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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Rotel RA-1572 Stereo Integrated Amplifier (TheaterByte Gear Review)

The Performance
[envira-album id=”104657″] The long wait is over Rotel fans — the new Rotel RA-1572 stereo integrated amplifier has arrived!

Rotel has been cranking out integrated amplifiers for as long as I can remember that were always great performers for the money. After having enjoyed the Rotel RA-1570 integrated amplifier three years ago, and the top-of-the-line Rotel RA-1592 last year, I anticipated that if I just waited long enough, Rotel would trickle down some of the latter’s superb technology to a unit at a more affordable price point. Patience is definitely a virtue and mine was amply rewarded when the new Rotel RA-1572 integrated amplifier arrived in my home.

Integrating the RA-1572 into my system

Like some other iconic brands, McIntosh and Audio Research come to mind, Rotel components all bear a strong family resemblance with elegant but unfussy façades. Left to right, there is a power/standby button, IR eye, inputs for headphones and i-devices, switches for two separate speaker systems, a VFD display presiding over source selection buttons, an oversized volume control, and a row of setup buttons.

The rear panel is neatly laid out. Beginning with a ground tap, there are RCA inputs labeled for Phono (there is a phono stage), CD, tuner, and AUX. Outputs for a subwoofer and for preamp-only use lead up to a balanced input. Digital inputs include two SPDIF and Toslink ports and a single USB-C port. An Ethernet port and RS 232 port complete the first row. Below are Rotel link connections for other components, 12 Volt triggers, a USB port for recharging other devices, and a power cord receptacle

Rotel RA-1572 Stereo Integrated Amplifier Rear View

Like the façades of their components, Rotel’s remotes also look like littermates. In this case, the RR-AX93 mirrors the front panel controls and will control other Rotel link devices like a tuner or compact disc player.

Friends often ask me for advice before buying audio components and one of the most common questions posed is how much amplifier power will they need. The RA-1572 will crank out 120 watts per channel and, unless your sound room is the size of an auditorium, this integrated amp has more than enough guts to manage most conventional speakers. For this review, I used the Totem Mani-2 Signatures that are relatively inefficient (85dB at one meter), and the Rotel had no problems in driving them at listening levels well beyond my comfort zone. Source components used during this evaluation were the Rotel RCD-1572 CD player (reviewed separately), an Oppo BDP-105 universal player, and a MacBook Air loaded with high-resolution files and equipped with Audirvana Plus software (Version 3.1).

Set Up Continued

The RA-1572 can handle digital disc playback through its analog or SPDIF or optical inputs. High-resolution files up to 384kHz/32-bit or double DSD can pass through the USB-C 2.0 port reach the 32-bit/768kHz AKM DAC. LPs are played through its built-in phono stage but only if you have moving magnet cartridges (I do not) so I used digital sources exclusively to take this integrated amplifier through its paces. A front panel USB input is provided for easy connection of a wide variety of music storage devices including Apple iPods, iPhones, and iPads. The Bluetooth input supports aptX for superior performance with compatible paired devices.

The set-up menu allows you to tailor each input for best sound including tone controls (on or bypass), balance, gain (fixed or variable) and PC-USB audio class (1.0 or 2.0). There is also Internet access for firmware upgrades when they become available, helping to future proof the RA-1572. As is the case with all Rotel products, the well-written instruction manual supplied on a CD-ROM is a must read before going any further.

Lights, Camera, Music

Being a Rotel integrated amp veteran, I jump started the Rotel RA-1572 with my hi-res library containing files ranging from CD-quality FLAC to 192k24b resolutions. A favorite vocal track, “The Moon is A Harsh Mistress” rendered by the late Radka Toneff, accompanied by pianist Steve Dobrogosz, had warmth, detail and presence. Moving up the resolution ladder, Christy Baron brought out the heart and soul of Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street” in gorgeous 96k/24b FLAC file while at its very top was The Modern Jazz Quartet’s brilliant adaption of J.S. Bach’s music in “Blues on Bach,” a gorgeous 192kHz/24-bit FLAC file. Reference Recordings has a treasure trove of 176.4kHz/24-bit WAV recordings and Eiji Oue’s performance of an all-Stravinsky program with the Minnesota Orchestra proved to be an excellent representative in terms of dynamics, soundstage, and individual orchestral voices. Of the DSD files that I sampled, Jeremy Monteiro’s voice/piano cover of Karen Carpenter’s “A Song for You” was simply exquisite.

