to get the best possible performance from all of your video sources.

Rotel RC1082 preamplifierRotel has also just released a brand new, flagship preamplifier, the RC-1082 at $1199. This unit was designed to be the best preamplifier ever from Rotel and, at the same time, to be flexible and installation-friendly. This preamplifier achieves its goal of purist sound quality by careful selection of the components used internally and by careful circuit design. Flexibility comes from the ability to connect up to 9 sources, including either MC or MM phono and an MP3 player at the front panel jack. For custom installation purposes, it can be controlled remotely by either IR or RS-232 controllers. Rotel shows us again that excellent sound and ease of use can, through clever design, be combined into one package.

Finally, Rotel has made available two very sophisticated power distribution devices, the RLC-1040 at $499 and the RLC-1080 at $1599. These improve the sound quality of your expensive components and protect them as well. The RLC-1080 is more than just a line conditioner or surge suppressor. It certainly does both of those functions. It filters your AC power to remove noise and RF interference from your incoming power, and it provides UL-approved surge suppression that is vastly more effective than that obtained from most other units. Furthermore, it also automatically corrects low or high voltages between 90 and 140 volts so that your components always get the proper, nominal AC voltage they need to perform properly. Additionally, the RLC1080 has a built-in battery backup that will keep your stereo or home theater running, even in the event of a total power failure. This will give you the time to shut down your system properly and avoid damage. The RLC-1080 could save you the cost of replacing an $800 projector lamp that could easily be blown by having its projector shut down without a proper cool down period. The RLC-1040 gives you all of the same features as the RLC-1080, but without the battery backup.

This suite of new products from Rotel is one of the most unusual and innovative we have ever seen, and it should tell you how dedicated the company is to providing top performance in every area of consumer audio-video.


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