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Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

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Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Gelid » 01 Jun 2017 05:20

I have a Rotel RX-202 MK II stereo receiver that I picked up for $20.00 that was distorting reeeely bad in one channel. Cosmetically, it is in really good shape, with only a couple very minor blemishes in the woodwork. I took it in for diagnosis and they replaced a bad transistor. Great.

Now, it never occurred to me to check the phono stage before I had it repaired. Turns out it's not working. Crap.

With the $20.00 price, plus the $40.00 flat fee for the repair, I still have some headroom to take it in again; $100.00 for a perfectly functional, very clean vintage receicer is reasonable, to me. My concern is if repairs go over $40.00, or it can't be fixed at all, I'll prob be paying too much for what really is a mediocre receiver. It is very, very clean, though, which is what inspired me to take the chance in the first place.

My question: Is this receiver worth fixing, or should I just connect a $20.00 Pyle preamp to the Tape/Aux input and be done with it?
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Spinner45 » 01 Jun 2017 06:06

It's a simple yet decently designed receiver, and would sound nice with appropriate speakers.
Worthy of having some money put into it to enjoy for a long time.
Don't pinch pennies, this is 2017, I'd get it repaired.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Paraneer » 01 Jun 2017 12:30

I would not put anymore more money into this receiver. You already have $60 into it and there is a fully functioning unit selling for CAD 80.00 on Canuck Audio Mart. That's about 59 bucks US. Also there are many units selling in Europe (HiFi Shark) between 40-70 euros; again around $45-$78.

The problem with vintage bargains is that if you have to take it to the shop, the initial bargain price plus cost of repairs exceeds the units value.

I would connect to an external phono stage to it as long as all other functions are working.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Kurt45 » 01 Jun 2017 13:50

One advantage of buying the external phono stage is that if/when the Rotel dies, you still have a nice phono stage you can use in your system.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Spinner45 » 01 Jun 2017 18:53

Paraneer wrote:I would not put anymore more money into this receiver. You already have $60 into it and there is a fully functioning unit selling for CAD 80.00 on Canuck Audio Mart. That's about 59 bucks US. Also there are many units selling in Europe (HiFi Shark) between 40-70 euros; again around $45-$78.

The problem with vintage bargains is that if you have to take it to the shop, the initial bargain price plus cost of repairs exceeds the units value.

I would connect to an external phono stage to it as long as all other functions are working.


I see the squabbling over repair prices and values, and wonder why people don't seem to realize that much of the older equipment has a build quality long gone in today's products.

So in my opinion, that 1970's solid design is worth "bringing back" if only because it lasted for years in comparison of what's out there today.
If such a product were to be made today, the price would be enormous due to inflation.
So a few hundred isn't a big dealbreaker for something with the enduring quality already built in.
This "it's only worth $20 or so" type of thinking gives me the impression that people seem to think that vintage products are junk, which isn't true for the most part, and emphasizes the "throw away" mentality bred into current society.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Gelid » 01 Jun 2017 21:22

Right. Thanks for the responses.

I think I will have it fixed.

I really like this green-eyed lady, and I'd hate to see her less than what she used to be.
Some here have stated they have an affinity for these smaller receivers. I think I am one of them.

I know I won't be disappointed, and I have spent way more on lesser things, so I'll take it in tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of my latest acquisition: a KLH Model Twenty-Seven.

That'll be another thread, though...
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Paraneer » 02 Jun 2017 01:42

Spinner45 wrote:So in my opinion, that 1970's solid design is worth "bringing back" if only because it lasted for years in comparison of what's out there today.
If such a product were to be made today, the price would be enormous due to inflation.
So a few hundred isn't a big dealbreaker for something with the enduring quality already built in.
This "it's only worth $20 or so" type of thinking gives me the impression that people seem to think that vintage products are junk, which isn't true for the most part, and emphasizes the "throw away" mentality bred into current society.


First friend, I am not slamming vintage at all. I have some myself if you look at my signature and have had many of the silver faced beauties from the 70's that I bought back then new in a box.

But numbers don't lie and I don't see a good ROI here. If the OP can fix it himself great, but to sink a few hundred as you suggest into a piece that probably
didn't even cost that much new, IMO is not a good use of hard earned cash.

You seem to be one that thinks all modern gear is no longer made to the same quality specs that gear was made to in the 70's. If your looking at mass market HT gear that may be true. But Marantz is still making high quality integrateds in Japan at prices no higher than what they cost back in the day - adjusted for inflation of course. You just need to know what's out there and of course, todays sound quality of modern HiFi gear is much better too. I know as I have had many HiFi systems since I started in the hobby in the 70's.

