Getting the most out the RTis

Hey guys,

First, I hope everyone is having a great holiday season so far :smile: I'm a long-time lurker on this excellent forum, and finally decided to ask a question regarding my growing Polk Audio sound system. My current setup is below:

Preamp: Yamaha rx-a1020
Amp: NAD M27
Front: Polk RTi A7
Center: Polk RTi A6
Rear: Polk RTi A4
Sub: Polk DSW 660
Misc: 12 gauge speaker cable (F, L, C); 14 gauge speaker wire (rears); Hubbell HBL5362 electrical outlets

Settings: A7s (full range, extra bass); A6 & A4s crossed @ 80Hz HPF; no EQ
Listening habits: Music at low-moderate volume (i.e., -32dB to -21dB typically)...Pandora primary music source (HDMI connection) - jazz, rock, classical, electronic house
Room: Listening area is ~2700 cf (17' x 20' x 8'), and opens up to a foyer area, ~3600 cf total (foyer + listening area).

When I first started putting this system together in mid-2013, I started with the Yamaha, A7s and DSW 660. My goal was a simple 2.1 system for music, movies, and video games. I eventually added the A6 and A4s, and just recently added the NAD amplifier. The system sounds great - the center added clarity & more consistent volume; the rears added spaciousness and ambiance; the amplifier brought the speakers to life in every way imaginable (clarity, resolution, balance, imaging, soundstage depth/width, low-end bass extension, mid-bass punch, and smoothness/richness to the midrange and top end)...the 12-gauge speaker cables further opened the speakers up, especially in the lower octaves.

So why did I decide to finally post to the forum? Well like I said, this forum has served as a great resource for me over the years...most of the questions I've had, have already been asked and answered by members on this forum. Mostly I see members asking about which AVR is best, what crossover setting is best, is an amplifier worth it, etc, etc. All great questions, and many times, very helpful answers/guidance.

Anyway, while my setup has never sounded better, I'm not sure what more can be done to really maximize its potential. I've been experimenting with speaker positioning, furniture placement, addressing room reflections, etc. My goal is to get the most of the system & room before purchasing new equipment.

Before purchasing the NAD M27, I used the system primarily for home theater...but since adding the amplifier, music is much more lively & enjoyable to listen to. With the Yamaha, music was clear, but lacked dynamic power...it was kind of flat and not really exciting. So now with an external amplifier, the speakers sound great...except for the infamous sharpness in the RTi treble...the amp helped a lot, but the sound is still fatigue-inducing...like a stone in my shoe, the sharpness is a minor annoyance that always seems to ruin the listening experience. The volume doesn't matter...at lower volumes the treble sharpness is still fatiguing.

As irritating as the sharpness is, I can't help but wonder if it can be tamed somehow...the amp and speakers cables had the biggest impact on balancing the RTis, so I am wondering if a better preamp would solve the problem (the Yamaha AVR has a clear & precise sound, but also a bit clinical and raw (for better or worse)). I am also considering additional room treatments (i.e., on the front wall, behind the front speakers), or adding room correction equipment (REW and/or DIRAC Live mini-DSP...Yamaha YPAO has never yielded positive changes). I will eventually replace the DSW 660 with dual subs...currently considering the SVS SB-4000 or JL e112...I'm wondering if improving low-end will help mitigate the sharpness of the A7s (I plan to replace the DSW 660 with dual subs regardless).


My question(s):
What more can I do to get the most out of the RTi A7s? Is it time to concede that the RTi line is too bright for my musical preferences?

*Note - as many on this forum have stated, the RTi line is excellent for HT use...the only time issues arise is when listening to music*

**Note - The Polk LSiM line has always intrigued me, although I've never heard them in person...a few weeks ago I was able to check out various focal speakers (i.e., Aria, Electra, Sopra, Utopia), and while I was utterly blown away by every line, I am wondering how much of an impact the equipment had on the speakers' sound signature...I know it's apples to oranges, but I can't help but think there is more potential within the RTi line, if only I can figure out how to unlock it...**

Thanks in advance, and apologies for the long post!
Home Theater:
Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
Amp: NAD M27
Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
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Comments

  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,373
    A tube pre-amp would go a long way. MIT cables would net very positive results. Crossover upgrades will help as well.

    One thing, run the bass flat. Bumped up bass is just ghetto.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • Viking64Viking64 Posts: 3,261
    F1nut wrote: »
    A tube pre-amp would go a long way. MIT cables would net very positive results. Crossover upgrades will help as well.

    One thing, run the bass flat. Bumped up bass is just ghetto.

    I wish I could click both "Agree" AND "LOL" to the above post. :p
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,373
    I have the RTiA's in my HT rig. Even for HT I found the top end too much and forget about music. By adding MIT Shotgun cables and upgrading the crossovers they are no longer shoving ice picks in my ears for HT use. I have other 2 channel rigs for music.

