ROTEL RHC-10 MICHI passive amplifier
A 90's Classic - [REVIEW 2017]

The Rotel RHC-10 passive is something that passed me by back in the 90s. So, when this came into Tannoyista towers, it was quite surprising.

At the time of this review, my Croft Epoch Elite was on its way to being upgraded by Glenn. On the return of the Croft I performed an extensive A/B test and I have to say, the Rotel was impressive.


Looking into the history of this remarkable range from Rotel back in the early 90's the amount of care and engineering they put into their products was very nice indeed.


Although I never got round to trying one of these back in the 90s, it was always something I wanted to try. The amplifier used with the Rotel was my Tube Distinctions copper amp which matched up with the Rotel quite well.

The Rotel came to me at a good price and it was something I'd always wanted to try. The Rotel is a passive design, so no phono stage which is where the Croft could supply quite easily. My Croft has a monster phono stage so for this experiment it was used as a standalone phono stage.


With the phono stage running through the Rotel, the sound had a nice organic feel, admittedly, a different flavour to an active preamplifier but nevertheless, a very 'nice' experience.

It had a delicate stage presentation which was to be expected but one of the first things I noticed was that it had a tendency to not grip the music as much as I was used to. The croft however because of its bonkers upgrades had a more rounded sound to it and really reached into the music which was again only expected being active.

Feeding the Rotel with either the IQAudio or the latest Allo BOSS the sound was nice and authoritative. The bass was nice, clean and tight whilst the mids, although it did have a more forward lean, it still had a pleasant enough aspect. The highs were nice and sharp, with lots of air but not the last word in regards to 'definition'.


The build quality for this passive is great. It's nothing like what you would find today. The mainboard is large and fills almost the full case. The tracks are double-sided and because of the size of the board, the tracks are nice and big.

It weighs 5kgs and like most other Passive design, it's almost empty. The main dual-mono pots are Ko-On but not sure about the switches. I would have expected the controls to be P&G (Penny & Giles) but, alas not. Saying that the movement and feel of the switches are sublime.

The only thing I wasn't keen on was the dual balance control of the volume control. It was easy to turn one section out of line and I found myself re-balancing it now and then.



Summary

The Rotel RCH-10 Passive preamplifier is a lovely thing to own but it's not the last word in resolution or grip. It's passive, so that can make sense to some. My A/B tests showed that the Rotel still had a place in my setup and it would be happy on either analogue or digital. 

But, if I was to choose which source would be my preference, I would choose analogue.

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