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.