Rotel RSX-1562 A/V Receiver

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,599 At A Glance: ICEpower Class-D amplification • Bluetooth- and iOS-compatible USB • No room correction or low-volume mode

How would you like your audio/video receiver if it had a coal chute and chimney atop the chassis? Would you enjoy shoveling coal into the chute as the chimney belched black smoke and particulates into your home?

Or would you find this entire arrangement so unhealthy, so 19th century, as to be unbearable? Most people probably would prefer to avoid burning coal when sitting down for movie night or putting on some music. And of course, there are no A/V receivers that run directly on coal. But don’t fool yourself. Coal is the single-largest feedstock for electricity generation—not only in developing economies like China, but in the United States as well—far outpacing natural gas, nuclear energy, and other sources.

In a sense, all electronic products are, however indirectly, coal-burning products, and the effects of burning coal are provably undesirable. So how efficiently your receiver uses power does matter. You want it to produce as much sound as possible while minimizing the amount of energy dissipated in the form of heat. A receiver that acts as a space heater adds to your monthly power bill—in addition to all the other well-documented effects of burning fossil fuels.

So let’s give Rotel a round of applause for rigorously pursuing energy-efficient, Class-D amplification into a second generation of ICEpowered AVRs. The RSX-1562 is an updated version of the 3-year-old RSX-1560 with a few significant connectivity improvements, including HDMI 1.4 (with 3D passthrough) and support for both iOS and Bluetooth devices.

All Aboard the Pulse Train
ICEpower is Bang & Olufsen’s version of Class-D amplification. It is licensed for use in receivers and other audio products. Class-D amplifiers convert incoming signals to a train of pulses that rapidly turn output stages on and off. When operating near maximum, this process can convert as much as 90 percent of the energy input into power for your speakers, although Rotel’s design comes closer to 80 percent, sacrificing a little efficiency in its pursuit of better sound. Compare that to the 30 to 60 percent efficiency of conventional receivers using Class-AB amplification. The RSX-1562 is rated at 100 watts per channel, and it is noteworthy that Rotel has specified seven channels driven, a tougher standard than the two-channel specs given for most receivers at their top power rating. For a more detailed explanation of how Class D works and how Rotel has implemented it, see my review of its original ICEpowered receiver, the RSX-1560, at HomeTheater.com.

Available in light or dark brushed-aluminum finishes, the RSX-1562 has sleek looks and high build quality. The front panel continues to have that relentlessly symmetrical Rotel look, with a half-sphere-shaped volume knob surrounded by double rows of buttons, crowned by a white, fluorescent display. I was pleased by the inclusion of a plastic, adhesive masking ring for the power button’s blazing blue LED. That darn LED is so bright you could read by it, and I’ve been known to cover the similar one on my RSX-1550 with duct tape. The masking ring doesn’t entirely obliterate the blue circle, but it does make it less distracting, which you’ll appreciate if your rack is located within your field of vision.

Rotel has overcome its longtime aversion to front-panel jacks with a USB input; it is compatible with Apple iOS devices. You might also plug in a USB stick to access MP3, WAV, WMA, or AAC files. The USB jack has yet another notable use: Plug in the supplied Bluetooth dongle, and you can stream music to the receiver from your mobile device. Incidentally, iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches are Bluetooth compatible, so this is a workable alternative to Apple AirPlay. The front panel still doesn’t have HDMI, video, audio, or headphone jacks, but the back panel does accommodate a reasonably busy rack with six HDMI 1.4 inputs and two outputs.

As an audiophile-receiver manufacturer, Rotel continues to omit features it deems unnecessary. The RSX-1562 has no automatic setup, no room correction, no low-volume listening mode, no satellite radio, and no support for Internet radio or a subscription music service such as Rhapsody. (An RJ-45 jack on the back panel is strictly an RS-232 serial port.) Another omission is DLNA certification for access to media from a router-equipped computer. Granted, Rotel is not the only manufacturer to omit one or more of these features, but it is unusual for such a high-priced receiver to omit all of them.

Rotel’s graphic user interface has always been rudimentary. It now offers pale blue highlighting and a green logo against a navy-blue background, but it retains the feel of black and white, perhaps implying that simplicity is an intentional choice. One welcome change: It’s now possible to access the main menu directly using a single remote-control button, without having to step through a status display. The redesigned remote is slimmer and more conventionally shaped than the old, familiar wedge, with modest attempts to distinguish buttons by color and shape. The navigation keys are helpfully big, although the volume keys are unhelpfully small—and oddly located at the top. That causes a problem with balance; when you hold the remote to access volume with your thumb, it tends to slip out of your hand. In terms of responsiveness, though, this remote works better than the previous generation did.

For this review, associated equipment included five Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v4 speakers and a Seismic 110 sub, and Blu-ray Disc players from Oppo (BDP-83 SE) and Panasonic (DMP-BD87).

