I recently became frustrated with the lackluster sound of my PC speakers. So I started a long, and mostly frustrating search, for better sound.
I ended up buying a home office stereo system that includes an: Arcam Alpha9 integrated amp, Aerial Acoustics model 5s, and the Rotel RCD-991.
This is my second Rotel CD player -- the other one is the 971 model -- and I have been extremely pleased with both players.
While buying the 991, I also auditioned the latest Arcam CD player -- which cost ~ $800 more. The Rotel had a slight edge in overall sound -- but not $800 worth.
The frustrating thing about buying equipment in this price range is that you rapidly discover that most recordings don't sound very good. But when you find one that does -- WOWWWW!
If you listen to an 'average' recording on this player, you will definitely be under whelmed.
And when you find a good recording, that's the experience you can expect with this CD player. The sound will just pull you in, and while you may have planned on doing something else -- you can't get up because the sound is so darn good.
The 991 is larger than many CD players today, but has an excellent solid feel. Some other reviews of Rotel CD players have complained about indifferent build quality, but I have never found that to be the case. The unit has a solid, high quality feel that doesn't feel like it will fall apart.
The player based controls are simple, elegant and to the point. The remote includes additional functions, but isn't significantly different from other remotes. This model includes some features and functions not found on the 971 -- which also includes HDCD support. First, this player supports a dithering function. I've tried it a couple times, but don't find that it adds any sonic value.
I leave the dither setting off, and am very pleased with the sound.
This player also supports balanced outputs, which I cannot use with my current sound.
Which leaves the sound. Which is excellent on good recordings. This player will reveal the flaws in many, if not most, recordings. Muddy sound, poor separation, indifferent imaging are a lot more common than most people realize. So why buy this player...because of what it does on a good recording. As I said earlier, the sound just pulls you in. Try the recent re-issue of Horace Silver's - In Pursuit of the 27th Man. Heaven!
The highs are clear and distinct without being harsh. The mid-range, where most music occurs, is extremely pleasant and accurate. There is a warmth to the music that is hard to describe. On the pieces with vibes, you feel like you are in the same room as the musicians, and the sound is never fatiguing.
I've had similar experiences on other recordings across many musical styles. When you play a good recording, this player will bring out all of the sound.
If you are a casual music listener this isn't the CD player for you. If you have to have the latest technology, this may not be the player for you.
But if you enjoy outstanding music reproduction, at a very good price, give this player a listen. Just make sure an have some good recordings.
Are there better CD players on the market -- yes. But when you compare price and performance, this player is difficult to beat. Give it a listen.
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Amount Paid (US$): 1000.00