But to each his own. I hope the OP can get it repaired at a reasonable price. But as Kurt45 points out, an external phono stage is portable and can be used with another system when the Rotel eventually dies.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby audiopile » 02 Jun 2017 04:25

It's also worth mentioning that as the years went on - Rotel went from essentially a nice but not much special electronics line to good value for the money to better n average built and sounding to more expensive and sounding like it. I am particularly impressed with a number of their CD players over the last 20 years or so. But this particular receiver isn't anything particularly special - I'd stop now - hook a ART DJ Pre II up to it for phono and figure at some later date you might just upgrade to something better. Rotel is sorta the reverse of some other lines - they definitely improved as they went along - we can probably all point out a fair number of lines that went the other direction - older classic well made stuff - eventually replaced by newer junk with a once great name on it.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Spinner45 » 02 Jun 2017 04:59

audiopile wrote:It's also worth mentioning that as the years went on - Rotel went from essentially a nice but not much special electronics line to good value for the money to better n average built and sounding to more expensive and sounding like it. I am particularly impressed with a number of their CD players over the last 20 years or so. But this particular receiver isn't anything particularly special - I'd stop now - hook a ART DJ Pre II up to it for phono and figure at some later date you might just upgrade to something better. Rotel is sorta the reverse of some other lines - they definitely improved as they went along - we can probably all point out a fair number of lines that went the other direction - older classic well made stuff - eventually replaced by newer junk with a once great name on it.


A friend of mine owns a Rotel RSX-1067, a top line (very expensive) HT unit.
Has had it serviced multiple times so far for various problems.
One problem was the use of adhesive to anchor electrolytics and other parts in place - which eventually turned conductive, causing chain reaction failures among components.
It's been nothing but a major headache for the owner.
This unit was built around 2008, in a time far past the knowledge of certain adhesives becoming conductive.
Why didn't Rotel investigate, have knowledge, or research the chemical composition of said glue problems?
I'm sure by then the word was out, and to build a so-called quality piece of equipment using trouble prone glue is not very smart engineering.

So no, I don't agree that Rotel "got better" in comparison to their vintage products, when engineering flaws like that cost the consumer more money.
As I recall, the costs SO FAR to repair the Rotel RSX-1067 are around $500, with a potential to climb.
That lowly RX-202 surely doesn't have that nasty glue, and won't be as expensive to repair, yet will still produce enjoyment long after my friend tosses his unit in a dumpster out of frustration.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby audiopile » 02 Jun 2017 05:16

The used prices of Rotel HT receivers seem to reflect your friend's experience.It's been a couple of decades since I made my living fixing audio gear - never ran into a conductive hot glue problem - but this would have to rate up there with 50 high end pre-amps that were junked when somebody realized a genius had managed to introduce acid core solder into the wave soldering rig they had been dipped into ?
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Spinner45 » 02 Jun 2017 07:46

audiopile wrote:The used prices of Rotel HT receivers seem to reflect your friend's experience.It's been a couple of decades since I made my living fixing audio gear - never ran into a conductive hot glue problem - but this would have to rate up there with 50 high end pre-amps that were junked when somebody realized a genius had managed to introduce acid core solder into the wave soldering rig they had been dipped into ?


Oh yes, the conductive glue is well a well known problem for decades now.
Not "hot glue" as you mentioned, but an adhesive glue - sometimes found anchoring the bases of heavy electrolytics on PC boards.
New and fresh, it's a white or yellowish/tan color
Over time, it turns brown or black, becoming in actuality a "resistor" on the board, and anything it's in contact with is "connected" electrically.
Bridged IC pins, resistor leads, anything it touches is prone to failure.
Mitsubishi TV's were loaded with the stuff back in the 1980's.
It's almost like a purposly done thing by manufacturers to create "planned obsolescence" down the road...long after warranty runs out.. a ticking time bomb designed for the consumer to shell out money for another set.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Tinkaroo » 02 Jun 2017 10:05

Rotel RX-600A Front.jpg


I have a Rotel RX-600A as pictured. It is from the previous generation of Rotel models just before yours.

I think your RX-202 would be worth fixing within reason.

It is up to each of us as individuals to figure out what within reason means. To me it would be in comparison to what a similar replacement in working condition would be worth. That similar item replacement worth is something that the marketplace decides, but if one shops around you can often find better deals.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Schtick » 02 Jun 2017 10:31

What something is worth is either an economic or a philosophic question. Myself I recently spent thirteen times what I had paid for it to get an old Technics receiver up´n running. and I´m very happy with that.
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Tinkaroo » 02 Jun 2017 10:57

What something is worth is either an economic or a philosophic question. Myself I recently spent thirteen times what I had paid for it to get an old Technics receiver up´n running. and I´m very happy with that.


Yes, but you also got it for a song too! :wink:

A year ago I spent what I considered a reasonable but fairly high price for a fully restored Pioneer SX-939, but now I see people spending twice what I did for the same thing. All things are relative.

The bottom line is what is something worth to us and sometimes sentimentality creeps into the equation as to what is attractive and desirable or not. One persons idea of beauty is someone else's fugly! :lol:
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Re: Rotel Phono Stage Worth Fixing?

Postby Gelid » 02 Jun 2017 12:48

audiopile wrote:...I'd stop now - hook a ART DJ Pre II up to it for phono and figure at some later date you might just upgrade to something better.


Thanks for the insight. The Rotel isn't my only receiver... I have a Pioneer SX-850 as my "daily driver". I'd be nice to have this small receiver for the living room, as Lovey isn't as put off with the size compared to the Pioneer.
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