ROTEL Michi P5/S5

MJ01.07.2020

Power amplifiers

The design of the Michi kombo is in a ´Fifty shades of Black´ style and perfectly fits within the contemporary industrial design. The metal and glass elements are precisely matched as if a BMW and Samsung team was behind the creation of the P5/S5. In the course of the review I never stopped being mesmerized by the ‘Amoled’ display of the S5 that marks a triumphant return of peak-hold segment meters of the golden era of tape decks. It is a smart step up from the ubiquitous analog VU meters. In my view the Michi combo is one of the best looking piece of electronics available. I wish I had it at home and had myself hypnotized by it.

Function and form

100%
Ease of use
69%
Sound
100%
Appearance

The S5 power output is rated as 800 watts into 4 ohms (500 watts into 8 ohms) for each channel, when both channels are operating together at full power.

The master power switch can be found at the rear panel of the power amplifier, the front button is a stand-by switch. The Michi S5 provides RCA and XLR inputs, the preferred one has to be selected by another switch at the rear of the unit.

Through the main display the user can set up network connections, brightness of the LED controls and the display (that can be switched off completely if needed). The wonderful display of the S5 can be configured for either VU mode that mimics the aforementioned peak-hold segment displays, or for Spectrum Analyzer mode. I find both to be extremely useful as they are precisely calibrated, which I tested with Sheffield Labs´ measurement CD.

The Michi P5 control amplifier can be connected to virtually anything imaginable. There are 2 pairs of balanced XLR inputs, 4 pairs of RCA single-ended inputs, 3 Toslink and 3 S/PDIF coaxial inputs, a USB-A input, and an RCA phono input MM/MC. The output options include RCA and XLR, two (!) outputs for subwoofer, and even a Digital Out on both Toslink and S/PDIF. The Michi P5´s DAC employs dual AKM chips for PCM/DSD up to 32 bit/384kHz. MQA is supported too. One remarkable feature is a built-in Bluetooth receiver so the user can send a wireless signal directly from a smartphone or a tablet.

The display of the preamplifier shows the temperature inside the power amp. In the stand-by mode it read stable 37°C; after 20 minutes of hyper-loud playing it went up by two degrees to 39°C, however I did not manage to drive it further up. And the dual low-noise fans that can be found at the rear panel of the S5 never triggered. That makes me believe that the user should not be worried about the thermal conditions of the amplifier under normal circumstances. Still, Rotel employs a circuit watches over the temperature and temporarily disconnects the amplifier should any overheating occur.

The remote control wand is a heavy piece of aluminum, black in black style again. It fits perfectly in hand and has very intuitive buttons. Actually both Michi devices radiate Japanese obsession with ergonomics and manufacturing precision that is so difficult to match by Western producers.

Bass management

Weight
89
Slam
82
Articulation
78

Barbara Dennerlein and Black and White (Best of Blues: Through The Years) is a fabulous check point for low-end capabilities of any woofer, no matter its size. It does so through a less usual instrument: a Hammond organ. Barbara did not take any prisoners and with the 5-minute bass transient crossfire she made the woofers of Bowers & Wilkins 802 D3 dance. The Rotel Michi’s bass is at the drier side of spectrum which will not satisfy orthodox tube sound lovers. On the other hand the Rotel’s control over bass makes the bass lines perfectly legible, no matter if you listen to a solo instrument or to the overlay of the Hammond and a bass in the Black and White track.

Black Sabbath’s 13 album was as crushing through the Michis as through any well voiced PA system. The resonant bass was deep and penetrating and I could feel it in my belly. Such a feeling is essential to savor the music like this and it reminded me of the times 30 years ago when we listened to such music with joy and felt it by our bodies, rather than through acoustic microscopes. Rotel Michi can do that effectively for you. Thus I preferred rock numbers through Michis over string quartets that I found less textured and colourful than I am used to. Replacing the chamber music with David Bowie’s Hello Spaceboy and here you go – the sound filled the room and the experience was massive.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
89
Air
85
Transparency
78

Qntal V (The Whyle, Silver Swan) was presented with smooth and decent sound that reflected Japanese listening philosophy. I would expect better macrodynamics and higher resolving power from the Michi but I understand that what heard was the result of making deliberate choices. Here the choice of having slightly forgiving electronics had won. The top octave exhibited an even roll-off that slightly rounded the edges of the hot masters that are so abundant today. Then the benefit is straightforward - you can listen to anything you want, any long you want, without pain in your ears.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
78
Dynamics
77
Temporal resolution
77

