Component Reviews, Part 3 of 3
Published on October 1, 2004
The Rotel RSX-1067 Surround Sound Receiver
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
Continuous Amplifier Power: 100 watts/ch (20-20k Hz, <0.05% THD, 8 ohms)
Number of channels driven: 7
Continuous Amplifier Power: 120 watts/ch (1kHz, <1.0% THD, 8 ohms, DIN) (two channels driven)
Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.05 %
Intermodulation Distortion: (60 Hz:7 kHz) <0.05%
Frequency Responses =
Analog Bypass: 10 Hz – 120 KHz, ± 3 dB
Digital Input: 10 Hz – 95 KHz, ± 3 dB
Signal to Noise Ratio (IHF A-weighted) =
Analog Bypass: 95 dB
Digital Input 0 dBFs (Dolby Digital, dts): 92 dB
Input Sensitivity/Impedance: Line Level: 200 mV/100K ohms
Contour (LF / HF): ±6 dB at 50 Hz / 15 KHz
Preamp Output Level/Impedance: 1.0 V / 1K ohm
Decodable Digital Input Signal : Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, DTS, DTS ES, DTS96/24, LPCM(up to 192K), HDCD, MP3, MPEG Multichannel
Frequency Response: 3 Hz – 10 MHz, ± 3 dB (Composite, S-Video)
3 Hz – 100 MHz, ± 3 dB (Component Video)
Signal to Noise Ratio: 45 dB
Input Impedance: 75 ohms
Output Impedance: 75 ohms
Output Level: 1.0 Volt
Usable Sensitivity: 14.2 dBf
Signal to Noise Ratio (at 65 dBf): 70 dBf
Harmonic Distortion (at 65 dBf): 0.03%
Stereo Separation (1 kHz): 45 dB
Output level : 1 V
Antenna Input , 75 ohms unbalanced
Power Consumption: 990 watts, Idling power 130 watts, Standby 19 watts
Power Requirements (AC): 115 volts, 60 Hz (USA version); 230 volts, 50 Hz (CE version)
Dimensions (W x H x D) : 433 x 189 x 400 mm; 171/2 x 7 1/2 x 15 3/8” Weight (net): 54 lbs.
Front Panel Height (for rack mount) :176 mm
Introduction & Product Description
This is a story of the appearance of the Rotel RSX-1067 surround sound receiver within my living room. About a year ago I moved to a large house in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles whose many attributes include a generous living room with dimensions almost ideal (24’ by 19’ with an 8’ ceiling), from my perspective, for constructing a useable living room incorporating a fully equipped audio-video system. I say ‘useable’ because my aim was to make a real living space while integrating both a purist high-end two-channel stereo with a high quality multi-channel home theatre along with good FM stereo reproduction (the discussion on FM radio in this article pertains to the use of an antenna; another method would be a satisfactory way of tying Internet radio stations into my system. I hope to address this in the near future). In addition to this, I wanted to provide CD music and radio broadcasts to a second zone within the house (the kitchen). All my previous attempts to do this at other locations had been fraught with problems, not the least of which had been the creation of living room environments possessing the ‘Rolling Stones Concert’ syndrome (namely boxes of electronics and pieces of wire everywhere) and offering a complete lack of practicality. Here at the new location I knew a really good receiver would solve a lot of the problems of reducing the sheer amount of equipment while encapsulating a lot of functionality.
A colleague suggested I take a look at the Rotel RSX-1067, which I had seen prominently displayed in some high-end magazine advertisements in early 2004. In the ads the unit looked very promising, I must say, and we arranged for a review sample. Shortly afterwards, I took delivery of an RSX-1067 complete with a silver front panel (an option). The RSX-1067 looks very attractive and is very well built and satisfyingly heavy (about 44 lb). It looked really great on my equipment stand sitting there proudly with some of my other silver and black components. Yeah, looks are very important in my book. As for the front panel, there is a large multi-colored LED display and a total of 32 tiny push buttons plus a large volume control, and treble/bass controls. A very chic purple LED illuminates with the receiver operating or in stand-by mode. As for the back panel there is a myriad of input and output sockets offering all the connectivity one could possibly require, with the sole exception of balanced XLR jacks (not a big deal), and the panel possesses plenty of color coding to aid in the hookup process. The loudspeaker binding posts are of the five-way type and of very good quality. There is also a 12V signal output available for remote turn on of any other A/V equipment (suitably appointed). The unit comes shipped in a rigid box-within-a-rigid-box complete with: a superbly informative and well-written user’s manual, a package of accessories (including a detachable power cord (not IEC), an indoor FM antenna, and an indoor AM antenna) and quite simply the very best remote control I have ever encountered. More about that later.
The RSX-1067 is one of Rotel’s ‘Balanced Design Concept’ components and handles all the surround sound encoding formats that I know of, and, in addition, performs: automatic decoding of HDCD and MP3 digital signals. It has a high quality FM tuner that automatically displays RDS broadcast information (brief messages about the radio station and the program you happen to be listening to. This is provided by data carried inaudibly on a 57 kHz sub carrier). It has complete audio/video switching control and a total of seven power amplifiers each rated at 100W into 8 Ohms (reasonably powerful). The Rotel also has second zone capability which as I mentioned earlier was, for me, a requirement (if one wishes to control the RSX-1067 from within the second zone then either a 3rd party RJ-45 keypad or an IR repeater will be required). As for the philosophy of ‘Balanced Design Concept’, this is what Rotel has on its website:
Balanced Design Concept is a disciplined synthesis of physics, electronics, and mechanical engineering guided by our firm belief that the best need not be the most costly.
Balanced Design begins with basic circuits conceived by an international team of award-winning engineers. It includes an exhaustive evaluation of every part used in these circuits to determine not just which one will do… but which one will do best.
