Polk Audio RTiA1 Bookshelf Speaker

“Really?” I blurted out loud when I opened the RTiA1’s box to find a substantial, beautifully made minispeaker with curved sides and a higher level of fit’n’finish than that found on any of the other speakers in this group (the Monitor Bronze BX1 perhaps excepted). I even double-checked the price, doubting that Polk could sell such a nice-looking speaker for less than $400 a pair, especially $325 a pair (or even less online). The ported cabinet holds a 5.25-inch, polymer-composite cone woofer and a 1-inch, silk polymer-composite dome tweeter.

No one would describe the RTiA1 as sounding dull. I thought Greg summed up the RTiA1 well when he noted that “it’s got a bit of an edge to it, but for a lot of the music I listen to that’s very appealing. It made things like the guitar from the Mother Love Bone tune more fun to listen to.”

Geoff seemed to agree. “It’s similar to No. 3,” he said, referring to the Music Hall Marimba, “but things like vocals and cymbals sound a little more forward.” I found the upper treble response to be the best in the bunch; the RTiA1 reproduced the high-pitched glockenspiel in James Taylor’s live version of “Shower the People” clearly, a trick few tweeters can match. This characteristic sometimes made the reverb in rock recordings sound exaggerated, though.

The downside of the RTiA1 is, well, the down side — i.e., the bass. There’s just not enough of it, perhaps because the upper mids and lower treble seem a little boosted. “I like it as is,” Geoff said, “but if you added a subwoofer, it might be my top pick.” The rest of us agreed. So if you’ve got a sub sitting around — or you have $100 to $150 to pick up one of the super-affordable Polk subs now selling on Amazon — the RTiA1 should rock your world. Otherwise, it might sound a little too bright.

Measurements

Frequency response of the RTiA1 measures 49 Hz to 20 kHz ±3.2 dB on-axis, ±2.5 dB avg 0°-30°. That’s admirably flat, with a slightly elevated treble. Measured impedance is 3.2 ohms minimum, 6 ohms average. Sensitivity from 300 Hz to 10 kHz averages 86.2 dB.

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