Rotel RDV-1060 DVD-A/V Player 
Home Theater Video Players DVD Players
Written by Brian Kahn   
Friday, 01 October 2004

Introduction
The RDV-1060 is Rotel’s latest and greatest contribution to the world of DVD-Audio/Video disc players. As Rotel has a 40-year history of producing solid, good bang-for-the-buck gear, I was quite curious to see the DVD player they felt was worth $899, a price tag solidly above the run-of-the-mill players yet significantly lower than most other high-end players. With Rotel, it is always possible that they can make an $899 DVD-Audio/Video player that smokes $3,000 units from other companies. It was with these high expectations that I broke open the Rotel RDV-1060’s carton and started plugging in cables.

Upon first look, I immediately noticed the revised and much improved industrial styling of the RDV-1060 over past Rotel components. The faceplate is thick, silver brushed aluminum, framed with nicely finished black aluminum fins on the edges. This is a drastic departure from the more utilitarian black face plates on prior Rotel products.

The player itself is standard in size, measuring 17 inches wide by three-and-five-eighths inches high and 13.25 inches deep, weighing in at 11.2 pounds. While the weight isn’t close to the 22 pounds for the Pioneer DV-38A I had previously reviewed, it is much more than the typical DVD player that averages around five pounds. A good-sized portion of that additional weight is due to chassis reinforcement. It works as the chassis is much more rigid than the last Rotel transport I owned. The rigid chassis helps ensure a stable platform for an accurate reading of the discs. More accurate disc reading reduces the necessity of error correction and improves overall sound quality. The Rotel plays just about every format, except the soon to be forgotten about SACD. The formats it recognizes include DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, CD-V, SVCD and MP3 discs.


The audio section of the RDV-1060 is well thought out and is the performance area that clearly sets it apart from the other players in the Rotel line. The digital audio signal, unless sent to the digital outputs, is converted to Cirrus Logic/Crystal 24-bit/192kHz DACs. The analog signal is then sent through not one but two op amps in succession. Rotel utilizes highly-regarded op amps from both Analog Devices and Burr Brown.

The digital video signal is decoded by a 12-bit/54mHz bit video DAC, manufactured by ESS Technology. 12-bit processing makes a visible improvement over the older 10-bit chips and is now the standard for higher-end DVD players. The unit’s video processing capabilities also feature a progressive scan output that is much more than an afterthought. The video processor is not made by Faroudja, the brand found in many mid- or high-priced units. It is not clear if this decision was made for performance, political or price reasons. My best guess is price and, at $899, I wasn’t really wishing for more in terms of video output from the player.

The progressive scan circuitry allows the user the option of choosing various settings with respect to the reverse 3:2 pull-down. The user can set the unit to video, film or one of the automatic modes. The traditional automatic mode looks for flags embedded in the signal to determine which mode should be utilized. The Rotel chip set goes a step further with a “smart” automatic option that not only looks for the embedded flags but also provides analysis of the video signal as well.


Set-up
The RDV-1060 has all the normal connection options. On the video side, there are composite, S-video and component video, both interlaced and progressive. There is also a SCART connection for those in other parts of the world. The unit’s audio connections include 5.1 analog outputs, stereo analog outputs, digital coaxial and digital optical outputs. There is no direct digital audio connection for DVD-Audio of the type found on some higher-end Denon DVD-Receiver combos and all of Meridian’s electronics.

The back panel also boasts features that will greatly ease the integration of the RDV-1060 into a custom install. There are 12-volt trigger and IR inputs and an RS-232-capable RJ-45 control port. The Rotel also features a discrete command set that will be a boon to the programmers of the system’s control panel. Discrete commands mean, for example, that instead of hitting power, hoping that the unit turns on rather than off, there are separate on and off command signals.

The front panel has an informative display above the disc tray. The display shows not only the typical chapter and time but also the type of disc, sampling rate, audio format and which channels are in use. I was impressed by this feature, no question. I connected the rear panel 5.1 analog outputs to my Krell processor with Monster Cable M550iHR six-channel interconnect cables. The video connection was from the Rotel’s component outputs to the Krell, with Monster Cable’s THX Ultra Component Video 1000 cables.

