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  1. #1

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    Default RTIA3 vs RTI4 death match coming soon!

    I pulled the trigger on a good deal for a pair of RTIA3s.

    I'll do a 'death match' comparison in my rig with the current RTI4s I've got as mains. :D

    Let the games begin!

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  2. #2

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    Middle weight vs welter weight. I know which will win ;).

    Combo rig:

    Onkyo NR1007 pre-pro, Carver TFM 45(fronts), Carver TFM 35 (surrounds)
    SDA 1C, CS400i, SDA 2B
    PB13Ultra RO
    BW Silvers
    Oppo BDP-83SE

  3. #3

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    The rti a3' s are the Packers and the rti 4's are the cowboys

  4. #4

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    LSi's are the Pats:p
    Please. Please contact me a ben62670 @ yahoo.com. Make sure to include who you are, and you are from Polk so I don't delete your email. Also I am now physically unable to work on any projects. If you need help let these guys know. There are many people who will help if you let them know where you are.
    Thanks
    Ben

  5. #5

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    Can my old Panasonic bookshelfs be the dolphins? Or does someone have a worse speaker?

    Yamaha RX-V663
    RTi A5 fronts
    CSi A4 center
    FXi A4 surrounds

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by croutons View Post
    can my old panasonic bookshelfs be the dolphins? Or does someone have a worse speaker?

    Bose

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Tracy View Post
    I pulled the trigger on a good deal for a pair of RTIA3s.

    I'll do a 'death match' comparison in my rig with the current RTI4s I've got as mains. :D

    Let the games begin!
    Erik, I can't wait to hear about your impressions. Please be as detailed as possible in your comparison.

    I've heard a pair of RTi4s and Rti6s in a Crutchfield showroom. That was about 9 months ago, when the Rti A series was just being released to retailers and thus haven't had a chance to listen to the latter.

    I more or less finished putting together my 2 channel system a few months ago, and I will next be looking toward building a (separate) Home Theatre system (different room). Thus, I've had my eye on both of these series and am really interested to see how they compare.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm Apter View Post
    Erik, I can't wait to hear about your impressions. Please be as detailed as possible in your comparison.

    I've heard a pair of RTi4s and Rti6s in a Crutchfield showroom. That was about 9 months ago, when the Rti A series was just being released to retailers and thus haven't had a chance to listen to the latter.

    I more or less finished putting together my 2 channel system a few months ago, and I will next be looking toward building a (separate) Home Theatre system (different room). Thus, I've had my eye on both of these series and am really interested to see how they compare.
    Roger that.

    I'm an engineer by trade so I'll be as detailed...and objective as I can be.

    I don't have test equipment, but I'll note out the configs and settings for both and the sources used.

    Listening impressions will however be subjective and I don't claim to have 'golden ears'...yet... :D

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by leroyjr1 View Post
    Bose
    You can be the Bengals, since Bose are just a bunch of swindlers and crooks.
    Last edited by croutons; 09-21-2008 at 02:45 AM.

    Yamaha RX-V663
    RTi A5 fronts
    CSi A4 center
    FXi A4 surrounds

  10. #10

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    Fed Ex attempted a delivery today for the RTIA3s.

    Signature required... grrrr

    I'll work a deal with my neighbor for watching out for these and I'll go for the signature release.

    One step closer to the 'death match'...:p

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  11. #11

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    At least they didn't do like UPS did and put my $1500 projector outside my front door where someone could just walk by and take it.

  12. #12

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    Well,
    The RTIA3s arrived today!

    Both in good condition - like new - I'd never suspect they were categorized as "refurbished".

    The cabinet shape is odd - I'll have to get used to it.

    The front of the speaker looks pretty darn cool.

    I did weigh them with a digital scale I have - spot on to the web page at 16lbs on the dot with the grill on.

    I did hold one up next to my RTI4 that I have mounted on my B-Tech BT-77 mounts - and the RTIA3 is substantially larger.

    It's getting late for me now - so more comparisons tomorrow.

    Full on sound comparison will be for the weekend!

    Stay tuned - this will be fun....

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  13. #13

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    Time for a second pair.:D

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Tracy View Post
    Well,
    The RTIA3s arrived today!

    Both in good condition - like new - I'd never suspect they were categorized as "refurbished".

    The cabinet shape is odd - I'll have to get used to it.

    The front of the speaker looks pretty darn cool.

    I did weigh them with a digital scale I have - spot on to the web page at 16lbs on the dot with the grill on.

    I did hold one up next to my RTI4 that I have mounted on my B-Tech BT-77 mounts - and the RTIA3 is substantially larger.

    It's getting late for me now - so more comparisons tomorrow.

    Full on sound comparison will be for the weekend!

    Stay tuned - this will be fun....
    Good to hear that they arrived intact.

    A few preliminary questions before you get into the sonic comparisons.

