On paper, the Rotel RA-12 seems so much like the Award-winning RA-10 (£350), with the addition of a built-in DAC, Bluetooth connectivity, and greater 60W in line with channel output. But transfer it on and its personality is subtly different.
Rotel RA-12 review: Performance
Like its little brother, the RA-12 is evenly balanced, reaching satisfyingly deep into bass, while the midrange is articulate and controlled. It stocks a equivalent tonal steadiness with the RA-10, in conjunction with a excellent dose of detail and precision, nevertheless it doesn’t have the dynamic thrust and crisp rhythmic skill that makes the inexpensive amp so attractive.
You’d be expecting the £six hundred RA-12 to surpass the strengths of its finances sibling, however play Amanda Palmer’s Runs In The Family via the analogue inputs and it isn’t absolutely expressive of her attitude-laden vocals.
The RA-12’s soundfield may have a slightly more depth and openness, and the mellow glow that we liked so much in the RA-10’s phono level isn’t as forthcoming right here.
Switch to the virtual inputs (there are two optical and two coaxial sockets) and the consequences are broadly constant, however the sound is somewhat brighter, which adds a slightly of sparkle. The line-level connections offer a miles richer listening enjoy, albeit a restrained one.
Rotel RA-12 review: Features
In addition to the 4 virtual inputs, the Rotel has 5 line-level inputs (including shifting magnet phono), two sets of speaker outputs and preamp outs.
There's additionally a mini-USB socket round the again, but before you get all occupied with this providing a computer audio hook-up, dangle your horses – it is there only for long run firmware upgrades.
Speaking of digitally-stored track, additionally value noting that while the front-panel input can accept content on reminiscence gadgets, its capability is reasonably restricted: it is going to simplest settle for AAC(m4a), MP3, WAV and WMA (as much as 48K Sixteen bit).
So if you want to play FLAC or Apple Lossless files off a reminiscence stick, as we did at the launch of the 12-Series merchandise down at Rotel distributor B&W in Worthing some time back, you can be scuppered.
However, the integrated Wolfson WM8740 DAC helps files up to 24-bit/192kHz by way of the normal digital inputs, so higher-resolution information may well be performed into it via a pc with a virtual output, or one mixed with an acceptable USB-to-S/PDIF interface.
That entrance USB additionally lets in Bluetooth connectivity, using a dongle incorporated with the amplifier. It's not as elegant as an 'under-the-hood' Bluetooth implementation, agreed, but it does the job.
Other connectivity extends to two 12V trigger outputs to keep an eye on external equipment, while there's additionally a Rotel Link socket, enabling the RT-12 'Digital Gateway' to keep watch over the amp via a 3.5m-plug-terminate cable.
There's also a headphone socket at the entrance, along side a distinguished show, and the Rotel is supplied whole with the company's RR-AX91 remote handset, which can also 'force' elementary functions of the corporate's CD gamers and tuners.
Using the show and the far off, it's imaginable to regulate and store the bass, treble and steadiness, and arrange the quantity point at which the amplifier fires up from standby.
It's also imaginable to dim the display in seven steps, and decide how the amp connects to a CD player in an entire 12-Series machine, the usage of the Rotel Link CD function: you'll select 'CD', which uses the analogue connection, or 'CX1' or 'CX2', which make a choice the respective coaxial virtual inputs.
Rotel RA-12 review: Build
As is usual for Rotel components, the RA-12 is constructed round moderately selected and personalized elements.
The power transformer (above) is of a tradition design, engineered and manufactured in-house as a part of a low-impedance provide with generous reserves, and signal paths are kept brief and symmetrical within the quest for the purest possible sign.
There's also intensive coverage in opposition to overheating or short-circuiting of the speaker outputs: this will illuminate a front-panel LED should it ever be triggered, as well as shutting down the amp. However, this protection is saved unbiased of the audio signal, working by means of monitoring the temperature of the output devices.
For the same reason, the amplifier comes out of the box with its tone controls bypassed, as is indicated at the entrance panel show. To use the tone controls by the use of the menu device, you first need to deselect this bypass.
Finally, even the headphone implementation is designed to keep it out of the sonic equation, as is standard with Rotel amplifiers: inserting a headphone plug won't close off the speaker outputs, and you wish to have to turn the speaker selector to 'off' for private listening.
Rotel RA-12 review: Verdict
The exhaustive features are an ideal point in the RA-12’s favour, and there’s sufficient occurring sonically to stay you listening. It isn’t a true famous person at this price level, but stays worthy of attention for those who crave an amp with this sort of well-packed bag of tricks.
See all our hi-fi amp Best Buys
Follow whathifi on Twitter
Join whathifi on Facebook