RMB-1085 Listening Test Continued and Conclusion
Next I decided to move on to a few DVD-As from my collection
DVD-A: Lowen & Navarro
- carry on together
When testing a mulitchannel amp or receiver, you need some high quality multichannel recordings. Well, when I think of high quality multichannel music recordings, I look no further than AIX records. While their selection of music is a bit limited, for much of their music they offer not only a CD and DVD-A versions, but also "stage" and "audience" mixes. For this review, I chose the "stage" 96 kHz/24-bit mix. The stage mixes generally put you in the middle of the music which I find to be more enveloping and involving than the audience mixes which basically put the music out front striving to give you that "best seat in the house" experience.
The Rotel RMB-1085 really did this recording justice by pushing a very clean and noise-free signal. The silent passages (of which there are many) were truly silent. The responsiveness of the amp was evident as sudden volume changes were both convincing and forceful. One of the characteristics of AIX recordings is the faithfulness to the performance even when the performers make mistakes (not everyone uses Pro Tools to loop every track you know). With the RMB-1085, there was plenty of depth to the soundstage that I had no problems "drilling in" to the music and hearing these little flubs from time to time. The instruments all had a very lifelike and realistic quality with the proper decay and hold over (or not) intrinsic to its nature. Bongos sounded like bongos, guitars sounded like guitars, and I felt like I was sitting in the middle of a jam session. Quite an experience.
Porcupine Tree - Deadwing
Lastly, I really wanted to push the amp so I decided to put in Porcupine Tree's Deadwing. While it isn't all at ear-bleed levels, it definitely sneaks up on you. Tracks like Arriving Somewhere But Not Here start off fairly mellow but eventually crank up to a more metal sound. This allowed my ears to adjust to a loudish volume before the eventual reach for a remote to turn it down. Never did I think that the amp was approaching clipping nor did it seem like the speakers were being overly taxed. As we always say, too much power doesn't kill speakers - clipping does. And the Rotel seemed fairly resistant to clipping. Now, I have a smaller room which Rotel thinks their amp can more than handle. I agree. I'm not so sure you're going to be able to put it in a cavern of a room (like some of these "great" rooms that are more and more common) without risking clipping, but in a small to medium room with reasonably efficient speakers, you're going to be fine.
While I can think of one or two five channel A/B amps on the market with more power and lower price points, the Rotel RMB-1085 seems to be about on par with most of the rest of the competition. While some of the other Switching amps on the market (as well as other Rotel offerings) sport Bang & Olufsen's ICEPower amplifier modules, the RMB-1085's proprietary Switching amplifiers seem more than up to the task of keeping up with the demands of today's modern home theater. At only 100 watts, I couldn't say that it was a huge improvement over the internal amps of my receiver with my 8 ohm speakers though with a harder speaker load, such differences may become more apparent. It does have an undeniable cool factor and plenty of power if your current amplification needs are inadequate or your speakers have lower impedance and are giving your current amp/receiver trouble. If you are looking to beef up your home theater or just have a touch of the upgrade bug, the RMB-1085 is a little firecracker of an amp that might be what you've been looking for.
Rotel RMB-1085 Power Amplifier
54 Concord St.
North Reading, MA 01864-2699
978 664 3820
Rotel audio products are known worldwide for their quality, reliability, value, and, above all, exceptional sound reproduction. Since 1961, Rotel has utilized the resources of its formidable international design team and has manufactured its products in its own sophisticated production facilities. Rotel proudly offers a complete range of electronics that have consistently received critical acclaim and coveted industry awards. With substantial investment in new technologies and manufacturing, Rotel is prepared to meet the challenges of an evolving specialty electronics marketplace.
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Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.
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Nice review. Any chance of getting some power and distortion measurements on the Rotel amp. As you point out in your article, linearity and low distortion have been a chanlange for calss D amps in the past.
these new Rotels have lower-model ice modules as compared to the ice modules on my 1077 (which I'm using for 2 channel listening, til i get a center channel) which is why these new ones are cheaper.