My first look at the RSP-1098 and a look back

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  • xavierzx11
    Junior Member
    • Aug 2003
    • 23

    My first look at the RSP-1098 and a look back

    I have had my 1098 for about a week now, but because of my family (3 young kids) and my job I have only had about 4 hours of real setup and listening time, so this is not meant of be an indepth review. But before I get started on the 1098 I would like you know a little about where I came from so you can understand how I came to some of my view points. In Nov. of ’01 I bought a big screen TV, so the next logical step was to get surround sound. I started with a Sony dream system. All was well in the world until two friends took me to a middle end AV store. After that my world and my wallet was charged forever. My first step down the crazy world of AV upgrades was a Devon 3802 receiver. Shortly after that I was introduced to the world of Rotel, when I add a 2 channel amp (1080) to my receiver. After see the improvements one could get from adding an outboard amp I started looking into separates. Right around that time I went to an AV show in NY, where I drunk the Anthem/Paradigm kool-aid and set off to get a system just like I heard in NY. I was able to sell the Rotel amp and bought 2 Anthem amps (MCA20 and 50). While save up for the AVM20 (along w/waiting for Anthems long awaited version upgrade) I saw that Rotel came out with their own processor, the RSP-1066. Well, patiences was never one of my high points, so I opted for the new Rotel pre/pro. The 1066 sounded good but there were a few things the bother me about the unit. One of the biggest things was the listening and record source on the front display. So my would read “DVD” “DVD”. Oh how I hated that. Sound wise the 1066 mated with the Anthem amps and Paradigm studio speakers were a tad “bright”. I then moved to the Sunfire Theater Grand III and the matching signature amp. I finally found the amps I like with the Conrad-Johnson 2500 and 5600. I moved to still another processor when I picked up a used Lexicon MC-1. This processor had more features than any of the other but ultimately was a little long in the tooth, and I needed to have DTS ES, component switching, and 6 channel inputs, so you guessed it, the MC-1 had to go. I need something in the short term, and I didn’t have a lot of money, so I returned to a piece I knew, namely the Rotel RSP-1066. Well, I gave up a lot of features going from a MC-1 but the ones I gained were the ones I needed. After buying the Rotel I found out that this is not the same 1066 I knew. Oh no this one had a few software upgrades that took care of a lot of the quarks of the model I had owned just 11 months earlier. One of the biggest, was there was no more “DVD” “DVD”, thank you Rotel! The other thing I have noticed was with my system (now as refined as I can afford to get it) the 1066 sounded outstanding! Both movies and music had the body and smoothness I had searched for through many an ebay and audiogon transaction. I know what you are thinking, “will he ever end this tread?” “Or maybe he is happy so stop changing things before his wife leaves him!” Well along comes the Rotel RSP-1098. Just as stunning as the 1066 with a mini widescreen monitor right in the middle of it. I thought “it’s still priced very well for what you get, and it’s the additional inputs I need more so than the TFT screen. I pay a visit to my Rotel dealer and looked at the unit. It is impossible to audition the processor there and because it’s a new piece taking it home was out of the question. I bought the 1098 and took it home about a week ago. The speaker setup is great with the ability to set the crossover for each set of speakers, a feature that no other processor that I have tried outside of the MC-1 had. There are a number of other feathers that in my mind sets it apart for other mid priced processors. The screen is nice and will always turn heads. From a partially stand point the screen is good for navigating the setup menu. I am not a DVD-Audio guy seeing that along the way I picked up a Sony 900V DVD player (plays SACD), so the DVD Audio menus are not a issue for me. Please note if you are reading this in hopes of one day soon owning this processor and are looking forward to see your favorite DVD’s and cable shows on the TFT screen, remember that the screen only outputs composite picture., so for all of you that save those cheap “test cables” this is a perfect time to break them out. After I got everything calibrated and all the fun stuff like renaming the inputs and so on, I sat down to give it a listen. The first thing that jumps out about 1098 is the way the surrounds are used. I have never heard so much info from the side and rear speakers. I demoed a few movies I know very well and I thought someone must be in the next room making noise. I heard sounds that sounded like it coming from a block away. None of the other processors I have tried decode the surrounds as good as the 1098, none even the Lexicon. The over all sound stage seem a lot bigger. As for the things I don’t like, some of theses just may be the fact that I have not had a chance to really get to know the 1098. So all you hardcore Rotel fans out there please don’t write back tell me I’m dumb, or talk about my mother. Well here goes:
    1) The volume seems to be a little off. Case in point, I would calibrate my 1066 to be at reference (SP meter reading 75) and the master volume would be set to 65. Would watch a movie on the 1066 I would almost always have the master volume set to 60. With the 1098 to get the internal test tones to read 75 on an SP meter the master volume has to be around 80. I don’t have a problem with that but while watching a movie I can not have the master volume at 65 without ear plugs. I don’t understand how with every other processor I have tried -10 off of my set reference level was fine for 90% of the movies I would watch. The 1098 has to be set at -20 off reference.
    2) I know others have said this before, but I think it’s worth saying again, THE VOLUME FONT IS TOO SMALL!
    3) While listen to music from my CD sources my sub will not play. The sub will turn on using the Muti-Ch input but not CD. I have tried changing the type to STERO and BYPASS, my sub will not play on either. I also tried setting my speakers to SMALL, no dices.
    4) I hear popping sometimes while time shifting my Tivo.
    5) On movie soundtracks the 1098 seems abit “bright”. I found the 1066 to very warm and inviting, so I was surprised that the 1098 did not have the same type of sound. I not saying this is a totally bad thing, but when watching movies I have to turn the Cinema EQ on. I am guessing that the same thing that brings out a new level of detail in the fronts and surrounds is the same thing that makes this processor sound abit “edgy”.

