Rotel Bows New Pre/Processor

Rotel is the latest company to offer a high-performance preamp/processor with an LCD video screen on the front panel. (Bel Canto Designs debuted its "PrePro" at CES in January; Parasound has recently delivered its Halo C1.)

The Rotel RSP-1098 is a 7.1-capable surround sound preamp/processor with integrated TFT display. The display eliminates the necessity of an onscreen display for surround system calibration or navigating the menus of DVD-audio recordings. You can see all the pertinent information on the preamp's front panel.

The sleekly designed unit is based on Cirrus Logic's CS49400, a 32-bit digital signal processor that decodes surround formats like Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS ES (matrix and discrete), DTS 24/96, and DTS Neo:6. The CS49400 can also process Rotel's own 7.1-channel "Extra Surround" mode useable with any source. The RSP-1098 also decodes HDCDs and MP3s.

The RSP-1098 is built to videophile and audiophile standards, with Crystal Semiconductor's 24 bit/192kHz digital-to-analog processing in all audio channels. The power supply is made with two toroidal power transformers and banks of low-ESR (equivalent series resistance) capacitors

Analog inputs include one 7.1 channel input, three pairs for stereo audio and five audio/video three-jack combos. There are eight assignable digital inputs, and four wideband high-definition video inputs on the back panel. The RSP-1098 also features an RS-232 interface, and four assignable 12 volt triggers that can be used to remotely turn on and off power amps, lighting systems, motorized screens, and projector lifts. Further increasing the pre/pro's flexibility is a multiroom/multisource feature with S-Video and composite video feedthrough.

The RSP-1098 is scheduled for availability this month (March 2003) at a suggested retail of $2999. Color scheme is a choice of matte black or a two-tone matte silver and black combination. Rotel has also introduced a companion DVD-Video/DVD-Audio player, the single-disc RDV-1060, with high-speed 12-bit video DACs and a bi-directional RS-232 port. The RDV-1060 is also scheduled for March delivery at $799 retail.

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