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on April 20, 2008
The livingroom in our new home just doesn't have a place for free-standing speakers due to the floorplan (very open to the rest of the house, with a fireplace in the front corner). This ruled out using my existing (high-end) theater speakers (large towers).

I went to the local big-box store, and the only set of in-wall speakers they had that I thought were worth buying were a set of Klipsch that came in at $600 per set. I almost went for them, but after measuring I found they were about 2" too wide for where I needed to install one of them. The $300 Infinity set sounded horrible. They didn't sell Polk Audio or Boston Acoustic, which was actually what I wanted to look at.

So ... I figured at $140 from Amazon, the RC65i's were worth a shot. I'm glad I did - price vs. performance these are an excellent set of speakers. Decent dynamic range, and actually a surprising amount of bass if you don't have a subwoofer (though I recommend having one - you can only get so much out of a 6" speaker).

Now ... are these "amazing" speakers? Well ... no. They do not compare to my aforementioned towers. Those towers were also $900 a piece. They also are not nearly as good as the $600 Klipsch in-walls I looked at. If you think you're going to get amazing clarity and dynamic range for $70 a speaker ... you're going to be disappointed.

What these are is a great everyday speaker that will sound decent to most people under most conditions. They are a *slight* bit muddy, but not for the price range. That's the thing you really have to do is compare them to other speakers you could buy for so little money. And even some that cost a little more - the Infinity set I listened to at the big-box store was twice the price and didn't sound any better.

It also helps if you have a good receiver that lets you control the dynamic range being sent to your speakers. I have a high-end Yamaha that allows me to cut the low frequencies out of the main channel and only send them to the sub (12" powered down-fire). Doing this, you get rid of most of the "muddy" issues.

Summary: Can't beat them if this is how much money you want to spend. Period. I liked them so much for my application that I ordered a set of rc55i (the smaller ones) and installed them for the back surround channel. When I finish the basement I'm thinking of getting some of these (rc65i) to use for the back-channel.
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on January 3, 2011
I'm an Audio Engineer by trade. I purchased 4 sets of these because Amazon was throwing in the 8" subwoofer and I couldn't be more pleased. I created a 7.1 environment. One speaker didn't get used but whatever. I paid under $600 for the entire setup with shipping n' all that. Forget paying the $300+ for a center speaker. IF you have all of the same, then the timber of the should should be even. When I score films, I use the same speaker types for the 5.1, 6.1, 7.1.

Installation:

The installation was a walk in the park! I had to cut into a wall stud to make the center speaker fit but that was the hardest and most time consuming part. Installing them in the dry wall took all of a few minutes for the 3 speakers (L/R/C).

I do recommend getting some insulation and putting that in first before you install your speakers. It dramatically increases the performance and sound. The wall I was installing them in didn't have any so I went up in the attic and cut out some small pieces from a part of my ceiling. IT worked like charm. :-)

Once those were done we cut into the ceiling and started installing them there. Those were a little tricky because in some parts I had Drywall and in another I had some form of concrete or something like that. It had wires n' all that. After we broke through it (extremely messy) the installation of those speaker went just as smooth as the others. Just had to patch and paint a little but it wasn't too much of a pain.

Running the wires weren't too much of a pain. There was a closet on the other side so I just drilled a hole and ran the speaker wires into the closet. THEN I drilled another larger whole over by the receiver and ran all of the wires through that. I have an attic so when I ran the wires from the ceiling ones, I drilled another whole in the closet (top) and dropped all of the wires down form there and then into the larger hole by the receiver.

Eventually I'm going to use wall plates but I didn't have them and I was too excited!

I recommend getting 200 feet of speaker wire. Be liberal with it because more wire is better than less wire.

These speakers have tweeters that can be angled. I recommend you angle them to your listening position.

Sound:

Once I turned on the receiver I said "oh... I guess it sounds ok". Then I started to justify it... "I only paid $500 for it so I get what I pay for...". DON'T GO DOWN THAT STREET! I started to play with the receiver (Sony) and I started tweaking the levels: FLAT EQ and adjust volume settings according to your room.

FOR THE RECORD, LOUD BASS doesn't mean your system is good. You want to have an even sound. The bass will stand out but too much bass can really mess up the listening experience.

Anywhoo, after making the adjustments I realized that I was watching my regular cable 1080i on an OLD movie that didn't really have too much 5.1 let alone 7.1, SO I did some tests:

** Avatar: 4 of 5 - I liked it a lot but it didn't have enough for me.
The speakers performed very well. I had it about a quarter of the way up in total volume. No issues...

** G.I. Joe: 4 of 5... Explosions, lasers, sword fighting the works!
I was starting to get hooked on the speakers! I had this one turned up about half way because I wanted to hear all the crazy stuff that goes on in the fighting scenes. Speakers performed very well

** Star Trek: 5 of 5... They did a WONDERFUL job on this.
In this movie I cranked the speakers up about half way as well. It was "loud" but no fatigue or signs of distortion.