The Rotel manual is very informative and walks the user through each step, explaining what each setting really does. The bass management and speaker delay settings are clearly explained, as well as the fact that they only work on the Dolby Digital and DTS analog outputs. Lastly, I plugged my Xantech IR relay into the rear panel’s IR input jack.

Music and Movies
The first DVD-Audio disc I played in the Rotel was Medeski, Martin and Wood’s Univisible (DTS Entertainment). The track “Take Me Nowhere” had a good, solid sound to the guitar. I was easily able to make out the detail of each string, from the initial attack to the note’s decay. The surrounds were used judiciously to create a spacious soundstage without going overboard. The track “I Wanna Ride You” continued to provide great detail. With this track, my focus was on the drums. The drum strikes were tight and detailed and the cymbals very clear and sharp without being harsh.

I next listened to The Crystal Method’s Legion of Boom (DTS Entertainment) album on DVD-Audio. I had been fortunate enough to have recently seen The Crystal Method play at a small Los Angeles club and I was anxious to see how the album compared to the real thing. For those of you not familiar with The Crystal Method, they are not a traditional band, but more DJs who mix popular dance/electronic music that is very friendly to surround and high-performance AV systems – especially ones with subwoofers. The track “True Grit” did not have any of the gut-wrenching bass that this band normally utilizes, but it did have a frenetically paced mix that made excellent use of all channels. The sounds remained clear and distinct, despite the fast and busy pace. Moving on to the track “Realizer,” the Rotel continued to have no problems getting the detail off the disc without any etching that you have to learn to live with on many lower-priced DVD players.

The last disc I listened to before switching to movies was Queen’s A Night at the Opera (DTS Entertainment). This DVD-Audio disc also features one of the few DTS tracks encoded at 96kHz/24 bits. This particular disc is one of a limited number that has a 96kHz/24-bit DTS track; the Rotel is a player capable of decoding it. The hit track “You’re My Best Friend” had more texture, especially notable in the opening guitar, and was more open in the upper midrange with a smooth and extended treble then I had heard on other players costing more than the Rotel. I continued with the song “Love of My Life,” which confirmed my listening impressions. The DVD-Audio tracks played through the Rotel portrayed a detailed yet luscious sonic image in a large soundstage. Translation from audiophile-speak – this $899 Rotel DVD-Audio player sounds great, as you would expect from a company with a reputation built on a tradition of better sound.

The Rotel’s portrayal of detailed and luscious images was not limited to audio. While watching the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun” (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), there were many scenes where I noted great color detail in the house textures, fabrics and landscapes. I found the colors to be smooth in gradients without any unnatural transitions. The color detail had good saturation without any bleeding. The picture was sharp enough to provide good detail without any visible digital artifacts.

Next I watched “Monsters Inc.” (Disney/Pixar), a well-done CGI animated film. Animated films are good places to look for dot crawl, over-saturation and bleeding problems. As with “Under the Tuscan Sun,” I found lots of rich, vibrant colors. Admittedly, the colors in this movie were far from natural, but they remained smooth. The Rotel’s video playback circuitry was up to the job, with no signs of bleeding or dot crawl. The images had good depth and dimensionality, maintaining detail without artificial borders.

The Downside
The remote control is not backlit. Some controls can get by without backlighting, via the use of uniquely shaped buttons. Not so with this remote.

The Rotel RDV-1060 plays every disc format out there except SACD. With Dual Disc coming and BluRay a few years away, I can make a strong argument against SACD as a format. However, if you are looking for the best in stereo and music in surround music right now, SACD has some pretty strong offerings.

Conclusion
I found the Rotel RDV-1060 to be very vibrant and smooth in both its video and audio presentation. The audio was commendable and had a sense of ease while maintaining a great amount of detail. Likewise, I found the video to be very smooth and natural without any artifacts. The Rotel is a serious contender for those seeking a natural and relaxed presentation, with no sacrifice of detail, of DVD and DVD-Audio discs.

When looking for the next level of performance above the mass market products, if your budget will not allow you to invest in the ultra-high-end players, the Rotel RDV-1060 is just the ticket.





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