    All and all I think the 1098 is great processor especially at the price. I feel Rotel has distanced themselves from the other with a wealth of features. And I also feel many of the issues can be corrected via software patches. In closing I will say I am glad I bought the 1098, but if money is an issue for you don’t look pass the 1066!

    My Home Theater
    Rotel RSP-1098
    Conrad-Johnson Amps 2500, and 5600
    Revel F30’s
    Revel C30
    Revel M20’s (2 pair for surr and rear)
    Martin Logan Descent Sub
    Sony 900V DVD Player
    Zenith HD Tuner
    Tivo
    JVC SVHS
    XBOX

    Paul




    "Everyone has to have a hobby!"
    "Everyone has to have a hobby!"
  • Danbry39
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Sep 2002
    • 1584

    #2
    Paul,

    Wow, what a journey you've been through in less than two years.

    Like other 1066 owners I'm sure, I am very interested in all comments regarding possibly upgrading to the 1098.

    Have you had the opportunity to test it out with two-channel and multi-channel music? If so, what are your impressions?

    Yeah, someone said the volume indicator was in size 7 font. Time to buy a magnifying glass.




    Keith
    Keith

    Comment

    • xavierzx11
      Junior Member
      • Aug 2003
      • 23

      #3
      Keith,
      I have done a little listening in 2ch and muti-ch music. The muti ch is fine. But I find that my 2ch lacks weight, because my sub will not play.
      After I do some listening I let you know.

      Paul




      "Everyone has to have a hobby!"
      "Everyone has to have a hobby!"

      Comment

      • jimmyp58
        Super Senior Member
        • Aug 2003
        • 1449

        #4
        You can get the sub to work for music listening other than multi 5.1 --- here's what you have to do. First, your mode should be PCM 2 CH. Second, go to the speaker setup menu and set your front speakers to LARGE AND your subwoofer to "MAX" --- trust me, it works wonderfully. I did not experience the brightness you heard when listening to movies. Some differences, I'm sure you'd agree, could be our HTs acoustics are different. Second, I'm using Def Tech speakers whereas you're using Revels. Last, perhaps our speaker setups are different. I have my fronts set to small and my sub set to Large. I watched Lord of the Rings Two Towers, Star Wars II Attack of the Clones and Saving Private Ryan this way and the sound was absolutely incredible. If you don't have your speakers set up this way, give it a try.

        Jim
        jpiscitello@ameritech.net

        Comment

        • skipm
          Senior Member
          • Jun 2003
          • 198

          #5
          "sub set to large????" Which firmware are you running, Jim?

          -Skip

          Comment

          • jimmyp58
            Super Senior Member
            • Aug 2003
            • 1449

            #6
            Sorry guys...it's been a long weekend. Sub is "yes" not large.

            Jim
            jpiscitello@ameritech.net

            Comment

            • Andrew Pratt
              Moderator Emeritus
              • Aug 2000
              • 16507

              #7
              I just checked and with my mains set to small with an 80 hz XO point and sub set to yes I definatly feel the bass in 2 channel mode. This is from my CD Jukebox which is connected optically to the CD input on the 1098.




              Comment

              • xavierzx11
                Junior Member
                • Aug 2003
                • 23

                #8
                I got evertything working great. Thanks to all. I want to send so pictures but I don't know how. Can someone help. THanks

                Paul




                "Everyone has to have a hobby!"
                "Everyone has to have a hobby!"

                Comment

                • Andrew Pratt
                  Moderator Emeritus
                  • Aug 2000
                  • 16507

                  #9
                  if you send the images to me I'll host them for you.