    RTiA7 crossovers

    0dox19rs51pi.jpg
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • gudnoyezgudnoyez Posts: 6,325
    Your center must be a CSIA6, I was not aware of RTI A4's do you mean RTIA3's? I agree awesome for HT. I enjoy Concert Blue Rays and surround music with my RTIA set up.
    Home Theater
    Parasound Halo A 31 OnkyoTX-NR838 Sony XBR55X850B 55" 4K RtiA9 Fronts CsiA6 Center RtiA3 Rears FxiA6 Side Surrounds Dual Psw 111's Oppo 105D Signal Ultra Speaker Cables & IC's Signal Magic Power Cable Technics SL Q300 Panamax MR4300 Audioquest Chocolate HDMI Cables Audioquest Forest USB Cable

    2 Channel
    Adcom 555II Vincent SA-T1 Marantz SA 15S2 Denon DR-M11 Clearaudio Bluemotion SDA 2.3tl's (Z) edition MIT Terminator II Speaker Cables & IC's Adcom 545II Adcom Gtp-450 Marantz CD5004 Technics M245X SDA 2B's, SDA CRS+

    Stuff for the Head
    JD LABS C5 Headphone Amplifier, Sennheiser HD 598, Polk Audio Buckle, Polk Audio Hinge, Velodyne vPulse, Bose IE2, Sennheiser CX 200 Street II, Sennheiser MX 365

    Shower & Off the beaten path Rigs
    Polk Audio Boom Swimmer, Polk Audio Urchin B)
  • F1nut - Did you rework the original RTi crossovers, or did you buy new crossovers somewhere? What is the difference between the original and new crossover (i.e., crossover points, better materials?) and what kind of changes did you notice in the sound after the upgrade? Thanks for your input ::thumbs up::

    Gudnoyez - You are correct, I was referring to the CSIA6 center & FXi A4 rear speakers (bipole/dipole)...sorry for not being more specific. Polk did an exceptional job designing the RTi line for HT...whether using an AVR or external amp, the RTi line does very well with movies/shows. I just wish they performed as well with music...
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,373
    The only original parts are the inductors. I kept the cap and resistor values the same, but used much higher grade components. How to describe the results.......everything sounds better.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,373
    I should add that before the cable and crossover upgrades I did try listening to music and didn't make it through the first song. After the cable and crossover upgrades I was able to listen to multiple songs, but as I have much better 2 channel rigs that was the end of that. My primary goal was to make the HT experience better and I succeeded.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,712
    What about a difference source? Pandora even at it's "best" running via the web browser on a computer isn't even 320kbps mp3 quality.
    Got Dayens?
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,373
    edited December 2017
    Clipdat wrote: »
    What about a difference source? Pandora even at it's "best" running via the web browser on a computer isn't even 320kbps mp3 quality.

    Excellent point that I forgot to address. My listening was done with a CD, but on a first function Blu-ray player. I'm sure the end results of my upgrades would have been more fully realized with a proper CD player.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • F1nut - Changing/modifying the crossovers makes a lot of sense; I can only imagine what corners were cut to get the RTi A7 down to $500 per speaker (in 2013)...it's not a knock against Polk or the RTi line, but I suspect the "bang for buck" approach involved Polk engineers trying to do more with less...i.e., taking less-exotic components and incorporating them to sound better than their combined sum. They did a fine job, but the sharpness in the tweeter makes the RTi line feel like a mostly-finished design. The tweeter, midrange, and midbass speakers all appear to me to be well-made and well-designed...the crossover, binding posts, brass jumpers, and internal bracing are most likely the weak points of the design (I'm guessing). Upgrading any of these components *should* yield a noticeable improvement...the crossovers & internal bracing would be the most costly/risky upgrades, with the potential to do more harm than good tinkering with them.

    With that said, I have zero experience building/tweaking crossovers...any recommended tutorials / starting points? I'm definitely curious to hear these speakers with upgraded crossovers/internals.

    Clipdat - You are correct, Pandora streams at 128 kbps (from non-mobile streaming devices). I don't listen to CDs much these days, but that's a great suggestion - I'll dig out some CDs tomorrow and see if there are any differences compared to Pandora. FYI, my source components are a PS3 (HDMI...CDs ripped to HDD), and a Roku (HDMI...use it to access Pandora / YouTube).

    Great points guys, thanks for all the suggestions so far!
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,373
    Talk to VR3 or westmassguy about doing crossovers for you. In the meantime, take one of yours out and compare to mine.

    The bracing in the RTiA's is pretty darn good.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • Toolfan66Toolfan66 Posts: 13,867
    edited December 2017
    The internal bracing/construction of these speakers would be one of its strong points, I would not mess with it, I think it’s fair to say that’s where one would do more harm than good..

