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Rotel ready RA-1572 super-integrated amplifier

‘Mid-fi’ – a piss weak insult levelled from on high at many an entry-level audio manufacturer; as if an amplifier priced in the hundreds – not thousands – could even dream of competing with ‘proper high-end’ (read: most costly) models. Thankfully, exceptions occur.

Mid-fi, should it exist, was nowhere to be found when this Music-First Audiophile took the Rotel RA-10 (£349) out for a spin. Even if you don’t own a pair of KEF LS50, I urge you to read the review. The RA-10 Keeps It Honest and gracefully bats away any us-and-them price-tag snobbery.

Further listening over the weekend, this time out with the low-profile Rotel hooked up to ELAC’s Uni-Fi BS U5 Slim, further cements my opinion that the RA-10 – and its successor, the A10 – could well be the integrated amplifiers to beat at US$500.

This has me wondering if the RA-10’s combination of abundant dynamic punch and tonal saturation carries through to the company’s more luxurious models?

A tour by yours truly of Rotel’s Zhuhai factory in March 2014 suggests a big fat YES: in-house-wound transformers, the beating heart of any amplifier, aren’t so common at the entry-level.

It’s a “custom designed and in-house manufactured oversized toroidal transformer” that lives inside the RA-1572 integrated (US$1699), announced this week alongside the RC-1572 Stereo pre-amplifier (US$1099) and RCD-1572 CD player (US$899) — all three are fresh additions to the company’s 15 Series.

Rotel’s press release and product info page tell us the following:

that the RA-1572’s Class A/B output stage offers 120wpc into 8 Ohms but continuously and with both channels driven simultaneously;

that it internalises an AKM DAC for handling of PCM up to 32bit/384kHz and ‘DSD’ over USB;

that the twin coaxial and TOSLINK inputs’ digital capabilities top out 24bit/192kHz PCM, no DSD;

that one can stream to this amplifier directly using Bluetooth – aptX for compatible devices. Sorry, not you iOS users;

that iOS users can avail themselves of the front panel USB input to play music;

that moving magnet-cartridged turntablists are invited to the party via a single MM input;

that balanced signal devotees can avail themselves of the XLR socketry ’round back, that augment the three remaining single-ended analogue inputs;

that a mono subwoofer- and pre-outputs round out the feature set.

However, we must journey beyond the press release to learn;

that the rear panel also features a USB power output socket for charging one’s smart device;

that the forerunning model (the RA-1570) featured a 24bit/192kHz-limited Wolfson DAC and run-out pricing might be imminent;

that the 3.5mm headphone socket silently requests insertion of portable friendly ‘phones;

and that the rear panel’s Ethernet port permits iOS app control from the listening position – input selection, volume up/down, tone adjustments (and that UPnP streaming functionality might be yet to come via a firmware update?).

Whichever way we skin it, this Rotel has the power to handle a broad range of loudspeakers whilst offering a seriously impressive array of features, all from an elegantly-style chassis. Take your pick from silver or black.

In other words, the RA-1572 is a handsome beast with everything needed to anchor an affordable hifi – not mid-fi – audio system. As the terminology goes: here we have is a more affordable superintegrated that, as the cliché goes, invites us to ‘just add loudspeakers and stir’.

Further information: Rotel

Written by John H. Darko

John H. Darko

John is the editor of DAR from which he derives an income from its ad revenues. John is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
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7 Comments

  1. Mid-Fi is a never needed insult. I still cannot fathom who ever thought that term was still a good idea after they sobered up, and it deserves to die a fiery death. The only concrete thing it will achieve is to turn people off from an hobby sorely lacking in new participants and mainstream presence.

    I took issue with Paul McGowan’s use of the term and he acknowledged the problem, suggesting instead “mid-price HiFi” which neatly sidesteps the horrible condescension of “Mid-Fi”.

    Thanks for covering the Rotel equipment and for keeping the focus on equipment priced at a level that more people can afford without cashing out their retirement savings, spending the kids inheritance or getting a reverse mortgage.

    • I got the very similar looking Rotel RA-1570 a few years ago. I wanted a full featured integrated amp to run a pair of LS50s, a subwoofer, TV, cable box, FM tuner, xbox and AppleTV in my home entertainment system. Rotel had all the goodies like DAC, USB, Bluetooth and all the connectors you would expect. The build quality and parts were top notch and when I compared the Rotel to other integrated amps at the time they either lacked features the Rotel had or weren’t built to the same quality level of the Rotel and some I liked cost to much for what was offered. I thought the Rotel was expensive at the time but I’m glad I splurged.

  2. Hey there John,

    Did you test the A 10 after all? Or is the comment about the A10 just an educated guess?
    Thinking about getting an Ra 10 as long as they are still out there.

    Cheers

    • Educated guess so take with a large pinch of salt. I think there might be a few RA-10 out there in the wild. 🙂

  3. I have learned to put up with “mid-fi” insults. My approach has been to not do business with audio stores that subtly insult me when I walk into a store looking for a product like the RA 1572 because it is “not a true audiophile product.” They always try to up sell me to something more expensive even if they carry a product that is competitive to something like the RA 1572. Audio stores have also told me that I am making a big compromise in limiting my integrated amp search to amp that will drive two sets of speakers. Can I help it if I have a pair of satellite speakers in my basement that I want to drive with the same quality components that drive my good speakers? I am looking for something that sounds good and has the features that I want for a reasonable price. After buying a linear power supply for my Auralic Aries Mini, I understand how much difference a good power supply on audio gear can make a system sound.

    Now that the RA 1572 is a available, I will see if I can find an RA 1570 at closeout prices. I try not to buy audio gear at the full price, because it depreciates immediately after you open the box. A better DAC on an integrated amp is nice, but in my opinion the part of an integrated amplifier the will go obsolete first is the DAC. Nothing that I am listening to has a resolution higher than 24bit/192kHz anyway. Thanks for promoting “Mid Fi” or “Low End Audiophile” gear.

    • I really am pleased with my 1570. It’s one of the best audio products I’ve owned.

The Music-First Audiophile and RMAF 2017