The Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier delivers 2 x 80 watts (8 ohms) and connects to the network for streaming, web radio, access to music shared on the local network and multiroom playback. Its range of connectors include analog and digital inputs, including an MM phono input and two USB ports (playback from a USB key or hard drive). Sold for €1900, the Roksan Attessa BluOS is marketed by the manufacturer as a user-friendly high fidelity amplifier. But is it really the case?
Roksan: the brand
Roksan was founded in 1985 by Tufan Hashemi and Touraj Moghaddam, graduates of the University of London, Imperial College of London and Queen Mary College. The name Roksan is derived from the name of Roxana, daughter of Persian King Darius. This closely reflects the Persian heritage and the roots of Hashemi and Moghaddam. In addition, many Roksan devices are named after Persian cities and places or Persian historical figures.
The Xerxes turntable, named after the famous Persian king, was the first production to come out of the Roksan workshops in 1985. This belt-driven turntable without a suspended sub-chassis defied conventional design and won over many hi-fi critics with its high-quality construction and sound. This combination of innovation, audio quality and reliability remains part of the brand’s DNA to this day.
The brand then released a string of successful products including the Darius bookshelf speakers (1986), the Radius turntable (1990), the ROK DP1 CD player (1991) and the CD-DAC-separate power supply combination called Attessa CD Playing System (1992), Roksan quickly established itself as one of the best manufacturers of hi-fi components on the British and then international market.
Among Roksan’s greatest successes, we can mention the Kandy electronics (amps, CD players, FM tuners, power amps, etc.) which have been developed in several versions since the end of the 90s, culminating in the Roksan Kandy K3 range released in 2014. The updated versions of these electronics are still part of the manufacturer’s catalog, including the Roksan Kandy K3 INT v2 , the Roksan K3 power amplifier and the Roksan K3 CD DI CD player.
In November 2016, Roksan was taken over by Monitor Audio, but continued to develop its ranges and offer new innovative and still attractive devices, including power amps , stereo hi-fi amplifiers , CD players , turntables as well as digital sources .
In 2021, the Attessa returned to center stage in the form of a range comprising the Roksan Attessa turntable , the Roksan Attessa CD player, the Roksan Attessa stereo amplifier and the Roksan Attessa WiFi/Bluetooth BluOS amplifier which we are reviewing today.
Roksan Attessa BluOS: packaging & accessories
The Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier comes in very neat packaging with particular attention paid to its protection as well as that of its various accessories. The thick and dense foam that surrounds it eliminates any risk of shock during transport. In addition to the Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier, the box contains two power cables (GB and Europe), a user manual, an infrared remote control with batteries and a USB WiFi module with a sixty centimeter USB extension cable.
Roksan Attessa BluOS: Overview
Entirely developed in-house in the UK and assembled in China, the Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier combines high-end BluOS streaming technology with high end audio performance and a really well done minimalist industrial design. The British manufacturer markets with this amplifier as user-friendly, state-of-the-art hi-fi system.
The Roksan Attessa BluOS is a beautiful device boasting a thin and refined facade enhanced by its orange lighting. It exudes solidity and won us over instantly with its build quality. The assembly is particularly neat, the materials are of very good quality.
The brushed aluminum front of the Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier goes for a minimalist design and houses an imposing volume knob in the central position. It is framed by a display bar with orange characters on a black background which gives it a vintage look. The left part of the graphic interface indicates the source being used by a pictogram while the right part shows the sound volume in small vertical bars. The volume bar is made of twenty steps, each one lights up or goes out half then completely as you turn the sound up or down, thus offering forty volume gradations in total.
The central volume knob can be used to adjust the sound volume and selects the source. You have to hold it down slightly then turn it to the right or to the left to scroll through the different sources. Each source change is then confirmed by a slight vibration thanks to the haptic feedback of the potentiometer.
On the far left of the faceplate are the receiver’s on/standby button and three playback control buttons (previous track, play/pause, next track) which can be used for Bluetooth sources and streaming. This is a fairly rare function for connected amps, which is however offer found on the Bluesound Powernode amps, which are BluOS compatible.
The Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier also comes with a compact infrared remote control for controlling the main functions.
Power 2 x 80 watts
Designed to deliver energetic and transparent sound, the Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier is capable of efficiently driving a pair of bookshelf speakers or a pair of floorstanding speakers . For this, it incorporates a powerful power transformer with a capacity of 400 VA. This large amount of current allows it to respond to the slightest dynamic variations in the music and to keep woofers under control.
This power supply also provides each component of the Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier with a clean and stable current, to guarantee optimal operation, guaranteeing precise delivery without interference. This solid power supply results in substantial weight of almost 10.5 kg, also attributable to the thick steel and aluminum frame which stabilizes the devices by effectively eliminating vibrations in addition to limiting external interference.
