Rotel RX-1603

Rotel RX-1603 Faceplate

This one is a monster! It’s the Rotel RX-1603 and is the biggest receiver they ever made. It earns its way into the Monster Receiver hall of fame by churning out 180 watts per channel into 8 ohms. It was made in Japan and would set you back a hefty $1100 when it hit the market in 1976. You would probably have to have someone help you get it to your car because it weighs in at a plump 73 pounds!

Rotel RX-1603 Left

It has a beautiful white/amber glow that emanates from the dial face, FM tuning meter and signal strength meter. I wouldn’t necessarily call the receiver aesthetically pleasing because it has somewhat of a robotic look to it and the alternating knobs and switches give it a mechanical Morse Code look.

Rotel RX-1603 Dial

The Rotel RX-1603 didn’t just perform at high levels it was also built with exacting standards. It featured top of the line Sanken 2SC1586 output transistors that were hand picked and hand tested. It has 22,000 x 80v power capacitors that are as big as beer cans as well as a specially designed toroidal transformer made just for the RX-1603.

Rotel RX-1603 Right

Another interesting feature of the RX-1603 is that it can be separated into two units, much like the Sansui G-33000, so that it will fit in more confined spaces. At 60cm wide, 18 cm high and 55 cm deep it won’t fit in most cabinets or shelf spaces. But, with the special RK-100 separation kit you can break down the unit into two pieces and stack them. It saves about 27 cm in depth. Of course, nowadays that kit is very hard to come by.

Rotel RX-1603 Inputs

Because the unit can be split into two pieces the designers located most of the inputs and outputs at an angle on top back of the receiver itself. The speaker outputs are located on the back of the amp section. There are outputs for three sets of speakers.

Rotel RX-1603 Back

While the Rotel name may not be as well know as Pioneer or Sansui it has held its own with regards to price. Both the Pioneer SX-1250 and the Rotel RX-1603 run about the same price when fully restored. So, if you want to veer a little bit away from the mainstream, and want monster receiver power, then the Rotel RX-1603 just might be the receiver for you.

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25 thoughts on “Rotel RX-1603

        1. Please let me know. I’m trying to find one my father used to have one sadly he passed away 2 years ago his got flooded. I’m trying to find another one. Thanks for your time can reach me at 3475135111.

  1. I have one also, mine is cosmetically beautiful, but, not working. Original owner. What are you asking?

  2. Right now i’m going to have it repaired. I have had it so long i can’t sell it yet. I also have the separation kit that i use for my entertainment center. That is a must. Like they say– It is a monster receiver.

  3. I have one in great condition and working as new. If i were to sell it I would ask way above the average price because it sounds so great, looks amazing and is built so well and uses components so high in quality it would cost a small fortune to design and build today. After all these were statements made during the hi fi war years, and what a statement it is!!

  4. You may want to ask a lot more than average price but good luck getting anymore, think about it, why would anyone want to give more for a underdog receiver when (for about the same amount of money) they can get a receiver similar or more power for less money with parts all over the net(ie marantz, pioneer, technics etc…)And are better looking! There is a reason sir that marantz, pioneer etc…Bring lots of money for their vintage equipment, and are still readily available, so please don’t think you have a gold mine!

  5. Thank you Peter for bringing that up. I had a gent offer me $6k for a Sansui G-22000. Well, people can ASK for anything they want. What the market will bear is another. I passed.
    For $2k (as there is one on eBay at this asking price as I write) there are a few receivers that I’d rather have and Rotel isn’t one of them. It would be maybe number seven or eight on my list and I wouldn’t pay $2k for it.

    1. Please let me know. I’m trying to find one my father used to have one sadly he passed away 2 years ago his got flooded. I’m trying to find another one. Thanks for your time can reach me at 3475135111.

  6. What a glorious monster this is/was! Really blistering, exciting, lively sound. Bought in the UK in the late 70’s for £350 (end of range sale). Fed with the sound via a modified STD deck with SME II imp, Sure V15 III, Technics headshell, record clamp etc. I mourn the day when it went wrong some 25 years later then was nicked (long story).

  7. Ive just had the pleasure of acquiring one along with a yamaha ca810. My buddy got converted to vintage gear and gave me the 810. I bought 2 rtia9’s from best buy and the 810 struggled to power them right. Enter the RX1603 and wow!! It takes command of the towers and moves those cones proper.
    I just want to say that come people associate these high watters as LOUD which they do but this being said they also move the speakers for incredible clarity and detail at lower volumes. Im not an audiophile but I have been impressed going to the shops and listening to systems where you close your eyes and swear the musicians are in the room with you.
    Im not into classical music but through this Rotel I have put on some FLAC recording and been moved by the realism they provide through this rotel/ polk combo.
    I firmly believe this receiver to be audiophile standard equipment . It’s truly an experience to hear everything in the audio recordings that I have missed before. Listening to Chicago transit authority in tracks where I hadnt head the stick on the snare rim, The bass cabinet distorting etc. The imagery is sublime. If you can get one of these units I strongly encourage it. You will not be disappointed…at least I sure ain’t.
    Don’t get it for loud, get it for detailed and crisp quality while listening. It will spoil you. Kudos for this site. I has given me the most detail about this rotel than any other site. Cheers!!

    1. Good Evening Mark,
      I owned a Rotel RX-1603 Receiver and sold it a few years ago. Wish I had not now. Looking for another one. And I happen to run across classic receivers and your post. Would you still have yours and if so what do you think would be a fair price? Thank you for your time Sir,

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