In an era when most consumer electronics manufacturers crank out freshly updated offerings on a yearly basis (or some reasonable approximation thereof), it's a bit weird and a lot heartening that there are still companies whose every new product feels like something of an event. Rotel is one such company. The last multichannel box I remember coming out of Rotel was its RSP-1582 surround processor back in 2015. Before that? A pair of five-channel amps in 2013. Its renowned RSX-1562 hit the scene in 2012. At that point my memory becomes a bit hazy. The long and short of it? Rotel home theater gear doesn't come along very often. Which makes the new RAP-1580 ($3,850) worthy of attention merely due to its existence.
There isn't a lot of information packed in the RAP-1580's name, to be frank about it. What, after all, is a surround amplified processor? As it turns out, it's a surround processor with built-in amplification.
Wait, isn't that an AV receiver? Technically no, since the original definition of "receiver" referred to an amp with a built-in radio tuner. The RAP-1580 boasts neither AM nor FM reception, hence the name "surround amplified processor." But yeah, in practice, it's a receiver.
And a well-outfitted one, too--with a generous front-panel TFT display, eight HDMI 2.0a inputs and two outputs (three of the former and both of the latter are HDCP 2.2 compliant, although only one of the outputs supports ARC and OSD), Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding with support for up to 7.1.4 channels, iPod/iPhone/iPad USB connectivity on the front panel, a Moving Magnet phono stage input, and (an increasing rarity these days) a full 7.1-channel analog input section.
Then, of course, there's the amplifier section: seven Class AB channels measuring in at 100 watts apiece. That may not seem like a lot, but remember that this is Rotel--which means that's a for-real 100 watts per channel, all channels driven, into eight ohms, with less than 0.05 percent THD. Drop the same amps into most mass-market receivers, and they would be labeled at least 190 watts per channel.
Those amps, and the gargantuan Rotel-made toroidal transformer, do lead to a receiv--errr, surround amplified processor--that's a bit beefier than one might suspect. Although unremarkable in height and width at 7.55 and 17 inches, respectively, the RAP-1580 is a rack-stuffing 18.5 inches deep and weighs in at a back-breaking 50.27 pounds (and that's not including the hefty rack ears included in the box). Needless to say, this makes installation a bit tiring.
I installed the RAP-1580 twice: once in my main home theater system (where I would otherwise never consider installing a receiver with 100 watts of amplification per channel) and once in my bedroom home theater system, where receivers are normally tested.
Everything about the design and construction of the RAP-1580 speaks to its quality and helps justify its $3,850 retail price: from the fit and finish of the chassis to the wonderful inertia of the volume knob (which is a weensy bit small for my big Wookiee paws, but feels so delightful in action that it's hard to grump). The back panel is laid out with the utmost in intuitiveness and accessibility, from the eight HDMI ins and two outs along the top to its array of six digital inputs (three optical, three coax), its USB input, control connections aplenty (RS-232, 12v, and IR), analog ins and outs, and finally its horizontally aligned five-way binding posts. The latter are particularly nice, although arranged with a bit of a quirk. Right inputs are grouped together (front and surround), as are lefts, with center and center back (or top middle) outputs between them, but the position of their positive and negative terminals alternate, black-red, red-back, red-black, red-black, black-red, etc. I point that out not as criticism, but merely to draw attention to the fact that a bit of extra care is required to keep from wiring up speakers out of phase.
In the main theater, I mated the RAP-1580 with a pair of GoldenEar Technology Triton One towers up front, a pair of Triton Sevens as surrounds, a SuperCenter XL, and a pair of SuperCinema 3s overhead, plus two Paradigm Studio SUB12s and Sunfire's SRS-210R SYS SubRosa Flat Panel Subwoofer. Sources were DISH's Hopper 3 DVR, a PlayStation 4, and OPPO's UDP-205, which I connected via HDMI and stereo analog.
In the bedroom, the RAP-1580 was matched with an RSL 5.2-channel CG3 Home Theater Speaker System, an OPPO BDP-103, and a DISH Joey.
The RAP-1580 features no room correction system, but it does offer 10 bands of parametric EQ per channel (which we'll discuss later in the review, along with a few other setup quirks, including the 1997-era setup menus). Aside from that, setup really boiled down to connecting up cables and finding a Control4 driver that worked, which turned out to be the IR driver for the company's RSP-1572 (with just a bit of tweaking).
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...