|RBH Compact Theater CT-5 / CT-7|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Richard Elen|
|Wednesday, 01 May 2002|
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I do have, however, a couple of niggles. Given the complexities of setting up a surround system at the best of times, I would have liked the manual to have given rather more detail than was provided by the few pages, most of which were largely descriptive and did not contribute a great deal to configuration. In particular, the use of the high and line-level "pass-through" modes, which could be of great benefit to users with simpler receivers or separate amps, was not discussed, despite the fact that people with simpler systems could probably do with more help, and there was nothing on configuring bass management in this mode or the "direct" mode I was using. Hopefully my comments above will help people set up this system. Similarly, the setting of the sub crossover frequency and phase was not dealt with. The phase control, incidentally, can be used to configure the sub for the acoustic environment it’s in. Depending on the location, the best bass can be "dialed up" experimentally with this control, and you would want to tweak it, for example, if you decide to point the sub into a corner rather than facing forward. At some setting, the bass will peak, and that’ll be the setting to use. (Don’t move the speaker to set it – reach around the back or whatever).
I did have some trouble finding the best crossover frequency setting. It seemed to me that perhaps the high end of the sub did not cross over smoothly to the low end of the monitors, probably a combination of my room’s acoustics and the small size of the mini-monitors, with a tendency to leave a "hole" at all the settings I tried. The MM-4s are probably down 3 dB by the time they get down to 100 Hz, and the sub may be rolling off by then on the way up, too. In theory, though, there should be enough overlap to get this to work – and perseverance furthers, as they say in the I Ching. It should also be noted, however, that this could simply be a difference in approach between the RBH system and my normal, much older and rather more studio-oriented setup, especially as JBLs are known for a tendency to develop a strong mid-range. Of course, you get used to almost anything when it comes to speakers, and after a couple of weeks listening daily to the RBH system, I just came to regard it as normal, so the apparent hole is imaginary. And for most people, a slight tendency towards "boom and tizz" will be fine. I expect I will find the JBLs unusually middly when I return to them!
Apart from those minor gripes, this is a fine speaker package. The speakers are extremely well built, solid, hefty and impressively made. The localization from these mini-monitors is excellent, and the apparent physical similarity to computer multimedia speakers should not be allowed to mislead you. This is a serious surround speaker system, including when we come to the bass end, which is plenty powerful enough for anything you will want it to do.
Providing excellent sound and physically compact, thus easy to position in a living room as opposed to a special listening or media room, this system would in fact also be great on a computer with a 5.1 sound card – the speakers are shielded to avoid magnetizing your TV or monitor.
In a competitive market, this $1,100 RBH 5.1 system is a logical step above fantastic offerings like the Energy Take 5.2 and the Monior Audio Brozne package (both priced at around $800 for a 5.1 setup). The build quality and component choices are improved because of the higher price tag on the RBH. Sonically, the RBH is heads and shoulders above mass market speaker systems, including the almighty Bose. While you can’t really saunter into the local outlet store or shopping mall to buy RBH speakers, they are worth the extra effort to find a dealer and get an audition.