Receivers

Rotel RSX-1550 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

The OSD for the setup menus are also refreshingly simple graphically. No 3-D speaker configuration renderings, or colorful scrolling menus, and I don't care in the least. It's the content I'm concerned about and I believe this is a position Rotel is taking with respect to their place in the audio world. Perhaps I make too much of this, but I respect Rotel for keeping the GUI basic, raw, "audiophile-like"...

Setting up the Rotel RSX-1550 is straightforward. Immediately noticeable when you review the menu options is the lack of any Room EQ function. I have mixed feelings about that. I've heard improvements both marginal and vast when it comes to automatic room equalization. And certainly the best intentions for room treatment when it comes to acoustics is never or should I say rarely accomplished. However having said that, I still feel strongly that no matter how sophisticated the software is, somehow the bumps and valleys from a frequency response are sometimes artificially corrected. It's those valleys I'm concerned about, in other words I have a problem with "filling in" those valleys by averaging.

Rotel doesn't bother, and I can't say why for sure. I return to the argument I presented with the basic GUI, that Rotel approaches audio like an audiophile would approach acoustics, with placement and room acoustics rather than automatic EQ'ing which in the two-channel audio world has always been controversial. Yet having said that, the RSX-1550 does offer some EQ which I'll talk about later.

The menus are best navigated from your remote of course. Upon entering I noticed you are first presented with a system status. Only by pressing enter will it give you the menu options, just an odd quirk. The system status tells you what source or input, audio mode, connection used, volume and speakers used. This can be done for the other zones. The system Status is also flashed for about 5 seconds when you turn the receiver on.

The Main Menu has all the common elements such as; input setup, delay, sub setup, speaker setup, HDMI and video setup and naturally, test tones. Firstly, the input menu allows you to rename the input up to 8 characters. Selection of audio and video connections, default surround audio mode, a group lip sync delay from 0-500ms and each input has its own 12v trigger option. An attenuation feature allows each input to be adjusted for louder sources from 0 to -6dB. A Cinema EQ is provided that adjusts (reduces) the high frequency to reduce sibilance and to match the sound of a large theater. I like this type of EQ, it doesn't bump or fill in those valleys, it simply filters out that shrill sometimes heard on soundtracks.

A very interesting feature is a Multi Input source, or if you decide to use the analog channel inputs. If selected, it removes all those digital options. Some still prefer their lossless audio to be heard in the analog domain without digital processing. Most object to this because it doesn't offer proper bass management. However, the RSX-1550 creates what's called an LFE REDIRECT. In a typical analog configuration there is no processing involved, and all signals are sent directly through to the preamp stage, aka, no bass management. The 1550 takes a duplicate copy of those 7 channel signals, combines them into a "summed" mono signal, and re-routes them through a "100Hz analog low-pass crossover to the subwoofer preamp output".

An advanced menu allows crossover adjustments for each speaker from 40Hz to 200Hz if you select any of the speakers as small and irrelevant if you set the any speaker as large. Along the same line, speaker size can be set for each of the processing, Dolby, DTS, Stereo and the DSP modes.

A subwoofer setup also offers crossover settings from 40Hz to 200Hz and also allows turning of the crossover to allow your subwoofer's low pass filter to operate. This selection defaults a 100Hz high-pass filter to your "SMALL" speakers.

One interesting feature is the Contour Setup or Tone Settings which can be made for each or all speakers in the system. This is basically a treble/bass tone control adjustment of either the high or low frequencies to a maximum of 6 dB. Temporary on the fly adjustments can be made with the remote.