Rotel gets serious about streaming with complete new 12 Series range

On sale this month is a complete new Rotel 12 Series hi-fi range, replacing the company's successful 06SE line-up.

And while the new products still include a CD player, there's a strong emphasis on computer-stored and streamed music, with features including Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity and, on all but the least expensive amplifier, Bluetooth to allow music to be played from portable devices and computers.

Other new facilities include control of a complete system using an iOS app, with the Rotel RT-12 network player (which combines UPnP, Internet radio and DAB/DAB+/FM tuner) acting as the control hub for a connected CD player and amplifier.

The RT-12 streamer is £649, and uses digital to analogue conversion based on the same Wolfson WM8740-based digital to analogue conversion used in all the digital products in the range. It can handle AAC, MP3, WMA (except lossless), OGG Vorbis, WAV, AIFF, FLAC and AU audio formats, and has built-in wireless networking as well as Ethernet.

There's also a conventional radio tuner in the line-up, the £279 Rotel RT-11, having DAB/DAB+/FM and 30 presets available across the bands.

The CD player is the £499 Rotel RCD-12, with a slot-loading mechanism, Rotel saying that, while there's that emphasis on streaming in the new range, 'the wealth of music available on CD still grows and the RCD-12 is the perfect player to exploit new discs, as well as old favourites.'

Balanced Design Concept

As with all the new components, it's built using the company's long-established Balanced Design Concept, which involves staff in the UK and Japan working together on the internal layout, parts selection and critical evaluation of the sound, in what's described as 'a disciplined synthesis of physics, electronics, and mechanical engineering.'

Among the main elements of this design is what the company calls 'Symmetrical Signal Trace' design, which involves keeping the signal path for each channel identical for optimal imaging and soundstaging.

Star earthing – in which all ground points terminate to a single plane – is also used, and close attention is also paid to power supply provision: for example, in the RCD-12 care has been taken to place the DAC as close as possible to its power supply for optimal performance.

Amplifier line-up

The amplifiers in the range start with the Rotel RA-10, at £349 the replacement for the company's RA-04SE, and designed to be a simple, straight-through design. It delivers 45W per channel, has bypassable tone and balance controls and inputs including a moving magnet phono stage. As with the RA-04SE, it doesn't have remote control.

Above this sit the £499 Rotel RA-11 and £599 RA-12, both of which add that Wolfson 24-bit/192kHz digital-to-analogue conversion, and USB, optical and electrical digital inputs. The two can also connect to portable devices and computers using Bluetooth – a dongle is supplied with each to plug into the front panel USB socket.

The RA-12 also has extra power: while the RA-11 is the same as the RA-10 at 45Wpc, the RA-12 delivers 60Wpc.

Control app

Both have a front-panel display and come with a remote handset and compatibility with the Rotel Link control system when used with the RT-12: the new control app offers full control of all functions of the components, right down to tone controls on the amps, and bi-directional communication to show the settings you've chosen.

All the new products are due to hit Rotel retailers during July, and are available in black or silver.

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.