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Polk Audio RTI A1 Bookshelf Speakers (Pair, Black)
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- Pair of real wood bookshelf speakers with all MDF construction and resonance-free enclosures
- Equipped with one 5.25-inch dynamic balance mineral/polymer composite cone driver
- Features Power Port technology to reduce "chuffing" or "port noise"
- Equipped with one 1-inch silk/polymer composite dome tweeter
- Features a neodynium magnet, low viscosity ferro-fluid cooling, and a heat sink on the back of the magnet
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|Sold By||Electronics Expo||Electronics Expo||Edifier Online Store||Amazon.com||Electronics Expo||ListenUp|
|Item Dimensions||12 x 11.5 x 7 in||14.75 x 14.25 x 7.75 in||9.45 x 6.89 x 5.71 in||6.5 x 7.25 x 10.63 in||7 x 10.2 x 11 in||8 x 11.75 x 15.4 in|
|Item Weight||12 lbs||—||10.8 lbs||8.25 lbs||10 lbs||17 lbs|
|Mount Type||Speaker||Speaker||Bookshelf||in_wall, bookshelf||Wall||Bookshelf|
|Speaker Type||Bookshelf Speakers||Bookshelf||Bookshelf||Surround||Bookshelf||Bookshelf|
Polk Audio RTI A1 Black Bookshelf Speaker - The new RTI A series feature several upgrades. From the incorporation of our latest Dynamic Balance Cone drivers and 1 inch tweeters to an elegant restyling of the cabinets in keeping with the latest styles. The floor-standing models feature "Power Port Plus" an enhancement of Polk's patented Power Port technology. As you would expect from this highly popular line, the performance is classic Polk.
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Polk is a brand audiophiles love to hate. I think I know the reason why. Is it because their RT line of speakers has always made more expensive speakers hard to justify? Just maybe.
FIT AND FINISH
I ordered the cherry offering, and the real wood veneer is mostly very well done. There is some minor cracking and chipping around the grill attachment ferrules that is not visible with the grills on. The tweeter's wave guide and the port's flange are both a little off center on both speakers, but only a critical eye would see that. The port flange on one speaker has a plastic bump where it meets up with the paper port tube that could probably be carefully smoothed down with a file. Otherwise, these RTi A1s appear to be very well made. The cabinets are heavy and solid.
The cherry veneer is quite nice, and you will not find real wood veneer on any other speakers near this price range. The grayish silver plastic accents look cheap to me, however, and unfortunately, the grills have them too. I'm not in love with that. Being able to hide the accents with the grills would be my preference.
Near-field listening was the first order of business, and the RTi A1s started out in the acoustically treated control room of my home studio to temporarily replace my Yamaha HS80M studio monitors. Source material was FLAC files from my PC played through a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 DAC / preamp and into a 60W RMS per channel Class AB stereo amplifier (which proved to provide more than enough power). The speakers were set up with tweeters at ear level on isolation pads 50" apart and 50" from my listening position and toed in like studio monitors.
Even without break-in, the speakers sounded surprisingly good. I let them play at half volume for 20 hours before doing any critical listening just to be sure.
Near flatness best describes how they sound, except for a peaking shelf starting at 8K and continuing to the upper limit. That is to say, they start sounding strong around 60Hz and stay flat to 8K, where they jump up between 4 and 6dB and stay there to 20K Hz. It is pretty common for manufacturers to hype the top frequencies, as it creates the illusion of detail. These Polks do not need the hype, however. They ACTUALLY DO reproduce fine detail quite well up there. Because of the hype, I would call these generally bright sounding speakers. Some people will like the brightness and some will not. Their brightness is smooth and well-controlled compared to Klipsch's horns for example, and it mellows some with use.
Off axis listening revealed an interesting characteristic. The RTi A1s reproduced midrange frequencies with above average consistency, when changing the toe angle. Since frequencies above 7K Hz are very directional (part of the reason for wave guides), toeing the speakers out some from where I originally set them reduced the amount of treble in the hyped range and smoothed out the sound nicely, without negatively affecting midrange quality.
