Receivers

Rotel RSX-1560 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

The remote is functional, and well built, yet nothing about it stands out. The buttons are backlit with the exception of those under the flip down panel. In terms of use, the Device/Input buttons are my main issue. Press the CD button as you normally would, and rather than change the input to CD, it simply re-tasks the remote to control the device programmed for the CD button. To actually change the input to CD, one must hold down the CD button for 2 seconds or longer. It's non-standard compared to most other receivers, and in my opinion counter intuitive. Another small annoyance is the highly directional nature of the IR signal from the remote. You only have a few degrees of leeway in pointing the remote at the receiver. Other gear I have you can bounce the signal off a back wall and the equipment will respond. On the other hand, there are many other receiver remotes with this same problem. It's certainly not unique to Rotel. And, it is annoying enough that manufacturers should pay more attention to this problem.

Rotel RSX-1560 7.1 A/V Receiver

Configuration is very simple and highly flexible. The RSX-1560 supports up to four zones and also has extremely flexible amplifier channel routing. If you are using a 5.1 setup, the extra two channels of amplification can be assigned to an additional zone, or configured for bi-amping the front left and right channels, or just left unused. Additionally, you can direct the amplifier stereo channels of either a 5.1 or 7.1 setup to an additional zone and use an outboard power amplifier or integrated amp with an HT pass through to power your main front speakers. If you don't use the two rear channels and the two fronts you can assign those four channels to two additional zones. This channel flexibility is very welcome for whole house installations.

Analog video can be up scaled up to 1080i and output through the receiver's HDMI monitor output jack. While I tested this with some older sources, I did not use this feature on a daily basis, as all my source components are HDMI equipped. HDMI signals being passed through the receiver were untouched and did not have black levels crushed or whites clipped. What you feed this receiver via HDMI is what you get at the output and your display.

I first configured the number of speakers I have and my amp channel assignments. For this review I did not bi-amp my front speakers. Once that configuration is set you can then set delays, levels, and the rest of the audio setup parameters. Using my Radio Shack SPL meter, I balanced all channels as best I could, then set delays and crossovers to my preferred 80 Hz for all channels

There are a few issues I need to raise which may or may not be an issue for certain installations and users. Firstly, the speaker delay settings are only adjustable in one foot increments.

In my opinion if you are not able to move your speaker's position easily, a 1 foot increment is too coarse to really dial in an immersive sound field. I consider half foot increments the bare minimum, and prefer even more accurate adjustments. Next, audio levels can only be adjusted in 1 dB increments. This is not as big a deal as delay settings, but still I prefer 0.5 dB adjustments. Rotel informed me they do not have plans to add greater resolution to these parameters for the time being.

The last issue relates to the HDMI source format detection. When running digital audio signals through the Toslink or SPDIF inputs, the receiver is extremely quick to detect the incoming signal and decode it properly. Over HDMI this is a very lengthy process. On average it takes 2-3 seconds for the receiver to lock onto the signal and produce audio. It's especially annoying when surfing through channels on my Tivo Series3. It would also on occasion drop the audio signal when fast forwarding or skipping chapters on Blu-ray movies and DVDs. This is something Rotel is aware of. I find it annoying, but some users may not, and in the Rotel's defense, I have tested and used other receivers which usually have a 2-3 second delay on the video side of things.

One thing became very clear after living with the receiver for such a long time. For Dolby Digital and DTS audio, I preferred using the S/PDIF-Toslink connections rather than HDMI. The receiver was quicker to lock on to the signal; the sound itself was also more refined and detailed. As such, I had my Blu-ray player hooked up to the receiver with HDMI and a S/PDIF connection. Switching to S/PDIF when viewing a DVD or Blu-ray with a lossy audio track. I adapted to the HDMI signal locking to a certain extent, but I still feel it takes much too long for the receiver to determine what audio signal is being sent. I've had several receivers in my system which had little to no lag. One final note, this receiver runs very hot, while my own Class D NHT amp barely gets warm. This is strange given the fact that the Rotel uses Class D amp modules (one of the main advantages of Class D is less heat dissipation).