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Rotel RB-1590 Power Amplifier Review Print E-mail
Monday, 01 February 2016
Article Index
Rotel RB-1590 Power Amplifier Review

The next thing I noticed was how dynamically responsive the RB-1590 was. Transients were lightning quick, the amp is fantastically nimble, and agile. I found myself listening to a lot of rhythmically complex music, and recordings with lots of shade and light to take advantage of this characteristic. Peter Gabriel’s New Blood (24/48 FLAC) was a perfect example. It has explosive dynamics and the track “San Jacinto” is a tour de force of dramatic crescendos. The RB-1590 made it come alive in ways I had not experienced before, even through far more expensive amps.

The syncopated rhythms by the Tuareg group Tadalat, on their release Algafiat, are hypnotic, and the RB-1590 was there at every turn. The electric guitars, modal chants, and desert beats were rendered with finesse, and the Rogue preamp/Rotel combo were simply creating an intoxicating presentation. My wife noted she was enjoying my foray into “tribal” music and that it sounded very “live”.

http://www.avrev.com/images/stories/equippoweramps/rotel/rb1590_guts.pngI also wanted to explore the RB-1590’s way with tone, so I cycled through the three disc Joan Baez anthology, The Complete A&M Recordings. Her voice was at its peak during this time and the Rotel rendered her vocals with great purity of timbre, and revealed the majesty of performance “Llorona”, which literally gave me goosebumps.

If I had to sum up the RB-1590’s sonic performance, I would emphasize how balanced its presentation is. The midrange is so clean and open, the bass is taught, controlled and deep. Add a smooth, revealing top end and you have a powerful, music making machine that has no sonic holes that I could detect. On the contrary, it shined in every category.

Comparing the RB-1590 to the Audio Research and Simaudio amps was interesting. The Rotel had far more bass articulation and top end clarity than the Audio Research, the Audio Research had the warmer midrange. The Rotel matched the Simaudio in many departments, but gave up a bit of refinement. Since the Simaudio costs two and a half times as much, this is not a surprise, but it was far closer than anticipated.

Ergonomically, the RB-1590 was utterly flawless. It ran cooler than anticipated. That may have something to do with the ample ventilation on the front and top of the chassis. It was also amazingly quiet mechanically. It’s smooth start up and shut down mechanism was the only noise it ever made. Over several months of continuous use, the RB-1590 proved to be maintenance free.



The Rotel RB-1590 is a beautifully made, sonically outstanding power amplifier. It offers effortless power, and near perfect tonal balance, with both XLR and RCA inputs, dual mono design, and no fuss operation. It does have a large footprint, but sometimes good things come in large packages. At $2999, the RB-1590 is a stone cold bargain. Please note, the RB-1590 can be paired with the matching RC-1590 preamplifier and DSD DAC. At $1750 it offers up a feature set that is quite impressive.

If you are in the same boat as I am, with medium efficiency speakers, a large space, and want the feeling of effortless dynamics and easy power, the RB-1590, with a clean 350 watts of power per channel on tap, should be on your very short list. I am hard pressed to think of too many other competing power amplifiers with similar power ratings in the $3000-5000 price range. An audition of the Rotel RB-1590 is an easy recommendation. An excellent product that exceeded my expectations.


Rotel RB-1590 Power Amplifier: $2999
Continuous Power Output: 350W/Ch (All channels driven, 8 ohms)

Review System 1

DAC: Simaudio 280D
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Server: Bryston BDP-2
Preamp: CIAudio PLC-1 MKII, Rogue RP-5
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Simaudio 760A
Speaker: Bryston Mini T
Cables: Stager Sound, Acoustic Zen, Element Cable, DH Labs, iFi, ZenWave
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks and Svelte Shelves, Shakti Stone, Bryston BIT-15, Salamander rack

Review System 2

Music Server: SOtM sMS-100 w/ Battery XPS
Preamp: Tisbury Audio Mini Passive II
DAC: iFi Micro iDSD w/i iFi Micro iUSB 3.0
Power Amplifier: Onkyo M5000R
Tape Deck: Sony TC-350
Speaker: Magnepan MMG
Cables: Stager Sound, Transparent, DH Labs, SVS
Accessories: Cable Pro Noisetrapper, iFi iPower, Audience aR6

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