Bass response was strong and even for a speaker this size, and thanks having front ports in addition to the smartly designed rear ports, boundary effects are minimized, which makes placement near walls and the like very flexible. Meaningful bass is heard down to 50Hz, and at 60Hz, it flattens out nicely, which means bass instruments do not drop out as they traverse their lines. The RTi A1 could be fine by themselves in certain rooms with careful placement, but most people will want a properly crossed over subwoofer to get the most out of them, in my estimation. They provide a satisfying amount of bass for their size, but they ARE small bookshelf speakers, after all.
Midrange clarity and realism is good to excellent. Flatness across the range is better than even most inexpensive studio monitors. It is uncanny. The only niggling qualm I could find is a congestion at around 300Hz, when played at high volume (higher than most people would ever play them). A rap on the side of the cabinet revealed this to probably be cabinet resonance, which is often a design choice more than a flaw.
Far-field listening took place in my home theater, where the RTi A1s were placed atop my B&W CM4s, which served as inert speaker stands. I have a goofy riser in that room, which makes the B&Ws sit too low, but it works in favor of bookshelf speakers, which end up at the proper height. The 2/3 listening position in this ridiculously long room is 12' back from the speaker position, and the speakers themselves sit just over 8' apart. The room is properly acoustically treated for reflection and diffusion.
The RTi A1s were fed a diet of reference CDs and concert DVDs that were decoded and amplified by an old but excellent Sony 9000 ES receiver that pumps out 220W per channel.
As in the near-field scenario, the speakers did not disappoint, and rather punched above their weight. Stereo imaging was excellent in that they kept convincing me vocals were coming from the disabled center channel speaker, to the point that I checked several times to make sure it really was disabled. The speakers easily blended into the background and let me forget about them and just enjoy the music. Turning on the subwoofer (crossover at 80Hz) to take some load off the Polk's woofers obviously enhanced the sound further and made midrange performance something to behold from a speaker in this price range. In this room, the brightness was naturally well controlled, and high frequency "beaming" was easily further controlled by simply adjusting toe angle as before. That old receiver has copious EQ options, and cutting a little bit at 12K made them sound almost perfectly flat. Not an issue at all in any case, as they sounded great both ways--just a little different. I was impressed. These RTi A1s are better performers as far-fields than they are as near-fields to my ears. A stereo pair or home theater setup comprised of appropriately sized Polk RTi speakers would be no slouch.
Polk's RTi A1 booskshelf speakers do everything important very well and have no bad habits, unless the listener is sensitive to hyped high frequencies. Voicing is pleasing and enjoyable, their frequency response is flat, their imaging is near perfect, and they reveal musical details like much more expensive speakers. If you are not a true audiophile, something from the RTi line is all you need, IMHO.
5 stars, considering the price. I'm keeping them. Hell, I'd be keeping them at full price.
Original review: I've been breaking these speakers in the last couple of days and I'm very pleased with their overall performance. They beat my expectations. I also have the Polk RTI A3s, A5s, the CSI A6 and these all have a full sound in the mid to upper bass and mid range. Some of the 5 inch 2 way bookshelf speakers I've heard sound thin in the mid to upper bass and lower mid range. The A1s instead have a full, balanced sound. They do great with action movies and all genres of music. Dialogue in movies is very clear. They do need a sub! These are bookshelf speakers with a 5.25" mid-range/woofer, not Cerwin Vega towers with double 12" woofers. These speakers also blend seamlessly with my A5s. Polk did a marvelous job at matching the sound signatures of the A1s, A3s, and A5s.
Applications: I plan on using them as surrounds in a 5.1 home theater system. If you have a small to mid sized living room, four of these speakers plus the CSI A4 would make a great home theater and home stereo music set-up. The A1s would also work in a bedroom/office/den/ small living room 2.1 channel stereo set-up. I presently have them hooked up to a Yamaha R-S500 2.1 channel stereo receiver. This receiver is a solid 75 watts rms and the RTI A1s are VERY easy to drive - no monster amp is required.
The A1s are well made, they look great with real wood veneer finish, and they are easy to place on a 12" shelf or wall mount (wall mounting brackets/feet are built into the back of the A1s and A3s). The rear power port makes them easy to place on a book shelf. They can be placed closer to the wall over other bass port speakers because their rear port disperses the air/sound out sideways from the speaker and not directly into the wall.
Most recent customer reviews
Some of the reviews have said these have bad bass response. Well here is what I can tell you.Read more