The Rotel does an awful lot, but not all of it to the sort of standard we’d like
impressive tuner and iPod/MP3 dock
Sound quality suffers when streaming
ill-fitting network adaptors
If serious hi-fi is ever to coincide with the convenience and flexibility of digital tech, it’s in products like this.
Given a home network to join, the Rotel RT-09 is an FM, DAB and internet radio, wired or wireless streamer of computer-borne music and an iPod dock.
As far as functionality goes, it’s tough to argue with.
There are 30 station presets for storing favourite radio stations, the remote control is logically laid out, and fit and finish is more than acceptable.
Only the seating of the dongle adaptors required for wired or wireless network connection undermines the impression of robust quality.
More after the break
All the digital sources the Rotel can handle bypass their analogue stage in favour of the RT-09’s Wolfson 24bit/192kHz DAC, the benefits of which are obvious.
Refined and considered with broadcastsGiven a reasonable broadcast quality to deal with, the Rotel proves a crisp, balanced tuner.
It has meaningful bass presence, distinct and detailed midrange and treble that fights shy of coarseness well.
These characteristics are broadly true of the RT-09’s performance with iPod-borne music, too: it sets up a believable stage and gives instruments plenty of space.
Gallingly, it’s when streaming via ethernet (WMA, WAV, MP3 and AIFF are supported) that the Rotel’s at its least convincing. There are gains in detail and a degree more solidity to bass, but not where timing and staging are concerned.
On the whole it’s an inoffensive-going-on-engaging device – but what we expected to be its party-piece turns out to be its area of least accomplishment.