Rotel RDV-1050 DVD Audio Player
By Jim Bray
With DVD players selling for under a hundred bucks these days, who
in his right mind would spend $700 on one?
If you have to ask that question, youve never had the chance
to sample a player such as Rotels RDV-1050 connected with a good audio
and video setup.
This is a wonderful player, both for audio and for video, and it
takes our reference system to new heights of performance that our players to
date had no idea even existed.
The RDV-1050 is a single disc progressive scan DVD and DVD Audio
player. It handles DVD Audio and Video, and also plays DVD-R/RW, Video CD,
SVCD, JPEG-format photo discs, conventional music CDs, CD-R/RW and MP3 or
WMA-encoded music files. Not only that but it seems to get the most out of
those digital bits and bytes in a most pleasing manner. Okay, it wont
turn Plan 9 From Outer Space into Casablanca but what
On the video side, the 1050 offers progressive scan or interlaced
output, which you can switch via the rear panel and/or remote control. It also
includes variable and slow search (including a 1.5 times forward search with
audio) 6-step zoom, strobe play, and resume functions. The latter is kind of
neat; you can get the player to remember where you were on a disc even after
youve taken it out (most players will resume a disc thats stopped,
but not once youve removed it from the player); itll remember up to
30 discs, which is more than I can remember on any particular day.
Video outputs include component, S and composite, though of
course progressive scan only works via the component video output and even if
youre running it interlaced the component outputs are the preferred
choice. I ran it in progressive mode mostly, switching via the remote to
interlaced when I wanted to output the menus of a DVD-Audio disc to
Rotels snazzy RSP-1098 preamp/processor
as well as or instead of the TV.
For audio outputs you get an optical and a coaxial digital
socket, as well as analog audio for DVD-A or music CDs if you want to
play them that way. I wish there were a set of stereo analog outputs as well,
for even more flexibility, but this isnt a big deal since as mentioned
you can output stereo from the 5.1 jacks and it sounds just fine thank you very
Setup is a breeze. Rotels menus are very straightforward.
You hit the choice button on the remote and go through the simple
screens, setting such stuff as languages, aspect ratio and
progressive/interlaced, digital audio output, levels, disc resume and the like.
The screens have a pleasant blue background and are very easy to figure out.
The menus that are accessible when youre playing a disc
(time elapsed, etc.) are also simple and easy to navigate. They only take up
the top area of the screen, too, which is nice. I wish there were a
time button on the remote by which you could quickly scroll through
the various elapsed/remaining time options, but this isnt a big deal.
Put in a DVD and the Rotel leaps into action, heading straight
for the menu or whatever other part of the disc is programmed in, whereas if
youre playing an audio CD it doesnt presume to start before you
have a chance to get back to the easy chair and press play. This is
a nice touch.
Naturally, the first things I put into the RDV-1050 were such
home theater treats as Pixar/Disneys Finding Nemo and the DVD-A version of the
Doobie Brothers Captain
and Me. My goodness, the digital fish looked positively 3D on our big Sony
and if you closed your eyes during a song such as South City Midnight
Lady the enveloping presence of the Doobies washes over you in a
Film like, though such a term cant rightly be
applied to the all-digital Nemo, is the description that kept coming to mind
when watching DVD movies played on this thing. Theres an apparent depth
to the image, color, and detail, that gives you the richness of film without
its softness. The result is a spectacular viewing experience that would be
enough reason to buy this player even if it had no audio outputs at all.
When I first hooked up the RDV-1050 I thought the image was a tad
dark, and as it turns out it was. The reason for this is that they undoubtedly
have the player tuned for TVs that havent been tweaked since they
were unpacked. Fresh TVs are set far too bright and you need to do even a
quick calibration using the Digital Video
Essentials or one of its competitors. You end up turning the picture down
substantially and that in itself helps give a more realistic look to the
But the Big Sony has not only been "Video Essentialsed,"
its been ISF calibrated as well (which involves bringing in a
professional technician and then sitting there in impatient awe as he caresses
the TV until its performing like a thoroughbred), and therefore the
default setting on the Rotel player was too dark for our terrifically tweaked
Ah, but they have that covered.
Press VFP on the remote (the same button you use to
switch from Progressive to Interlaced) and up pops a menu giving you all kinds
of neat picture adjustments just like youd see on the TV itself. You get
stuff like gamma and brightness and color and sharpness and the like. And if
you scroll away from the default setting you immediately come across one
labeled cinema and blimey if the picture doesnt suddenly
improve appreciably, brighter and even more lifelike.
I ended up tweaking it even more and saving that in one of the
customizable user settings memories.
So I started watching movies all over again and the more I
watched the more I liked it.
I dunno if this is a comment on the quality of the HD broadcasts
I get via satellite, but I had a chance to try an experiment: when the first
Harry Potter movie ran in HD on TV I
put in the DVD and played it back along side, switching back and forth between
them. Alas, I couldnt get a completely apples to apples
comparison because the TV version was cropped to 16x9 instead of the DVDs
2.35:1, but overall I preferred the DVDs picture. It seemed no less sharp
than the 1080i and I thought the colors as transmitted via the Rotel RDV-1050
were actually richer.
As I sit here Im listening to the remastered Jethro Tull
Thick as a Brick and its amazing. The soundstage is marvelously wide and
deep; and thats only a CD! DVD-Audios are really this machines
sonic tour de force and I threw a whack of them at the RDV-1050.
One of my favorites was Led Zeppelins
How The West Was Won, which is a
terrific recording culled from a couple of nights when Zep was at the height of
its powers. The liveness of the performance is enhanced by the clearness, the
cleanness of the Rotel player's own performance.
Sinatra Live at the
Sands is also wonderful concert experience, completely different from the
Big Venue sound of the Zep disc.
One thing I really, really liked about this Rotel was that it
doesnt add an artificial pause between continuous tracks on a DVD-A disc.
Our previous reference player did exactly that (though it didnt mess with
the Dolby Digital audio track versions), and it drove me nuts (yeah, yeah, I
). It was just enough of a pause to ruin the mood and the flow
and this Rotel doesnt do it!
Another feature that's worth the price of admission.
You also dont have to keep switching from one output to
another, as you did with our old player. On that player, I had to activate the
5.1 analog outputs from the menus every time I played a DVD-A, which was a real
pain in the neck. But once youve configured the Rotel via its setup
menus, theres absolutely no fuss; it knows what type of disc youre
playing and acts accordingly.
And there are other little things to love about this player, too,
such as a front panel display with four different brightness settings including
One thing I wished for was illuminated buttons on the remote. The
disc control buttons (Play, pause, etc.) look like they should light up, but
they dont; they may be glow in the dark, but if so they don't glow very
much either. And I wish theyd have swapped their location with the cursor
control buttons, but thats pretty nitpicky.
A larger oversight is that the RDV-1050 doesnt play SACD
discs other than as straight CDs. But this feature is also comparatively
rare at the time of this writing. Hopefully Rotel will add this feature to its
next generation because if they do that this could very well be the best
audio/video bargain around, all things considered.
Bottom line? Even without SACD this Rotel is a marvelous player.
I loved what it did to my discs, my TV and my audio system.
And now you know why people spend $700US on a player.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think