Rotel RSX-1562 AV Receiver Reviewed
By: Sean Killebrew,
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Rotel is a company known amongst the audiophile ranks for delivering quite a bit of bang for the buck, especially as it relates to receivers and amplifiers. They've been in the game for 50 years and have garnered a reputation for quality, reliability and affordability. The subject of this review is the RSX-1562 receiver, retailing for $2,599, which is Rotel's follow-up to the RSX-1560.
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Some of the highlights of the RSX-1562 include six HDMI 1.4 inputs, which might sound like overkill, but I ended up using all six to connect my DirecTV DVR, Oppo Blu-ray player, Roku, PS3, Xbox360 and AppleTV (yes, I'm a junkie). The Rotel is also 3D-compatible and features an ARC, or Audio Return Channel, an important feature, considering the proliferation of network-capable television sets on the market. Power comes courtesy of an efficient Class D amplifier that is rated at 100 watts per channel for each of the receiver's seven channels. All of the new lossless audio codecs are supported, and it will also play MP3, WAV, AAC and WMA files through the USB input featured on the front panel; much more convenient than trying to connect your iPod and/or USB thumb drive to the back panel. Rotel also includes a Bluetooth dongle, which allows you to stream audio wirelessly from just about any Bluetooth-capable audio device. I tried it using my iPad and it worked flawlessly. It's a simple solution that beats having to worry about using my Apple TV (which means turning on my projector) or some other source component. Just turn on your receiver and your iPad, or any Bluetooth-capable phone, and you're in business. While the audio quality does suffer a bit from the compression that exists when streaming wirelessly, it's still worth using, as it is just so damn convenient. It's a nice touch and I really like the way Rotel incorporated it on this receiver.
The packaging of the Rotel was in line with its price point, which is to say adequate, secure and intuitive. I typically mention the packaging when reviewing a piece of gear, as I think it matters when you're spending this kind of money. The manual is intuitively laid out and well constructed; the packet of manuals is also roughly the size of Wisconsin, as it accommodates multiple languages. Better thorough than sparse, though, so another victory for Rotel. Okay, on to more compelling things, such as the aesthetics of the receiver, which are exemplary. I've always been a fan of the design of Rotel's components and, put simply, they're gorgeous. The RSX-1562 is no exception, with a bright fluorescent display and contemporary front-panel design. My review sample came in black aluminum and it's also available in silver. The focal point is a large volume knob, situated dead center and featuring a blue light ring around it. The buttons are laid out in a complimentary fashion around the volume knob and all of it works well, both aesthetically and functionally.
As I mentioned in the introduction, HDMI inputs are plentiful and actually hit what I consider to be the sweet spot on a receiver or processor at six (I used to think four was the right number). It also features two HDMI outputs, which are ideal for someone who wants to connect a flat panel as well as a projector.
The unit weighs a substantive 34 pounds and measures 17 inches wide by seven-and-a-half inches tall by just over 16 inches deep. Connectivity is not a problem, as the Rotel features all of the requisite analog and digital inputs and outputs. Video processing is handled by the Faroudja Tourino, their latest and greatest offering and, yes, it supports 3D.
I connected the RSX-1562 to my current home theater system, which includes an Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player, a Sony PS3, a Music Hall MMF 2.2 turntable, an Apple TV, a Cambridge Audio DacMagic and a DirecTV HD DVR. The front left and right speakers are Focal Chorus 836 Ws and the center and surrounds in my 7.1 setup are all Episode Series 700 in-walls. The subwoofer is a Definitive Technology SuperCube II and all of the cabling came courtesy of David Salz and company at WireWorld.
After connecting everything, I fired up the Rotel and went straight into the menu. I immediately noticed that the OSD or On Screen Display is about as vanilla as they come. At the end of the day, though, does this really matter? I don't think so, not if it functions as it should and covers all of the bases, which it does. This said, there is no automatic room correction featured on the RSX-1562, a potential deal-breaker for those who use this as a crutch. It's worth noting, however, that a measuring tape, an SPL meter and some patience will generally net better results. While I didn't miss a room correction system on the Rotel, I did miss a headphone jack (I have a two-year-old who's a light sleeper) and Dolby Volume or similar volume correction, which is great for toning down volume spikes on commercials. Considering Rotel's engineering prowess, it would make send for the company to have developed its own proprietary version of volume leveling. However, Rotel explained that the company doesn't believe in volume leveling, stating that the process can affect louder sections of the content.
The last noteworthy bit about the hookup relates to the speaker binding posts. In my opinion, if you're spending big money on a receiver, your binding posts should be able to accommodate heavy speaker wire. Audiophiles love their high-end speaker cables, which tend to be heavy, anaconda-like beasts. Thankfully, Rotel did not cut corners on their binding posts, as they were solid enough to support my beefy WireWorld Oasis 6 cables.
I gave the Rotel a solid 24 hours of break-in time before starting any critical listening, and then I fired up some two-channel music in the form of Timmy Curran's "Daylight's Coming" from his album Word of Mouth (Adeline Records), played through my MacBook Pro using Decibel playback software. I immediately noticed that the Rotel threw a nice, broad soundstage, all while accurately conveying all the rasp and nuance of Curran's beautiful voice. The bass was also well represented and palpable, while not being the least bit overbearing. Overall cohesion was strong and provided an engaging and lively listening experience. Each layer of instrumentation was well fleshed-out, with no signs of the muddiness that tends to be the sonic signature of lesser receivers.
Read more about the Rotel RSX-1562's performance on Page 2.