Class D, Act II
This was my second evaluation of a Class-D product with Rotel implementation, following my June 2009 review of the RSX-1560. As before, I quickly came to like the distinctive and elegantly warm-tinged midrange, a longtime characteristic of Rotel amps. However, I also became aware of an intermittent difficulty with imaging, something my previous review does not refer to at all.

COMPANY INFO
Rotel of America
(978) 664-3820
ARTICLE CONTENTS
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COMMENTS
Speakerphile's picture

Really, with the environmental lecture at the beginning? Other than that, a well written review! As usual.

DS-21's picture

given the comments at the beginning of the review, the measurements are incomplete.

There should have also been be a comparison of power draw to a unit (which can be left unnamed) with Class AB amplification of similar output power.

I suspect, as apparently does the author, that the ICEpower modules will be more energy efficient than standard commodity AB amps. But without data, that's just conjecture. Even the fact that in your tests the Rotel is able to maintain full output power into the 5 and 7 channel ACD tests - a VERY impressive performance! - doesn't necessarily speak to energy efficiency. Rather, it could be the result of a very very good power supply, or conversely of current limiting to game the specs.

For that matter, a measurement of power draw at idle and at 1/8 rated power would be a good standard metric to add to the measurement routine. Energy efficiency is a useful differentiating factor that is directly relevant to consumers' bottom lines.

Another thing that should be added, especially as more Class D AVR's come on stream, is a test into a simulated load, such as the one designed by Ken Kantor and tweaked by JA for Stereophile. Class D amps usually have output filters that interact with the speakers up top, creating variances in the top-end frequency response. It would be good to see which designs are optimized for certain loads, and which ones are designed with output filters that vary the source impedance less.

Lastly, it is unfortunate that nobody has yet combined good Class D amps with a modern room correction system. The Rotel's room correction system is primitive, so to me it's a very poor value compared to something like an Anthem MRX box. Somebody make me an AVR with energy efficient amps and a real room-correction system such as ARC or Trinnov!

Stephen Trask's picture

I recently bought the Rotel RSP-1572 and have found the software and firmware to be suffiiently buggy so as to impinge on the enjoyment of ownership. That product never should have been released. It sounds like the imaging issues you describe are less about Class D and more about clocking errors. The flagship processor suffers from numerous clocking issues - sounds great until it doesn't, often needs a reboot. It sounds like this product is another case of shoddy Rotel engineering being rushed out the door. If they spent a little more time or hired a couple more people they could have put out some great products. If I had the money to buy something else I totally would and I'm guessing that this AVR will be a similarly in enjoyable product to own, despite it's great potential.

Oh, I like the environmental discussion.

Edit: one way to test if the problem is with the Class D amplification or bad/buggy digital audio conversion would be to let the Oppo decode the surround and send it out as audio into the Rotel.

araujoys's picture

I am a big fan of AUDIO and TECHNOLOGY equipments and I´m buying my second home theater system, but I want to get something that is or gets close to a HI-FI system, for that reason I ask for some of your help and advise, because I have great doubts and would like to choose the best.
At the beggining I had planned to buy the speaker system by Bowers and Wilkins: two CM9, two CM5, a CM Center 2 and ASW10CM but reviewing a shop in my country, Venezuela, I found a great deal on the 800s series by Bowers and Wilkins, so maybe I´ll end up buying this option: two 804S, two 805S, a HTM4s, and in regard to Subwoofer it could be a PV1D by B & W or a ASW12CM SUB, what do you think would be the best option?

With respect to the AV-Receiver I also have doubts and have been reviewing several brands: Denon, Yamaha, Pioneer, Rotel and Marantz, but I want to choose between the following two
The Rotel RSX-1562 and Marantz Sr-7007

Reviewing some of the characteristics of the Rotel RSX-1562 I found it doesn´t have the option to adjust dynamic range, also doesn´t have room correction, no satellite radio, no DLNA certification for access to the media router, although it is a Class-D Receiver. I dont know if these omissions may be sacrificed by other features that this receptor may have.

As for the Marantz Sr-7007 I could not find a website that makes criticism of its features and operation, I only have a notion of the evaluation made to the Marantz SR-7005 at http://www.hometheater.com/content / rotel-rsx-1562-AV-receiver, wich passes the test for audiophiles, however the Marantz SR-7007 is a new model of SR.7005 serie, so it should have lead to improvements. I wonder whether they are sufficient to choose one of these receptors. However, it is noteworthy that this system will be used to watch my favorite movies and listen to my stereo audio library.

After all this, I´ll appreciate your help to banish my doubts and to choose the best home theater system from the options above, which also fit my budget.

joes theater's picture

I was considering an upgrade to my RSX-1550.

I originally bought that over the RSX-1560 exactly because the '50s AB amp stage sounded so much better than the '60s Class D.

Is there going to be an RSX-1552 ?

LordoftheRings's picture

I would love to love this Rotel receiver, but I just can't.
It is not competitive, in all aspects, even sound quality.
...And certainly not in price.

And Rotel should go back to class AB amps.

Thank you for listening.

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