Rotel RSX-1560 review

We've met Rotel's multichannel amplifiers before, but can the '1560 garner as much praise as the '1550 before it? Tested at £1900.00

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

We don’t mind the missing bells-and-whistles, but we do mind that this isn’t quite an audio all-rounder

For

  • Terrific weight, scale and dynamics combined with excellent detail and surround precision
  • lovely styling and build

Against

  • Some might miss the luxuries rivals offer
  • a little hardness to the upper-mid and treble

Our introduction to Rotel's new flagship 15 series of home cinema amps came just two issues ago, when we gave the £1400 RSX-1550 the First Test treatment.

Despite its comparative lack of bells and whistles (only five channels of inbuilt power amplification), it
ran away with five stars thanks to a superb sound performance.

It would be reasonable to expect this higher-end RSX-1560 model to add those luxuries while remaining fairly static in the sonics, but that's not the case.

Sure, you do get those extra two channels of amplification, making 7.1 systems feasible, but Ethernet remains elusive, as does automatic speaker calibration.

We're not actually going to respond critically to those two no-shows. After all, we reckon it's
a minority who want to stream music to their receiver, and we always recommend using a test tone and sound pressure level metre to properly calibrate your speakers anyway.

Besides, the important specs are already there - you get full HD audio decoding, four HDMIs in and one out, as well as video upscaling to 1080p.

Big and bold in every way
So, if the extras haven't massively increased, what does the £500 premium over the RSX-1550 get you?

Well, other than an even bigger unit, which is just as neatly styled and solidly built as the smaller model, the big news is Class D amplification at 100W per channel (as opposed to the 75W A/B amplification of the '1550.)

Needless to say, this is a substantial change, and it makes a big difference to audio performance.

Playing the brilliant stampede scene from the otherwise patchy Australia Blu-ray is an exercise in detailed destruction, with individual hoof falls distinguishable in the surround field with terrific definition and punch, but without spoiling the overall scale, weight and drama of the scene as a whole.

The shouts of Hugh Jackman's character, Drover, come through clearly in the maelstrom, and when the noise of the herd falls away to be replaced by the chanting of little Nullah, the amplifier has all the focus and insight to reveal the fear and magic in his voice.

It's not all perfect, though, and the midrange and treble, though exciting, also exhibit some hardness and sibilance that the '1550 avoided.

This makes voices sound slightly thin and less nuanced than the very best, and results in a less subtle performance overall.

This is true of music, too, with the 5.1 PCM version of Learn to Fly on the Foo Fighters: Live at Wembley Stadium Blu-ray sounding spacious, punchy and detailed, but also a touch harsh.

Similar story with CD
Plug a CD player in and the stereo performance proves much the same.

The surprisingly large instrumental ensemble of Tori Amos' Cornflake Girl is given a wide yet precise and detailed soundstage with great bottom-end weight, but a top-end with a touch of sibilance.

So, the RSX-1560 improves on its little brother in many ways, but isn't better all-round.

What's more, a little company called Sony released the STR-DA5400ES amplifier last month - and that's
a tough rival for both of them.

Specifications

View All

General Information

Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.bowers-wilkins.net
Brand NameRotel
Product Series15
Product TypeA/V Receiver
ManufacturerB&W Group
Manufacturer Part NumberRSX-1560
Product NameRotel RSX-1560
Product ModelRSX-1560

Miscellaneous

Package Contents
  • RSX-1560 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver
  • Remote Control

Interfaces-Ports

HDMIYes
Number of Digital Optical Outputs1
Number of HDMI Inputs4
Number of Digital Coaxial Inputs3
Number of Digital Optical Inputs4
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Number of Analog Audio Inputs7
Number of Digital Coaxial Outputs1

Technical Information

Minimum Frequency Response20 Hz
Impedance8 Ohm
Maximum Frequency Response20 kHz
Total Harmonic Distortion THD0.1%
MultizoneYes

Video

Upscale Scan Format1080p

Physical Characteristics

Width431 mm
Depth422 mm
Weight Approximate15.50 kg
Height188 mm
Dimensions188 mm (H): 431 mm (W): 422 mm (D)

Power Description

Operating Power Consumption500 W

Audio

Sound SystemDolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS 96/24, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Neo:6, DTS HD
Audio Channels7.1

Tuner

Frequency BandMW, FM