    Also since you have never built a crossover I would suggest talking to the two guys F1nut pointed out (VR3 or westmassguy) my other suggestion would be to move to the S line or when and if they go on sale again the LSiM line.. IMO either one would be better for a Music/HT system..
  • Sorry again for not being clearer regarding the internal bracing. I agree the rigidity of the speaker is excellent, I was referring to the compartmentalization inside the speaker - I believe all 4 drivers in the A7 share the internal volume space (in the A9 it looks like the midrange & tweeter share one space, while the midbass speakers have the remaining volume by themselves). So compared to the more expensive LSiM series, it seems more effort went into isolating each driver through internal compartmentalization, whereas the RTi A7 uses 3 ports to control the movement of the midbass and midrange drivers (I don't think the ports are designed for the tweeters...but I could be wrong).

    With that said, the RTi speaker enclosures don't rattle or vibrate and feel very well constructed. However, the A7 enclosure does not utilize compartmentalized volume space, which I think could contribute to the sharpness in the tweeter...but again, it's just a guess. And I agree, I would not tamper with the RTi enclosure bracing - I just mentioned the shared volume space as a possible contributor to the tweeter brightness.

    F1nut - thanks for the contacts, I found VR3's website and will send an email.

    Just to be clear, I really do enjoy these speakers. I originally started with high-end car audio, which lasted 7-8 years, and now I am starting to tinker with home audio. Small changes can have big impacts on the sound, and more times than not, they don't require much money (if any) to achieve...just a little imagination, reading, and experimentation. If I am unable to find a fix for the RTi tweeter sharpness, I will likely just relegate the system to HT use only...and put together a 2-channel music system in another room. It's a fun hobby, meant to be enjoyed :smile:

    Just to recap, these are the changes I've made or plan to make, and the impact its had on my system...

    RTi A7 & AVR - Baseline
    CSIA6 - Improved movie dialog, mitigated need to constantly turn volume up/down
    FXi A4 - Added ambiance, spaciousness to movies...more of a "live" feeling when listening to music (i.e., the sound comes from all around the room)
    Amplifier - Woke all 5 speakers up...brought the A7 midbass speakers to life, the entire frequency range is very smooth & balanced, highly resolving, excellent dynamics, improved clarity in all frequencies, and mitigated the need for a subwoofer in some cases (i.e., mostly w/ music)...center channel became clearer, more dynamic, smoother...dynamics & clarity in the rear speakers greatly improved, which was very unexpected, but welcome!
    Cables - Upgraded front speaker cables from 16 AWG generic speaker wire to 12 AWG speaker cables...changes were subtle, but noticed bass was more pronounced, cleaner...I guess it's like drinking a milk shake through a coffee stirrer, then switching to a milk shake straw; the larger speaker gauge allows greater transfer of information

    Planned upgrades...
    Sources - I will compare streaming media (i.e., Pandora) to digital media (i.e., CD/DVD audio) and note any significant differences, especially in regards to the tweeter sharpness
    Crossovers - I may change out the stock crossovers for modified crossovers w/ high-end components...unsure if the upgraded crossovers also include upgraded binding posts?
    Jumpers - Again, unsure if upgraded crossovers also include upgraded jumpers, however I suspect upgrading the jumpers may yield a subtle positive change(s).
    Room treatments - Reflection points have been addressed for the most part...the front wall (behind the speakers) are bare at the moment, which could add to the perceived sharpness of the RTi tweeters...the Polk speakers are setup in a dedicated music/HT room, and everything in the room has been positioned based on the optimal speaker setup. The floor is carpeted, the ceiling is textured, windows have full-length curtains, side-wall and back-wall reflections have been addressed, room furniture does not obscure the sound from any speaker, and hard surfaces (i.e., coffee table, etc.) have been addressed.
    Subwoofers - The DSW 660 served me well in the past, but I have room nodes that require at least a 2nd subwoofer to address...I noticed the DSW 660 does not play lower than 35Hz when conducting sine sweeps, which, for movies you really want output down to 20Hz (or lower if possible), although for music the 35Hz lower limit is a non-issue...I'm not a "basshead" but having owned a JL Audio 13W7 in the past, I know that a powerful, musical subwoofer adds so much depth, spaciousness, atmosphere, and emotion that sub-bass is an area that cannot be overlooked...the DSW served me well, but I am curious if dual SVS or JL Audio subs might help round out the RTi sound (i.e., maybe the tweeter brightness will sound more in place with strong, capable bass drivers...the amp helped, maybe subs will too).
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • Toolfan66 - I will keep an eye out for sales on the LSiM line...I'm not ready to abandon the RTi line. Although, if Polk has a good enough sale, I can't say I won't be tempted! On a side note...based on what I've read about the sound of the LSiM series (i.e., smooth, musical, laid back, refined, balanced, etc.), I wonder if they have a similar signature sound to the Focal Aria line, which competes at a similar price point and aims to achieve an organic, balanced, smooth sound ideal for enthusiasts who favor acoustic performances. Having listened to the Aria line a few weeks ago, the sound was exactly as described...it just makes me wonder how similar the LSiM line is to the Aria line, especially with the LSiM available new/refurbished from Polk pretty regularly and usually sold at a substantial discount. I mean, if the results are the same, why pay more?
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 2,479
    F1nut advice is spot on if you want to stick with these speakers. If I were you, I'd look for the prior line of LSi series used - you can get them cheap these days and they will be a huge upgrade over the RTi's for music.
  • gp4jesusgp4jesus Posts: 1,173
    edited December 2017
    PolkNAD17: you ask a LOT of questions both blatant & inferred - some have more than one answer!

