Got a pair of Polk RTi4's a few weeks ago...

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by JoshR, Jan 11, 2004.

  1. JoshR

    JoshR Agent

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    ...and I wanted to let them break in for a bit before I got all judgemental on them. The thing is, they seem way to bright. Tinny, almost. They're hooked up to a Harman Kardon AVR-230, and I thought this would be a winning combination for the price range. And these speakers have fantastic clarity, no question of that.

    But especially when I'm listening to music, it's like it's too thin. Guitars always sound like they have that tinny distortion effect even when they're not supposed to have that effect. I've tried fiddling with the bass and treble, but it seems like all that does is either muffle it or make it even harsher.

    I should explain that so far, I only a pair of these and I use them for stereo. I don't even have a subwoofer, so it's just these two speakers right now. I had planned to stick with Polk for the rest of my system as I build it, but now I'm doubting.

    My audio buff friend says my problem is that these aren't three way speakers, so I should expect a loss in the midrange, and I should use these primarily for home theater. Well ok, that IS the primary reason I bought them, but I definitely want music to sound good as well. Plus, it's not just music that sounds overly hollow and harsh...movies do also.

    So, I'm thinking of going to the JBL S38II. But they're just so big. I was wondering if I could fix this problem with the larger Polk RTi6, which would have more bass? Would that make a difference, or is the lack of a midrange driver that I'm noticing more than the small woofer size of my RTi4? Are these really only suited for home theater uses, accompanied by a center channel and subwoofer? If so, is that more because of their size(small) or the lack of midrange driver?

    Longwinded as usual, I know. Any help appriciated.
     
  2. Jake K

    Jake K Stunt Coordinator

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    absolutely not, any well designed speaker will have a very flat frequency response and sound great, the number of different drivers doesn't dictate how good a speaker is. Some of the best speakers in the world are two-ways, and some of the worst are three-ways.
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I agree. With a properly executed design, you should not be able to tell the difference between a 2, 3, 4 or 10 driver speaker.

    What you may want to do is go audition the same speakers you have against something else. It may just be that you don't like the sound of these speakers. Did you spend any time listening to other speakers before you purhcased these? I spent MONTHS before I settled on the speakers I now own.
     
  4. JoshR

    JoshR Agent

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    Thanks for the info. I was seriously considering going with the JBL S38II, and those are larger than I'd prefer. Could it be simply that these lack the bass for the 'rich', 'full' kind of sound I think I should be hearing? They have a 5.25" driver.

    The step-up RTi6 has a 6.5" driver. I'm wondering if the larger drive would address my issues.

    Auditioning? Well, wouldn't even know where to begin to find a place near me that lets customers audition. I know higher end shops do... but these aren't very high-end speakers, so I doubt they'd even be an option in the kinds of stores that let you demo the speakers, right?
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The size of the driver may not be the issue, but a lack of bass can make a speaker sound less than optimum, and without a sub, this will be even more apparent.

    I don't know about borrowing, but you can still just give most speakers a listen at the store and get a basic idea of how they sound, taking into account the gear they are hooked up to.

    You could step down to the S26II if you can find them, though they are not exactly small themselves.

    You could check out the offerings from www.paradigm.com, and there should be a dealer near you (see their dealer locator). They have a good offering in this price range, see the Performance and Monitor lines.

    Also very good around this price point would be www.axiomaudio.com though dealers are somewhat rare.
     
  6. Justin_D

    Justin_D Stunt Coordinator

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    I talked to a Polk Representative when I was considering buying the RTi4s and 6s, and he said the RTi4s were a big jump.
    Although these aren't the same speakers, I thought I would throw this in them being Polks also.

    When I bought my first bookshelves, I was considering between the R20s and R15s. I went to Circuit City and auditioned. The R20s didn't even sound like they should be the same brand as the R20s, let alone the same series. The R20s sounded so much richer and fuller.

    I have the RTi6s now, and couldn't be happier. I think it should be a big jump for you. What kind of sub are you using? What is the crossover at?
     
  7. Jake K

    Jake K Stunt Coordinator

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    Definitely find some home audio stores in your area and go listen to lots of speakers. Are you in New York City or just somewhere in NY state. Any big city will have loads of audio stores around, with all kinds of speakers at any price point, including your Polks.[​IMG]

    Just go to the manufacturers web site and use the dealer locator to find some dealers.
     