    You mentioned that you bought them refurbished but that they look "like new." Were these bought from Polk Direct (the Polk eBay store)? If so, did you bid on them or purchase via "buy it now" route?

    I've been thinking about this route, especially if one can save some money off the retail price and they arrive in good shape.

    Finally, did you get black or cherry? I assume you matched them to the color of your Rti 4s.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm Apter View Post
    Good to hear that they arrived intact.

    A few preliminary questions before you get into the sonic comparisons.

    You mentioned that you bought them refurbished but that they look "like new." Were these bought from Polk Direct (the Polk eBay store)? If so, did you bid on them or purchase via "buy it now" route?

    I've been thinking about this route, especially if one can save some money off the retail price and they arrive in good shape.

    Finally, did you get black or cherry? I assume you matched them to the color of your Rti 4s.
    But it now...I haven't seen the A3s for bid.

    Black...to match the rest of my gear and cabinets.

    I did a very very quick sound check just to verify the speakers were in working order.

    I inspected the drivers with the grills off - everything looked like new.

    Both speakers work fine....they are definitely of the RTI 'lineage' :)

    First noticable difference is a bigger/wider sound stage - but then again, they are a bigger speaker.

    I'm going to get them securely mounted in my BT-77s first before any serious listening and re-run the YPAO on my yammy avr just to even the playing field with my RTI4s.

    Can't wait for the weekend for more time to do some extended comparisons.

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  16. #16

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    ERIK, you don't like the curved cabinet? I think it's sweet.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by leroyjr1 View Post
    ERIK, you don't like the curved cabinet? I think it's sweet.
    It just made mounting them up on my existing BT-77s more...complicated.

    But I'm going to use the excellent advice of "McLoki" to get them up today or tomorrow and then do some extended listening tests!

    I plan on taking some pictures and then reporting back with what I've decided.

    Erik

  18. #18

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    Default Curved Cabinent

    Quote Originally Posted by leroyjr1 View Post
    ERIK, you don't like the curved cabinet? I think it's sweet.
    I like it a lot too. I think it makes them look more presitgious, higher end, than the straight sided cabinets of previous Reference Theater products.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kex View Post
    I like it a lot too. I think it makes them look more presitgious, higher end, than the straight sided cabinets of previous Reference Theater products.
    I really like the silver-faced RTi line. It would be awesome if they combine the curved cabinet of the RTi A line with the silver face of the RTi line. They could call it the RTi XYZ-BANANA line.
    polkaudio RTi10 bi-amped at 300 WPC
    polkaudio CSi5
    polkaudio FXi3
    Velodyne CHT-12
    harman/kardon AVR-254
    harman/kardon FL-8385
    Emotiva UPA-7

  20. #20

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    So what's the story Erik...impressions yet?

    Combo rig:

    Onkyo NR1007 pre-pro, Carver TFM 45(fronts), Carver TFM 35 (surrounds)
    SDA 1C, CS400i, SDA 2B
    PB13Ultra RO
    BW Silvers
    Oppo BDP-83SE

  21. #21

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    Well....to be honest, this hasn't been as easy as I thought....

    I have this Friday off and I'm going to do some more comparisons.

    It is practically impossible for me to do direct/quick A/B comparisons as it means shutdown my system, putting up the speakers into the wall mounts, then powering everything back up, then repeating this with the next set of speakers

    I've also concluded that the default YPAO setting is not the best to use for a good speaker to speaker comparison.

    So I've had to go back and recalibrate my avr with different settings for this.

    Because of this, I want to repeat the A/B comparisons.

    Stay tuned!

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  22. #22

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    Keep up the good work! Some of us are still curious as to your results!

    Yamaha RX-V663
    RTi A5 fronts
    CSi A4 center
    FXi A4 surrounds

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by croutons View Post
    Keep up the good work! Some of us are still curious as to your results!

    Will do. I just want to be thourough and fair.

    This is not a first round knock out (surprised? I am), and I'm trying to capture some more listening tests.

    Pictures will be included.

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  24. #24

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    RTi4 vs RTiA3 Death Match – Full Report

    Well, was this really a ‘death match’ in the sense that the bigger A3 scored an instant ‘kill’ against its smaller cousin?

    Surprisingly no! I spent some extended time listening to both in various modes and using different sources.

    Admittedly I could not do a “true” A/B comparison with instantaneous switching between the two given the constraints of my home setup using wall mounts for my mains.

    First I’ll explain the setups I used and then I’ll try to describe what I found.

    My system is composed of the following:
    AVR: Yamaha RX-V1800
    External Amp: Carver M 1.0-t via the avr preouts
    Center: Polk CSi3
    Surrounds: Polk RTI4s
    Subwoofer: Polk PSW303
    Blu-Ray/CD player: Sony PS3
    Turntable: Sony PXS-55 with Grado Z1+ cartridge, Preamp: TC-760LC

    The fronts are wall mounted using the BTech BT-77 mount and I used these to interchangeably mount the RTi4s and the RTiA3s.

