Should I use spades, banana plugs, or bare wire for my speaker cables?
There are several ways you can opt to terminate your speaker wire, depending on what connections your amplifier and speakers have. The easiest and most direct connection is bare wire, but you risk breaking off strands each time the wire is disconnected, or possibly causing damage if opposite stands touch one another or your equipment.
If you expect to be disconnecting and reconnecting your speakers often, perhaps to move them in other locations, you may find banana plugs, spades, or pins more convenient. Most Rotel equipment accepts banana plugs, but not all accept spades or pins. Check with your dealer if you will be using spades or pins.
What brand cables does Rotel recommend?
This is perhaps the most subjective category of all. When you buy a new car, you can look at hard data to aid you in your buying decision. Things like fuel economy, repair history, resale value, crash tests, owner satisfaction, average repair/maintenance costs, and other factual information can prove invaluable. But when it comes to interconnects, it is not as easy.
Rotel does not recommend a particular brand of cable (read: speaker wire) or interconnect for use with its products (there isn't one that's "best"), but we can assist you with some basic pointers. This is really where your local dealer can be very helpful, as they have more experience with using different brands, as well as getting feedback on what their customers have had success with. Of course, what one person thinks sounds best may not be what you think sounds best, so you may want to see whether or not you can get some cables on a "loaner" basis to try out. It is a very crowded field...there are a plethora of cable/interconnect manufacturers, each with their own philosophy on what makes good cable, each having their own price points, and each sounding different from the other.
Cables and interconnects are more important than you might think. If you were to remove all of them from your system, it would be rendered useless. Typically, those that come boxed with the components you buy are quite basic, intended for people who haven't any cables at all. These should be treated the same way you treat that spare "donut" tire in your vehicle's trunk... it does the job temporarily until you can get a new tire on. And when you put that new tire on, you notice the ride, handling, traction, fuel economy, and noise are much improved. Like new tires, but maybe not quite as dramatic, better interconnects allow you to take full advantage of what your equipment can do.
Generally speaking, you should keep your cable/interconnect runs as short as practically possible. Speaker cable should be the same length to each speaker and at least 16 gauge. They should sport durable jackets, be well shielded, and employ high purity copper. Gold-plated connectors will prevent corrosion. When installing your cables, be sure the connections are snug. Keep power cords away from your interconnects, and separate digital and analog interconnects from each other.
What do you mean by 1U, 2U, 3U etc. in the product specifications?
The "U" stands for "Unit Height" and is a standard 1.75" throughout the industry. Therefore a 2U component would have a height of 3.5" and so on. By having these standards it allows a custom installer to quickly predict what combination of U height electronics will fit efficiently into a standard rack.
What is bi-amping and bi-wiring?
These two terms are often confused as they both utilize two pairs of speaker cables that are connected to one speaker.
Bi-amping involves the use of two separate amplifiers however, which deliver separate voltage and current to the bass drivers and midrange/tweeters. To do this, the speakers must have two pairs of binding posts that can be physically separated, usually by removing connecting wires or a metal bridge. This will separate the bass section from the midrange/tweeter section. There are definite sonic advantages to bi-amping that we can't go into great detail here, but damping factor increases and intermodulation distortion goes down.
Bi-wiring requires the same physical separation of the bass and midrange/tweeter circuitry as bi-amping, however, you are only using one amplifier, so both pairs of cables are attached to the positive and negative binding posts on the receiver or power amplifier. In some cases manufacturers have supplied additional binding posts on the receiver or amplifier to help simplify this type of hook up. Bi-wiring has more subtle performance advantages than bi-amping, but it is also less expensive to do than bi-amping.
What is the warranty length on Rotel components?
The North American warranty periods are listed below. For regions outside of North America, please contact your local Rotel Distributor for this information.
Amplifiers, Integrated Amplifiers, Preamplifiers, Surround Processors, Tuners, DACs and Receivers: 5 years
CD Players, DVD Players, Line Conditioners and Cooling Fan Kit: 2 years
Remote Controls and Keypads: 1 year
Why do Rotel receivers seem to have less power (watts) for the money than other manufacturers?
In order to compare power (in watts) between surround receivers we have to assume that everyone is measuring the power of their amplifier section the same way - which they currently are not. As of the writing of this FAQ, the FTC has not mandated a standard power rating for multichannel receivers and amplifiers, like they did with stereo receivers and amplifiers years ago. The old standard was that a manufacturer must publish its power rating with all channels driven, from 20Hz to 20kHz, into a standard load (8 ohms usually.) This is not happening today, and what we at Rotel would specify as 75 watts per channel, another manufacturer might specify as 120 watts. It depends on how it is measured. Many companies today are rating the power amplifier output by driving only one channel, and often into a lower impedance to show a higher rating. Is this fair? No, but it is being done all the time.
