Rotel RX-603

Discussion in 'Solid State' started by rick88, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. rick88

    rick88 Old School

    Hi all I am new to this forum and this is my first post! I am getting back to 2 channel audio after 14 years of surround sound. I have been longing for the warm sound of analogue for a long time. I have won a Rotel RX-603 receiver in pristine condition for $62 on Ebay. Anyone have any experience with this unit? How does it compare to vintage Pioneer, Marantz, and HK units?

    Report abuse Quick Reply
  2. vintagestereo

    vintagestereo Banned

    It's probably just as good as the competing models, with the exception of the plastic knobs. That, I don't forgive! :nono:
  3. rick88

    rick88 Old School

    The knobs are plastic?! They sure don't look it in the pictures. That is disappointing! One of the things I have missed about my good 'ol analogue days is the feel of a metal volume control. Oh well I'm sure I will still enjoy my purchase anyhow.
  4. SoCal Sam

    SoCal Sam Lunatic Member

    I've got one. Nice looking from a distance, up close, some details dissapoint. Rack handles, dial surround, and buttons are all plastic. On the upside, the sound is very nice for a 45-50 watter. I paid $60 for mine and I did local pickup. You did fine.

    If you get the Rotel bug, skip the RX-803 and go for at least the RX-1203 for that classic industrial deco look.
  5. BuckNaked

    BuckNaked Class of '80

    I recently sold an RX-503.
    Plastic. That nice trim piece around the tuner dial... plastic. DO NOT POLISH IT, the silver rubs right off.
    If they skimped here, where else did they skimp?
    The RX's look impressive. I watched the listing you purchased cuz I only got $50 for the 503 and I wanted to torture myself when the 603 went for mega bux, but that didn't happen.
    I didn't get to listen to it much. When I did, it was paired with KEF 103.2's and the sound was pleasant.
    I sold because I fell into a pristine Pioneer SX-950. There is no comparison.
  6. rick88

    rick88 Old School

    Well I guess it will be a good re-entry piece for my entering into 2 channel audio. I was really looking for a Pioneer 950,980,1050, or 1080 but I got the Rotel for such a good price I went for it. Somewhere down the line I WILL be lookng for a Pioneer as I had 2 of them in the seventies and loved them both.
  7. vintagestereo

    vintagestereo Banned

    I'm in TOTAL AGREEMENT. I think the line goes RX-203, RX-303, RX-503, RX-603, RX-803, RX-1203 and RX-1603. I just don't think Rotel had the resources for an 8 piece lineup. Anything below the RX-1203 is probably not worth much, give all the plastic trim that was used. I hope Rotel didn't hire someone from Soundesign or Yorx! :nono:

    -- Chris
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2006
  8. vintagestereo

    vintagestereo Banned

    BuckNaked -- I agree, that plastic looks so CHEESY!!! What's funny is that the RX-1603 doesn't have any at all! It's ALL METAL. :banana:
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2006
  9. vintagestereo

    vintagestereo Banned

    rick88 -- Next time, be sure to ask around BEFORE you buy. We're always happy to help!

    -- Chris
  10. vintagestereo

    vintagestereo Banned

    Here's the benefit of my experience as a longtime collector of vintage audio gear. Usually if it's a relatively low price, there's a reason for it. Most folks aren't stupid and pass things up for good reason. That's what I've learned. I've pretty much factored out focusing on low price as part of my mentality. I focus on the overall quality of the unit and the degree to which the Seller will stand behind it. Just too many disappointments otherwise. :tears:

    -- Chris
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2006
  11. dandevin

    dandevin New Member

    I've probably owned around 100 vintage receivers over the years. Although I design and build tube gear I have great admiration for the quality of many of the SS receivers built thru the end of the 70's. I have owned two Rotel's in this series and found them to be quite good sonically and esthetically very attractive with their more innovative look. As far as the big stink everyone always makes about a few plastic parts my attitude is that the overall superior appearance, quality electronics and reasonable prices far outweigh any psychological dismay one might have over a little chrome plated plastic that looks good and has absolutely no musical consequences. As a matter of fact, when I bought my first one I didn't even recognize that they were plastic until I read about it. Of course it obviously hadn't been harshly treated but something that spends it's life in protective custody on a shelf shouldn't be. I have also owned many, many Pioneer receivers of the era and although they are universally solidly built they are not universally sonically superior transducers and your Rotel will be a better instrument for musical enjoyment than many of those Pioneer's with their solid metal knobs and their unmusically bright top octaves. The one Pioneer receiver that stands head and shoulders above the rest of the companies receivers, in my experience, is the SX-1250. Pioneer pulled out all of the stops with that one and used all of the good stuff. Toroidal transformer, polystyrene caps, top notch tuner, etc. The rest of the models in the line, although very solidly built aren't even close sonically. I compared an SX-850 one day with a Sansui 9090 in a side by side listening test with speakers and volumes that would negate any power differences and it wasn't even close-the Sansui was superior in every way. If you look under the hood you find that in the next generation they jumped the top of the line up to a higher claimed power rated model SX-1980 but it uses the same power supply that was used in the earlier 1250?!? And it sells for crazy prices and to my ears does not sound as good as the 1250. I'm 56 years old and I have been involved with music my whole life and the best advice that I can give you is to listen and judge equipment with your own ears. So many people express strong opinions, that to be valid, would have to be backed up by actual listening experience and direct comparisons which they have never done. Since the internet has provided an individual with a chance to grab some spotlight time, I have seen this non-expert/expert phenomena become the basis of far too many purchasing decisions. The truth is that there are some models from lesser recognized companies of that era that are superior to what these SpinMasters have declared to be superior. Actually LISTEN to some of those receivers from the likes of; Nikko, Onkyo, Concept, Harman Kardon and the early US made Sherwoods and you will find many superior products at bargain products. I have also found that almost any Sansui of the period will reproduce life-like music that is well balanced across the frequency spectrum and if you want to own the best receiver ever made find a Sansui 1000a in good shape and just listen-you will be amazed. Of course it is a tube unit and that makes some hesitant because of their lack of experience. Just enjoy your Rotel and appreciate what a bargain it is for $60 compared to an SX-850 that would cost you $300.
  12. Gang-Twanger

