Ken Ishiwata had a part in the design of these products before passing in November 2019. Rotel worked to complete the product to fulfill Ken’s original vision and now upgrading the original A11 and CD11 models. Ishiwata was widely admired in the hi-fi industry for his unique ability to identify the most ideal products for modification and take these products’ performance to new levels, often with a modest increase in price. Ken Ishiwata offered initial appraisal for the new specification with the Rotel engineering team, producing preliminary prototypes before having the final specifications approved by Rotel. Having approved the changes, Ken sadly passed away in November 2019, before the project could be completed. In his memory, Rotel worked to complete the product to fullfil Ken’s original vision.
The Rotel A11 Tribute integrated amplifier features specially selected improved components, chosen to offer higher performance throughout the signal path. In the Class AB amplifier stage 50 Watts per channel into 8 ohms), all 10 capacitors and two resistors in the signal path were changed. For the pre-amp stage, six capacitors were upgraded, representing over 50% of the components in the signal path. All six capacitors in the volume stage were also upgraded.
Custom damping materials were added to the A11’s mechanical chassis to reduce ringing and further isolate/insulate and dampen any vibrations within the product. The design uses a custom, in-house developed, oversized toroidal transformer and offers a Moving Magnet Phono Stage and Bluetooth wireless audio streaming with aptX and AAC, complemented with an internal Texas Instruments 24-bit/192kHz DAC. There are no digital input connectors (not even for the companion CD11 CD player which offers a coaxial digital output), just four RCA analog inputs and A-B speaker 5-way output binding posts.
The CD11 CD player received eight capacitor changes and one resistor change in the DAC stage, while in the power supply all nine capacitors were changed with improved components. A great deal of thought was given to the damping of internal vibrations with custom damping material added to the top cover to eliminate vibration and ringing, while further changes were made to the mechanical and electrical grounding of the CD player. The player uses a dedicated CD tray loading mechanism, and features again a Texas Instruments 24-bit 192kHz DAC to feed the analog output (RCA). There is also a digital output in coaxial.
"The A11 Tribute and the CD11 Tribute result is an increase in resolution and detail, while delivering a more musical presentation with both improved rhythm and timing," the company states in the announcement. The upgraded A11 Tribute and CD11 Tribute products are available now in both silver and black finishes through authorized Rotel dealers. Each unit displays a special badge in honor of the man whose total passion for music was the impetus that inspired their creation. The Rotel A11 Tribute Stereo Integrated Amplifier retails for $799 USD, while the CD11 Tribute CD Player sells for $599 USD.