Why does Rotel not have Autoeq?
At Rotel, we have been asked many times why our audio/video receivers don't feature an Auto-Eq set up. The short answer is that while these devices do change the sonic characteristics, we don't believe that they provide a real sonic improvement at this level of product manufacturing. Further, that the cost of including this feature comes at the expense of overall audio performance. For the more complete answer, please read on.
The electronics industry continues to evolve at a remarkable pace and surround-sound electronics along with big screen TVs have brought the cinema experience home. However, not every new feature should be taken at face value as a real benefit. Auto EQ is the latest feature touted to add more value to home theater receivers. The premise of Auto EQ is that it takes the guesswork out of smoothing acoustic room variables through the use of a microphone and some digital signal processing. However, you don't need to look much further than the comprehensive article from Keith Howard - "Anti-Node: Active Room-Acoustics Correction" in Stereophile - January 2008 to understand how difficult this is to do well, even with far more expensive dedicated EQ systems. While it might be construed that we are denigrating Auto-Eq because we don't include it in any of our models, we stand behind our belief that this feature adds a cost factor that is far better off spent on higher performance parts, which can result in true sonic improvements.
As an analogy, it is a bit like purchasing a Yugo automobile with heated leather seats, a powered sunroof, and 20" chrome wheels. The Yugo is then a little fancier than a basic Honda, but it still drives like a Yugo. In fact, in some instances, auto-correction equalization can do more harm than good. This is due to the fact that digital EQ processing at this level is nowhere near as sophisticated, as it needs to be. A manufacturer's home theater receiver BOM (Bill Of Materials), will quickly show that they simply can't afford to add the processing horsepower (cost of the chip) required to get the job done properly and still be competitive. The end result is that a value engineered Auto-EQ chip makes a guess about the worst offending frequencies, but by dramatically altering those sound waves, they also end up changing others that can affect the sound negatively.
If you are really concerned about getting the very best sound out of your home theater, or stereo system, you should consult a Rotel audio/video specialist. They know how it all goes together: how to position speakers in a room properly and how to set up your system's software for bass management and speaker levels to get the best sound. If you are looking to achieve the absolute best in performance, they can also consult with you regarding room mode correction treatment materials, or on designing a proper acoustic environment from the ground up.
At Rotel, we have not ignored the importance of having some flexibility in controlling room modes. Did you know that the new 15 series components have very flexible bass management options? They can provide independent speaker configurations and crossover settings for each channel and surround mode. You can even create basic "notch filters" for troublesome frequencies. As an example, if you had a room node at 90Hz, you could set the speaker mains to roll off at 100 Hz and the subwoofer at 80Hz. For even more flexibility, there are contour adjustments at 10kHz and 100Hz that can be set independently for each channel. These are acoustic adjustments that can subtly improve the performance of your system without creating wider problems. However, there is simply no substitute for a home theater system that is designed and installed by knowledgeable experts.
Why does Rotel use both Class AB and Class D amplifiers?
Rotel has been designing, manufacturing, and refining class AB amplifiers for over four decades now. These designs have proven to be extremely reliable and have won many significant awards for their sonic excellence. Part of our reputation is due to the extraordinary amount of attention we devote to the power supply, especially the single most expensive component, the transformer. In order to ensure that this critical element meets or exceeds all of our specifications, we custom build and test all power transformers in-house. For some audio enthusiasts, class AB power amplifiers remain the preferred choice because of their proven performance over several decades.
Many of today's home theater and multi-room audio applications however, require components that not only perform to the highest sonic expectations, but also fit into smaller enclosed spaces such as custom cabinetry or equipment racks built into walls and closets. Electronic components in these close quarters generate a large amount of potentially harmful heat, most of which is generated by traditional analog amplifiers. In this situation, class D amplifiers make the most sense. Whether or not you choose traditional class AB or the newer class D amplifiers, you can be assured that all Rotel amplifiers will provide you with great sound and reliability for all your audio video needs.
Can Rotel be controlled by third party remote controls?
Absolutely, Rotel works with many different types of remotes and control systems such as Crestron, Universal Remote, Logitech, RTI, and many others. It may be best to work with a professional programmer through your retailer however, as the more components you add, the more complex the programming becomes.