That Was Then… Rotel RA820BX (1984)

The 1980s was a glorious time for inexpensive integrated amplifiers. Sales (and resulting profits) were huge, leaving manufacturers fighting tooth and nail for a bigger piece of the pie. The good news for buyers was an escalation in sonic power that hasn’t been repeated since. The RA820BX we have here, kindly loaned to us by Rotel UK, is an excellent example of the kind of product that was made at the time.

However, our story does not begin at all with Rotel. It starts with a small then London based company called New Acoustic Dimension, better known as NAD. In the late 1970s, NAD launched the now legendary 3020 integrated amplifier. This was a modest thing with basic functions and a rather thin construction. The amp was unusual in most respects, aside from being affordable and sounding great. How affordable? Looking back through Which hi-fi?’s records we find it sold for a modest £71 in 1979.

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