Amplifier Rotel A14
Small in size but heavy A14 amplifier is identified externally exactly as Rotel. Outwardly the branded style is maintained well and this is traditional, classical amplifier. The power button is on the left, headphones input and the switch to select speaker systems are at the same place. The display and inputs selection are in the center, volume control is on the right.
Controls are quite illustrative: this is not the case, when a couple of buttons and smart menu answer for all settings. Moreover, the control is added by classical remote control. The amplifier's functionality is quite rich: linear inputs, MM phono stage, lots of digital inputs - coaxial and optical, USB for PC and USB on the front panel for iOS devices and in addition wireless Bluetooth with aptX support.
It's time to look under the device cover. Outwardly everything looks well. The assembly is neat, construction is steady and of good quality. There are no, of course, expensive audiophile components and who would look for them here? Albeit there are transistor amplification in AB class (80 W/8 Ohms per channel) and a solid toroidal power transformer.
Built-in DAC is assembled on AKM chip with support of signal up to 32 bit/768 kHz. Through optical and coaxial input DAC understands signals up to 24 bit/192 kHz, USB has support of DSD and DoP.
The amplifier's phono stage is designed only for work with MM heads and has no settings. Generally, this is logical and, perhaps, the attempt to build a budget phono stage with support of MC heads inn would be superfluous in this case.
I built the test protest in the following way: first, I connect the amp with external DAC in order to try to estimate it exactly as an amplifier; then I moved on to the built-in DAC in conjunction with PC. I switched between speaker system and headphones, listened to vinyl recordings.
The amp's sound is light, tops are a little bit brighter than the norm, but all-in-all the sound is not without charm. Remembering the previous experience, I thought that the sound of Rotel is recognizable and this amp keeps the tradition. A14 has a good feeling of rhythm, dynamics turns out to be smooth in the whole range, nothing is late or blurred, there is no feeling of haste. Bass is deeper and more volumetric than I expected, with good fullness. The middle doesn't come out of the overall character of transfer, but not really a simplification is traced in it, rather - averaging of sound. Nuances and tint of different well-known recordings are less noticeable than desired. In high frequencies there is a share of brightness and some straightness, but these features do not reach the level of sharpness or weariness.
The stage turns out to be medium by width, but with a little depth. Detailing is high, but you can hear some averaging, especially in complex recordings and big line ups. Speaking about other features of character the amplifier is omnivorous and copes with small line ups and more difficult recording nearly in the same way.
At the listening with built-in DAC the sound turned out to be a bit different - slightly softer, with more neat transfer of high frequencies. There is definitely more unity. However, there is formalization, as if averaging of sound regardless of recording. In the result the disadvantages of cut MP3 formats are smoothed. In general, the device can give quite complete, elastic sound, not ultra-detailed, but honest with good volume and visible and understandable stage.
This is the high-quality device with good DAC and set of features. And this is classical by many functions amplifier, which will be intuitively plain to whose, who bought his first device and to whose, who bought the first amp several years ago. But at the same time by set of functions the amplifier is absolutely modern. For its segment Rotal A14 looks well too and can be used in very different systems - from classical combination with CD player and vinyl player to the variant, when the sound is built in stereo system and up to output of voicework for TV in stereo mode.