Although production is based in Zhuhai, China, this fifty-five year old company has engineering offices in the UK, USA, Japan, Korea and China, and a sixty-strong R&D team including design input from the UK. This CD player is something of a curio in these complicated times, being one of the few these days not to have built-in DAC functionality. The choice of Wolfson WM8740 DAC chip isn’t exactly radical either; it’s a justifiably popular design that pops up in many machines from the earlier part of this decade.
The RCD-1570’s slot loading CD drive is a little off the beaten track, and a very nice way to interface with a CD player – superior in my view to a wobbly, plasticky disc tray in my view. That’s as maybe, but the drive mechanism in the RCD-1570 is still slightly noisy – you can hear it whirring around conspicuously when playing a track. The master clock is said to have had special attention paid to it, using techniques of careful supply decoupling combined with electrical isolation and rugged construction. Curiously, this new player recognises HDCD discs (remember them?) when inserted, showing ‘HDCD’ on the display instead of the normal ‘CD DA’ – but it still plays them as standard Red Book CDs. Could this be a ghostly reminder of Rotel’s previous love of this format?
The general standard of finish is very good, and the brushed aluminium and polished fascia edges look classy. The front panel switchgear has a nice, positive gait, although the light blue fluorescent display disappoints slightly – it looks a little crude compared to the latest generation of OLEDs seen everywhere from Audiolab to Naim now. Round the back it’s business as usual, aside from the welcome addition of balanced XLR analogue outputs alongside the standard RCA phonos. Overall the machine is a nice package, well proportioned at 431x93x320mm and reasonably sturdy at 6.7kg.
The RCD-1570 CD player offers an animated, musical sound with a strong bottom end. Rather than being ‘matter of fact’ sounding like many other price rivals, it really gets into the nitty-gritty of the music’s rhythms and dynamics. For example, the indie-rock sound of Ultra Vivid Scene’s Special One came over as very bouncy and fluent, this player seemingly going out of its way to carry the emotion of the track, and deliver a really punchy, propulsive bass. The result was a truly engaging listen, bristling with detail yet subtle and composed too.
With classical music, it showed itself to be an expansive performer, blessed with an unexpectedly deep soundstage. Slotting in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3 (Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Linn Records) and the player let rip with a rich, vibrant rendition of this brilliant recording. String tone was as natural as you’ll hear from 16-bit, and the rhythm of the music flowed along like the widest part of the River Clyde. Moving back to a cooking Red Book CD recording of Lou Donaldson’s Aligator Bogaloo, and this BlueNote jazz classic came across in a most enjoyable way. This player is a keen student of rhythm alright, and proved well able to get into the groove and keep the listener’s attention – a most impressive party trick at the price. Tonally it’s a touch on the warm side, and conjures up a spacious recorded acoustic. Overall, the Rotel RCD-1570 is one of the best CD spinners around at the price, well worth consideration.