    The one thing I did not like about the RTiA3s was the shape of the new cabinet, which made it problematic in mounting them using the BTech mounts – the curved sides did not provide enough surface area to hold the speakers securely and since I have my mounts angled down, the A3s easily tipped forward out of the mounts. To overcome this, I used a set of zip ties to hold them to the BTech mount using the powerport in the rear.

    Here are the pictures of my rig with the RTi4s and A3s mounted up:
    RTi4s:


    A3s:


    I wanted to start from ‘scratch’ and so I re-ran Yamaha’s YPAO auto calibration for both the RTI4s and the A3s, but I soon found that the default YPAO used what Yamaha calls “Natural” Parametric Equalization that shapes too much of the high end and it resulted in an unbalanced coloration of the sound between the two speakers.

    Instead I opted to skip the EQ in the auto calibration and set the EQ to off, but let YPAO set the rest of the configurations for speaker size, crossover, level, distance, etc.

    As I suspected, YPAO set all my speakers to “Large”, but I saved this anyway as this is still useful and relevant when I went into some Pure Direct listening tests because in Pure Direct, the LFE out on the avr is disabled and the mode is purely 2-channel only, so having the speakers set to Large ensured that they got all the low freq signals when I listened to CDs and LPs.

    I did, however, go back into the setup and manually changed the speaker setup to change all the speakers to “Small” and the LFE/Bass to Sub only. And yes, I have drank the kool-aid and have my sub hooked up via the LFE out using a new audioquest Sub-x interconnect :p

    Each speaker therefore had 2 saved memory locations:
    RTI 4:
    Mem=1 for No EQ with Speakers=Large
    Mem=2 for No EQ with Speakers=Small, LFE/Bass=Sub, Xover=80Hz

    RTIA3:
    Mem=3 for No EQ with Speakers=Large
    Mem=4 for No EQ with Speakers=Small, LFE/Bass=Sub, Xover=80Hz

    Here are some more shots of the RTi4s and A3s:
    Fronts


    Naked


    I actually prefer the look of the RTI4 fronts!

    Tops


    With everything calibrated, I then proceeded to the listening comparisons.

    I used 4 different sources:
    1) Turntable: where I listened to Steely Dan’s “Aja”, Side 1
    2) PS3: where I listened to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”
    3) PS3: where I played Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl set to uncompressed PCM (5.1, 48Khz, 6.9Mbps bit rate)
    4) Cable FM: smooth jazz (Dolby D, 48Khz sampling rate, 192Kbps bit rate)

    I ranged the volume for each source and for each speaker listening for changes in tonality and dynamics and I also changed the memory setting so that each speaker could be listened to both with and without subwoofer integration/support.

    So you’re all saying – like the army in Monty Python and the Holy Grail - “GET ON WITH IT!” :D

    Well….like I said, this was not as easy as I thought it would be.

    Polk got things right with the RTi4s.

    After listening to both, I’d say that the RTi4 is like enjoying a good espresso! All the flavors are there in balance in a small cup, but there is great enjoyment to be had savoring in a small serving.

    The RTi4s have good imaging, good sound stage with detailing to individual instruments. What could be said against them is that they are lacking a bit in the mid range details and while there is the impression of bass – especially in my setup since they are ‘coupled’ via the wall mount to the whole front wall – there is not real detail down low – nor can there be any real expectations for such in this small speaker.

    The RTi4s have what I’d call a ‘modest’ midrange – dare I say something akin to ‘laid back’ at least in comparison to the RTiA3s.

    They do strain when pushed to higher volumes and the high end detailing tapers off and the sound stage starts to close down.

    For all that though, I really got into the closing theme song to Pirates in full uncompressed 5.1 – the room was full of clean sound!

    When I was done after about an hour of listening to the RTi4s, as quickly as I could, I took them down and put up the RTiA3s and called up memory location 4 to get them going for comparisons.

    Here’s the thing.

    The A3s have a more ‘forward’ midrange, or should I say ‘balanced’ in comparison to the 4s which, relatively speaking, seemed to have the mids ‘recessed’ a tad, compared to the A3s.

    The A3s had tighter mid-bass and more crisp punch to percussion. I also detected what I would call faster response in dynamics. This gave me the impression of hearing more detail to the sources – as if I could mentally hear just around to sides of each instrument.

    Also the A3s painted a much bigger soundstage – not only from side to side but from top to bottom. The left and right speakers blended completely to project a wide image to my listening spot (whereas the RTi4s painted a nice horizontal sound stage, but not as ‘high’ from top to bottom).

    The A3s also kept their sonic cohesiveness to higher volumes than the RTi4s, as if comparing two weight lifters in different classes each trying to bench the same weight: the A3s could “lift” more power with less strain.