** 2010: 5 0f 5... This movie had so much CGI and destruction I just had to try it.
This was cranked up about 3 quarters of the way up. It was LOUD but you can REALLY HEAR EVERY SPEAKER in the 7.1 playing something different. AWESOME TEST! The speakers held in there and at that point I was satisfied completely satisfied with my purchase.

Conclusion:

The 7.1 (Polk RC65i and the 8" sub) is a WONDERFUL combination. I'm very pleased with the performance and sound. I would recommend this particular configuration to anyone looking. You will not be disappointed.

Make sure you get the right receiver that puts out the right amount of wattage. I have a Sony STR-DH810. It puts out enough power to do these speakers justice. Onkyo makes some good ones as well. If you under power these speakers you WILL lose out on sound. GET A GOOD RECEIVER WITH THE RIGHT POWER.

If your room is larger and you decide to get the 8" version of these speakers, get a larger sub like a 12". The others will go deep enough to capture most of what your looking for and you can tweak the larger subs crossover and have it push out the REALLY low frequencies.

I hope this helps anyone out there looking!
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on December 26, 2007
Super easy to put in and fantastic sound. Followed everyone's advice and stuffed the cavity with insulation....taped the wall with Scotch blue painters tape..and scored the paper of the drywall with a razor before cutting with a small drywall saw!
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on December 26, 2007
I purchased a pair of these in-walls for a pool table/game room area I am building in the basement. My receiver is an Onkyo 805 7.1 home theater system and these will serve as stereo/audio part for only that room. I have never owned Polks or in wall speakers for that matter and listened to them at the big box store before purchasing these through Amazon. I was really impressed at the audio quality. I also didn't want floor standing speakers, but didn't want to sacrifice audio quality either so these speakers filled the bill.
No back boxes are necessary, the speaker is designed as an "infinite
baffle" type and only requires that the front and rear moving sound wave
are isolated from each other. Polk recommends to maximize the sound quality, you place a modest amount of a sound absorbing material, such as Polyfil (a synthetic cotton-like material found at craft/fabric stores) inside the cavity before installing the speakers. Supposedly, this will absorb the rear moving sound wave and reduce mid range coloration. I think insulation also works just as well. I haven't done this yet and they still sound excellent!
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on May 10, 2011
Sound quality: After plenty of research on "affordable" in-wall and wall-mounted speakers for use in a home theatre, I settled on the Polk RC85i without hearing them. Amazon's customer reviews were a big factor. At first I bought just a pair from Amazon to make sure I liked them. I installed them into my drywall and wired them to channel "B" of my receiver with "A" powering my much more expensive floor-standing tower speakers. Toggling between A and B I could hear a dramatic difference with the RC85i's covering the frequency range better than the pricey towers and providing exceptional stereo imagery. I had friends and family close their eyes and tell me which they preferred and unanimously they chose the RC85i's (and were unanimously surprised -- Seems most people expect large, prominent speakers to sound better than nearly hidden in-wall speakers). I have now purchased 5 pair total, using 2 pair for front mains (gets me to 200 watts RMS per channel), 2 pair for side surrounds (1 pair for each row in the home theatre), and 1 pair for rear surrounds. At Amazon's price, which was always the lowest anywhere, I have completed my home theatre at a fraction of what I expected for sound this good. Of course one should not expect these to handle the lowest of the low end, and when paired with my subwoofer it's perfect to my ears, but with the subwoofer off they are still impressive for their size.

Installation: Instructions are simple and easy to follow. If you can cut a hole in your wall to the necessary dimensions and feed a wire, anyone can install these speakers tightly with no air leaks or rattling. My installation was in new walls and I used Polk's "pre-construction" brackets. I can see their merits if you have a professional sound company doing the precision speaker locating and an everyday drywall company coming in later -- The pre-construction brackets will force the drywallers to cut the hole where it's needed. But for do-it-yourselfers, the brackets are a waste of money and time.

Appearance: If you had matching paint, they would be almost unnoticeable. Very little protrudes from the wall surface -- I'd say 1/4 inch. Their grilles conceal the speakers for the most part making them look inconsequential. And isn't that the reason for in-wall speakers?

I'm seriously considering getting more for elsewhere in the house now.

*** Update July, 2013 ***
I've used these regularly for 2 years including plenty of very loud music and movies. They have never once distorted and still sound as good as when they were new at any listening level. My two pair for mains (therefore 200 watts per channel) are perfectly clean all the way up to where it becomes uncomfortably loud, so I have never reached their limit. And when watching 5.1 movies, even the loudest transient sound effect is crystal clear and undistorted. I'm still completely impressed.
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on August 30, 2011
After reading other reviews, I bought a pair of these speakers from Amazon for the ceiling of my screened porch (pre-wired). I first checked with Polk to make sure that they could be installed outdoors in a ceiling. I just finished the installation. I think I will be happy with them. They seem to be a good value for the price. As other reviewers have stated, they are not top-end speakers, but are plenty good for certain applications.

