This article appeared in the July 1998 issue of Home Theater Magazine
RBH MC-Series Speaker System
by Jeff Cherun, CFG Labs
Speakers that will make the most dangerous Rockies avalanche sound like it's coming through your door.
Nobody ever really talks about Utah. Sure, when skiing comes up, you're bound to talk about it, and if you're a Mormon, you've probably been there. Well, if you've been paying attention, you've started to hear high-quality sound billowing out of the Rockies and it's from RBH Sound, a company based in Layton. They've been getting lots of notice for their remarkably good-sounding speakers, which are so affordable that even the stingiest home theater enthusiasts are joining the parade into Utah. When I reviewed the MC-6 in-wall speakers in the November'97 HT, I was extremely surprised by how good in-walls could sound, especially for the price. Of course, I was just as smitten with how they looked, with a stylish and fetching aluminum cone woofer, really backing me into a corner when it came time to put the grilles back on. I just couldn't do it. Anyway, when I heard that they were coming out with home theater cabinet versions of the same speakers, I had to know if they could reproduce their earlier genius in their newest incarnations.
The system RBH sent us consists of four matching MC-6Cs, one MC-414C center channel, and a TS-10A subwoofer, all finished in a beautiful dark cherry veneer that frankly blew me away. RBH has no right to sell such beautiful speakers for anywhere under a grand, and yet they sell a pair of these MC-6Cs for a mere $695. The build quality is apparent right away--the fit and finish is first class, including really good five-way binding posts. The MC-6Cs use the same components as their in-wall loudspeaker brethren: one 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter coupled with one 6.5-inch aluminum-cone woofer. Both Brent and I found that to be a wondrous combination. Frequency range is stated as 50 Hz to 20 kHz. The MC-414C center channel RBH sent us is comprised of the same 1-inch tweeter, but it's surrounded by two 4-inch aluminum-cone woofers to fill out the midrange and bass frequencies that challenge all center channels. The center channel is spec'd at 60 Hz to 20 kHz. Rounding out the frequency spectrum and delivering the low end is a beautiful little subwoofer called the TS-10A. This is a 10-inch powered design with a 200-watt internal amplifier that delivers sound in the 30Hz-to-180Hz range. Its 10-inch aluminum-cone woofer not only unites the rest of this system aesthetically, but also audibly.
Setting up this system was a cinch. I used my trusty TARA Labs Klara banana-plugged speaker cables and had it up and running in a matter of minutes. Resting comfortably on hefty speaker stands, I placed all four MC-6Cs in our usual toed-in reference position, achieving excellent sound from the git-go. I also placed the MC-414C atop our 40-inch TV, in the center between the front MC-6C's. To finish up, I placed the TS-10A in the front left comer of our L.A. listening room, the position that achieves the best bass performance for us. After warming up and burning in the speakers for a day or so, I was ready to give these babies a dance.
To be true to the geography from which this system originated, I watched the Cliffhanger DVD--one of Stallone's works that has clearly put him at the forefront of all thespians. I can never get enough of Stallone as a mountaineer in the Rockies--pure dramatic genius. Well, was this movie indeed better with this speaker system? Of course. It contained all the slam and bombast that keeps this movie true to Renny Harlin's directorial genius, and a pleasure to watch (and hear). Dialogue out of the center channel was clear and crisp, actually depicting Stallone's unique and challenging vernacular in a realistic way. This film's dialogue is a really good test for a center speaker, because Sly's voice contains plenty of bass and midrange. Another noteworthy facet of this speaker system is just how well it's matched from one speaker to the next. When action shifted from the left to the center to the right front speakers, there was no noticeable tonal shift. Often when you have a mismatched center speaker, you hear people's voices or jet engines rise and fall, actually sounding like different people or planes, In the case of the RBHs, it was one clear effect never shattering that suspension of disbelief.
The bass information the TS-10A reproduced was equally impressive. On Cliffhanger and other DVDs that I watched on this system, such as Desperado, Best of Sessions at West 54th, and GoldenEye, my results were exactly the same. I delighted in the deep response the TS-10A offered, which was remarkable and surprising for a l0-inch design.
If you're a living, breathing human being and like to listen to music (I hope so), you'll be just as impressed with the performance of the system on music. As with the MC-6 in-wall speakers, these speakers image incredibly, reproducing every nuance and intricate detail placed in the soundstage in a way that speakers this inexpensive have no right to do. I was awestruck in the way that some of my favorite music sounded, especially when powered by separates, rather than a receiver. Coupled with a receiver, the RBHs sounded great but the performance improved many notches when connected by superior electronics. Of course, this is to be expected, but I caution many of you who think that just because these speakers are inexpensive, they should be placed with inexpensive receivers. You'll be doing yourself a service if you spend a little more on your processing/amplification, because these speakers don't lie. You'll be hearing what you're putting into them. On Peter Gabriel's In the Sun, from the Princess Diana tribute record (no, I didn't buy it), a very well-recorded piece with stark, crisp vocals, the MC-6Cs performed amazingly. I was shocked at the crispness and correct tonal characteristics that they put forth, never straining or struggling to image. On music, they're simply amazing.
If you have the wherewithal, hook these speakers up to a good quality, inexpensive separates system (like those from Rotel or NAD) and you'll have an amazing system that will cause avalanche after avalanche (or at least make those you're watching on your home theater seem that much more realistic). You'll thank me--I promise.