After admiring the receiver's looks for a few minutes, I moved on to the user manual. Excellent. What a refreshing change to see a clear and concise manual that contains several excellent drawings explaining setup and configuration options. For international buyers, there is also a separate manual, which has been translated into several languages. There is also a third manual dedicated to the supplied RR-969 learning remote.
The hefty remote took some getting used to but, in the end, I found it to be one of the better supplied remotes I've seen. The remote is almost entirely backlit and the most frequently used buttons are exactly where they should be. The remote also has a velvety feel to it, again reminding me of Rotel's quality workmanship. As a matter of fact, the look and feel of the RSX-1055 is first-class all the way. I especially liked the slow and steady feel of the large, central volume control. Since a relationship can't be based on looks alone, it was time to turn this Rotel on and see how it performed.
As mentioned earlier, the RSX-1055 can handle just about every sound format under the sun. With this review, I had the pleasure of my first experience with Dolby's Pro Logic II decoding. Two-channel CD music and non-5.1 DVD soundtracks were given a more open, enveloping sound with convincing surround effects. While the bulk of the sound remained up front, the occasional ambient effect really added to the surround experience. More importantly, this simulated surround sound never drew attention to itself or sounded fake. Put simply, Dolby's Pro Logic II decoding is definitely something I'll require in future processor upgrades.
For 6.1 and 7.1 soundtracks, the RSX-1055 features what Rotel calls XS, or Rotel eXtended Surround. Rotel XS automatically ensures proper decoding whenever center-surround speakers are in use. I did not have the opportunity to play with center-surrounds, during my evaluation period, but that notwithstanding, nothing about the unit's decoding capabilities suggested it would have any problem with the extra channel(s). Be sure to remember that even though the RSX-1055 will decode 6.1 and 7.1 signals, it only has amplification for five channels. If you plan to use the RSX-1055 in an extended surround setup, a recommended configuration would be to use the RSX-1055 to power your center channel and four surrounds and use a separate two-channel amplifier to drive your mains.
Overall, the RSX-1055 is a very musical receiver. While multi-channel movie soundtracks like The Fast and the Furious had plenty of punch, I was most impressed with the Rotel's ability to deliver detailed music with no discernible coloration. The haunting guitar on Alice in Chains' Jar of Flies sounded wonderfully warm and focused. The Rotel has a very transparent quality and it works hard to ensure that it's not the weak link in your system's performance chain.
The RSX-1055 also includes a bass re-direct feature that will keep your subwoofer active. If you don't want this enhancement, you can navigate through the system menu and deactivate the subwoofer.
The RSX-1055 is a unit that is capable of reproducing five channels of music at a sustained output power by virtue of its enormous power supply. This endows the RSX-1055 with a deep and wide soundstage that is sure to please both music and movie lovers alike.
A lot of people talk about "the point of diminishing returns." In other words, at what point does increased spending on hardware stop delivering an equivalent increase in performance? There is a clear difference between a $300 and $600 receiver; the sound quality is arguably twice as good. However, does a $1,200 receiver sound twice as good as a $600 receiver? This is where things get dicey and subjective.
Having listened to several $500 and $600 receivers recently, I can safely say that if you've been using a receiver in this price range, the Rotel RSX-1055 is worth the upgrade. Its stellar build quality, warm musical sound, 7.1 decoding capability and excellent warranty make the RSX-1055 a clear winner. There, see? It isn't so hard to offer a compliment after all. In fact, Rotel makes it easy.
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Rotel RSX-1055 A/V Receiver
Dolby Digital EX, Pro Logic II decoding
DTS Neo:6 and DTS-ES 6.1 discrete decoding
Wideband component video inputs (2)
Multi-zone outputs and control
Learning remote control
Dimensions: 17" W x 16.4" H x 17.4" D
Weight: 45 lbs.
Warranty: 5 years