As its title suggests the Rotel A11 Tribute is a tip of the hat to a time when the manufacturer was a common household name, this amp has all the hallmarks of its forebearers and more. Fitted with up-to-date Bluetooth functionality and a moving magnet phono stage, this amp should fit most requirements for a modern hi-fi enthusiast.
I trialled the amp using its AptX, AAC enabled Bluetooth to see how it’s in-built Texas Instruments DAC performed. Hooked up to KEF Q550 and Dali Oberon 5 speakers, the 50w per channel amp had no trouble driving the mid-size floor standers. There was ample tonal balance even at a low volume, however the easier to drive wood fibre coned Oberons definitely paired best. The function to limit the sound level on the Bluetooth was an interesting addition, something you usually find on an AV amp, but could be a handy feature when you might be playing media from different sources with variable levels. The ability of the amp to create a natural sound from digital sources is very impressive, the open soundstage it creates is a detailed and pleasing experience.
In the best possible way, the amp is very understated, hooked up to Monitor Audio Silver 50 speakers there was no overt brightness or warmness added by the amp. The timing is exceptionally accurate and alive and it really gets out of the way of the music. Testing Han Zimmer’s Inception soundtrack for the depth and range of base control I found no issues, there was good separation of low and mid tones. I also tried some Dropkick Murphys and was impressed with the liveness of the sound, although back on the floor standers there was a noticeable shift towards the higher frequencies at similar volume levels. Listening to classical music however was where the Rotel really had its bread buttered. With your eyes closed the sense of a full orchestra pulled out of the ether makes for a premium listening experience, at the price point it really justifies all the hype.
Designed by Ken Ishiwata, a legend of the Hi-FI industry with decades of experience, the emphasis is definitely on the inside. The retro looking slab of silver or black is certainly not trying to win a style award but makes a statement in doing so, this is an amp for those who have seen a few amps in their day and will recognise what Rotel have to offer. Using the AB class amp and custom in-house oversize toroidal transformer you can tell its quality just by looking at the wiring diagram.
If you are looking to re-join the Hi-Fi world, the Rotel A11 will provide a great starting point for your system. With its Bluetooth and phono stage, most modern requirements are covered. It pairs well with any speaker style from bookshelf to small floor stander, allowing you to spend your energy narrowing down the right speakers to support your musical tastes.
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Author: Joe, Bath store