|RBH Signature Series 5.1 Loudspeaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Saturday, 01 September 2001|
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Initially, I set the RBH speakers up in my living room theater system, rather than my reference music and theater system. This is a system that is driven by a high-quality theater receiver and is located in my living room. After several weeks, I found myself so intrigued with the performance of the 1266-SE front main loudspeakers that, one evening, I summoned a neighbor to help me lug the entire speaker system into my dedicated A/V room to give them the best possible environment and electronics to gauge their performance. As always, I used a variety of tools to assure proper set-up, such as an inexpensive SPL meter to set the appropriate speaker volume and balance, and some calculations to gauge a starting point for the necessary signal delays. Once I had the system set up, I fired into a favorite animated feature, Toy Story 2 from The Ultimate Toy Box 3 DVD set (Disney/Pixar). I would describe the overall sound of the RBH 5.1 system as revealing, quick and energetic. The speakers were not polite, yet didn’t sound fatiguing. In much of the dialogue in this movie, I found the detail to be engaging. Getting more serious in content, I slapped in a favorite drama, Good Will Hunting (Miramax). In this relatively recent Oscar-winning film, there is a great deal of dialogue that a system can resolve, absent of artificial effects such as bomb detonations and car crashes. In Good Will Hunting, the RBH system impressed me for several specific reasons. When the package had been selected for me, I questioned whether the system would sound coherent, due to the fact that the center speaker was a single speaker from a pair, rather than a dedicated center. In fact, the center matched quite well. When moving my head from side to side, trying to capture the point where the center information began to blend with the mains, I found that the information, although not exact, was very close in overall tonality and flavor. I would refrain from comparing the RBH set-up to my Revel Ultima Series theater, due to the overwhelming price difference, but I will say that during the period that I had the RBHs in my reference system, I didn’t feel that the level of enjoyment I was experiencing from my movies was greatly diminished as compared to the Revels.
In the effort to test the overall dynamics and the combination of finesse and adrenaline, I went for the classic war saga Saving Private Ryan (Dreamworks), and straight to the opening D-Day battle on the Normandy beach. In this scene, the sound was tight and I felt fully enveloped. This is very important, as some speaker packages can leave you feeling informed yet not cohesively enveloped, meaning that you hear all that is to be heard but you don’t feel like you are physically in the battle. The RBHs got me emotionally involved. That is a sizable compliment, as I have auditioned many speaker packages of varying prices, and could not pay the similar tribute to all. The 12-SE subwoofer provided tight supporting information. I would strongly consider this piece as a complement to any speaker package. I flat-out like the looks and the size. The performance, although not groundbreaking, was very solid. It was fast enough to match many of the quicker speakers on the market.
The 1266-SE is a tall monitor that will not necessarily visually disappear in your room. However, with the prolific variety of custom finishes (in my case, the walnut finish), they looked pretty sexy. I preferred to remove the grilles and view the aluminum drivers. For some reason, this added to the speaker’s attraction. To start, I went for a reference record of mine, Sister Hazel’s Somewhere More Familiar (Universal Records). In my opinion, the song "Starfish" has the most dynamic recorded drum intro that I have ever heard. The combination of dynamics and resolution make this piece a great tool for evaluation. In this drum intro, the 1266-SEs had a sound that I initially did not expect. Their quickness was uncharacteristic for speakers in their class. They had considerably more resolution than that of the Paradigm Studio 80s that I reviewed earlier this year. When compared to the $3,995 Revel Performa F30s, they did not have the sweetness nor the overall refinement, yet due to their speed and great amount of information, I could see how some that would prefer the RBHs. The sound of the 1266-SE is one of energy and drive. Although the speakers don’t come forward, they don’t serenade you, either. I personally find this presentation energizing. The bass response is not rock-bottom low, yet the bass is tight and solid. There is nothing I hate worse than a speaker that supplies low-frequency information that is not good information, or information that is sluggish and does not match the top end of the speaker. In this case, the 1266-SEs excelled.
I next cued up Chuck Brodsky from Radio (Red House Records). The soundstage was very good and, with relatively little positional tweaking, the speakers drew a highly defined image. I expected this, as this is often the result of the aforementioned characteristics, or being quick, detailed and resolving. These features are the backbone of sonic imaging.