Tuesday, April 24, 2012
My Rotel combo
I've been listening a lot more to my modest bedroom system of late that I find sonically addictive with its spot-on timbre, great timing and explosive dynamics. It comprises of none other than my Pioneer pure malt speakers being driven by a Rotel RA-04 integrated amp with a Rotel RCD-06 se cdp as front end. Cables are diy silver interconnects and short length of Chord Carnival Silver Plus.
I've raved greatly on the excellent sonics of LP playback in several of my blog postings but fact remains that I embarked upon my audio odyssey with Redbook CDs and it'd be folly to completely ignore the great music found in some 300 odd CDs which I acquired over the years, some having gone through real great pains to do so. I've since tweaked my main system with better-suited cables but its overall sonic characters remain fundamentally unchanged. Perhaps I should consider finetuning my amp's bias next for it's still a little uninvolving especially with CD playback although it has excellent clarity, sounds utterly rich, paints a solid 3-dimensional soundscape with precise location of vocalists/instruments, portrays a humongous soundstage plus a fabulous midrange to die for. It's great with vocals but as for other genres of music, it’s a little too suave, a little too refined and a little too restrained, dynamically.
Enter my bedroom system. My Pioneer pure malt speakers are extremely rich sounding (much richer than my SF Concerto Home) and although its sensitivity is only 84dB/1W, its load impedance is rather benign and could be driven well by any medium powered amp. I opted for the relatively lean, raw and extremely dynamic sounding Rotel RA-04 int amp rated conservatively at 40W @ 8ohm. An under-rated entry level but a real classic little amp that could be had rather cheaply, this amp has no nasty remote control circuitry that degrades sonics and the ideal configuration in number of output transistor caps. I've recently added a Rotel RCD-06 se cdp replacing my good old Sansui CD-X310. Sonically, it's a class above the latter with its better-endowed midrange and greater bass weight. Internally, a Wolfson WM 8740 DAC graces the pcb instead of the older Burr Brown DACs. Rotel has since ditched the Pacific Microsonics HDCD chip that results HDCD-encoded CDs to sound fabulous but mediocre with ordinary discs.
I'm currently re-discovering classical music in my LP/CD collection. To me, they simply have more substance and are more satisfying, musically. Through my Rotel combo, every note/shift in tempo is clearly audible, music becomes so alive, there are plenty of rhythmic bounces and its dynamics approach a high level of realism. Playback of piano sonatas sound convincing enough, akin to listening to a Kawai piano at home. This is truly terrific and exceeds what I could possibly have bargained for, what more with entry level gears. It's the music sounding great that matters, not the hi fi gears themselves. Did I also mention that the Rotel amp has a very decent inbuilt phono stage considered equal to a Goldring PA-1 phono?