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Rotel RC-850

Stereo pre amplifier with MM/MC phono stage

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Rotel RC-850


Frequency response: 4Hz to 100kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.004%

Input sensitivity: 0.26mV (MC), 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (line)

Signal to noise ratio: 64dB (MC), 78dB (MM), 95dB (line)

Output: 1V (Pre out)

Dimensions: 444 x 66 x 283mm

Weight: 4kg


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Reviewed Mar 03rd, 2014 by bwcarter

Am using with a single Rotel RB-850 power amp , and the sound is superior to many vintage power units I've listened to - which number 40 or 50. Probably in top 20% for sound quality - $1000 or less price range. How much of this is due to the preamp I'm not sure, but I can heartily recommend the combination.

Compared to most vintage amps I've listened to lately - my old ears can actually hear a marked difference using the Rotels. Bass is much improved - more visceral and reaches lower - and smoother. Sound overall is cleaner and has more presence or something like that. Makes my B&W DM5's sing sweetly. Last time I heard such a difference was when I switched in a Quad 33 setup after a few Japanese amps. Maybe I like the English sound?

Note that the RB850 amps are set up to be bridged with a switch - and then produce 150 watts according to owner's manual. I suspect a typo here, but even 100 watts is hefty.

As a separate piece, I like the RC850 preamp very much. I rate the build quality as high. Switches and knobs have a solid, quality feel to them. I especially like having a big volume knob in center of the preamp. That's the way it should be. Also, this volume knob is not stepped like many are. I have yet to find a stepped knob I like, simply too much of a volume jump between steps. It's also useful to have both MM and MC cartridge capability. I can't attest to quality of the phono stage myself, but my friend who sold me the set says it is better than average. I can say that the factory sound or tone shaping - is for my tastes superior to many. I usually use a 10-12 band equalizer to shape the sound of an amp to what I like - but I find that with this Rotel preamp, I liked the factory setting so much that I quit using the EQ. Even though is just a bass and a treble control. Nice - one less piece in the system. No loudness button here by the way. Interesting. Yet at low volumes the Rotel 850s do very well. I've heard that the RB850 power amp delivers cleanly way down below 4 ohms - into the 2 ohm territory. As does the Quad. Am guessing that there's a relationship in the ability to be so robust and to how well it sounds at low volumes. Don't need no stinkin' loudness button.

Also has a Mono switch - not quite sure how to use it, but think it could be useful.

Bottom line - if you come across a good example at a fair price, especially with one or 2 of the RB-850 amps - buy it. Fair market value as of Feb 2014 would be in the $250 per piece. A lot of value for that kind of money.



re: RC-850

interesting review.
I agree with your comments.
FYI, the mono button is useful for stylus set-up along with a test record for accurate adjustment as well as to reduce noise in poor quality FM broadcasts and scratchy records. just setting it to mono make the noise less audible.

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