Balanced Design also means that we verify every choice we make with the most critical and sensitive laboratory instrument available anywhere — the human ear.
I’m sure we can all agree on that! But seriously folks, this instrument really gives one the strong impression that a lot of thought went into just about every aspect of its design. And this is why I consider it to be a true high-end component.
The problem with all surround sound receivers is their complicatedness. I would hate to be the lead systems engineer for a device such as this, since outpatient psychiatry is so expensive. I imagine these guys/gals try to do as much work in software and as little in hardware (hardware revisions are more costly than software). I’m digressing since this isn’t my problem or yours. What we have to contend with is the decidedly non-trivial problem of configuring the damn thing. In this regard the RSX-1067 is exemplary: all the actions stem from the operation of a truly world class remote control. The remote control in this case can do all of the following: program all aspects of the receiver under review, program itself to replace all your other remotes (this is a big deal, believe me, and it goes to the heart of my preaching about encapsulating functions discussed earlier in the review), and automatically backlights the LCD display under low lighting conditions (this is very helpful).
The most arduous tasks in the programming of the receiver come about as a result of the particular loudspeaker configuration you happen to be using. Each speaker can be: either present or absent, large or small, more or less sensitive, and lastly, requiring of a specific time delay due to its position relative to the listener (this is facilitated by entering the distance between the listener’s ears and the loudspeaker in question). In this regard, the task of setting up the receiver is aided by interactive menus that appear on your TV screen as you program and consequently one is not required to peer at small graphics on a front panel display. I would commend the RSX-1067 very well in this area, although there were a few times when I got a little confused. If you really mess things up there is a reset sequence which will restore the factory default settings. When it comes to adjusting the individual loudspeaker levels the unit has test tones for this purpose, however don’t use your ears, use a sound level meter for more accurate results (Radio Shack sells a good one for about 50 dollars, Catalog #: 33-2055). The seven amplifier channels can be used in a number of ways. For example, you can use the seven amplifiers for a 7.1 system (assuming your sub-woofer is active), or if, like me, you have a 5.1 system, then you can use the remaining two amplifiers for a second zone stereo (the RSX-1067 allows one to re-direct those two amplifiers to a different source).
In movie auditioning of this receiver I used ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Special Extended Edition’ and selected the DTS-ES 6.1 soundtrack. The sound was awesome, with plenty of space and dynamics and with the sub being kicked around quite hard. My experience in the past has been that the better home theater amplifiers I have encountered, do a better job of enveloping one in sound in such a way as to render a convincing sense of dimensionality conjugate with the images on the screen. The movie ‘Wild Things’ is set in a South Florida beach community close to the Everglades and uses the six channels to recreate a lush swampy atmosphere: the sound of crickets, lapping water, water fowl flapping their wings, etc. The Rotel excelled in reproducing these kinds of ambient clues to produce an open and airy sound field.
As I pointed out in my introduction, FM stereo reception is an important issue for me. I love National Public Radio and local music programming in the evening. Since I eschew the dreadful commercial radio we have here in the Los Angeles area, it leaves only three listener-supported FM radio stations worth tuning into, namely KCRW (Santa Monica), KPCC (Pasadena) and KUSC (Los Angeles). Using the rudimentary FM antenna supplied with the RSX-1067 (basically just a piece of wire about 10’ long) I failed to get an acceptable signal from the Santa Monica station, which incidentally plays interesting progressive eclectic music through the hours of darkness.
Unfazed, the next day I went down to my local Radio Shack and bought an outdoor FM antenna of the unidirectional kind (commonly call a Yagi) for about twenty dollars (Remember the old adage “A cheap outdoor antenna feeding a cheap tuner will, in most cases, outperform an expensive indoor antenna coupled to an expensive tuner!”). I spent a couple of days mounting this to the eaves of my roof, paying strict adherence to the required grounding scheme (this is not just a safety issue, the proper grounding of some of the antenna elements is essential for optimum performance), and pointing it at the KCRW transmitter (the government’s FCC website has copious information on all the FM transmitters in the USA; the URL is http://www.fcc.gov/) and hooked it up to the Rotel (to do this accurately I used a sophisticated compass, possessing an adjustment to compensate for the difference between true North and magnetic North in my locality. Note that, in this case, the reception for the other two public radio stations is uncompromised since one transmitter is so close and the other so powerful that good omni directional reception is possible. This is, of course, fortuitous). The outdoor antenna made a huge difference! I brought in KCRW in very low noise stereo. I think many people just don’t realize how good FM stereo music can sound (outside of the car environment, that is. The simple dipole whip antennas mounted on vehicles are sub-optimal for stereo FM reception in fringe areas).
To sum up anyone looking for a surround sound receiver should consider the Rotel RSX-1067, it is a tour-de-force in ergonomics, style and performance. Just in case you doubt my veracity, I can tell you that I am buying the review sample. Happy listening!
– Graham Hardy Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD/CD/SACD player; Muse Model 3 preamp; Muse Model 175 monoblock power amplifiers; Magneplanar MG20.1 loudspeakers; Avalon Avatar Loudspeakers; Onix Rocket ELT center-channel loudspeaker; Monarchy SM70 Pro power amplifiers; Muse Model 18 powered subwoofer; Sony SAT-A55 Directv satellite receiver; Sony Trinitron KV-32S22 32” TV; JVC HR-D70U VCR; Monster Cable XP loudspeaker cable; Canare L-4E6S Star Quad balanced interconnects; Music Metre pure silver loudspeaker cables; Straightwire Maestro interconnects; Monster Cable M1000V S-video cables; Sound Anchors equipment stand (sand-filled); Townshend Seismic Sinks; API Powerwedge Model 114 line conditioner; Radio Shack outdoor FM antenna.