  8. John S

    John S Producer

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    I don't like speakers in general with a less than 6" Bass driver.
     
  9. James^Brian

    James^Brian Agent

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    I have a pair of Polk RT-4's that I bought about 10 years ago. I had been pretty happy with them, as they seemed so "revealing and alive" which is what brought me to them in the store. It wasn't until I brought them home and noticed a pattern developing. I would turn off the music about 30 minutes after I began listening. I never thought they were "tinny" but bright, most definetly. I think it's Polk's just can be a bit bright for a lot of people.

    I bought a paradigm studio 60, ADP, studio-cc set-up this year and have been very happy. I can listen loud without getting a headache or softly and still remain pretty dynamic.
     
  10. JoshR

    JoshR Agent

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    Thanks again for all the info, guys.

    An update: I had noticed that the sound was particularly harsh(or hollow, something like that) when playing CDs from my DVD player, a Sony 5-disc changer. It occured to me I might need to play with the DVD settings. Sure enough, the player was set to output to DD 5.1. I changed it to stereo and the improvement was noticable. [​IMG]

    I also tried turning the bass almost all the way up on the receiver, and the treble about 3/4 of the way up. Making sure the bass is boosted higher than the treble seems to help as well.

    This, plus all your input, has saved me from switching to a pair of JBL S38II, speakers that I'm sure are totally awesome, but are literally 3 times the size of these Polks and not quite as stylish. So thanks!

    I think I'm still going to step up to the RTi6, though. Maybe I'll save these 4's for the rear.
     
  11. Dave Shepard

    Dave Shepard Agent

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    If you look at another set I would look at the rti-8's the extra mid will make a big differance in the sound I think you'll like.


    Dave
     
  12. Jeremy Anderson

    Jeremy Anderson Screenwriter

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    FYI: The frequency response of your RTi4s is 60Hz-26kHz (using the -3dB point), which is very decent on the highs. I mention this because this is a limitation of many bookshelf-sized speakers -- you will NOT get very rich bass out of them. The RTi6s go down to 50Hz (-3dB), which is not a HUGE difference. Even Polk's CSi5 center is only rated 55Hz-26kHz, and it has dual 6.5" drivers. I'm not saying that like it's a BAD thing because cabinet size directly affects bass output, so small speakers have their limitations. Polk goes out of their way to ensure a very smooth and flat frequency response from their speakers.

    The bottom line: Get a subwoofer, set your system's crossover to 80Hz, center your bass and treble controls, then do a proper calibration of your speakers and sub with a sound pressure level meter, and your opinion of these speakers will change dramatically. Once you have a sub to handle the low end, you will appreciate having those sweet highs and the mids will come to life. But if you're looking for speakers for 2-channel stereo with no sub, you have to go with towers. Expecting that kind of bass out of a bookshelf is expecting too much.

    Also: Stick with Polk for the speakers... but for what you'll spend on a Polk subwoofer, you can do a LOT better with some direct sale companies. I have 5 Polk RTi28's and a CSi40 mated with a SVS 20-39CS+/Samson 1000 setup, and it sounds amazing. I highly recommend you check into SVS or Hsu for your subwoofer needs, as either brand will blend nicely with the Polks and give you accurate bass for music. Trust me -- it's worth the money to get a great sub rather than something half-assed.
     
  13. JoshR

    JoshR Agent

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    Another update - swapped the RTi4 for a pair of RTi6's. Jeremy and Dave, you both said I should just go for towers. That wasn't an option, and I wanted to stick with Polk, so it pretty much had to be these RTi6s.

    And I'm glad to say it makes a huge difference. [​IMG] I don't know if it was the pairing with the HK AVR230 receiver or what, but I hit some kind of sweet spot with these that eluded me with the smaller speakers. And I know the driver isn't much bigger, but the harsh/hollow/tinny sound I was complaining about...completely gone.

    I just didn't have a great reaction to the RTi4's. I listened and thought, "Feh." Not with these. They put a smile on my face.
     
  14. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    That's really all that matters! Enjoy your new speakers. [​IMG]
     
  15. Roger Q

    Roger Q Stunt Coordinator

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    I've got four relatively cheap in-wall plus a CSi40 along with a 20-39Plus SVS. It's amazing what they sound like together.
     

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