|Rotel RCD 975 CD Player|
|Home Theater Audio Sources CD Players|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Wednesday, 01 November 2000|
It is easy to design a system that sounds great when you have lots of money to invest. You can pick from the most high end, most high performance products on the market with little regard for anything other than getting exactly the sound you want. Achieving this goal on a tight budget is a whole other story.
Enter the Rotel RCD 975. Every good music and home theater system needs a good "front end." In Europe, investing the majority of your audio money into a front end is common, however in the US where bigger is better, we tend to opt for investing more funds into loudspeakers. The Rotel RCD 975 is a great compromise. At $750 (USD) the Rotel RCD 975 isn't cheap, but its performance is way above its price range.
Technically the Rotel RCD 975 uses two continuous calibration digital to analog converters, one on each channel. Each DAC processes the positive and negative elements of the signal and compares them. This reduces digital error in the playback significantly thus the Rotel RCD 975 starts out with an advantage over most CD players anywhere near its price. Additionally, the Rotel RCD 975 uses a serious swingarm drawer mechanism as to reduce jitter, another form of digital error.
I tested the Rotel RCD 975 in two systems. First was Audio Revolution's Music Editor, Jason Karsh's B&W 604, Rotel and Aragon Powered $4000 music system and the second was my reference Wilson CUB, Mark Levinson No. 38s, No. 333 and Transparent Reference XL system. In Karsh's system the Rotel RCD 975 performed very well. Tonally balanced and right in pace with a music system priced at $4000 or perhaps even higher.
The real test came when I brought the Rotel RCD 975 over to my system utilizing components and interconnects that cost three times what this CD player is worth, combined. I would now hear exactly what the Rotel RCD 975 could really do. If the RCD 975 was going to be the weak link in the system I would know right away.
I was impressed. On Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a'la Turk" (Columbia re-master) I found wonderful layering of the musical elements. The mix of piano, bass, cymbals and horns was very musical and not very "digital." The cymbal sound on this cut is a great test of harshness in that I want to hear a lot of resolution but never do I want it to sound overly bright. The Rotel RCD 975 performed well with the Brubeck cymbal test striking a balance (not frequently found in under $1000 digital products) between detail and brightness.
On Michael Jackson's "Jam" from the album Dangerous (Sony) the imaging was tight and better than I expected. Once again the cymbals and other high frequency content were resolute. My only issue with the RCD 975 was on some cuts I auditioned, the overall tonality of the music on the Rotel RCD 975 sounded slightly cold. This seems to be more the flavor of the Rotel as opposed to a sonic defect. Other comparable players can sound warmer but most of those units don't have the resolution and detail of the RCD 975.
The Rotel RCD 975 is one of the best values in an inexpensive CD player. It isn't built of the most exotic metals and a fancy remote. It doesn't come with that new "XYZ" digital outputs (which you may never use anyway) but for $750 the Rotel RCD 975 can provide you with a musical performance worth much more than the asking price. Cost were cut in the right places to keep the Rotel RCD 975 from exceeding its price point however, thoughtful features like shuffle, programming and a ergonomically friendly remote, make the RCD 975 a pleasure to own. Overall, the Rotel RCD 975 is a strong performer and a great value.