In the 1970s, a few big brands shared a large chunk of the consumer audio market. Most of them were American and Japanese brands: Marantz, Harman/Kardon, Yamaha, JVC, Pioneer, Sony and Kenwood, in Europe also Philips, Tandberg and several German brands starting with Grundig. Rotel (Japan) gradually joined this group, popular mainly in Germany and Great Britain at first. It was one of the few companies, whose product quality did not start to deteriorate in the late 1970s and 1980s – quite the opposite. Like NAD, Rotel took advantage of the dropping quality of big brand products and offered equipment at similar prices as its competitors, but with better sound and build quality. Rotel is now one of the most valued consumer audio manufacturers.
ROTEL RX-300 from the late 1970s is a lowish power receiver (24 W per channel into 4 Ohm speakers). It has a fairly sensitive FM tuner, a decent phono stage, 1 phono and 2 line inputs, and it can handle 4-16 Ohm impedance speakers. The receiver is basically the Rotel RA-300 amp and RT-300 tuner in one box.
Build and sound:
ROTEL RX-300 is a budget receiver. It was assembled in Taiwan, with cheaper components and quite a few ICs, including the outputs. But, for a low model build on the cheap, the Rotel sounds great. It is one of those receivers you can listen through for hours, regardless of whether the source is a turntable or something more modern (CD player, computer, DAC). The sound is warm, with the right amount of bass, good clarity and dynamics. Unlike later models, it is quite balanced, not aggressive with forward mids that can drown out the remaining frequencies and limit the choice of speakers; the RX-300 handles all frequencies equally well. Despite fairly low power, it can drive even large floorstanding speakers to levels sufficient for a 20 sqm room.
I bought a Rotel as a restoration project. It was complete and basically in a working condition, but it required thorough cleaning, new lamps, maintenance of potentiometers and switches, adjustment, and the case repairs. Especially the case was in a bad shape – just look at the photo (in the gallery below) of the hole that was in it. Now, the only trace of its previous condition is the deformed left upper corner of the front panel. Other than that, the receiver looks and works perfectly. It originally quite strong, white dial light that I replaced with more discrete green light. This change of course can be reversed by replacing green lamps with white ones and removing the filter. The case received new black matte finish (originally it was gray), with the vent grille preserved. After thorough cleaning, potentiometers walk smoothly and without any noise.
Continuous power (RMS) 2 x 20 W at 8 ohms, 2 x 24 W at 4 ohms
THD: no more than 0.5% at rated power output, no more than 0.05% at 2 x 10 W and 2 x 1 W (20 Hz to 20 kHz)
Intermodulation: no more than 0.5% at rated power output, no more than 0.05% at 2 x 10 W and 2 x 1 W (20 Hz to 20 kHz)
Damping factor: 30 at 8 Ohms
Frequency response: 10 Hz to 40 kHz (line), 30 Hz to 15 kHz (phono)
Input sensitivity: 2.5 mV/45 kOhm (MM), 120mV/290 kOhm (ceramic), 150mV/35 kOhm (line)
Output: 300mV/240 kOhm (line), 100mV/90 kOhm (DIN)
Signal to noise ratio: 78 dB (phono), 88 dB (line)
Treble control: +/-10 dB at 10 kHz
Bass control: +/-10 dB at 100 Hz
Loudness: +7 dB at 100 Hz, +4 dB at 10 kHz
Radio tuner: FM (standardowe pasmo 88-108), AM
Inputs/outputs: TAPE, AUX, PHONO (MM/CER), 1 pair of speakers 4-16 ohms, headphones
Power consumption standard/max: 85 W/140 W
Power supply: 100/120/220/240V
A small update: The Rotel has found a new home – just like any such classic should! We wish Krzysztof long hours of listening pleasure! Here’s the email we received from him:
Thank you for the email and an honest attitude.
Like I told you during our meeting, I am cautious about buying online.
But after I entered your home, all my fears disappeared in an instant. I knew I came to the right place.
I’m honestly impressed. I felt like at the 1997 Audio Show I had visited. The was where it all started. I always wanted to own such equipment. Enjoy beautiful, clean sound.
After many years I was able to make my dream come true – thanks to you. Thank you, Rafal.
The Rotel RX-300 I bought met my expectations. It sounds and looks beautifully. The sound is without any compromise. This is it.
I can certainly recommend it to other enthusiasts of good, classic sound.
Rotel RX-300 is a good and solid receiver.