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Rotel RCD-06 SE CD Player Review Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 October 2009
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Rotel RCD-06 SE CD Player Review
Listening Cont.

ImageThe bug struck me late 2003. I was at a bookstore looking through magazines when a cover lured me in with its display of speakers and amps and CD players – the components of the year as judged by that audio publication. Thumbing through it, I was astonished by the number of manufacturers represented that I had never heard of. My jaw also dropped looking at the price tags of much of the featured equipment. Certainly it would be sweet to have 50K (or more) to drop on a system but my budget was more modest. I bought the mag, took it home and studied it for probably two months, getting familiar with the various players in the audiophile world. I remember among the editors' budget recommendations was a CD player from Rotel – the RCD-1072 – that was praised for offering a real taste of the high end. I wasn't sure what that even meant, but I liked the 1072's silver chassis and overall design and filed the model and maker in my memory for future exploration.

For nearly 50 years, Rotel has carved out a niche in high-end audio by giving budget-minded audiophiles great-sounding gear. That includes standalone CD players, even here in 2009. Some consumers may still believe that all CD players sound alike. Others may assert that CD players are no longer relevant, what with the plethora of DVD players and universal players on the market – many at bargain basement prices. And most DVD players perform adequately for CD playback, but most audiophiles aren't buying all that and still demand dedicated components to fuel their music jones. Entry-level audio enthusiasts take note: Rotel's RCD-06 SE was designed for you.

Rotel Front Display

The RCD-06 SE is the successor to Rotel's RCD-06 – a well-regarded single-disc player. Like the RCD-06, the SE is also a single-disc player that reads CDs, CD-Rs and CD-RWs. The RCD-06 SE sports a new Wolfson WM8740 DAC, replacing the Burr Brown unit found in the RCD-06. The WM8740 is also being used in several other Rotel products and was chosen by Robert Burn, Rotel's U.K. technical director, for its ability to reveal the emotion in the music. Rotel has also improved the circuitry and internal components, with upgraded filter and buffer stages, low-noise resistor feeds to the DAC, and selected input and output coupling capacitors.

Although the look is still Rotel industrial, the RCD-06 SE is housed in a sleek silver body, minus the black handles found on earlier Rotel models. The CD drawer is front and center, to the right of the unit's lighted display. Its faceplate features a power button on the left and six push buttons on the right, beneath the display, for all standard commands. Set up is a breeze. The RCD-06 SE sports analog RCA stereo and digital coaxial connections. A detachable power cord makes it easy to pop in another cord of your choice.

The supplied remote control has everything needed for quick action, and though it's housed in the plastic-du-jour, Rotel has color-coded commands and track numbers to make it a bit easier for thumbs and fingers to find the desired buttons.

Rotel Left Side

Smooth and quiet operation are two characteristics desired in any compact disc player, and that's what you get with the RCD-06 SE. The transport is not stone silent, but unless you're 4 inches away from the unit you'll hear nothing but music. The player's response via the remote control was immediate and never took multiple button pushing to make it fly right. Disc information loads in about 2 seconds, with the first track taking off in the same timeframe.


Right away I was struck by the player's clean and detailed sound. Given the right amplification source it's well-rounded and engaging with weighty sound-staging. Paired with my Grant Fidelity A-348 integrated tube amplifier, the RCD-06 SE was clean, punchy and quick. I wondered, though, how it would deliver matched with one of its Rotel siblings.

Nylon and Steel CD The first disc I played was Manuel Barrueco's Nylon & Steel, where the skilled classical guitarist is paired with Al Di Meola, Steve Morse and Andy Summers for a banquet of acoustic guitar duets. Little can be hidden on such a recording, and the 6-six string masters dazzle on this project. Di Meola is a musical force whom Barrueco admits was a challege to keep up with. The album is not only a technical tour de force, it has many moments where the inner definition of Barrueco's fingers plucking the strings is clearly audible. The Rotel brought out such detail and let them be part of the music, rather than something to cover up. Astonishing classical/electric guitar fretplay between Barrueco and Morse on “Wolvesville (an improvisation on Etude No. 1 by Villa-Lobos)” is heightened by Morse's tone and Barrueco's lightning-fast arpeggios. Even as the tune threatens to derail under the energy, the RCD-06 SE kept it under control with speed and focus.


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