Performance engineering – The Rotel heritage
There are few audio manufacturers that can claim as long a track record of innovative, high performance, affordable audio engineering as Rotel. And we’re proud of it. Rotel was founded half a century ago on a philosophy of manufacturing products of the highest performance and quality combined with nely judged, cost-optimised engineering. We call this philosophy the Balanced Design Concept and it informs every engineering decision we take and every product we make.
But while our philosophy doesn’t change, the audio landscape does, and since the launch of our 06 SE Series it has changed fundamentally. File downloads, internet radio, wireless streaming, iPad® and iPhone® compatibility, and high- resolution audio are all now all established elements of everyday music. So with the 12 Series we’ve brought the Balanced Design Concept to bear on the new audio landscape. The results are nothing short of extraordinary.
Audio mastery – Global development
Creating audio products of such exceptional performance that they can wear the Rotel badge is impossible without understanding: understanding to the deepest level exactly how audio electronics, electro-acoustics and psycho-acoustics conspire to in uence the reproduction of music. Without understanding, the ne engineering judgements – knowing where economies are possible, and knowing where budget must be spent – have no context. Without understanding, engineering decisions might just as well be made by chance.
Our understanding comes partly through the experience hard-wired into the Rotel DNA. Rotel is unlike any other audio manufacturer. We are a family owned organisation, with all the stability and commitment that family brings. We are smaller than perhaps you might imagine, although not so small that we are unable to reach for our aspirations. And we have ve decades in the business of making audio electronics sound greater than the sum of its parts, and sound much more like music in the process.
Rotel is also far from typical in its global approach to design and product development. While our roots are in Japan and our designers are located there, we know people the world over who can help us re ne our products by bringing unique perspectives to their development. So we never hesitate to tap into those resources of knowledge and experience. In particular our development team in the UK plays an important role in ne tuning every Rotel product. Somebody once said, “a good idea doesn’t care where it came from”. It could easily have been said by one of the Rotel family.
At Rotel, extraordinary sound at unexceptional cost is the natural order of things. And it comes about because our engineers and designers practice the Balanced Design Concept. The concept strikes a balance between the cost- no-object engineering of high-end audio engineering and the simple “bean counting” approach that underpins the design of most mass-market electronics. Performance and cost in equilibrium. The Balanced Design Concept is second nature to our engineers because they are themselves music lovers who nurture their designs like doting parents. It has just two simple laws:
1. The best-sounding components are not necessarily the most costly;
2. No single design element should be emphasised if it causes performance in any other part of the product to suffer.
We apply the rules to four key stages in the design process: when we’re engineering the power supply and the circuit layout, and when we’re evaluating the product and selecting components.
Rotel engineers spend many hours auditioning and selecting electronic components from potential suppliers to give our products the best reliability and acoustic advantages. It costs a little more, but the bene ts further differentiate Rotel quality from other manufacturers.
It’s not enough simply to use better components. Where you put them is equally important. That’s why we rely heavily on something we call Symmetrical Signal Trace design. The principle of Symmetrical Signal Trace is to keep each audio channel signal path identical in order to preserve imaging and sound staging. Symmetrical Signal Trace also implies the use of ‘star’ grounding (terminating all signal and power supply earths at a single point) which further bene ts audio performance by helping maximise signal to noise ratios.
Human hearing is more discerning than the most sophisticated test instruments in the hands of experienced engineers. So at Rotel we listen throughout the development process, not just at the pre-production prototype stages. Rather like a chef tasting throughout the process of creating a dish, we listen at every stage throughout the process of design to ensure the performance of a new model is as good as it can possibly be.
Power supply lies at the heart of any high-quality audio equipment, and our engineers always commit substantial effort on designing and analysing this vital component. Everything from the physical layout and wiring to the careful selection of smoothing and reservoir capacitors gets the upmost attention. And at every stage of the development process, upmost in our designer’s minds is to consider how the power supply will in uence sound quality.
Audio for a connected world
If one word were used to describe the nature of the new audio landscape, that word might be ‘connections’. Connections to the outside world through the internet brings music into the home via downloads and streaming. And connections between audio products within the home bring shared media and control potentially across multiple rooms. So the 12 Series products embrace connectivity to a degree like few products before. For example, both the RA-11 and RA-12 integrated ampli ers support audio streaming over Bluetooth via a USB dongle. Both integrated ampli ers also, along with the RCD-12 CD player, can be connected via Rotel Link to the RT-12 internet radio/UPnP player to create an integrated system controlled by the Rotel Remote app for iPhone and iPad. Trigger inputs and outputs are also tted to some 12 Series products that enable their integration with custom installation multi-room audio systems.
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