The Rotel Michi X3 Series 2 audiophile Integrated Amplifier delivers a real-life unparalleled listening experience. And produce audio with exceptional accuracy, refinement and detail on an expansive soundstage.
The origins of Rotel
The origins of Rotel (originally called Roland) date back to a contract to distribute U.S.made Sylvania television sets throughout Japan. It happened in the early 1950s, before the growth of Japanese-manufactured collections by Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba and other brands. Distribution in those days involved servicing, and because Japan uses a different AC voltage than the U.S., distribution rights also required modifying Sylvania’s products to meet local requirements. Engineering thus became an early focal point.
Rotel began the journey to world renown as a builder of quality audio components when we reorganised in 1961 and exited the TV distribution business. During the 1960s, audio product OEM (original equipment manufacturing) design and assembly became our mainstay. However, Rotel increased efforts to design and market products under our brand name. A notable example of the company’s acclaim came in 1973 when Consumer Reports graced the RX-402 receiver with its coveted “Best Buy” rating. CR didn’t know—and never learned—that the two runners-up also came from the same Rotel factory, even though they sold under different brand names!
Many forces shaped our strategic direction during this time; most significantly, the hyper-competition in the late 1970s stereo marketplace led to a pronounced trend toward products marketed on features rather than sound quality. Rather quickly, this evolved into a marketing war based on suspect attributes. Instead of actual performance improvements audible in comparative listening, manufacturers sold products based on power ratings inflated by questionable measurements or the newest fluorescent bar-graph display.
Rotel chose to follow a contrary path and never looked back. By 1979, we had carefully defined our mission by returning to our roots. Rather than endlessly chasing “features”, we focused on designing no-frills audio components that emphasised musical accuracy, superb build quality, and affordability. This back-to-basics product plan was realised by our extensive experience in producing quality audio components reliably and efficiently in the Far East. Many of these now 30-plus-year-old components are still in service today!
Welcome to Michi
Michi is a flagship series of products built on the history and heritage of Rotel. And Michi represents over 55 years of experience, a passion for a family business, and an ever-growing family of satisfied product owners. Acoustic Elevation, plus Sonic Evolution, and Visual Perfection. Michi, because our reputation is personal.
Rotel X3 Series 2
Courtesy of 350 Watts of mighty Class AB output power and an 8-Channel ESS SABRE ES9028PRO Digital to Analog converter. The elegant industrial design of the Michi X3 Series 2 is at home in any living space. And its 350 watts of Class AB power pairs with nearly any loudspeaker. Analog, Digital, PC-USB (MQA, PCM, DSD), XLR Balanced, and wireless aptX™ HD Bluetooth sources are supported. Also, a Moving Magnet Phono Stage is included for vinyl lovers.
Performance-engineered, acoustically refined, and meticulously manufactured to be easily operated by music lovers and audiophiles alike.
- Line Level Inputs (RCA): 340mV (XLR): 540mV
- Phono Input (MM): 5.2mV
- Line Level Inputs (RCA): 100kΩ (XLR): 100kΩ
- Digital Inputs: 75Ω
- Phono Input (MM): 47kΩ
- Line Level Inputs (RCA): 3.5V (XLR): 5.5V
- Phono Input: 60mV
- USB Audio Class 1 (up to 24-bit/96kHz)
- USB Audio Class 2 (up to 24-bit/384kHz)*
Audioquest Power, Interconnects, Perkune Matrix PRO and Speaker cables
Rotel X3 Series 2 tested
I remember my first experience with Rotel, which was testing the RA-1592 MKII on April 20th 2023. And what a great experience it was. But the Rotel RX series 2 is from the Reference or MICHI series, which is in a completely different league. Making to understand just how far up the ladder this amplifier is. I have been involved with music all my life, but I always enjoy visiting Garso Namai in Vilnius, Lithuania, because it is where the magic begins. And today is no exception, as I plan to listen to the Michi X3 series II integrated amplifier.
The day was dull and cloudy, with a temperature of 17 deg C, but I was warm inside with the thought of what was ahead. The first order was to get coffee on the brew and select which loud speakers we would use for the testing. I was in Favour of the Pylon Jade 20, but Lukas said he wanted to use the Acoustic-energy AE520 loudspeakers. Well, as we have time today, let’s test with both I replied.
We started with one of our favourite test tracks ‘Diana Krall’ and immediately felt the bass depth and larger soundstage. And it was like the invisible man had opened another door in the room, allowing us to hear more of the music. We were indeed off to a great start, and our next artist was ‘Yello.’ And once again, the music had a much more significant impact on us, and we were again just amazed at how much more detail and dynamics presented themselves in the performance.
We spent about an hour listening to the music we knew so well, and we agreed the amplifier gave at least a 20% overall improvement in performance and definition than we heard from anything else this year. And to say we were pleased is an understatement! It was time for a refill, and Lukas changed the speakers to the Pylon Jade 20 loudspeakers. And we were back in business.
The music played, but this time everything sounded different. And different in an outstanding direction. The music had more warmth and depth with such an incredible feeling of being complete! It is so hard to explain how we felt. And were in total agreement this was the best-sounding amplifier we had heard this year. The music had such passion, and we felt the feeling of not wanting to stop listening. And we could have easily stayed until the lights went out!
The Rotel X3 series 2 is an outstanding amplifier and does everything one would expect from an amplifier in the same class. But I am amazed at how two top-class loudspeakers can give different performances. One makes you want to leap up and dance, and the other embraces and involves you in the music. I choose the Jade 20 as I am old school. In contrast, Lukas preferred the sound with the Acoustic Energy speakers as he is new-age!
The details and variables of the Rotel’s performance should not deflect from the fact that the amplifier is a tremendous performer. And possesses the same confidence-inspiring build and engineering the brand has become famous for. But it is at the top of the pack and just so smooth you do not want to stop listening. And it comes Highly Recommended.
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- Author: Thomas Blinder, music producer, Vilnius, Lithuania
- Dated: 12/06/2023
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