The Good: Everything! The Polk RTi A1 Bookshelf speakers sound good out of the box. High, mid and low frequencies are all reproduced accurately.

 

The Bad: That everyone doesn’t have a set of these speakers in their home.

 

Summary: The Polk RTi A1 speakers sound fantastic. It’s not often that I say this but listening to these were a real pleasure. These speakers should probably cost more, but it’s good that they don’t.

Polk RTi A1 Review

Polk always manages to offer some of the most affordable home theater speakers on the market year after year. Usually, the word “affordable” means that you’ll sacrifice quality. However, Polk prides itself on making speakers that are low priced and which sound good. The Polk RTi A1 Bookshelf speakers are one of these “low priced” options that has surprisingly good sonic quality. With an MSRP of $324 per pair, the RTi A1 speakers are well within the reach of most consumers. Based on our past experience with Polk speakers we were eager to get our hands on a set of these for a review.
 

RTi A1 Features

In the Polk line-up of bookshelf speakers the RTi A1’s are nestled between the LSi series and Polk’s new TSx series. The Polk RTi A1 houses a 5 1/4-inch Dynamic Balance mid bass driver and a 1-inch Dynamic Balance dome tweeter. Dynamic balance refers to a method that Polk designed along with engineers at John Hopkins University that uses a laser equipped electron microscope to see how various vibrations affect a speaker cone on a molecular level. With any speaker, these stray harmonic vibrations can cause distortions in sound quality. Polk was able to use the information gathered from these experiments to re-engineer their speaker cones so that they would minimize these distortions. Basically this means that the Polk RTi A1 is able to produce flat, uncolored sound.

 

Polk RTi A1 Appearance

When we took the RTi A1’s out of the box we noticed right away that these speakers were different. Most speakers are basically just big rectangular boxes. With the Polk RTi A1 speakers the sides have a slight curve to them. Cosmetically, it looks good. However, the curved sides also serve a more critical purpose in the overall RTi A1 speaker design. The cabinet is made of internally braced ¾” medium density fiberboard (MDF). The unique curve of the speaker helps to make the cabinet acoustically inert and produce less panel resonance. Turn the A1 around and you’ll see that it has two sets of gold plated five-way binding posts that can be used for bi-wiring/bi-amping. The speakers can also be wall mounted thanks to the keyhole mounting bracket on the back. The Polk RTi A1 comes in two veneer finishes, cherry and black. The set we got in were of the black variety.

 

Sound Quality

Some believe you need to give speakers a break-in period in order for them to really open up. Usually I fall in this category, however the Polk RTi A1 bookshelf speakers sounded good as soon as I hooked them up to my receiver. The sound stage was wide and engaging. Vocals sounded very natural and realistic. Although the RTi A1’s aren’t full range speakers they were able to produce a wide spectrum of sounds. Hi frequency sounds were crisp and sharp, however never overly bright or fatiguing. Mid-range reproduction was equally as impressive. What was more surprising to me was their low frequency reproduction. Don’t get me wrong a speaker this size can’t replace a subwoofer, however the Polk RTi A1’s had a surprising amount of oomph. I didn’t expect these speakers to hold up very well with bass heavy music, but they managed to hold their own. The RTi A1’s proved very adept in reproducing mid-bass. Even when cranking the volume the speakers never seemed to distort. Perhaps proving that Polk’s efforts in minimizing cone distortion was well worth it.

 

Conclusion

The Polk RTi A1 speakers are excellent and they probably should be priced higher. I applaud Polk for producing something that sounds this good. In fact, it may have been a mistake on their part. Once people listen to these they may not decide to buy Polk’s more expensive offerings. I think with the Polk RTi A1 speakers they’ve designed a speaker that can appeal to nearly anyone.


Where to Buy:

See Price on Amazon


 

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