What We Like
- Advanced cabinet design that actually increases performance.
- Great sound once properly set up.
- Really a bargain at this price.
What We Don’t Like
- Weaker low-end response.
Polk Audio’s RTI A1 are absolutely among the best compact bookshelf speakers you can get for less than $300. There’s plenty of reasons why and today we are going to cover the most important ones.
If there is one thing Polk Audio does that many other brands don’t in this particular price range, it is to pay a great deal of attention to cabinet design. Not only did they use high-density MDF for RTI A1, but they designed a tapered cabinet that does a lot towards reducing cabinet resonances. The exterior of both cabinets is covered with glossy black vinyl, which goes well with brushed aluminum baffles.
Speaking of which, if you look at the front panel of the speaker, you will notice that there are two waveguides, one above and one below the large driver. That bottom one is actually housing the front firing port. Overall, the aesthetics of Polk Audio RTI A1 are attractive. They are neither your standard black box speaker nor an overly aggressive set. Polk Audio has found that middle ground that allows the RTI A1 to blend in just about anywhere.
In terms of features, there’s quite a lot going on with these speakers. First and foremost, you have the 1“ tweeter that sits comfortably in their advanced waveguide. While it is not as aggressive as some waveguides on the market, it does a great job at focusing the performance of that tweeter to a point where you get optimal results.
The 5.25“ driver features a butyl rubber surround that keeps it stable but also cuts out any vibrations before they reach the cabinet. One of the most interesting features is the front firing port. It belongs to their Power Port Plus series and is known to reduce the amount of turbulence as well as distortion.
There is also the ARC or Acoustic Resonance Control that is just another feature aimed at reducing cabinet resonance. All in all, it is obvious just how far Polk Audio was ready to go in order to give us the best bang for our dollar.
When it is time to plug Polk Audio RTI A1 and crank your favorite tune to a reasonable level, you will notice two things. First, there’s a lot of precision and clarity in the tone. Even with more complex songs, you will hear every instrument pretty clearly. The other thing has to do with the bass.
In all honesty, 5.25“ drivers won’t get you a whole lot of low-end response. However, when paired with an advanced port such as the one found on this speaker, there’s some room for improvement. While RTI A1s aren’t really reaching that far down the frequency range, the soundstage is filled with bass.
It’s not that thumping type either, but more of a balanced and saturating kind of bass. Considering their size as well as price, we can confidently say that Polk Audio RTI A1 speakers are a great choice.
Polk Audio has once again proven why they are among the best. Getting this type of performance and feature package is rare, especially in this price range. Bang for the buck, these are about as good as it gets.