|RBH T-30LSE Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Sunday, 01 July 2007|
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RBH Sound is a rapidly growing, ultra-high-performance speaker manufacturer, celebrating their 30-year anniversary with the release of their most ambitious speaker to date, the T-30LSE. The T-30LSE is a limited edition flagship model with only 100 pairs being made. At $15,000, the T-30LSEs are a serious investment, but upon closer scrutiny, they are quite reasonably priced when compared to the physically large flagship models of some other high-end loudspeaker brands. When I look at the T-30LSE, it brings to mind Revel’s new Salons, Wilson’s MAXX and B&W’s 802d loudspeakers, all of which come with a far larger price tag.
I have long appreciated the innovation and craftsmanship I have seen in RBH Sound’s products. For more information on RBH’s history, I refer you to my article on RBH’s T-2P speaker system, which is at first glance similar to the T-30LSEs reviewed here. Both models are large, full-range speakers with similar driver arrangements. However, that is where the similarities end, as the newer limited edition transducers are truly something to behold if you are in the large loudspeaker market.
The T-30LSE features a single cabinet per channel, measuring 60.5 inches tall by 15.5 inches wide by 18 inches deep and weighing 160 pounds. They are extremely big and visually striking. At first, it looked as if RBH simply joined the 1010SEN bass and T-1 mid/high enclosures that comprise the T-2P system into one cabinet. The high and midrange drivers are in sealed enclosures; the woofers are in a ported bass reflex enclosure. Like the T-2P system, the T-30LSEs are available in numerous wood veneers, have machined aluminum feet, feature two 10-inch aluminum cone subwoofers, four six-and-a-half-inch aluminum cone woofers and three one-inch silk dome tweeters, with the woofers and tweeters configured in a dispersion averaging alignment. RBH Sound is a pioneer in the use of aluminum cone drivers and they have a lot of experience in reaping the benefits and avoiding the pitfalls using this driver material. The review samples came in very well-finished Cherry veneer. The T-30LSE cabinets are certainly not fancy, but they are well-built and look great.
The term “dispersion averaging alignment” comes from the mind of RBH’s design guru Shane Rich to describe the driver alignment utilized. While the name may be unique to RBH, the alignment has been featured in other speakers, such as the former Cello’s flagship model. With the listener a minimum distance away, preferably ten to 12 feet, the driver array acts like a point source radiator, minimizing lobing effects. This works, as the top and bottom woofers are slightly closer to the listening position. One will also notice that the array is a truncated line array. The line array provides multiple drivers with a given frequency range, creating more output than a single driver and reduction of stress on the individual drivers as the load is shared. This design allows the T-30LSEs to handle up to 700 watts per channel with 91dB sensitivity.
The T-30LSEs further differ from the previously reviewed T-2Ps in that the drivers and crossovers are newly designed. Starting at the bottom and working up, the 10-inch subwoofers have twice the excursion and a magnet structure twice as large as the drivers in the 1010-SEN. The subwoofer enclosure is 50 percent larger than the 1010-SEN, as it fills the entire bottom portion and extends into the back half upper portion of the enclosure, with a larger port opening. These changes allow the system to extend lower and tighter.
The mid/woofers, like the subwoofers, are made in-house by RBH. The T-30LSE utilizes upgraded drivers with solid phase plugs that dampen vibrations in the driver’s motor structure, lighten the operating mass of the cone, promote cooling and provide better dispersion of the higher-frequency sound waves. What does this mean? Extended dynamic range, less distortion and more uniform sound. The tweeters in the T-2Ps were Vifa T-27s; the T-30LSE uses Scanspeak’s 9500. The 9500 was specifically chosen over the better known Scanspeak Revelator because it has a smoother roll-off, has ferrofluid cooling for more output, a lower resonant frequency and, according to Shane Rich, it simply sounds better.
The speakers were too large for my normal listening room, so I convinced my mother to let me use her much larger living room where I have kept various incarnations of high-end audio systems for years – much to her aural delight. The wall that the speakers were set up on is approximately 20 feet wide and the room is over 30 feet long, with vaulted ceilings starting at eight feet and going up to 25 feet. This large room opens up into adjacent rooms, providing a very large area for the speakers to fill sonically. RBH was generous enough to send Daren Egan and Shane Rich out to Southern California to help me set up the T-30LSEs.
You definitely need help getting these speakers set up. When the truck pulled up in front of the house, it contained a pallet with two wooden boxes reminiscent of coffins extending over the ends of the pallet. It took four people to unload the speakers from the truck. Once we got the crates off the truck, Daren, Shane and I carefully removed the well-packed speakers from their crates. Instead of installing the aluminum feet, we placed the speakers on towels to make it easier to reposition them on the wood floor. The speakers ended up almost 10 feet apart, four feet from the front wall and at least five feet from the sidewalls, with the baffles slightly toed in. The speakers come with two-piece black cloth grilles that are rounded at the top and bottom. I really liked the looks of the speakers with the grilles off, so I left them off all the time. Without the grilles, the driver array is absolutely striking. Every person who has walked into the room has commented on the speakers and most have insisted that I turn the system on for them.
I used some of the best components I could get my hands on to put the T-30LSEs through their paces. I used Krell’s FBI, a 300-watt-per-channel integrated amplifier, to drive the speakers. Daren and Shane brought out a pair of RBH’s SA-400s, their 400-watt monoblock subwoofer amplifiers, in case the Krell didn’t have enough juice, but the Krell had more than enough power on tap. I also used McIntosh Laboratories MA-6300 200-watt-per-channel integrated amplifier later in my listening sessions. Classe’s CDP-202 acted as the source unit throughout. There are many excellent cables available to connect these components. At the suggestion of Daren and Shane, I used what many consider to be among the finest cables in the world, Transparent Cables’ Ultra Series cables. Without going into detail, I like what I heard with the Transparent cables and am looking forward to listening to them with other components as well.
If you are considering using the T-30LSEs as part of a surround system, I would urge you to consider the T1-SER or 6100-SE/R for a freestanding center channel, and the 66-SE/R, 661-SE/R or 61-SE/R for the side and rear channels. If in-wall speakers are your cup of tea, look towards RBH’s 6100-SI/R for the center and the SI/R-740 or SI/R-760 for the sides and rears.