Rotel RA-1592MKII Integrated Amplifier Page 2

With its superb power delivery – for which it has comprehensive protection – this is an amplifier capable of working hard without betraying any signs of effort. It delivers storming bass and fine midrange and treble detail, whether with a large-scale orchestral work such as the opening of Vaughan Williams' 4th Symphony [LSO/Pappano LSO Live LSO0867; DSD128] or a powerful rock set like the remaster of Pink Floyd's Pulse [Pink Floyd Records; 96kHz/24-bit download]. It drives hard and loud while always sounding clean and fast, and then just keeps on giving if you decide to crank the level even higher.

222rotel.rem'Exciting' doesn't quite cover it. The RA-1592MKII was capable of turning on the thrills while always staying entirely assured, keeping my attention riveted on the music, as well as the ambience of these two very different live recordings. Across a wide range of media, it just keeps on surprising and entertaining – from the openness of a simple sound such as Laysongs, the lockdown set by Chris Thile [Nonesuch 075597916188], which is no more than just voice and mandolin, to the conviction with which it powers out the drums on tracks such as Japan's 'Visions Of China' and 'Methods Of Dance' [2006's Very Best Of… compilation; Virgin CDV 3018]. I'll admit the volume control got some serious exercise with that last album in particular!

Easy Driver
Speaker-matching is easy with this amplifier, as it will seemingly drive almost anything with what verges on disdainful ease. So it rocked out convincingly with the small and certainly lively-sounding JBL 4309 bookshelf speakers, and was a riot with speakers capable of delivering even more impactful bass, such as my usual Neat Iota Xplorers [HFN Jul '18] and long-running (and long-obsolete!) PMC OB1s, which still combine serious air-shifting ability with refinement and openness.

You don't have to crank the RA-1592MKII up too much to get any speakers beyond the 'ho hum' point and into the really informative sweet spot, and beyond that it's all more ever-so-controlled excitement, majoring on impact and with no audio nasties to distract the listener. And that's as true with more restrained musical styles, such as the jazz of trombonist Nabou Claerhout on her You Know album [Out There OTN643], accompanied by subtle bass drums and guitar in a wonderfully intimate acoustic – if you can have an intimate trombone! – on this 88.2kHz/24-bit release.


Included are MM phono, balanced (XLR) and three RCA line ins; sub and pre outs; three optical, three coaxial, BT and one USB-B digital in; trigger, RS232 and network control ports plus two sets of substantial 4mm speaker cable binding posts

There's an ease of interplay and performance in the small group, and it sounds so fresh and dynamic via the RA-1592MKII. As does the fabulously focused playing of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet on their recent release of Schubert Late String Quartets [Linn Records CKD 673; 192kHz/24-bit], which sounds spellbinding from start to finish, and shows that this amplifier has more than sufficient finesse to back up all that power it can muster. Yes, it can thunder when the music demands, but it's just as adept with the internal drama and microdynamics of an Andante un poco moto.


Prime Beef
In fact, Rotel's RA-1592MKII proved a very capable all-rounder even if its digital section lacked just a little of the sparkle I recalled from the costlier Michi X3. The latter edged home on ultimate sound quality even if it's still bettered on format compatibility by a few relatively affordable external DACs. As is the RA-1592MKII, although it remains more than good enough for most needs and will serve well anyone wanting to explore just what their computer can do when connected to a high quality amp.

Meanwhile, used as a purely analogue amplifier, this beefy new Rotel integrated is good enough to justify its price even if you're never going to use its digital section, and should definitely be considered if you fancy a Michi X3 but want to save yourself some cash.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The RA-1592MKII may not seem to have gained much over the amp it replaces – a new DAC and some changed components – but that, and some Michi magic, is sufficient to lift its performance. It's now highly desirable for anyone wanting a great sound and excellent speaker-driving ability without going down the pre/power amp route. This isn't just a very sensible buy – it's an absolute bargain.

The Rotel Co. Ltd
Tokyo, Japan
Supplied by: Rotel Europe, Worthing, UK
01903 221 710