                  Comment

                  • skipm
                    Senior Member
                    • Jun 2003
                    • 198

                    #10
                    Paul-

                    Glad to hear that you have everything working to your liking now. I also wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed reading about your journey. I had a similiar journey although I took the low (end) road while you took the high (end) road. I had a perfectly good Sony STR-DB930 receiver that I loved until I read about this new surround sound format called, Prologic II. I decided that I had to have it so I swapped the 930 for a Sony DA2ES receiver. I had Prologic II now but the amp section didn't seem to be as clean and the user interface was kludgy. So I did a little more research and decided that theDenon 3803 would fit the bill so I swapped the DA2ES for the Denon. The Denon was great but I kept seeing pictures of the 1098 in every AV mag I picked up for the last 6 months but I figured it was out of my league. And then I found out about this place, started reading some messages, found out that I could swing the 1098 after all and the rest is history so to speak. So I blame it all on these guys for the last mile anyway.

                    You don't even want to hear about my journey to find the perfect DVD player, but let's just say if anyone is interested in a Sony CX875P, Pioneer Elite DV-45a, or a Bravo D1, I know someone who can hook you up.

                    As far as posting pictures, you need to upload them to the internet first, somewhere like Pbase or ImageStation, and then include the URL in your message. Andrew I believe, will also host them for you as well.

                    Thanx again,

                    -Skip

                    Comment

                    • xavierzx11
                      Junior Member
                      • Aug 2003
                      • 23

                      #11
                      Skip,

                      This is how it goes. The never ending to chase of the ultimate surround sound. :LOL: As for DVD players, has anyone tried Rotel's 1060???

                      Paul




                      "Everyone has to have a hobby!"
                      "Everyone has to have a hobby!"

                      Comment

                      • xavierzx11
                        Junior Member
                        • Aug 2003
                        • 23

                        #12
                        Andrew, I emailed you pictures. Thanks




                        "Everyone has to have a hobby!"
                        "Everyone has to have a hobby!"

                        Comment

                        • Andrew Pratt
                          Moderator Emeritus
                          • Aug 2000
                          • 16507

                          #13
                          Thanks for the pictures I'll get them up tonight.




                          Comment

                          • Jurgen
                            Member
                            • Jul 2003
                            • 73

                            #14
                            Hi Xavier,

                            That was a very interesting read! You state that the movie sound can be a bit bright. I've experienced the same thing with my rsx 1055. I noticed however, that changing the dvd player can be very benificial. I've tried several(denon dvd 2800 and rotel rdv 1080), but in the end the Arcam dv88 plus gave me the sound (and picture) I was after. Not to bright and certainly not to dull.
                            I know sony products and I always find them a bit bright. And I think the 1098 is probably has a very neutral and transparent sound.

                            Give it a try!

                            Jurgen

                            Comment

                            • xavierzx11
                              Junior Member
                              • Aug 2003
                              • 23

                              #15
                              Jurgen,

                              Thanks for the word on the Arcam. You talked about the Denon 2800 player. Have you tried the Denon 2900? I was thinking about trying that player.

                              Paul




                              "Everyone has to have a hobby!"
                              "Everyone has to have a hobby!"

                              Comment

                              • Danbry39
                                Moderator Emeritus
                                • Sep 2002
                                • 1584

                                #16
                                Arcam is a favorite of mine. Listening to my Arcam CD player as I type. Once at another forum, the age-old discussion arose as to whether a dedicated CD player was of benefit now that DVD players were being used so often for this purpose. I brought up my Arcam player and how superior sounding it was to playing CD's via my DVD player. A rep from Arcam came on and posted the following. It's on a different Arcam model, but clearly demonstrates their dedication to quality. It taught me a lot about design philosophy.

                                Here it is:

                                Since someone has mentioned Arcam's name I'll come in with our point of view, which is based on actually developing and listening to real products, and monitoring their success in the marketplace.

                                To do proper D/A conversion in audio you need, among other things, a very clean crystal generated clock signal, with as little jitter on it as possible (we are talking very small numbers, sub 200 picoseconds for good results, as measured at the output of the DAC by the Paul Miller/Julian Dunn technique). It helps to have the master clock physically right next door to the DAC chips too.

                                There are many other factors involved of course, including the DACs themselves, the digital filters, post conversion analogue filters and so on. The layout of the PCB, especially with respect to ground currents is also critical and mistakes and less than optimum layouts here are definitely audible, even though the obvious measurements may not really change.
                                4 or 6 layer boards help. We've done lots of listening inside the company and are absolutely certain of the huge amount of attention that needs to be paid to these things. It's reflected in our sales too.