I checked out CD and SACD playback as exemplified by percussionist Steve Davis in the CD, “The Quality of Silence,” or Patricia Barber’s SACD “Modern Cool.” The Rotel RA-1572 integrated delivered effortlessly these discs’ microdynamics and sheer power to my Totem monitors.

While Bluetooth aptX may not be a true audiophile medium, I did pair my iPhone with its mp3 files successfully as long as it was in the same room and got sound that was good enough for at least background music and in some instances actually worth listening to in its own right. The situation got even better when I plugged my iPod Classic into the front panel USB port. Here I was able to listen to Ann Savoy and her Sleepless Nights belt out in AIFF-formatted download of “If Dreams Come True.” This option will be very welcome to music lovers who store their favorites on i-Phones or iPods; unfortunately, Android smartphone users need not apply.

Parenthetically, the RA-1572’s remote control includes IR controls for the RCD-1572 without Rotel Link. Although it is possible to use the RA-1572 as a preamp only, I did not evaluate this function, as the vast majority of buyers will use it solely as an integrated amp. Given the quality of previous Rotel preamps that I have auditioned, I have no doubt that it would perform at a high level.

The Final Assessment

This is now the third Rotel integrated amplifier that I have evaluated and, as a lineal descendant of the more expensive RA-1592, it owes much of its superb performance to its forebear at a more reasonable price. In fact, the RA-1572 would be an excellent choice as the heart of a very fine stereo system and should provide years of musical enjoyment. It replaces the 3-year old RA-1570 and for the additional $100, you get a whole bunch more performance. Another winner from the Rotel audio stable that readily receives my highest recommendation.

The Rotel RA-1572 Stereo Integrated Amplifier is available from authorized retailers at an MSRP of $1699.00

  • Continuous power (both driven)
    • 120 watts/ch (20-20kHz, <0.03% THD, 8 Ohms)
  • Total Harmonic Distortion
    • <0.03% at rated power
  • Intermodulation Distortion
    • (60 Hz: 7kHz)     <0.03% at rated power
  • Frequency Response
    • Phono Input
      • 20Hz-20kHz + 0.5 dB
    • Line Level Inputs
      • 10Hz-100kHz +/- 0.5 dB
  • Damping Factor (20Hz-20kHz, 8 Ohms)
    • 300
  • Input Sensitivity/Impedance
    • Phono Input (MM)
      • 2.1mV/47k Ohms
    • Line Level Input (RCA)
      • 270 mV/100k Ohms
    • Line Level Input (XLR)
      • 440 mV/100k Ohms
  • Input Overload
    • Phono Input
      • 32 mV
    • Line Level Inputs(RCA)
      • 4V
    • Line Level Input (XLR)
      • 5.5V
  • Preamp Output Level/Output Impedance
    • 1.5V/ 470 Ohms
  • S/N Ratio (IHF “A” weighted)
    • Phono Input
      • 80 dB
    • Line Level Inputs
      • 100 dB
Digital Section
  • Frequency Response
    • 10Hz-90kHz (100k, Max)
  • S/N Ratio (IHF “A” weighted)
    • 100dB
  • Input Sensitivity/Impedance
    • 0 dBfs/ 75 Ohms
  • Coaxial/Optical Digital Signals
    • SPDIF LPCM (up to 192kHz/24-bit)
  • PC-USB
    • USB 1.0 (to 96k/24b); 2.0 ( to 384k/32b,DSD, DoP)
  • Power Consumption
  • 400 watts (<0.5 watts, standby)
  • Power Requirements
    • 120 volts, 60 Hz (USA version)/230 volts, 50Hz (EC version)
  • Weight
    • 13 kg (28.7 lbs)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D)
    • 431 x 144 x 358 mm
    • 17 x 5.875 x 14.125 in
Rotel RA-1572 Stereo Integrated Amplifier (TheaterByte Gear Review)
4.7 / 5 Reviewer
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 5 Users (0 votes)
  • Great build quality
  • Plenty of power
  • Sufficient analog and digital inputs
  • Additional balanced input
  • Compatible with Rotel link sources
  • Excellent internal DAC handles most current high-resolution formats
  • Good USB audio performance
  • Flawless Bluetooth audio operation
  • Defeatable tone controls
  • Legible display panel
  • Cons
  • Phono input is limited to moving magnet cartridges
  • Summary
    Rotel delivers a state-of-the-art integrated amplifier at a down-to-earth price.
    The Performance
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