|RBH T-2P Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Thursday, 01 July 2004|
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I began with Paula Cole’s This Fire album (Warner Bros.) as the first track of this album is very dynamic. The song “Tiger” opens with soft vocals and quickly breaks into a very dynamic bass. This provides a good test of both micro and macro dynamics. The T-2s were able to accurately recreate the vocal track with all of its inflections. The bass line was as deep and detailed as I expected, as well as being absolutely effortless at any volume. I was particularly impressed by this speaker’s ability to convey a sense of weight, even at very low listening levels. The soundstage was deep, with the instruments solidly anchored in place.
For my next listening selection, I attempted to find a large-scale recording that would match the scale of the speakers. I decided on Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (Seraphim). The string section was reproduced with warmth and detail; however, I noticed the upper midrange was a bit forward. This was also noticeable with the brass section. The forwardness was never harsh or shrill, nor did it provide any midrange bloom. By forwardness, I am referring to a natural aggressiveness and energy that some may find to be one of this speaker’s greater attributes. I found the T-2Ps to be very detailed throughout the midrange area and the warmth in the upper midrange area did not seem to affect their ability to render images with extreme detail and precision. The width of the soundstage extended beyond the outside edges of my speakers and the depth went way past the front wall of my room. This musical piece is probably best known for its cannon-infused crescendo. The last few minutes of the overture are filled with great dynamics from the strings, horns and of course the cannons, which were felt as well as heard. I played this selection back at various volume levels from moderate to room-shaking. The T-2Ps were never challenged: each playback session sounded effortless with zero compression and extraordinary dynamics without sacrifice of detail.
I then tried something on a smaller scale, listening to the first disc of Ella and Louis Again (Mobile Fidelity), a monaural recording. Listening to the first track, “Don’t Be That Way,” the piano opening was solidly placed between the speakers, as it should be with a mono recording. The tone and weight of the piano were well matched to the vocals of Ella Fitzgerald, which came into play shortly thereafter. Both the voices of Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong are well portrayed, with the speakers detailed enough to reproduce the many vocal inflections on this recording. There are several areas that collected my attention. The deep throaty sound of Armstrong’s voice had an inherent richness that was over the top with this RBH speaker set. Many speakers can reproduce the sound of his voice, but the T2Ps bettered that by providing a timbre accuracy and texture that was reminiscent of a live performance. Texture is one of the most difficult things to get right in that it represents the air that surrounds the instrument, in this case the instrument being the mass of Armstrong’s body and vocal chords. I was quite impressed and often found myself lost in a trance, reliving the era and pretending that I was fortunate enough to have been there for this wonderful recording. Speakers don’t make music great but they do elevate the emotion that they create. The RBH T-2Ps connected at a emotional level and made me truly love my time in front of them.
I then went to the other extreme of the musical spectrum with Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” from their album Downward Spiral (Nothing Records). This is a very aggressive rock recording, filled with screaming guitars and bombastic synthesizers. While this isn’t the recording that allows one to judge the accurate reproduction of most natural musical instruments, it will let you know if your speakers rock hard enough to invoke a mosh-pit in your living room or outdo the local live music venue. Rest assured the T-2Ps would serve this role. The track “Closer” has a deep, multi-note bass line that the T-2Ps were able to accurately reproduce with palpability at volumes ranging from whisper low to ear-splitting high without any compression or harshness. The 600 watts per channel I was feeding the speakers provided ample power for any listening level I dared to try. I found the T-2Ps to be a rare combination in this price class. They were capable of reproducing the subtlest nuances in acoustic sweetness and detail yet they could rock your shorts off. As with all AV products, there are compromises. For example, a speaker that is ferociously accurate at midrange vocals very likely won’t rock your fillings from your teeth nor would you necessarily expect them to. The RBH T2Ps could waltz with best, bring big bands to your home, provide a personal visit from your favorite female vocalist and, as this last test proved, could turn you into a tattooed and pierced metal junkie without having to leave your home or risk infection from non-sterilized needles.
Due to time and size restraints, I reviewed the T-2Ps as a stand-alone rather than in a 5.1 theater set-up, but after spending time with them, I have no doubt that these could make for an extremely exciting and dynamic theater package. Naturally, if you have the room, the best possible package would be to have the T1 (top portion of the T-2P) as your center channel at $5,399 and a pair of T1s for your rears. However, this package would be large and require a ton of room. Therefore, I would recommend the RBH 66SEs at $1,779, a dipole/bipole speaker designed to be hung on the rear walls. This package would provide the bass and sound quality of the best 5.1 packages today. Bryan Southard, Audio Revolution’s editor, has been running a smaller RBH 5.1 package at his home for years and has been elated with the performance and excitement that they provide.