    Ok, so I’ve said a lot of things that give the decision to the A3 – and yes, they do sound like a bigger brother to the RTi4 and can do things better.

    Yet, like a much anticipated football game with one team a clear favorite, you can’t help but admire the underdog putting up a good close game and coming away with respect.

    Both are undeniably from the “RTI” line of Polk speakers and for my setup, the highs need to be ‘restrained’ back a bit – which I’ll do so by using the GEQ feature of my avr – yet I thought it important that for my review, the settings were left as neutral as possible to hear the speakers – and not muck with the signals.

    If the speaker demons came to my house and ‘cursed’ me to only live with the RTi4s, heck, I’d chuckle and say ‘ok by me’. Things came together in this speaker and for the amount of coin they cost today – wow –fantastic deal.

    But, I have to be honest – the A3s are a step up in sound in detail, imaging, presence, and punch. I’m not sure I’d recommend this step for everyone as it is admittedly, not a HUGE step up – more incremental. If a buyer is looking for that next level in SQ improvement, then they’d probably be better off going up to the LSi line.

    For me, I was curious and just had to know.

    Now I do.

    I’m keeping the A3s and will be looking to finding a home for my RTI4s with someone who can appreciate their value.

    There it is - now its time for a cold one, or two! :)

    Erik

  25. #25

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    I like to add my dell speakers to the battle because i think those will win everytime. If you need to see how great they look click here
    http://www.pcplan-it.com/speaker_dell_opo614.jpg
    now i can see the fear in your eyes.
    P.S. they have been calibrated THX style
    Audio:
    Onkyo :tx-sr805
    Polk: rti8's
    Polk: rti4's
    Polk: fxi3's
    Polk: csi'3
    Velodyne: VRP 1200
    Epik: Caliber
    Video:
    Panasonic:TH-42PX60U 42"Plasma
    Power Conditioner:
    Monster Power
    : HTS 3600 MKII Home Theater
    Dvd:
    Sony: BDP-350
    Game Systems
    WII
    PS3

  26. #26

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    Thanks for the comparison, Erik.

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    Great review. Now how much for your rti4's haha.
    Living Room Rig:D
    Rotel RSP-1069/Rotel RMB-1095/Rotel-1072/Polk lsI15's W/modded xoverW/DBsubs/Polk LsiC/lsI7's/Klipsch sub-12"the weak link"/DLP Mitsubishi 65"
    Xbox360/PS3/WII
    M.Br. setup:)
    Emotiva MMC-1/Rotel RMB-1075/Polk BlackStone TL350's/Velodyne SPL1000/Samsung 51" Plasma
    Computer Rig:
    Rotel RB1050/Tannoy DC4's/Klipsch RW-10d/ImodIpod/HK AVR230 for now....
    Headphones-Ultrasone-HFI780's w/LittleDot MK Vamp Portables Panasonic HJE-900's

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    Erik, I'm impressed with the effort. Interesting read. The RTis vs. the As are close cousins and I agree somewhat of a lateral move, if you were goings 6s to 3s, but you like the bump...I'm glad. I also agree, if you're looking for a step in another direction for music, then LSis or vintage is the way to go in the Polk lineup (and not the vintage books except SDA-CRS).

    If you can spare the space...get them off the wall and on stands.

    Combo rig:

    Onkyo NR1007 pre-pro, Carver TFM 45(fronts), Carver TFM 35 (surrounds)
    SDA 1C, CS400i, SDA 2B
    PB13Ultra RO
    BW Silvers
    Oppo BDP-83SE

  29. #29

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    Nice write up!!!

    I've owned a couple pairs of RTi4's. I was very impressed with them to say the least. I never expected so much out if them.



    Nick

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Temple View Post
    Erik, I'm impressed with the effort. Interesting read. The RTis vs. the As are close cousins and I agree somewhat of a lateral move, if you were goings 6s to 3s, but you like the bump...I'm glad. I also agree, if you're looking for a step in another direction for music, then LSis or vintage is the way to go in the Polk lineup (and not the vintage books except SDA-CRS).

    If you can spare the space...get them off the wall and on stands.
    Thanks for the compliment!

    It was fun to do the comparison and I learned more about my setup - my fear of the OSD menus is now a thing of the past! :p

    Believe me, I agonized a long time on how I wanted to get my gear set up - but alas, I've made my bed - and wall mounts are the way it is and so 'bookshelves'.

    When I win the lottery I'll have the luxury of getting the perfect house with a dedicated HT room just the way I want it with whatever gear I want! :D

    For now, I'm enjoying the journey of 'baby step' upgrades.

    Doesn't get much better than opening a nice wine on a relaxed weekend and making minor adjustments here and there - experimenting with settings and basking in the sonic goodness!

    Erik

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