    I applaud your efforts. Both the steps you've taken and the questions you ask.

    Check my signature. We, you, F1, & I have somethings in common. F1 and I have embraced each other's efforts & exchanged (verbal) blows over differing opinions. I hope you can take inspiration from both of us.

    Specifically 2 of your questions:
    "What more can I do to get the most out of the RTi A7s?" See my suggestions

    "Is it time to concede that the RTi line is too bright for my musical preferences?" I say no if you're willing to invest time* & little $. See Jesse's (F1) remarks & pics.
    * could take a lot of time depending how far you want to go

    My Suggestions:
    1. 2 or more subs that accurately reach into the low 20s, better still the high teens WILL "round out" your bottom end - greatly enhancing your HT experience. Won't do a thing for system brightness but you asked...
    2. Learn to solder! The hands down cheapest path to taming the RTi lines brightness is DIY XO upgrades. This forum has threads & posts in spades of modded XOs* merits. I did away w/them* completely but that's my obsession & another story.
    3. I'm ready for rotten fruit now... Heavier* speaker wire inside & out - you're leaving performance** "on the table!" Goes hand-in-glove w/2.
    * I leave the pricey stuff discussions for others
    ** bass in particular
    4. Pipe* wrap* your mids** driver baskets. Dynamat is better, but harder to use & about 10X the $
    * DIRT cheap at Lowe's or HD
    ** all channels. you can apply to inside cabinets too.
    5. You mentioned room treatments. Go for it! You could do EVERY mod possible - won't make up for lousy acoustics!

    Beyond the above I could get a little crazy but I'll let my build threads illustrate my insanity - links below.

    http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/174880/tri-amped-rti-a7#latest

    http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/175612/tri-amped-csi-a6#latest

    http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/173492/rti-a3s-wall-mounted-as-surrounds#latest

    Feel free to PM me on my FrankenPolks

    Happy New Year to all,

    Tony
    Samsung 60" UN60ES6100 LED
    Outlaw Audio 975 Pre/Pro
    Samsung BDP, DirecTV Rcvr, Xbox 360, Dennon LDP, Phillips CD chgr

    Canare 14 ga - LCR tweeters inside; CC outside
    BJC 10 ga - LCR mids, inside & out
    8 ga Powerline - LR woofers, inside & out

    LR: tri-amped RTi A7. Woofers, Rotel 98X amp; M & T, P'sound HCA-1000
    CC: Rotel RB985 -> tri-amped CSi A6
    5 Audio Pro Subs: 1 B1.39: 1 Evidence at each corner
    Surrounds: Hafler XL280 -> AR 12 ga -> RTi A3*
    Power Conditioning & Distribution:
    3 dedicated 20A feeds; APC H15; 4 Furman Miniport 20s
    *Bi-amped by years end
  • gp4jesus - Thanks a bunch for the suggestions, I itemized my responses below...

    Crossovers: Altering crossovers is not something I fully grasp. My understanding is that crossovers control a heck of a lot more than simple crossover points/slopes. Crossovers are designed to maximize synergy between components (i.e., tweeter & midrange drivers), while mitigating inherent or resultant peaks/dips or impedance swings. I'm not saying crossovers can't, or shouldn't be modified, just saying that I don't have the technical expertise or understanding to modify crossovers in a way that would definitely yield positive results.

    With that said, I am fully on board with changing out the crossovers...just waiting on an email response from VR3. I have all the time/patience in the world to tweak the RTis, and changing out the crossovers & stock wiring is a minor expense, and potentially worthwhile. I see in your signature block that you're using 10 & 8 AWG wiring inside the RTi cabinets :smile: that's some heavy duty speaker wire! How long are the internal wire lengths? Did you make crossover/wiring changes all at once - what differences did you notice with each change (i.e., crossovers & internal wiring)?

