Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: Rotel RA-840BX3 integrated amplifier

When it comes to solid-state gear, I seem to be cursed.  Whatever used piece I buy somehow ends up having a problem.  Now I love my Audio Analogue Puccini amplifier for its smooth and warm sound, but the selector switch eventually became dodgy, often dropping the right channel of the phono, which is the one I use the most.  With that in mind, I decided to have it repaired but needed a short-term replacement since this stereo sees almost constant use.  I hunted around until I found a Rotel RA-840BX3 (what a mouthful of gobbedlygook) on Ebay. 

This is a budget amplifier from the early 90s that still features a phono preamplifier, and the normal CD, Tuner, and even video inputs.  Power output is an unremarkable 50Ws, plenty for your average speaker and small to midsized room.  Build quality is pretty good with an actual metal case and a mix of metal and plastic knobs.  It runs a tad warm and is a popular spot for my cat to hang out on the colder nights.

Sound quality:  I'm not going to wax overly poetic on this little budget integrated, but in comparison to the Puccini, it did not fail on it's face.  Bass seemed a tad deeper with the Rotel and on one of my favorite albums, Mirrors - Lights and Offerings, I would swear I heard more detail than before - a bit of hidden synth that changed the overall mood of the songs.  The 840BX3 is exceedingly polite in that British way but still not dark.  It certainly is not an overly "fast" sound unit either, but with the KEF iQ30s speakers the sound is very easy on the ears.  For a budget piece, I couldn't be much happier.  Highly recommended - within the confines of a low priced system.