They came to Munich from all over the world just to turn a knob. That’s what I thought as I tried to get close enough to the new RA180 integrated amplifier from HiFi Rose for a decent photograph. I had to queue up myself to turn that wonderfully quirky volume knob, which turns the gears on the faceplate. Was it worth the wait?
If you haven’t heard of HiFi Rose, it’s a Korean company that focuses on media players such as the RS150 network streamer, which joined the $6,985 RA180 in a system that included the new Bowers & Wilkins 802 D4 loudspeakers. So while I appreciated getting a turn on that knob and giggling to myself, I also sat down and listen to the HiFi Rose gear perform. The good news? The looks will get you in the door, but the sound elevates these products about a mere lifestyle status.
The looks of the HiFi Rose RA180 are certainly memorable, but the list of features is what truly impressed me. The RA180 features their proprietary Class AD circuitry, which forges the same connection to Class D as Class AB has to class A. Much of this is due to a new material, Gan FET, that replaces the silicon FET in regular class D and results in less “dead time” and improved linearity. HiFi Rose claims this technology leads to a purer, more natural sound than other digital switching circuits.
In addition, the HiFi Rose RA180 integrated amplifier provides two AMP modules, one for the bass and one for the midrange and treble, which is good for 400 watts per channel. You also get a balanced power supply, a phono stage with variable EQ, volume and level meters, an active crossover, tone controls which can be bypassed, a subwoofer out and a speaker selector for two sets of speakers. In a way, the HiFi Rose RA140 operates like a classic receiver from the ’70s.
The sound of the HiFi Rose equipment with the 802 D4s was smooth and sublime and seemed to cut through the novelty of such a quirky design. Combined with the network streamer, the HiFi Rose system provided lots of performance in two fairly compact boxes, and if you buy one you’ll suddenly have people coming over, night and day, just to take a spin off that knob.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from HIGH END 2022, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.