What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Sun, 20 Dec 2009, 5:00am

Rotel RCD-1520

Tested at £695

A CD player that promises much but leaves you feeling rather disappointed – it's back to the drawing board we're afraid...

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  • Robust build
  • modern looks
  • uncovers great deal of detail


  • Notes lack weight and drive
  • dynamically restrained
  • lacks timing and precision

Rotel has a distinguished history of making fine hi-fi components, but its latest CD players haven't really hit the spot. The only Rotel spinner currently on our website is the three-star, RCD-06.

So, the RCD-1520 is a great opportunity for Rotel to up the ante.

Out of the box there are encouraging signs: the RCD-1520 feels solid and looks like a quality machine. The addition of a slot-loading mechanism is a neat touch, although the machining around the slot on our sample wasn't as tidy as we'd have liked.

The display is a good size but can get congested with info, while the player could be quicker to respond to the remote's commands.

Presentation lacks confidence  
Spinning 160 BPM from the Angels & Demons OST, the Rotel picks out much detail from the bells, drums and choir chants. But they aren't delivered with great conviction. Class leaders around this price point can convey the drama of this track with much greater authority.

It's a similar story when you switch to Led Zeppelin's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You. The acoustic guitar that opens the track doesn't sound solid or expressive. Notes lack precision and are dynamically restrained – it sounds like the guitarist is half asleep.

Considering the RA-1520 integrated amp is a five-star performer, it's a shame its partner isn't up to scratch. 

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