Rotel RA-12

Tested at £600

The RA-12 is well worth a listen, but it doesn't deliver the most captivating performance we've ever heard


I have to deviate from the reviewers opinion of this particular amp.  Mostly because I actually own BOTH amps mentioned in the write up - the RA12 and RA10.  I use the RA12 in conjunction with a PC (foobar2000), fully utiilizing the built-in DAC.  It sounds fantastic and couldn't have asked for better performance.  

I use my RA10 in a different room simply hooked up to a Rotel CD player.  It's used for non-critical listening in the living room.  

Now, being curious, I have hooked them up using the same source (CD player) and speakers and could not tell a difference, apart from having the turn the volume up a notch on the RA10.   I then moved both amps to a different room with a different source and different speakers.   Again, no difference apart from the difference in power output.  

The speakers I have, in case people think they are not revealing enough, are MG1.7s, and Vandersteen 3A Signatures.  

Given the option of owning either of my two amps, I would have to choose the RA12 over it's RA10 sibling every time.  I'm not sure what the time span was of the reviewers in comparing the two amps, but having the opportunity to compare the two head-to-head, I simply question their findings as being somewhat suspect.  

Not sure I fully agree with the What hifi review of the Rotel RA-12.

I purchased one in November 2012 to replace a very old Musical Fidelity Pre3A/P150 combo and I use it connected to B&W CM1 speakers.  Abolutely delighted with the Rotel and matches the B&W speakers perfectly.  

One thing I think is necessary to comment on - when I bought mine, the shop was out of stock so they lent me their demo one for 3 weeks that sounded great at home.  They told me that this Rotel amp needed a very long run-in period (but I have always taken comments about running-in with a pinch of salt!).  When the new one arrived, I thought it sounded different, initially,to the demo model - brighter and more forward in the treble and I wasn't able to listen at such a high volume.  After using it extensively over the first 6 weeks or so, I can confirm that it sounds much smoother, same as the demo one.

Definitely the best amp I have owned and has to be worthu of 5 Stars once run-in. Before buying, I also auditioned the Roksan Kandy K2 in the same shop, on the same day with B&W CM1 speakers, thereby doing a direct comparison with the same music tracks.  I liked the Roksan very much but the sound (in my ears) with these speakers sounded 'heavier' than the Rotel and the Rotel definitely had more detail and focus in the treble.

The Rotel RA-12 is 5*, especially at the price.

very bad review!what comparsion ra10 vs ra12?! Logic and characteristics and sound must be compared ra12 vs ra1520!as well as in the review ra06(06 vs1520)!ra12 ra06 substitutes!ra10 and logically should be compared with ra11!!!

ra-12 the best amplifier!im happy with ra-12!ra-12 deserves at least 6 stars(because sound like ra1520 having 5 stars+DAC)!

I bought one of these in January after months of research!

First off I only have digital music and do not use a CD Player so my main source is my computer. I have decided rightly or wrongly that my quality ceiling is 16bit 44.1khz i.e the same as Red Book CDs and all my CDs are encoded in Apple Lossless format (ALAC).

I also wanted the convenience of WiFi streaming and the ability to control the play back by the Remote app on my iPhone which means Apple AirPlay.

Now the Rotel provides me with lots of options:

A USB port on the front panel for iPod/iPhone/iPad which is restricted to 16 bit 44.1Khz so essentially Red Book CD quality if your files are transcoded correctly. The USB port on the front of the RA-12 bypasses the built in DAC in these devices and hands the music over to its own built in Wolfson DAC. This works a treat. If you want a bit more convenience you can plug in the supplied Bluetooth dongle and stream straight from your device to the RA-12.

There are four line level inputs and more importantly for me 4 Digital ports - there are two coaxial and two optical. These ports support 24 bit 192khz and feed directly to the built in DAC. The capapbilty of these ports was incorrectly reported by the May 2013 edition of What HiFI magazine as 16 bit 44.1khz. This means I can use my Apple TV or an Airport Express (I use both). The Apple TV does a bit of up-sampling from 44.1 to 48Khz so for pure music I prefer the Airport Express. I connect both to the RA-12 via a Toslink optical cable.

If I want to download higher resolution files in due course there is nothing to stop me but I would probably have to use a different source. I am currently considering a Mac Mini wired to the amp via a Musical Fidelity VLink 192.

I have now disconnected the 5:1 speakers from my ageing Sony DVD theatre system which now plays through the RA-12 either via a Toslink optical cable or analog phono/RCA cable. Have to say the sound is fine.

So what have I connected to my RA-12? Again a lot of research and a strict instruction from the lady of the house that speakers must not be too bassy! - In the end I plumped for Kef Q500 floorstanders. 

What does it sound like? - Having looked at and auditioned the Rega Brio R amp and the Rega DAC I think they are like chalk and cheese. The Rega is old school but non the worse for that in fact I prefered it but it was much less flexible and if I bought both together a far more expensive proposition.

The Rotel is entirely different, bright even sparkly with a very controlled and disciplined bass delivery. My music collection ranges from the late 50s to now, Jazz and Rock and Roll to Folk and Country, so the quality of the recording makes a huge difference which is what you would expect. Nothing sounds bad, a few things like a re-mastered Who's Next sounds a bit thin, but everything recorded post 1990 is noticeably better. Sting's 10 Summoner's Tales is a peach, brilliant bass, vocals and everything in its place. Gaucho by Steely Dan is amazing and some of my sixties Jazz sounds extraordinarily authentic Know What I Mean - Cannonball Adderley.

I have had the RA12 for 3 months so its early days but I can't really fault it. If anything it is a lot better than some of the recordings I have and I suppose that is the only disappointing thing. Always go for remastered analog recordings if they exist.

I bought this amp in the Christmas sale so I think I got a bargain. It is fully featured with numerous input options and provides enough quality for me to be critical about some recordings. It also makes a good fist of digital downloads from iTunes.


Had the RA-12 for 4 months now and love it. Great quality build and sounds great with my B&W 684's. I can not fault this amp in any way. 



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