Rotel RT-09 review

The Rotel RT-09 network music client is a stylish jack of all trades Tested at £650

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The Rotel does an awful lot, but not all of it to the sort of standard we’d like


  • +

    Ample functionality

  • +

    impressive tuner and iPod/MP3 dock


  • -

    Sound quality suffers when streaming

  • -

    ill-fitting network adaptors

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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.

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 broadcasts
Given 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.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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