    Dynamat: I've used Dynamat in the past to quiet car rattles...it works very well. How did you apply to the speaker baskets? I originally thought you applied the Dynamat to the sides of the speaker cabinet, but after re-reading I realized you actually sound-deadened the speaker baskets. Interesting. Were your midrange drivers vibrating against the cabinet?

    Thanks for the links, I haven't gone through them just yet, but I will. It sounds like you are actively bi-amping your RTi speakers, is this correct? Did you change the crossover point between the midrange & midbass drivers? I always thought the 120Hz LPF used on the midbass drivers was too low...considering most people will cross their speakers at ~80hz for HT use. For music, the 120Hz LPF makes more sense...but for HT, I'm inclined to think Polk intended for the A7/A9s to be used as full-range speakers. Crossing them at 60-80Hz really limits their output...with a 60Hz LPF the midbass drivers are only covering one octave (60-120Hz). By comparison, the midrange drivers are covering over 4 octaves (120Hz ~ 2.8kHz). Strange. Anyway, I can't help but wonder if the midbass drivers are incapable of playing higher frequencies...or maybe crossing them at 120Hz meant Polk didn't have to use a notch filter. I don't know. Regardless, the 120Hz LPF really makes me think Polk intended these speakers to be run full-range, definitely with music and most likely with HT...which is baffling why they left the tweeter unfinished (for lack of a better word) as part of such a versatile, affordable, and otherwise well-engineered speaker?

    Ok, I've rambled long enough. I really like these speakers, and look forward to modifying the crossovers/internal wiring. Personally, I like bright speakers, but the tweeter's nasty little sting is really the only downside to an otherwise awesome speaker design.

    Before I forget, I listened to some music DVDs earlier briefly...the listening session wasn't long enough to draw any conclusions (i.e., streaming vs. physical/digital media), but for what it's worth, the DVD quality was a little better than streaming and the sharpness in the tweeter very slightly subdued. The character of the speakers was still bright (which is fine), but I don't think I listened long/loud enough to notice the tweeter's nasty little sting...I will report back with more substantive results soon.
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • gp4jesus - I just opened your first link "Tri-amped RTi A7"...all I can say is damn! The pictures are awesome, I'll definitely get back to you as soon as I finish reading over these threads. Very nice!
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • msgmsg Posts: 4,270
    edited December 2017
    PolkNAD17 wrote: »
    Toolfan66 - I will keep an eye out for sales on the LSiM line...
    They go on sale all the time with Adorama deals, and they're an authorized dealer, so you get the warranty. Polk just had a Friends and Family sale, but that's not to be expected, nor guaranteed, though it seems to happen about twice a year. Sign up at SlickDeals and set some alerts for Polk LSiM and Polk Signature Series
    I'm not ready to abandon the RTi line.
    Abandon the RTi line.

    Something to consider ~
    WMG and VR3 are great guys and they do beautiful, high quality work, and they have countless satisfied clients around here as well as elsewhere, but I believe most of those cases to be for significant refinement of already pleasing speakers, not as a means of correction, necessarily. That said, if you are in any way serious about music, and it sounds like you are, there are better speakers for you. Just seems like your money will be best spent finding a speaker that starts off closer to what you want instead of chasing all the other refinement options, trying to build a system around speakers that don't work, and possibly still not end up quite where you want to be.

    I got into this hobby with RTi10s back in early 2014. They were not what I expected. I bought an amp. It made a little bit of a difference, but certainly didn't warm those black icicles up enough to be listenable. I learned a lot, but the speakers were still too uncomfortable for music. They were wrong for me, and, like you with your RTiA's, I really liked those speakers, and wanted them to work. I was steered to vintage Polk and LSiM. Muuuuch better fit, and I've been enjoying music ever since. The End.

    My unsolicited 2¢
    Signed,
    Prior RTi10 Earbleed Victim
    Post edited by msg on
  • msg - too funny! I know what you mean...I originally bought the A7s while on a fairly tight budget, and expanded the setup from there. Replacing stereo speakers is much easier (and more affordable) vice replacing five speakers plus two subs. Actually, on that note...the cost of replacing the five RTi speakers is about equivalent in price to adding two SVS or JL Audio subwoofers...I'm inclined to keep the RTis and upgrade the subs, but would it be more beneficial to replace the RTis now and upgrade the subs later?

    A) Polk RTi + dual SVS subs
    B) Polk LSiM + Polk DSW 660

    In fairness, I'm not always critically listening to music...sometimes I put music on for background noise, or music is simply playing as part of YouTube video, etc. The real downside to the RTi line is that for those times when I want to critically listen to music, the tweeters usually get tiresome, sometimes painful, and always draw just a little bit too much attention to themselves. For movies or casual music listening, the RTi line is an excellent value and performer. All things considered, the RTi line meets most of my listening needs, most of the time...and I'm hoping a few minor mods/tweaks might be enough mitigate that nasty little sting in the treble...it's most definitely the Achilles heel in the RTi line.
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • cfrizzcfrizz Posts: 13,030
    Welcome to Club Polk!

