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This review first appeared in the June 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Rotel RCX-1500 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Fonel - Ed.

Tobias Zoporowksi
Sources: Analog - Transrotor Insigne with Rega RB 300 und Goldring 1042 GX; phono stage - Lehmann Audio Black Cube Statement; tuner - modified Sansui T-80; digital - deck Lua Appassionato und Yamaha CD-S 1000; iPod dock - modified Advance Acoustic MiP-Station
Amplification: Symphonic Line RG 9 MK IV, Yamaha A-S 1000
Loudspeakers: Magnat Quantum 905, Nubert nuVero 14
Cables: in-akustik loom, alternately Eagle Cable and WireWorld
Review component retail: €1.499

Rotel’s product manager Frank Balzuweit seemed more modest than warranted: "Our RCA-1500 doesn’t fully target our regular clientele, i.e. those who pick Rotel purely for sonic reasons. Here we wanted to offer a smart all’rounder with comprehensive functionality that’d be future proof yet intuitive to use."

Why so modest? Despite its class D power stage which certain hifi fiends regard with suspicion, an audition over a few weeks determined that this box had style and sonic goods. So I for one really fell for this British multi tasker.

Aside from its obvious can-do chops, this reaction was rooted in a resolute presentation which to me seems nearly genetic core code for most the company’s components. It’s about the kind of transparency which allows one to virtually enter any musical style with subtlety. Surrounded by dense sounds one discovers previously unnoticed details. That’s a typical strength for Rotel.

Let’s start with CD. Because I’d been reading Wolfgang Niedecken’s autobiography "Für ‘ne Moment", it seemed à propos to begin with his 1987 solo project Schlagzeiten. At the time it was his liberation manifesto. After the BAP fiasco Niedecken’s main band had arrived at a music cross road to be uncertain how to continue together. The bard from Cologne thus tapped studio and touring compadres to join him on a different album whose "Maat et joot" ended up as a hit single.

Mastering fashions change. During the 80s it wasn’t uncommon to enhance Pop and Rock productions with massive reverb trails and similar artificial effects hashery. Produced by Wolf Maahn, Schlagzeiten happily eluded such nonsense to remain clean, cracking and crisp. For the closer "Neuleed" the recording engineer Rolf Hanekamp who at the time worked in Cologne’s EMI studio II assembled a highly energetic band with Paul ‘Paulchen’ Kuhn on piano, ex Bläck Fööss front man Tommy Engel as sidekick and Tote Hosen as background chorus for a rip-roaring larger-than-actual Big Band jewel.