|RBH T-30LSE Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Sunday, 01 July 2007|
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I began with a monaural recording, ignoring imaging in order to focus on the speakers’ overall tonal quality. The first album I listened to was Ella and Louis Again (Verve/MFSL), Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off. As this was a monaural recording, the vocals were solidly centered between the speakers – this was not a test of the speakers’ soundstaging capabilities. The vocals were extremely clean, detailed and, most importantly, natural. I heard details in the strings immediately before Armstrong’s first vocal that I have never noticed before.
As these are flagship speakers, I figured that they were worthy of some more audiophile quality recordings, such as Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat (BMG/Classic). The track “Bird on a Wire” has long been used as an imaging test and it lived up to its reputation when I played it on the T-30LSEs. Warnes’ vocals were solidly positioned in the center; the triangle was to the left where it belonged; the drums were a good distance back. The soundstage was deep and wide, but not out of proportion with each of the instruments well positioned in its own space.
I find jazz to be a good test of a system’s ability to reproduce a wide spectrum of sounds. Playing Earl Hines’ album Fatha (M&K Realtime), I listened to this album’s unique version of the standard “Birdland.” Red Callendar plays the tuba on this recording. It was easy to tell that the tuba was affected by the constraints of the room. Earl Hines’ piano was crystal clear, solid and tonally accurate. The soundstage was well-sized, with each instrument in its own space. “Sophisticated Lady” opens up with piano notes that were reproduced with a quick leading edge that was clean and as devoid of smearing as I have ever heard before. I quickly found it very easy to forget I was listening to a mere audio system and found myself lost in the emotion of the music. I know this sounds clichéd, but if you spend an hour with these special speakers, you will know what I am gushing over.
Picking up the pace without abandoning audiophilia, I turned to Robbie Robertson’s self-titled album (MFSL) and the track “Fallen Angel.” The T-30LSEs easily reproduced a larger soundstage appropriate for the music. The drums were solidly positioned behind the vocals, with the soundstage extending beyond the outer edges of the speakers. With this recording, I also noticed that the various sources on the soundstage had their distinct elevations as well. The T-30LSEs’ ability to reproduce a large coherent soundtrack relies in a good part on the listener’s position, which should be around 10 feet away at minimum, with ear height within the vertical limits of the mid/high array.
As I was listening to the T-30LSEs, I noticed that they were able to easily handle every piece of music I threw their way, revealing minute details of complex pieces and handling every peak without the slightest sign of strain. I decided to push the envelope and see where the speakers’ limits were. The Crystal Method’s “Busy Child” from their Vegas album (Outpost) features fast-paced and razor-sharp synthesizer lines that reach down deep. Playing this track back at extreme levels did not phase the T-30LSEs at all. There were no signs of compression and the speakers maintained their speed, clarity and composure at all volumes. As Rage Against the Machine is getting back together to play again, I found it only fitting that I listen to their self-titled album (Epic/Sony). Zack de la Rocha’s lyrics in the opening riff of “Bombtrack” were crystal clear, despite the much louder guitar. The frenetically-paced, heavy-hitting guitars came to life through these speakers in ways I have never heard before. The speakers simply disappeared and let me believe I was listening directly to the band. This continued with the track “Killing in the Name” I was easily able to delineate the chords in the various riffs. The soundstage remained consistent at various volumes and nothing I did could make the speakers lose their composure.
Not wanting to ignore the classical music genre, I turned to a piece of music I used in my review of the T-2P system, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (Telarc). I have been fortunate enough to have heard this piece played live on several occasions, including fairly recently. The T-30LSEs’ midrange was notably more refined than their predecessor. There was more detail in the brass and string sections without any harshness, even at extreme volumes. The soundstage was appropriately large, with the various instrument groups placed in their proper positions throughout. The speed and detail of the T-30LSEs allowed me to easily discern individual instruments. 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 the cannon fire back at absolutely ear-splitting levels to see if I could find the T-30LSEs’ limits. It was only when the digital volume readout of the Krell FBI was well above 100 (that’s insanely loud) that I found any signs of limitation. At full volume, I noted that the woofers appeared to reach their excursion limits at the moment of the cannons’ firing. These speakers will have no problems reproducing anything fed to them at any reasonable volume without any signs of stress and, if you need more volume, Krell makes even bigger amps. AVRev publisher Jerry Del Colliano recently finished reviewing the Krell Evolution gear, which has enough power to launch these RBHs to the moon if need be.