    I think that regardless of what you do to your RTi 7s, you will not be able to tame the brightness of them since that was how they were designed in the first place. You would be better off, just replacing them altogether as your first step.

    If you just have one system for both music and movies, I would strongly encourage you to look at the Signature S60 towers. These speakers are terrific for doing both duties.

    The tweeter is crystal clear without any sibilance or ear piercing headaches, just all day listening enjoyment. The bonus is that they are also beautiful to look at.

    You can look on Adorama for one of their sales, or wait for a Friends and Family Sale from Polk. You can replace your speakers a bit at a time as the money becomes available. I would upgrade your sub last, or just get a second DSW 660.

    Here is the review I did on my S60s a month after I got them.

    http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/176622/review-of-polk-signature-series-s60-speakers#latest

    Keep us updated as you make changes!
    Sunfire TGP III PrePro, Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature 405wpc 5 ch. Amp, Oppo 103 BluRay, Rotel RCD-1072 CDP, Sony Bravia KDL-40R510C TV, Polk S60 Main Speakers, Boston VR-920 Center Channel, SVS NSD-12 SB12 Subwoofer, Polk DSW 400 Subwoofer, Polk FXi-3 Surround Speakers
  • Toolfan66Toolfan66 Posts: 13,867
    AGREED^^^^^^
  • gp4jesus - Very impressive mods, Tony! Did you post any YouTube clips of your setup before/after? I applaud all the time and effort you put into your modifications, and especially your willingness to seal off the midrange from the midbass...a very bold gamble! My willingness to modify the A7s probably only goes as far as 1) crossovers, 2) binding posts, 3) internal wiring...I wouldn't want to actively bi-amp the speakers (cost vs. benefit too high), or experiment with adding partitions inside the cabinet (cost vs. benefit is fine...but creating partitions could create additional problems). It just seems to me that upgrading the signal-carrying internal components (i.e., crossovers, wiring, binding posts) and external signal chain/influences (i.e., pre-processor, amplifier, source components, DACs, room arrangement, acoustic treatments, etc.) are the easiest/best mods with the least chance for negative consequences, acoustically.

    Again, I am sincerely amazed at your willingness (and competency) to experiment to such a high degree with these speakers...for better or worse, I just don't think I share that same level of pioneering spirit :smile: Very impressive!
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • cfrizz - I haven't heard the Signature Series in person yet, but they are interesting...definitely looks like a promising direction for Polk. I get the feeling Polk may be looking to replace the RTi and LSiM lines in the near future...I guess we'll find out soon enough.

    Based on what I've read, the Signature Series appears to be a more coherent speaker package...compared to the RTi line, the Signature tweeters are said be smoother and less fatiguing, but still lean towards the bright side. Additionally, the Signature Series is more of an entry-level speaker line, slotting under the RTi line. Nothing against the Signature Series, but if/when I ever replace the RTi speakers, it will almost certainly be with the LSiM (or its replacement) or Focal speakers (Aria, possibly Electra if any amazing deals can be found...maybe replace the A7s with Electra bookshelf speakers). I listened to some B&W 800 series speakers a few months ago, and while I appreciate their build quality, design, and sonic capabilities, the character of the speaker was a little too dry/neutral for my taste. Polk and Focal are the two speaker companies I've heard that actually make speakers you WANT to listen to - they are fun, have personality, and are relatively affordable. Martin Logan electrostatic speakers are also high on my list, but I think they are more room-sensitive speakers...they also have huge impedance dips, and come with active midbass/subwoofers (which I imagine can be difficult to "dial in").

    Anyway, didn't mean to ramble on. What mainstream stores carry LSiM speakers? I see Klipsch and Polk at Best Buy, but they are never set up...and I've never seen the LSiM on display. In the Magnolia section they usually have Martin Logan or B&W speakers hooked up to various McIntosh equipment...no middle ground...either entry level speakers or very high-end speakers. Oy vey!

    There seems to be a growing consensus that the RTi speaker line is what it is - which is to say, bright - and that the sting in the tweeters cannot be changed. If this is the prevailing line of thinking, I may hold out until after tax season and reconsider my options. If upgrading the speakers is really the best option, I may put the subwoofers on hold and start preparing for potential speaker upgrades in the coming months. I have some thinking to do...still open to suggestions in the meantime. And thanks everyone for all the helpful responses! :smile:
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • msgmsg Posts: 4,270
    PolkNAD17 wrote: »
    msg - too funny! I know what you mean...I originally bought the A7s

    ...