                                It's not too difficult to do all of this inside a CD player, where you only need one master clock and where the transport is slaved to this. DVD players need multiple clocks however, to get 27MHz for video and integer multiples of both 44.1 and 48 kHz for audio, as a minimum. In nearly all DVD players I have seen, the master clock is 27MHz and the audio clocks are derived from this via additional phase locked loops. Now this can be done well or badly - there are a couple of pretty good if somewhat expensive parts out there - but mostly it is done using the on-chip PLL of the MPEG/DVD decoder chipset (the lowest cost solution) and the jitter results are from mediocre to horrendous. As you might imagine this compromises the audio DAC's performance, even if all else were perfect (which is usually isn't by a long way). It also affects the SPDIF digital output stream.

                                At Arcam we overcame this in our house designed DV88 and DV27 DVD players by using 3 separate master clocks, one for video and two for audio, the latter being adjacent to the audio DACs. The Zoran MPEG/DVD processors we use support asynchronous clocks, AFAIK most others do not and it was one very good reason why we chose to use Zoran parts in our DVD players. We do a lot of other stuff too, including phase locking our power supply switchers to the audio clock running at that time, but I am sure you get the idea.

                                It is interesting to note that Perfect Vision magazine rates Arcam's DV27 as "one of the few DVD players that is truly a reference quality CD player in audiophile terms, and is the best combination of absolute performance with DVDs and CDs this side of the Ayre's mighty D-1". (March/April 2003 issue, page 46).

                                Back to jitter. In practice the SPDIF sysytem is not very good at transmitting the master clock signal and most receivers and many AV processors are not very good at recovering the DAC clock from this stream, so you get jitter on the DACs inside the receiver/processor. The standard SPDIF receiver chipsets are definitely not good enough here if you want the best results. This limitation can be overcome, for example by fitting a crystal based PLL clock recovery circuit (as used in the best processors - Arcam, Meridian, Lexicon, TAG; this list is not exhaustive) - which is quite expensive and difficult to do. But the results are clearly audible and speak for themselves. To prove my point another way, we initially tried to avoid doing this in the Arcam AV8 processor on the grounds of expense and time to market, until we did the auditioning - then we rushed back to the drawing board to implement the circuitry!

                                I don't know if the Krell Showcase has this circuitry or something similar (I suspect not but am happy to be corrected). What I can say with some confidence is that if it does not then (IMO of course) you will be better off with an analogue connection using the DACs inside a good CD player or that rare beast, a properly implemented - in audio terms - DVD player. Of course if a processor doesn't have a true analogue bypass then all bets are off again.

                                HTH.

                                John Dawson (Arcam)



                                Keith
                                Keith

                                Comment

                                • Jurgen
                                  Member
                                  • Jul 2003
                                  • 73

                                  #17
                                  Thanks Keith!

                                  Now I have something that I can use against some non believers out there who do not understand why my dvd player costs more than there surround setup altogether(I never had a real grasp on the technical side of things to back it up- just my ears!). Despite the efforts of Arcam however, I still believe that a dedicated cd player is better than a “do it all” machine (that’s why I listen to my cd’s on a , erm.. cd player!). I bought the Arcam for the picture side of things(progressive pal) and was pleasantly surprised by the sound (via the, coaxial, digital output). A very natural sound without becoming harsh or dull.

                                  Paul, I find the Denon players to be impeccable when it comes to cost/features/build ration: a beast like that certainly looks impressive in your rack. I can not judge the sound of the 2900 (yet), the 2800 however did not have the sound I was after. (and had some troubles like , stuttering of the sound and severe lip sync problems). I found the sound out of the digital output to be a bit bright and unnatural. Something I did not really expect since the denon amplifiers and receivers always made an opposite impression(warm, a bit lacklustre).

                                  Although there are many factors that can influence sound, perhaps you could give the Arcam a try. It certainly worked for me.

                                  Jurgen

                                  Comment

                                  • xavierzx11
                                    Junior Member
                                    • Aug 2003
                                    • 23

                                    #18
                                    Jurgen,

                                    Does the Arcom do SACD and DVD-Audio?

                                    Paul




                                    "Everyone has to have a hobby!"
                                    "Everyone has to have a hobby!"

                                    Comment

                                    • Jurgen
                                      Member
                                      • Jul 2003
                                      • 73

                                      #19
                                      Unfortunately, It doesn’t do sacd. Dvd audio is a possibility however. The arcam players are designed to be upgradeable (some sort of modular design). The model I currently own, the dv 88 plus, can be upgraded to play dvd audio or other future upgrades. You can also opt for the dv 89, which is already equipped with this feature.

                                      My guess is that you won’t find a player like the denon that offers that kind of quality for that kind of money. As always the improvement has to be found in small margins, perhaps smaller (to many people)than the price difference seems to justify.

                                      But for the same reason you listen to a 1098, Conrad Johnson amps and revel speakers (and not a technics amp, a cyberhome dvd player and yoko speakers) you could audition the arcam.

                                      Jurgen

                                      Comment

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