    Gang-Twanger Resident Wharfedaliophool Subscriber


    Yeah, I would have to agree about sonics. I have the entry-level (and not incredibly-expensive-looking and small) RX-203A (I'm guessing 20-25 watts per channel), and it knocked my NAD 3140 integrated (45w per-channel) out of the water with my Wharfedales. Suddenly I had warmth and vibeyness. Opened the speakers right up. All of a sudden, that musicality was there, and that completely-changed my opinion of the speakers, and that was when I decided to hang on to them a while, and I still have the Rotel. I'm thinking of giving it to my mother once I find a good set of bookshelf-speakers. It's not in the most-attractive shape, and its light as a feather compared to my Sansui 2000x OR the NAD, but they somehow got it right with the sound.

    To the OP: Incidentally, if you ever come across a working 2000x (and they ARE quite-common on average), I would suggest grabbing it. Very-good-sounding receiver (I wanted mine so-bad that I bid like $95 just to sort of shoo-away the other bidders, as if to say, 'This is MINE" - Got it for $60, but Fleabay took $5 off, so $55). Price-range would probably-be $40-$75 depending on condition and bidder's luck. Just one for your 'future-list'.
  13. chip18sw

    chip18sw Active Member

    I have a RX 603 also and I really enjoy the sound, I admit it fooled me also I too thought it was metal, till I read about it being plastic on here!

    I think it's a very good looking unit at night and don't forget it also has pre amp in/out jacks in the back, I'll trade that option for a metal face plate any day!

    The smallish baby receivers don't get the respect they deserve but they can be a very good stepping stone into vintage sound! You did fine, read the Detox thread under General Audio Discussion and just enjoy it! :)
  14. BenWaB3

    BenWaB3 Well-Known Member

    Rick: Congrats on the 603. Was that the one on "the bay" that (I think) ended last night? I had looked at that one but decided not to try for it (reason in next paragraph). If so that should be a great way to wade into "The Rotel Stream".

    SoCal Sam: Yours is the second opinion I've seen in the last few days about staying away from the 803, which worries me a bit since I have one one the way (from the SoCal part of the country) that I got off the bay this past Sun. Is it just to skip from the lower wattage units up to the big behemoths or are there problems related to this specific model?

    Gang-Twanger: A 203 was my intro to the Rotel line via a yard sale this summer & I think I appended a later post onto your original thread. It was a pleasant surprise to me as well how great that little unit sounds & was the start of my small obsession for all things Rotel. The wattage is 20wpc - however it's the strongest sounding 20 watts I've ever heard. Possibly they have a hotter than average signal coming out of the preamp. Also picked up an RX-602 this past fall & it's probably the most musical sounding piece in my, admittedly, modest collection.

    Anyway Rick, let us know what you think of the 603 & I'll let you know if I can respectfully disagree w/ SoCal on the 803.

  15. thilaseen

    thilaseen Super Member

    I don't think it's the one just finished nearly 5 years ago and btw I have a 603 and apart from having a problem with FM reception I like it just fine.
  16. BenWaB3

    BenWaB3 Well-Known Member

    Oops.....should have looked at the original date instead of just seeing the latest ones in today's posts!!

  17. Gang-Twanger

    Gang-Twanger Resident Wharfedaliophool Subscriber

    Now, that was funny.... Glad I wasn't the first new post. It's easy to do that though. You do a search on here for something, discover a thread you like, and then get caught up in reading it, and the next thing you know, the thread's been resurrected.... by YOU. Done it myself. Oops.

    BTW, I just looked at my RX-203A, and strangely-enough, the knob AND faceplate are metal - and were very-cold to the touch by the way (I live in New England). It's funny though.... I got that thing for free when I showed up to buy my W60E's. I was carrying one of the speakers to my car and saw the thing sitting on a shelf looking lonely, so I asked the guy what he was doing with it. He replied, "You want it? Take it", so I did. And the even-funnier thing is, I only grabbed the thing so I would have some kind of backup unit in case my recently-acquired NAD 3140 integrated amp failed on me, and that little 20w per-channel Rotel ended up bumping the 45w per-channel NAD out of rotation and back on the shelf. I couldn't believe it.
  18. Mystery

    Mystery constantly upgrading...

    I just got a RX-503 and thought it was metal. :sigh:
  19. just dave

    just dave vintage rules!

    That would be a bummer,but as long as it sounds and looks good.What about the rx-1603 does that have plastic knobs too?
  20. Daunia 70

    Daunia 70 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    All metal knobs on the RX-1603.They are connected to their shafts with grub screws,no cost cutting on that one.

Share This Page