    All things considered, the RTi line meets most of my listening needs, most of the time...and I'm hoping a few minor mods/tweaks might be enough mitigate that nasty little sting in the treble...it's most definitely the Achilles heel in the RTi line.
    Understood, and agreed. Same was true in my case getting started. In fact, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time. Overall, your decisions will be about what works best for you within whatever constraints. It takes a while to figure out what you like, and to get everything the way you want it. I meant to write in my response in the recommendation to move on - "if it's feasible [to replace the RTiA]". When I first started, I became obsessed and wanted to get ears on everything. Unfortunately I didn't have those opportunities around here.

    Yes, as you note, the RTiA series is sometimes preferred for HT use over something more musical, like the LSiM series. I agree with @cfrizz in that the Signature Series, from what little experience I've had with both lines (RTi and Signature, RTi10s and S20s, respectively) provides a very, very nice balance in dual purpose systems.

    During a test period of several weeks over the Summer, I had S20s in the system, running in place of LSiM 703s. I found that I actually liked them a touch better for TV, and that I wasn't exactly "missing" the 703s for music. (The experience had me thinking back to how I enjoyed the RTi10 mains/CSi5 center combo for TV (*loved* that CSi5...)).

    That's how good the Signature Series was overall in my limited experience. I was thoroughly impressed, and loved how practical and accessible a speaker line it is.

    I was using a single HSU VTF-15 sub crossed at 70Hz for both listening types, with a Parasound front end and HCA-2205 amplifier. Of course, when I put the 703s back in, I immediately noticed the musical refinement they brought to the experience. I remember thinking, Man, had these Signatures been around when I first started, I'm not sure I'd have fallen as deeply into this gear chase as i have...

    Regarding the replacement of all speakers at once, personally, I wouldn't be too concerned at timbre matching everything right away, but with a qualifier - I don't really care a whole lot about HT, probably because I've never had the experience. If you went with S60s as recommended above, they'd probably be a close enough match with your existing RTiA series for you to get by for a good while, if not forever. If you find you're put off by the "mismatched" center, you could throw in an S30 relatively affordably. I only run 3.1, but from what I've read others recommend here, timbre matching the front three in a 5.1 is supposedly the more critical concern with respect to accurate surround sound performance.

    Of course, if it's LSiM or something similar that you want to step into, that would be a more noticeable difference, though for me, with not being a stickler for HT performance, I'm not sure I'd care/notice enough. My understanding is that most of the sound in HT comes out of the center, but if I were in your position, I'd be looking to move to my "final" speaker choice and not a series of intermediate ones. If this appeals to you and is in any way feasible as a means to incrementally upgrade, you'll probably want to do some research on HT speaker channel allocation to get a sense of just how much action each channel sees to try to determine whether timbre mismatch would be a big deal to you.

    That's kind of a tough call on your listed options. It really just depends on what you want to do. Adding those two subs isn't going to do anything at all for the hot top end on the RTiAs, so you'd only be fattening up your LFE, possibly adding some performance to 2ch listening if it's 2.2. I'd probably hold off on making any moves right now until I were able to get into the speakers I really wanted. Actually, that's a lie. *I* would probably torment myself with proceeding with the crossover upgrade. Not be entirely happy. Then I'd get the Signatures, love them for a while, but still lie awake at night obsessing over what the LSiM would be like for music... Then I'd end up getting them later on as well, ending up with a room full of speakers...

    Don't be like me.
    In fact, you should delete any bookmarks to this site, and roofee yourself.



    When you're ready, post up with a budget and preferences.
    Until then, again, welcome to the site, and enjoy the obsession!

    (You should be receiving a welcome message shortly with with instructions on how to share access to your bank and credit accounts with us)
  • Toolfan66Toolfan66 Posts: 13,867
    IMO you will save a lot of time and money just moving to the S series like @cfrizz has suggested..

    The problem with tweeking the RTi line is there is no tweeter upgrade for a more musical one, if there was I'm sure they would sell many of them, and we would all be pushing you in that direction...

    I honestly don't think you will be 100% satisfied with them after upgrading what you have.

    Good luck in which path you choose to go down..
  • msg & Toolfan66 - thanks for your insightful/humorous posts...you're both spot-on in that I am not looking for temporary solutions. Although my budget/wife won't allow any major upgrades for now, 2018 is right around the corner :wink: I'll keep an eye out for opportunities to demo the Signature Series & LSiM line.

    For what's it worth, my wife and I have been discussing the possibility of setting up a stereo in the main living room...just a simple 2.0 or 2.1 setup for casual music listening. There is no timeline to do this, but it almost certainly won't happen anytime soon (think 2019). But in this instance, for 2-channel casual listening, I think a pair of LSiM bookshelf speakers would be ideal...likely powered by the Yamaha rx-a1020 or an integrated 2-channel receiver. The point being that the HT room wouldn't really double as a music/HT room anymore...it would primarily be used for HT, as originally intended. With HT, I don't think the speakers matter quite as much...which is why I am so willing to work with the RTi, rather than go out and buy new speakers.

