[Review] Rotel RCD-991

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi and General Audio' started by I-S, Jun 28, 2003.

  1. I-S

    I-S Good Evening.... Infidel

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    Rotel RCD-991

    Rotel's most recent attempt at a high(ish) end CD player. It was fairly well received at the time, although things moved on fairly quickly it seemed.

    However, through lack of knowledge, they're now available at good prices. I paid £400 for mine new earlier this year, and cookiemonster recently got a good deal on a second hand unit.

    So, what's it like?

    Let's start off with the physical bits. this is a BIG player. It's VERY deep (deeper than my CD63 was, deeper than my RA-971mkII amp), very tall (taller than the Pioneers with the turntable mechanism!) and it's full width. This is a SERIOUSLY big CD player. Obviously this means that it is heavy also, weighing in at more than a good few decent integrated amps. The front panel is pretty sparse, with power button, buttons for eject, play, pause, stop, prev track, next track and Dither (we'll get onto this). There's obviously a display (which unfortunately can't be dimmed or switched off) and there's a light to indicate HDCD decoding.

    The bad bits about the physical bits.... the buttons are a bit fiddly and may not respond when you think you've pressed them. There's no buttons for direct track access or time/repeat/program, which would be welcome (imo), to reduce reliance on the remote. The logic of the player's software is not as intuitive as the marantz CD63 I had previously either.

    So, how does it sound?

    Detail. Bass extension. Dynamic range and SNR. These are things that really hit you about the RCD-991's sound. It delivers pretty incredible levels of detail. The bass goes VERY deep, and is beautifully full and solid. The player is superbly smooth also, and not harsh.

    Criticisms mainly focus around lifelessness of the player. Now this would be a fair criticism, but for one thing...

    There is an idiosyncratic fault with the RCD-991, whereby it starts to skip badly, even on clean, unscratched CDs. This is due to the lubricant on the laser rail which dries up in humid conditions. My player suffered this problem.

    So, I opened it up, and put new lubricant onto the rail, closed it up, and no more skipping.

    But, lo and behold, the player came to life somewhat! I wasn't looking for the change, but it was there, and very apparent. Now, this hasn't made the RCD-991 a party animal really... it can still be a little remote (but it's very easy to listen to for hours on end), but it is a whole heap better than previously.

    For the price I paid for mine (ie RCD-02 money), it's a bargain player. I'm very happy with it.

    Now, what was this dither button I was on about? Dither is noise that is added to the signal to change the response of the DACs slightly. It can be used by manufacturers to tune the sound of the DACs they've bought in (so not going the expensive rega route of custom DACs) to the house sound.

    With the RCD-991, rotel handed control of this over to the user. There are 8 selectable levels (0-7) and you can disable it. I personally prefer the sound with it disabled, but it gives you some flexibility with voicing the player to go with various amps and speakers.
     
    I-S, Jun 28, 2003
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  2. I-S

    Mr_Sukebe

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    Isaac>

    What kind of lubricant did you use on the laser rail?
    My Teac occasionally skips too on clean disks, wasn't sure of why, probably worth checking out the rail.
     
    Mr_Sukebe, Jun 29, 2003
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  3. I-S

    I-S Good Evening.... Infidel

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    I used GT85 teflon lubricant... I used it for a similar job on my old marantz CD63, when that started to consistently skip 38 minutes into any disc. 5 years after doing so the problem still hadn't resurfaced, so it is long lasting enough (despite being very light), because it leaves teflon on the rail. With that success, I was happy to use it on the RCD-991, and I've not had any recurrance of the skipping since lubing the rail.
     
    I-S, Jun 29, 2003
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  4. I-S

    cookiemonster

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    Isaac, would you be able to bring that GT85 round to do mine. I presume it won't take more than a few minutes?

    cheers

    It's skipped a couple of times recently:mad: and could probably do with it being done anyway.
     
    cookiemonster, Jun 30, 2003
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  5. I-S

    wadia-miester Mighty Rearranger

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    You'll need to be carefull with 'loose spary lubes' as the lube can drip onto places it shouldn't. The mechanisum is much better served with 'Sticky silicone clean grease' 'Wurth' do an excellencent example, it won't come off :D as the lubicant stays stuck to the drive dogs and runners, runs a lot quieter too.
     
    wadia-miester, Jul 1, 2003
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  6. I-S

    cookiemonster

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    Well, with so many qualified hands soon to be in the vicinity, maybe someone can lube my rails.

    pretty please
     
    cookiemonster, Jul 1, 2003
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  7. I-S

    wadia-miester Mighty Rearranger

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    Dino, don't take this the wrong way mate, but you can lube your own up :D
     
    wadia-miester, Jul 1, 2003
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  8. I-S

    cookiemonster

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    You're all tight gits...... Even the missus told me to go and lube it myself.
     
    cookiemonster, Jul 1, 2003
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  9. I-S

    I-S Good Evening.... Infidel

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    Dino - No probs. I'll try to remember.

    WM - That's why I spray it onto a cotton bud first, and then rub that on the rail.
     
    I-S, Jul 3, 2003
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  10. I-S

    cookiemonster

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    Excellent - i'll provide the cotton buds:D
     
    cookiemonster, Jul 3, 2003
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  11. I-S

    wadia-miester Mighty Rearranger

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    Issac, I remeber you did photo shoot of it, on HFC, why don't you post it up, and show everyone how you did it :) WM
     
    wadia-miester, Jul 3, 2003
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  12. I-S

    I-S Good Evening.... Infidel

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    Actually, probably easiest (Dino willing) to photoshoot when we do dino's on saturday. I'll bring the cam...
     
    I-S, Jul 3, 2003
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  13. I-S

    Steven Toy

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    I had a Rotel RCD991 player until I borrowed a Densen B400 while I was waiting for my Naim CD5 to be made/arrive.

    It sounded great into a Rotel RA 971 (MkII) amp and B&W 602 S2s but when I upgraded to Densen amps and my Naos speakers, it began to sound rather strident and shouty.

    Basically, it's a great front end to budget amplification and speakers, but the bass is of the one-note variety into better amps/speakers, and it doesn't really play the tune, imho.

    If I had my time again, I would have spent 500 quid on a Rega Planet rather than the 750 quid I paid for the 991. I sold it on for 450 though, back in 2000.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2003
    Steven Toy, Jul 5, 2003
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