REVIEW: ROTEL RMB 1585 5-CHANNEL POWER AMPLIFIER

Tony O'Brien's avatar

by Tony O'Brien

25th October, 2018

REVIEW: ROTEL RMB 1585 5-CHANNEL POWER AMPLIFIER

If you've been relying on your AV Receiver's multiple amplifier channels to power your surround sound speakers, perhaps it's time to consider a multi-channel power amplifier? We take a closer look at Rotel's RMB 1585 5-Channel Power Amplifier.

Rotel

RMB 1585 5-Channel Power Amplifier

$3,999 RRP

Rotel RMB 1585 5 Channel Power Amplifier Review

We’ve all got them. Squirrelled away up the back of our movie library. Those films that are so bad, that they're good.

I'm referring to the films where the plot takes a back seat to CGI effects, and the main character is just as likely to be an alien, car-thief, hobbit, highly-trained government operative, a giant robot or all of the above.

Watching two giant robots beat the ‘life’ out of one another is always a blast, however, watching it on a great home theatre system takes things to an entirely different level.

With the sounds of exploding debris filling your room, a good home theatre should drop you right in the middle of the action.

The truth is though is that despite having a big screen and big beautiful (often expensive) speakers, many home theatre systems often fall short of their full potential.

Why? Power. Or, to be more precise and all too often the case, not enough power.

Having a great sub(s) and speakers is part of the equation, and unless your speakers are easy to drive or you have a mighty AV Receiver, there’s a good chance you’re not hearing what your speakers are truly capable of.

The obvious solution is to upgrade to a more powerful AVR, but it’s not the only option. A good pre & power amplifier combination will give you the power that you need but can be expensive.

If you’re happy with the current AVR and it has all the latest tech built-in (4K, Atmos, DTS:X etc.), you can always dip your toe into separates by merely adding a multi-channel power amplifier to your system. Assuming that your existing AVR has pre-out connections.

Established in 1961, a family-owned business, Rotel, has a reputation for producing high-end stereo and AV electronics that represent excellent value for money.

Weighing a beefy 36kg, Rotel’s five-channel Class A/B RMB-1585 power amplifier is nothing short of a juggernaut. With a power output of 200 watts continuous power per channel (20-20kHz, < 0.03%, 8 ohms), there’s more than a good chance the RMB-1585 can drive your home theatre speakers to Autobot crushing levels.

Unboxing

Standing 237mm high, 454 wide and 431 deep, the RMB-1585 is sizable. Be prepared for the RMB-1585 to dominate your AV rack! That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it’s both a rather classy and attractive looking bit of gear.

Its fascia is finished in silver-brushed aluminium, distinguished by two rows of air vents and the embossed ROTEL logo. Unlike your average AVR, you’re not going to find rows of buttons here, but rather a single power button at the top left of the unit.

Likewise, you won’t find the dizzying array of connections located on the back of most AVRs. The RMB-1585 is equipped with ten high-quality speaker binding posts, five unbalanced RCA inputs and five balanced inputs. Rounding things out is a 12V trigger (in/out) and a switch to alter the fan speed.

The RMB-1585 is housed in a rigid silver aluminium chassis which complements its brushed aluminium fascia. The overall build quality is outstanding and unmistakeably high-end.

The box also comes with a comprehensive user manual, power cable and 3.5mm mono cable.

Setup

Unboxing and maneuvering the RMB-1585 into an AV rack is not an easy feat. Unless you fancy a trip to the physio, I strongly recommend you have plenty of help on hand. You’re also going to need a rack that will accommodate its weight and size.

For my review purposes, the RMB-1585 was connected to a Denon AVC-X8500H AV Receiver, with the Rotel powering my front, centre and surround speakers. The only exception was my height speakers, which were connected directly to the Denon.

Setting up the RMB-1585 is a doddle. With my speaker cables connected, I ran some RCA’s from the Denon’s pre-outs to the RMB-1585. Connecting the included 3.5mm mono cable between the Denon AVR trigger output and the RMB-1585’s input allowed the Rotel to automatically power on with my AVR.

Performance

I chose a variety of Blu-ray discs to put the RMB-1585 through its paces, including the excellent Bladerunner 2049, 2017’s Dunkirk, Mad Max Fury Road and my trusty stalwart, Wolverine.

Although it’s one of the earlier films released in Doby Atmos, Mad Max Fury Road remains one of the better Atmos soundtracks available. With the opening scene of Fury Road playing, the first thing I noticed was that my usual listening level was too loud.

Turning it down a few notches, the extra power available on tap from the RMB-1585 became more apparent. Fury Road sounded punchier and more effortless, and it was readily apparent the Rotel wasn’t even breaking a sweat.

Don’t let the absence of an Atmos soundtrack on Bladerunner 2049 put you off. Its DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack has been masterfully crafted and sounds big, bold and detailed. Here the RMB-1585 produced the film’s dynamic passages with ease.

While the RMB-1585 did have a more effortless quality with the dynamics, the difference between my own Denon AVC-X8500H amps and Rotel’s RMB-1585 was less apparent. The RMB-1585 also sounded a little more ’forward’ than I am used too.

The same held true with Dunkirk’s excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. The Rotel showing that it was both firmly in control and able to drive my 4 and 6-ohm speakers with ease.

Power to the People

I’ll be the first to admit that the pairing of Rotel’s RMB-1585 Multi-channel Amplifier and Denon’s AVC-8500H AV Receiver was an unusual one. As you would expect, the Rotel RMB-1585 was more potent than the Denon.

The RMB-1585 proved itself to be a potent performer with its more powerful amps playing even the most dynamic soundtracks both effortlessly and with plenty of punch.

While I found the RMB-1585 comes across with a sound that is a little more forward than I’m used too, many are going to like this type of sound.

Match the RMB-1585 with a capable mid-range AVR, and it’s going to take your home theatre system to an entirely different level. In fact, I previously owned a Rotel RMB-1075 power amplifier and used this approach for many years with great success.

That is, of course, unless you go down the path of separates ...

For more information visit Rotel.

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Tony O'Brien's avatar

Written by:

Tony O'Brien

As the owner of Adelaide based 'Clarity Audio & Video Calibration', Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.

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