An example of the ‘anything’: The original CD edition of Chris Rea’s Auberge is hotter than it should be at the top. This leads, in connection with most ‘resolving’ audiophile amplifiers, to agile sound that becomes uncomfortable after a while. The Michi made the clings and clangs softer and the balance of the Auberge morphed into something that reminded me of the recent Auberge remaster that is fuller and easier on ears. Dtto for Electron Bonfire track from Tangerine Dream’s Quantum Gate album. It is clearly overproduced electronic music with sharp edges and compressed sound which is as natural as Kim Kardashian; yet it was very digestible through the Rotel Michi P5/S5 combo so I could savor it without any pain in my ears.

Spatial resolution

Holography
92
Soundstage width
92
Soundstage depth
92

The concert Dead Can Dance’s Toward The Within masterpiece features an intensive dialogue of Chinese yangqin hammered dulcimer and table. The Rotel Michi P5/S5 surprised me with very accurate imaging, I would say pin point imaging it was. I could almost see flying sticks hammering the strings, and the magic happened also in the vertical dimension – Brendan Perry voice was clearly higher in space than the yangqin and table were clearly below the instrument. At the moments when no one was playing I could easily navigate in the soundstage with the help of rustles and other ambient noises, which gave me great spatial experience.

It will be easy to live with the Rotel Michi P5 preamplifier and the S5 power amplifier. They look gorgeous, play big, and provide abundant connectivity. The new Michis are a spectacular return.

Price as reviewed:159 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

EP Audio, Praha, tel. +420 323 605 088

Jasyko, Brno, +420 541 210 108

Associated components

  • Sources: Denon DCD-1600NE jako digitální transport, the integrated DAC in the Michi P5
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: InAkustik Referenz LS-1603, Referenz NF-2404 Pure Silver
  • Loudspeakers: Bowers & Wilkins 802 D3
  • Power conditioning: InAkustik AC-1502-P6 power distributor, InAkustik Referenz AC-1502

Gallery

ACCUPHASE A-65

The A-65 has a better bottom-end control and though it does not equal to the solidness of, let's say, Bryston or Plinius, the improvement has moved the new amp in the right direction. Overall, the Accuphase A-65 is more refined, ...

Recommended resellers

Nisel SK, Bratislava, tel. +421 905 203 078

Sound
79%

ASR Emitter II Exclusive Blue

When mankind is eliminated by a gigantic volcano eruption, a tsunami or Godzilla, most parts of the Emitter will remain to exist as this amplifier is dustproof, waterproof and heatproof. The ASR's catalogue is far from complicated - ...

Recommended resellers

Audiostudio s.r.o., Olomouc, tel. +420 608 752 475

Sound
68%

AUDIOLAB 8300MB

Bass is essential. Music is no fun without good fundaments, unless one prefers listening to flute recitals only. In a recording studio the bass, that is the drums and the bass guitar, are the first thing that has to be gotten right ...

Recommended resellers

Horn Distribution, Praha, +420 272 656 485

Sound
58%

AUDIOMAT Féstival

Philosophically speaking, how it is possible that the Audiomat listeners say that the voice of Frank Sinatra in Nice & Easy is perfectly realistic, undistorted and tonally correct? None of them have ever had a chance to hear ...

Recommended resellers

Interaudio SK, Komárno, tel. +421 905 884 677

Sound
78%

BEL CANTO M300 monoblocks

It was as if the recording venue had new air filters installed and an extra dose of oxygen was pumped in during a performance – the sense of vertigo was very strong and I did not want to return back to the ´dusty´sound of everything ...

Recommended resellers

Hanzel Audio, Komárno, tel. +421 905 400 770

Sound
64%

BLOCK AUDIO Mono, Power a Line

Searching the archives of Audiodrom brings up the recollections of several  powerful and well designed power amplifiers - to move around the  monuments like the Bryston 28B-SST2, the Musical Fidelity Titan or the Accuphase A-200 ...

Recommended resellers

Blockaudio s.r.o., Olomouc, tel. +420 604 514 282

Sound
95%

BRYSTON 28B-SST2

In Bryston they have managed to refine their amplifiers to the degree that can be considered a state-of-the-art for solid-state amplification. I mentioned that lesser amps of Bryston are all bargains and for reasonable money one gets ...

Recommended resellers

Hifi Store, Praha

Sound
82%
Back to category