So I picked one of these up recently with a RCD-855 cd player, this little amplifier is amazing, I've been running a top end Denon AV amp with 140 watts rms 8ohm per channel and this amp sounds better than it, I'm feeding it through a pair of Yamaha Soavo 3 speakers, around £2000 worth when new and I just can't believe how well this little amp drives them, surreal is all I can say, Bags of bottom end, great sound stage, clarity etc, If you pick one of these up and the sound is lacking it will be the source or the speakers that are the problem and not this amp unless it needs servicing, and oh yes it is worth servicing, Highly recommended and punches far far above its price and age and rated at 30 watts per channel rms has to be a joke, it seems far higher to me anyway.
I tested it out for a few hours with my main test cd's, albums I know very well and they all sounded great through it with this amplifier, a very surprising result for me, I'm kind of in shock at how good it is.
Reviewed 13th August 2017
A terrific little amp which reviewed very well at the time of its release and was at the top of the list in its price bracket in terms of quality. I bought mine new from Richer Sounds back in 1991. It's a solid wee beast that had a higher build and sound quality than the NAD amps which dominated the field of entry-level hi-fi in the late 1980s / early 1990s. After a few years in "fallow" due to one of the channels dropping out, I resurrected mine with a few squirts of DeoxIT (the main problem being the input selector switch). It sounded OK for about six months and then an internal fuse started repeatedly blowing. A check under the hood identified two of the 25 year old electrolytic capacitors oozing splooge (including the main power cap). I replaced those and the corresponding caps for the other channel to keep things balanced (2 x 6800uf 50v & 2 x 470uf 25v). The underside of the board is easily accessible by removing an access panel on the underside. What a difference! Tight bass, great soundstage; I'm still impressed with what this amplifier can do.
By: Y Chan
"An old friend"
Reviewed 14th February 2015
Two years ago I replaced my 820AX with an Exposure 1010 as the Rotel was playing up with one channel not working occasionally. I have kept the Rotel and today I decided to have a play with it, and miraculously it worked perfectly. The sound that's coming out of this beauty caught me by surprise as being quite good compared to the Exposure. There's lots more bass and sounds relatively warmer than the Exposure, although it has slightly less detail. So now I'm going to permanently hook up the Rotel to my system and use it whenever I feel like having a change from the Exposure. A little beauty she is, now around 20 years old, I think!
1 person found this review helpful.
By: Frank de Wit
"A perfect friend"
Reviewed 29th November 2014
I started out with this amp as the heart of my system. Times changed, and I needed to upgrade to surround, because I love watching movies. It turned out to be a NAD T753, which still works great. But I kept the Rotel RA-820AX as my PC amp, in combination with a Terratec Aureon USB sound card. I listen to it with my AKG K172 HD headphones or Behringer B2030P speakers, and in both cases it sounds amazing. The sound stage is still completely satisfying, with rich deep base, sparkling highs, a strong presence of voices, and a huge dynamic range. I will never need anything new to get this kind of sound on my head. I should probably get it revised soon though, because the switches are very dirty and they cause some problems. If you ever get the chance to buy one of these second hand, don´t hesitate, this is perfectly reliable amp with a great sound.
By: Incey da Guv'nor
Reviewed 14th January 2014
I too have owned one of these beauties since 1989 (a replacement for my first ever amp, a Yamaha AX300) when I was 19 years old. I vaguely remember paying the good folks at Billy Vee in London £150 (approx) for it a few weeks before returning to purchase my Rega Planar 3 (which was initially fitted with a Linn K5 cartridge) which I still use as my primary source to this day! I cannot overstate the joy I have had listening to my vinyl collection through this high-class, budget performer over the past two decades.
I recently took the fairly emotional step of deciding a newer amplifier was the order of the day due to the failings of the input selector that others appear to have had a similar experience with. Initially I was tempted by the Rotel RA-10 for obvious reasons but plumped for the Marantz PM6005. I was immediately impressed by the way the Marantz was able to 'open up' my Mordaunt Short MS35Ti Mk II speakers as I've always felt that perhaps the RA820AX was a little restrained at the extreme high and low ends. A few weeks on and I'm starting to miss the 'hi-fi' quality of the Rotel albeit that I am far from missing the aforementioned 'juggling' with the input selector that drove my decision to make the change in the first place. But for this, I would certainly be using my Rotel RA820AX still. Sadly, it is now confined to a box in a cupboard.
However, unless there was a significant (perhaps technical) reason to do so, I would suggest saving your money and admiring the Rotel until flood waters, burglars or some other unforeseeable circumstance (or substantial upgrade to a Naim, for instance) prevented you from doing just that.