Thus equipped, the Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier is able to deliver 2 x 80 watts of power into 8 ohms or 2 x 130 watts into 4 ohms with great energy and constant control. It can therefore easily power the majority of floorstanding speakers and compact speakers on the market, including models with large-diameter speaker drivers.
Streaming and multi-room
The Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier can easily connect to the local network and the Internet, with an Ethernet cable or wirelessly via WiFi. In the latter case, you must connect the WiFi USB key provided to one of its two USB ports. The USB module is automatically detected and operational after a few dozen seconds. You can then connect the amplifier to the home WiFi network using the BluOS application which can be downloaded free of charge from the iOS and Android app stores. Once the amplifier has been detected by the application and connected to the local network, it can be renamed if desired.
When connected to the local network and the Internet, the Roksan Attessa BluOS receiver can access all the music shared on the local network, countless Internet radio stations and different online streaming services such as Qobuz, Spotify Connect , Deezer, Tidal, Amazon Music and many more.
The BluOS application is one of the most complete and pleasant app for controlling audio playback and managing your music. In addition to the standard playback functions (play/pause, next/previous track), it groups together and provides access in a single interface to locally stored music and online music streaming services. The only criticism we can come up with is the integration of the various streaming services offered, not always up to par with the original applications in terms of ergonomics and features. Accessing to Deezer Flow is thus relegated to the Deezer Radios section. Strange.
The BluOS application also allows you to connect the Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier to a compatible multiroom system. It is then possible to listen to music on all BluOS compatible devices in the house.
Finally, Apple device (iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac) users can use AirPlay 2 to listen to all their music directly from the dedicated applications, without going through the BluOS application. In the absence of Chromecast compatibility, Android users must go through BluOS or use Bluetooth.
If you don’t want to connect this receiver to the Internet and the local network, you can use its Bluetooth controller to listen to music wirelessly from a smartphone, tablet, computer or compatible music player. Any Bluetooth source can send music using the SBC and AAC codecs, while compatible devices can use the aptX codec for high bitrate streaming and improved sound quality. However, if you want to take full advantage of the musical qualities of this receiver, it is recommended to favor WiFi streaming via the BluOS application.
The connectors of the Roksan Attessa BluOS let you combine many analog and digital sources. All digital inputs (optical, coaxial, USB, network and Bluetooth) go through a Burr Brown DAC compatible with PCM streams up to 24-bit / 96kHz via the optical inputs and 24-bit / 192kHz from the coaxial, USB and network inputs. The coaxial inputs are also compatible with the MQA format when paired with the Roksan Attessa CD player.
On the other hand, if you have a collection of titles in DSD format, you will not be able to play them natively using this device’s digital inputs. You will have to convert them to DoP (DSD over PCM) and go through the BluOS application. Finally, if you plan to connect your TV to it, you will have to do it optically since this receiver does not have an HDMI port.
Line and phono inputs, headphone out
The analog connection of this Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier includes two RCA line inputs and a phono input. The can be used to connect turntable equipped with a moving magnet cartridge (MM). A stereo pre-amplified output also lets you connect a power amp or one or even two subwoofers.
Note that the amplifier also features a mini-jack headphone connector capable of driving hi-fi headphones or in-ear monitors with an impedance ranging between 16 ohms and 300 ohms. The Attessa was able to easily drive the Focal Elegia (35 ohms) and the Sennheiser HD540 Reference headphones (300 ohms), even if the volume had to be pushed past the 50% mark for the latter to unleash its potential.
Finally, a trigger input and output allow you to synchronize the amplifier with the connected sources when you switch it on or off.
Roksan Attessa BluOS: Key Specs
- Power 2 x 80W RMS (8Ω)
- Aluminum and metal frame
- 400 VA toroidal transformer
- 24-bit/192kHz DAC
- Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth aptX, AirPlay 2
- BluOS playback and control app
- Line and MM phono input
- Optical and coaxial inputs
- Headphone output
- Screw terminals compatible with banana plugs
Roksan Attessa BluOS: testing conditions
Placed on a pair of NorStone Stylum 3 speaker stands, these bookshelf speakers were connected to the amp with the QED XT40i speaker cable. We listened to online music services Qobuz (Studio subscription – FLAC Hi-Res playback up to 24-bit / 192kHz) and Deezer (HiFi subscription – FLAC playback 1411 kbps in CD quality) but also Hi-Res audio files stored on a computer and shared on the local network. The amp was wirelessly connected to the local network via the Netgear Orbi RBK852 WiFi router and repeater kit.
We also connected the optical output of the TCL 65C825 mini LED TV to one of the two optical inputs of the Roksan Attessa BluOS for to try movie sessions with stereo sound. The amplifier was connected to one of the direct sockets of the Taga Harmony PF2000 power strip while the TV was connected to one of the filtered sockets.
To access online streaming services and audio files shared on the local network, it is essential to go through the BluOS application. Once downloaded and launched on the smartphone, it automatically looks for compatible BluOS players. Once the Roksan Atessa BluOS detected by the app, we selected the WiFi network to connect to and gave a name to the amplifier. It then connected to the local network and checked for a possible software update, which was the case during this test.