The installation instructions are very straightforward. The speakers are designed to install easily, but A WORD OF CAUTION TO WOULD-BE INSTALLERS: the width of the cut-out template provided with my pair was exactly the same width as the frame that needs to go through the hole. Unfortunately for me, I did not discover this until I had cut my holes (in the plywood ceiling) and cleaned up the mess. I'm an old carpenter, and I can cut precisely on a line (which I did). Despite that, the speakers could not be installed until I got my saber saw out again and took another 1/4" off one side. This probably wouldn't be a big deal if installing in drywall. But it was a bit of a hassle working with plywood overhead. I suggest checking the template width against the back side of the actual speaker frame to make sure there is enough clearance to actually install the speaker in the hole. Also, others have commented about how easy it is to break the plastic mounting brackets - especially if using a power screwdriver or drill. I can testify to that. Just the slightest tightening past finger-tight cracked one of mine, and I had to super glue it back together. Other than those two problems, the installation was quite simple. I expect to be enjoying these speakers for years.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon December 3, 2012
I was really impressed with how easy these were to install. The user's guide clearly walked me through the process even though these were the first in-wall speakers I've installed. It also comes with a very handy template to ensure it's a "cut once" process with no regrets (or spackle). Since there's a lip on the frame you don't need to be worried about making a perfectly smooth cut through the drywall since the rough edges are hidden.

I was torn between these and the RC80i model. Both had identical tech specs on the Polk site. What sealed the deal in terms of the RC85i model is that it is a bit more shallow than the RC80i (depth of 2 and 7/8 inches for the RC85i versus 3 and 1/4 inches with the RC80i). More importantly, the tweeter assembly on the RC85i is a bit different. According to Polk, the tweeter in the 85i has a plate underneath it that helps project the sound. This is not found in the 80i.

But the proof is in the sound, and these sound wonderful. I'm using them in a basement wired to a Denon AV receiver in the LR. While the sound can't compete with the Kef's I have in the LR, the Polks sound far better than I expected given the price. Very pleased!

They also are very aesthetically pleasing. The grill is nicely made, and can be painted. As with installation, clear and detailed instructions on painting the grills are in the user's guide.

Good sound, good looks and good price - can't ask for more! Highly recommend.
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on April 29, 2013
I purchased a pair of these in-wall speakers to be used in my living room as the rear speakers to my surround sound. I chose to use bookshelf speakers for my front speakers (left, right, center) since I have an entertainment center with a bridge. I used 14 gauge audio wire during installation since the wire per speaker exceeded 50ft.

I painted these speakers with the same latex paint that I used in my living room, so they blend in very well. I was able to spray the speakers with latex paint using an aerosol sprayer that I purchased from Home Depot for $5 (not a typo, FIVE) called a Preval sprayer. I diluted the paint with 2 ounces of water for every 3 ounces of paint, after pouring the paint through an extra fine filter. Also, be sure to stir well.

With speakers, you get what you pay for. The quality of these speakers aren't amazing; however, I believe is perfect for rear speakers. I was on a budget and decided to spend more of my budget on higher quality front speakers.
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on June 8, 2013
I thought I would give you my painting experience. I read extensively online and decided to try the Prevail sprayer to color match to my walls as that seemed to be the common suggestion. That was a waste. It was a mess, it sprayed horrible, I strained it and thinned it several times starting at 3 to 1, and going to 5 to 1. I gave up and threw the sprayer away.

Out came the foam roller, bingo worked awesome:
* I was using Porter paint (color matched to my walls) with no thinning
* keep the roller fairly dry - this was a standard white foam roller from Home Depot
* I rolled the frames and the grills
* if you plug holes in the grills, roll it with a dry foam roller and it sucks the paint right out.
* I had a couple holes that were plugged and the roller would not unclog, but a little canned air worked well.
* I painted six speakers in about 30 min, they look like it was a factory paint job

They come with plastic covers for the speakers for painting so you do not need to mask them which makes this a quick project.

Sound
* Not great at music. for casual low level listening it is fine, if you want to rock i would only give a 5 out of 10.
* Great sound with Dolby 5.1 on movies. I am using 3 RC85s for left right and center. I was concerned about what it would be like after listening to music, but I am very impressed for the money. If you take money vs quality for theater listening it is a solid 9 out of 10.
* I have matched them with RC60i speakers for the rear I would give the same review on them.
* I am driving them with a Yamaha RX673
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on November 4, 2015
I bought several of these to equip a room with surround sound. Super easy to install thanks to the provided cardboard template. Easy to paint as well thanks to the provided plastic mask. I got the first 3 in with no problem, but on the fourth, which was a ceiling install, I must have overtightened on of the 6 screws. Since the ceiling sheetrock is 5/8" thick and strong, the plastic flange that was being tightened snapped before the ceiling showed any sign of distress, leaving me with a speaker that sagged away from the ceiling in one corner. Not realizing what had happened, I tried to compensate by tightening the other screws. Snap snap snap. Pulling the speaker back down I realized what had happened. So I swapped out a wall speaker with it, gluing the wall speaker to the wall. Bottom line, when they recommend setting your power drill/screwdriver to a no. 2 setting, they do so with good reason.
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