    There are several great solutions, as many of you have suggested...I may have to demo the Signature Series sooner rather than later, I have a feeling it might help me make up my mind as to what I decide to do. If they are a more refined version of the RTi line, they could serve as a permanent solution to my HT problem...On the other hand, if the wife decides against putting more speakers in the house, I would be back to my original plan of either modifying the A7s, or eventually replacing them with LSiMs or Focal Arias. So many options...

    On a side note, has anyone figured out which frequency(s) are the cause of the RTi's sharp upper register? In various online reviews, it looks like the reviewers noticed the sharpness but were unable to detect any red flags in measured testing (some of which seemed to be preliminary/superficial testing under less-than-ideal conditions...so more/less inconclusive). When I run YPAO, the Yamaha always kills the top end and bloats the low-end...but the variance from left to center to right speaker is inconclusive...I've never seen any one particular frequency band stand out as the potential offender. It could be that some even-order harmonic is to blame, which could be caused by cheap internals (crossover, wiring, connection points), or by the tweeter's design, or by the silk dome itself. Cheap internals can be remedied...tweeter design & construction materials cannot, unfortunately.

    Ok, I've rambled long enough. Everyone have a happy new year and thanks again for all the great suggestions - this exactly why I joined this forum!
    Home Theater:
    Preamp: Yamaha RX-A1020
    Amp: NAD M27
    Speakers: Polk Rti A7, Polk CSi A6, Polk Rti A4
    Subs: (2) Polk DSW 660
    Other: MiniDSP 2x4 HD (external crossover)
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,712
    This has been a great thread so far, definitely enjoyed the read. @PolkNAD17 way to come through with several high quality posts straight out of the gate! Awesome.

    Never got my ears on anything from the RTi line, but being a Klipsch fan I would probably like that bright tweeter.
    Got Dayens?
  • dolbyddolbyd Posts: 269
    Clipdat wrote: »
    Never got my ears on anything from the RTi line, but being a Klipsch fan I would probably like that bright tweeter.

    I would agree with that statement. I have a few Klipsch friends that love my RtiA's. I think for movies they are as solid as the come. Music I will stick to anything with an LS in front of it.
    Main room- RTiA9 x4, CSiA6, in ceiling Atmos RT-70 x4, SVS PC 4000 x2, Marantz 7704, OPPO 203, Emotiva XPA-5 Gen2, Emotiva X-500,X-150, Sony 75" 940E, Panasonic Plasma VT50,PS Audio Power Port X2, Perfect Wave AC-5 x4

    Office- Infinity Kappa 600, Kappa Center, in ceiling Polk RC80i, SVS PC 2000, Marantz 5010, OPPO 203, Emotiva X300, Sony 48"

    Master BR- LSi7, LSiC, LSI700 in ceiling, SVS-PC 2000, Marantz SR5012, Adcom 7500, OPPO 203, Pioneer DVL-919 Laser Disc, Sony 55" 800B

    Workout room- RT2000P, CS1000P, Pioneer Elite SC81, OPPO 103, Panasonic Plasma VT 42"

    Patio- SDI Atrium8 x3, Emotiva A-100 amps x3

    Storage room at this time- LS90, RT16, CS350LS
  • gp4jesusgp4jesus Posts: 1,173
    edited January 1
    Most humble thanks for the kudos on my efforts.

    Read some AWESOME reviews on your amp - I'm a wee bit envious.

    2 dedicated systems or 1 dual purpose?
    XO upgrades, regardless of mild to wild, will raise your Tweeter Happiness Meter (THM).

    I encourage others to chime in here: I believe your AVR may bear a small amount of the cause to your low THM reading as I've read "they're bright" many times.

    I could & would gladly, by phone, discuss the rest as I see so many points, certainly more than I have time for.

    Tony
    Samsung 60" UN60ES6100 LED
    Outlaw Audio 975 Pre/Pro
    Samsung BDP, DirecTV Rcvr, Xbox 360, Dennon LDP, Phillips CD chgr

    Canare 14 ga - LCR tweeters inside; CC outside
    BJC 10 ga - LCR mids, inside & out
    8 ga Powerline - LR woofers, inside & out

    LR: tri-amped RTi A7. Woofers, Rotel 98X amp; M & T, P'sound HCA-1000
    CC: Rotel RB985 -> tri-amped CSi A6
    5 Audio Pro Subs: 1 B1.39: 1 Evidence at each corner
    Surrounds: Hafler XL280 -> AR 12 ga -> RTi A3*
    Power Conditioning & Distribution:
    3 dedicated 20A feeds; APC H15; 4 Furman Miniport 20s
    *Bi-amped by years end
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