Once this procedure is complete, the receiver’s network player section is operational and the application can be used to control all its functions, including source selection (physical inputs or online music services, web radios and music shared on the local network).
One of the advantages of the BluOS application is the vast number of online music services accessible, including some in high-resolution. Amazon Music, Deezer HiFi, Napster, Qobuz (Hi-Res), Spotify Connect and Tidal (MQA) are thus accessible. Internet radio services available include TuneIn Radio, iHeartRadio, Calm Radio, and Radio Paradise. Considering the many online music services and web radios available, you will most likely find all the music you’re looking for.
Roksan Attessa BluOS: listening impressions
With the Birdman soundtrack and the Random Access Memory album (Daft Punk) from Qobuz as on Bob Marley’s Exodus album via the local network, the lows were deep, impactful and very well maintained, which brought a good rythm to each track without ever interfere bleeding over the over frequency ranges. The highs were precise, without any harshness and the midrange opened up in a very natural way.
This amp also showed excellent ability to deliver music that fills the room, with great amplitude and precision. The sound stage was spacious, the instruments had room to breathe, there was space between them and they were well outlined. Overall, the reproduction was realistic, the timbres were right and the energy as there (powerful and tight lows).
When watching Guardians of the Galaxy on Disney+ and the series Arcane on Netflix, we apprecitated how the Roksan Attessa amplifier put its power reserve to good use to serve the soundtracks with great energy. The wide sound stage was ideal to fully enjoy of the stereo effects of the French animated series. We were totally immersed, with powerful impacts when necessary but also subtlety and nuances during the dialogues.
The only drawbacks that we were able to find during our various listening sessions were a slight audible buzzing with any source when putting our ear to the speakers without anything playing. Moreover, an audible “Pop” happened a few seconds after the amplifier has been switched on and put into standby.
Roksan Attessa BluOS: compared to…
Roksan Attessa BluOS Vs Cambridge EVO 75 (€1990)
The Cambridge EVO 75 hi-fi amplifier is more versatile than the Roksan thanks in particular to its HDMI ARC input, which is essential today on any self-respecting connected amplifier. It also offers Chromecast compatibility which, just like the competing AirPlay, makes it very easy to stream music wirelessly directly from any audio player app. Like the Roksan, the Cambridge has enough power to drive the majority of bookshelf and floorstanding speakers on the market (2×75 watts into 8 ohms). The icing on the cake: it features a color screen on the front. The Attessa differs from the EVO 75, however, in its impact and the very energetic aspect of its class A/B amplification, with the Hypex amplification modules of the Cambridge seeming a bit more laid back in comparison.
Roksan Attessa BluOS Vs Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 (€1999)
The Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 is not quite as powerful (2×60 watts), but it takes nothing away from its musicality or its ability to produce a holographic soundstage, an ability sublimated by the Room Perfect calibration which improves both realism, liveliness and serenity of listening. Slightly less impactful than the Roksan, the Lyngdorf is nonetheless one of our favorite connected amplifiers for its highly musical qualities. Even if the Roksan’s BluOS application is very pleasant, the AirPlay and Chromecast compatibility of the TDAI-1120 gives it the advantage in terms of ergonomics and ease of daily use.
Roksan Attessa BluOS: who is it for?
The Roksan Attessa BluOS amplifier is ideal for people looking for a connected model with a large amount of power on tap to drive all types of compact speakers and floorstanders, while preserving the energy and balance of the original recordings. It will delight music lovers looking for an amp offering many possibilities to access music thanks to its extensive connectivity and the many streaming services integrated into the BluOS application. It will also please with its esthetics, manufacturing quality and exemplary ease of use, with or without application.
Roksan Attessa BluOS: conclusion
With the Roksan Attessa, the British manufacturer delivers a very well made class AB amplifier which has a good amount of energy and serves the music with great vitality. It can effectively power the majority of compact and floorstanding speakers on the market, even those that can be easily driven. It can also be associated with speakers costing two to three times its price, or even more, without fear of limiting their performance. The soundstage is realistic (room, precision, layering, placement), the timbres are accurate and the solid power supply makes for powerful and tight lows.
Although the BluOS application is a success, we regret the absence of Chromecast compatibility which would make it completly exhaustive in terms of streaming services from Android, as AirPlay compatibility allows it from iOS on Apple devices. Too bad also that DSD files are not natively supported and that there is no HDMI ARC connector. Those for whom these functions are essential can turn to the non-connected version of the Roksan Atessa amplifier and add an audio network player that offers these options such as the Bluesound Node (2021) .
What we liked
- The design and build quality
- The amount of power
- The impact and depth of the bass
- The energy and overall balance
- BluOS app
- The many supported streaming services
We would have liked
- DSD support
- One HDMI ARC port
- Chromecast compatibility