Rotel RA-920AX Amplifier

The famous minimalist model by Rotel, which in tests of many audio magazines has repeatedly "outplayed" many more expensive and famous amplifier models. The secret of the popularity of audio equipment Rotel is in the careful study of the scheme and the use of selected high-quality components of audiophile quality. All Rotel models are developed in the UK and although they are made in Japan, they have a distinctly 'English' sound. Therefore, despite the 'Japanese roots' of Rotel, many fans of high quality equipment consider it a British company. Having acquainted ourselves with Rotel amplifiers 'from afar' through the publications in 'Whats Hi-Fi?' and 'Hi-Fi CHOICE' we started testing RA-920AX with particular interest. Externally, the amplifier is neat and austere. The meticulous craftsmanship and the minimal set of controls (there is even no stereo balance knob, but the volume control is made in the form of two co-axial knobs) should, in theory, emphasize that there is nothing superfluous in this amplifier and everything is aimed at achieving the best sound quality. Only one pair of speakers can be connected to the Rotel RA-920AX, and its screw terminals are best adapted to spade (or fork) type speaker cable connectors, but can also clamp a stripped speaker cable if necessary. In the harmonic distortion measurements the Rotel RA-920AX showed the best result with a record low distortion of 0.07% across the entire output power range: from 1 to 25 watts.

When the POWER button is pushed, the sound appears almost instantly in the speakers, while other competing amplifiers have a delay of 3 to 5 seconds. The sound of the amplifier with the tone controls turned off (or more precisely, with the tone controls in the "0" position) is characterized by excellent frequency balance with well developed low and high frequencies. This result speaks to the good linearity of the amplification path, because with low harmonic distortion in good amplifiers, no additional rise in high frequencies, which mask the harmonics of the signal, is required. Moreover, the Rotel sounded equally well with relatively inexpensive "shelf" speakers, and with more expensive and "thoroughbred" floor systems. The sound of the RA-920AX in all test programs was amazingly detailed, especially in the high frequencies. The bass was just as well: surprisingly deep and resilient for an amplifier with such a modest output power value. The strong bass seems to be due to the large power reserve of the amplifier's power supply, which is a characteristic and distinctive feature of all Rotel audio equipment. When playing light orchestral music, the saxophone sound was so realistic that you could hear the air movement in the saxophone and the performer's breath clearly! Moreover, the Rotel even managed to reproduce almost naturally the sound of the violin, one of the most "difficult" instruments for high-quality audio equipment. From the PHONO input, the sound quality of the Rotel was no worse than from the CD. In this mode, the sound of the amplifier became softer, but remained just as dynamic and just as detailed. When playing vinyl records, the RA-920AX even managed to recreate the atmosphere of a recording studio in the listening room, which even much more expensive amplifiers cannot do. And another thing - the Rotel never "lost its breath" even at maximum output power, and at the same time it preserved an even frequency balance both at low and high power. So, all in all, the Rotel RA-920AX turned out to be a remarkable amp with almost impeccable sound. This amplifier literally charmed our jury with its "right" sound.

Price: $239
Rotel RA-920AX Amplifier photo