Product Review

Rotel RLC-1080 AC Line Conditioner and UPS

Part I

September, 2006

Kevin Lichterman



● Input-Voltage: 90 V - 144 V
● Output Voltage: 120 V
● Input Frequency: 47 Hz - 63 Hz
● Power Output: 900 Watts
● 12 Outlets
● Battery Backup for About 20 Minutes of Power
● Dimensions: 5.25" H x 17" W x 10.1" D
● Weight: 57 Pounds
● MSRP: $1,599 USA; Additional Battery Backup
    RBB-1080 is $699 USA



As the home theater market evolves, more and more influences can be seen between it and the computer industry. In fact, if some of the latest components are disassembled, a purpose-built PC is discovered.

This influence between the two industries extends to the peripherals offered. In this case, a computer mainstay, an uninterruptible power supply or UPS, has worked its way into the home theater equipment rack. For the uninitiated, a UPS is a device that uses a battery to generate AC power if the power from a wall outlet is removed.

Rotel, a 45 year old manufacturer of high quality audio components, has combined a UPS along with the power conditioning features in demand in the home theater market. Working with one of the main players in the UPS arena, APC (American Power Conversion), Rotel is offering the RLC-1080 power conditioner with built-in battery backup (making it officially an UPS). The advantage of this design is that you can manually power down all your components, such as projectors that need a fan to cool the bulb.

The RLC-1080 offers a number of features including power regulation and power conditioning, all configurable via a built-in user interface. However, it is the UPS feature that makes the RLC-1080 unique among power conditioners for the home theater market.

Why a UPS?

So why invest in a UPS for your home theater? Other than the evil little joy you may experience while watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster while your neighbors stumble around in the dark, there are practical benefits as well.

Greatest among these benefits would be the protection provided for those high-cost lamps in many new LCD and DLP-based video projectors. To ensure the greatest longevity, the lamps in these sets must be slowly fan-cooled as part of their shutdown process. In a power outage, instead of a bulb-killing abrupt shutdown, with a UPS in place, you'll have the opportunity to shut the projectors off gracefully potentially saving some $'s in the process.

While the protection offered to projector lamps is very practical, other benefits of a UPS can be considered more conveniences. For example, in a power outage, a UPS can potentially preserve the programmed memory settings of your gear saving you the hassle of re-programming things. Also, if a DVR is scheduled to record, having a UPS in place can help make sure you won't miss an episode of your favorite sitcom.

In the Box

I must say I was impressed when I opened up the box that contained the RLC-1080. Well, at least I was impressed after I managed to lug this monster to my rack it weighs 67 pounds!

As you can see in the photo of the package contents, the RLC includes an impressive array of accessories. The cabling required to hook up the unit is included along with a very beefy power cord. Also, a first that I've seen, the hardware required to rack mount the unit is included.


Since Rotel provides a well written 14 page manual describing the RLC-1080's features and set-up, I'll just gloss over the highlights. A LCD display on the front panel of the unit is used to configure the system and report status. Highlighted configuration settings include: voltage tip points for switching to battery backup, sensitivity to the voltage variations, outlet startup delay, and dimmer. The Rotel monitors and reports the status of the power input and output (both input voltage and frequency), building wiring condition, system power load, and battery runtime.

Twelve electrical outlets are provided by Rotel to connect your system. These outlets are broken down by the type of filtering provided (i.e., digital filter, video filter, etc.). Rotel recommends that you connect components to the appropriate sub-category to optimize performance. I followed these recommendations when I configured my system. There are also two banks of two outlets that can be configured to start up at a preset delay from the time system power is applied.

The RLC-1080 protects your accessories as well. Three sets of RF jacks dedicated to cable, antenna, and satellite connection are provided. An RJ-45 Ethernet and a RJ-11 telephone jack are provided too. The cable and telephone jacks each have their own internal splitter, a nice touch that can clean up your cabling.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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