Rotel has built its business on solidly performing, functional-looking equipment. The new RCD-1572 conforms to type - and that’s no bad thing.
The arrival of new CD players has slowed to a trickle, so when we come across one as capable as this one, we’re pretty pleased.
Build and features
Take the RCD-1572 out of its packaging and it impresses. The casework feels substantial, while fit and finish are well up to class standards. We particularly like the crisp feel of the small, domed control buttons on the front panel.
The display is usefully large too, though can look a little cluttered. At least CD text is on the menu, so you know the title of the track you’re listening to without having to check the CD case.
The only thing we don’t like is the player’s flimsy loading drawer – it feels straight out of a budget DVD player. At this price we expect better.
Take a look around the back and things are a little sparse. We expect to find digital inputs – many CD players come with these to add versatility – but are disappointed.
Not only are there no digital inputs, but Rotel has specified only a coax digital output. Usually we'd expect an optical option too.
While disappointing, none of these omissions are deal-breakers - providing the player’s performance impresses. Fortunately for all concerned, that turns out to be the case.
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We try out both the balanced and single-ended analogue outputs, and prefer the single-ended option for its greater subtlety and finesse.
In our system – the usual reference set-up of Gamut D3i/D200i pre/power and ATC SCM50 speakers – the balanced outputs (while delivering greater punch) sound a little forward and short of low-level detail.
We start with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and find much to be pleased about. The Rotel has a strikingly clear sound, one that defines the leading edge of notes superbly.
Each instrument is crisply rendered and firmly planted in the wide and deep soundstage. Detail levels are high, with the player capable of picking up low-level subtleties many rivals would ignore.
Tonally, things are a little on the lean side - but never enough to sacrifice sonic weight or authority. When the piece builds to a climax, cannon-fire and all, this Rotel stays composed and organised, delivering the ending with a gratifying combination of grace and scale.
While impressed at all the insight and control, we feel there’s something missing - and that’s a degree of excitement.
Dynamic swings don’t quite hit home with the venom they demand, and the player can’t tie together the various instrumental strands well enough to convey the ebb and flow of the music as well as we would like.
Not that the RCD-1572 is boring. It’s just that this piece is truly thrilling, explosive even, and the Rotel never fully conveys that.
This side of the player’s personality also comes into play when we listen to Boom Boom Pow from The Black Eyed Peas. Here, the ’1572 stays true to form by offering plenty of detail coupled to a clean and crisp presentation.
It sounds agile and articulate, doing a fine job of making the group’s vocals easy to follow. But it doesn’t quite manage to communicate the hard-charging momentum of the track properly, or deliver a full punch.
The sound feels a little restrained and polite. There’s nothing wrong with polite in general, of course, but we want a CD player that can reveal the full measure of attitude in a piece of music - and this Rotel doesn’t quite have the dynamic expression or rhythmic cohesion to do that.
The Rotel RCD-1572 is an admirable machine. It’s well made and fuss-free to use. And when it comes to analysis and composure, this player is as good as anything at this price.
We just wish it delivered a bit more fun in the process.
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