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RSL CG25 Center Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 26 16.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 70 44.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 50 31.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 11 7.0%

  • Total voters
    157

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests and measurements of the RSL CG25 center home theater speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $425.
RSL CG25 Center Speaker Home Theater Review.jpg

This is an unusual design in that the port goes through a path in the back which kind of resembles a very short/truncated transmission channel. Otherwise we have the usual MTM configuration of dual mid-woofers and tweeter. Not much to see on the back other than the useful threaded insert for mounting it to the wall:
RSL CG25 Center Speaker Home Theater back side binding posts mount Review.jpg


Build quality seems good with nice finish and reasonable weight and solidity.

I was contacting the company regarding another product so while I was at it, I asked them to review the frequency response measurements. They are generally in agreement with the results you are about to see.

Speaker was tested in horizontal configuration as you see above. Reference axis was that of tweeter.

RSL CG25 Center Speaker Measurements
As usual we start with our anechoic frequency response measurements:
RSL CG25 Center Speaker frequency response Measurement.png

At first glance, the on-axis response looks quite bad. But stepping back, the bass/mid-range simply has too much output. And we have a single resonant peak around 4.6 kHz. We can see the reason for both in the near-field, non-anechoic response of the drivers and port:
RSL CG25 Center Speaker driver port near-field frequency response Measurement.png

The unusual port design is extending the output all the way up to 500 Hz. The are resonances after that but levels are rather low. Woofers nicely roll off.

Predicted in-room response and early window reflections are messy due to above factors:

RSL CG25 Center Speaker early window frequency response Measurement.png


RSL CG25 Center Speaker Predicted in-room frequency response Measurement.png


MTM configurations cause the dual drivers to "beam" and as such, lose their side energy at certain frequencies and we see that here as well:
RSL CG25 Center Speaker Horizontal Directivity Measurement.png


Some really get narrow and this one looks a bit wider than normal which is good:
RSL CG25 Center Speaker Horizontal Beam width Measurement.png


Vertical directivity is wide so if you use the speaker vertically, you don't have this issue:
RSL CG25 Center Speaker Vertical Directivity Measurement.png


The dual drivers plus wideband port response helps a lot with distortion in bass:
RSL CG25 Center Speaker Relative THD Distortion Measurement.png

RSL CG25 Center Speaker THD Distortion Measurement.png


We do have distortion where the resonance was. So to the extent we reduce that peak with EQ, we can also put a bandage on that.

Impedance is typical at 4.2 ohm:
RSL CG25 Center Speaker impedance and phase Measurement.png

Here are the waterfall and step responses:

RSL CG25 Center Speaker CSD Waterfall Measurement.png



RSL CG25 Center Speaker Step Response Measurement.png


RSL CG25 Speaker Listening Tests
Objective measurements do not prepare you well for what you first hear from this speaker. First impression is authoritative bass with good balance with highs! I know, how could that be? Well, my first track is always a female track where some bass adds warmth. But where is the high coming from? Well, it is the resonance we have seen in the measurements. I took that down first with EQ and now the tonality shifted to too much bass:

RSL CG25 Center Speaker equalization.png

I then worked backwards and put in the shelving filter to lower the bass, and fill the hole in that region. I then performed and AB and you now much more clearly heard how much extra bass there was without EQ.

With EQ, the performance was superb! This one small speaker could pump out power no matter how loud I cranked my 500+ watt amplifier! The sound was clean, with nice impactful bass and super satisfying! I dare say it was one of the best sounding center speakers I have tested!!!

Mind you, there is not much support for sub-bass but what is there is just a tad distorted. Many small speakers produce highly distorted response there.

Conclusions
One of the benefits of a center speaker is that you almost know that it will be used in a home theater situation with EQ. So why not design it with extra bass response and have the EQ fix that as needed? That seems to be at play here with CG25. With over 90 dB sensitivity in bass and midrange region, you have plenty of dynamic range in reserve. Bring the level down and you reduce distortion. Sure, there is a resonant peak in treble but interestingly, that provided some balanced to extra bass in case someone uses it without EQ.

So what we have here is a design that on purpose (per company) deviates from neutral response, but in a beneficial way when equalized. I always wondered about such an approach: not wasting sensitivity in a speaker and letting it produce the most of what it can, and then fixing with EQ.

For a center speaker where so much energy is directed at in movies, the overall picture is quite positive, pun intended.

I am happy to recommend the RLS CG25 with equalization where it produces superb fidelity and ability to play incredibly loud.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • RSL CG25 Frequency Response.zip
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Wow… what a surprise. Thanks @amirm for another great and revealing review. Speaker has a very nice look and with EQ sounds good? That’s a win win. Either way whoever gets this speaker is going to use EQ. Regarding the front ports, they look exactly the same as my Sierra Horizon w/RAAL center speaker.
 
Their measurements showed the resonant peak at 4.6 khz to not be as tall. I explained to them that their measurements were lower resolution so had smoothed over that bump. The bass response was by design according to them.
 
Those thick lower mids, I usually do not like that.
Man I can't justify it from the outside.
Using EQ to bring it back in line reduces effective sensitivity back to 87db anyway.
Hmmm, a strange one for sure.
Thanks, been wondering if this brand stacks up, it has a sincere following.

As a pair vertically with PEQ, yah maybe, but as a single horizontal center...
 
It should be a blanket "no"
I checked directivity from my seating position and it covered my loveseat. I noted that the narrowing is not as bad as some others.
 
Interesting speaker.

RSL’s “Speedwoofer” subwoofer has gotten a lot of acclaim. I suggest it would be worthwhile getting ahold of one to see what the fuss is about.
 
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I’ve been looking at the C34E MKII so a good test from this manufacturer is a positive sign. Hope that the C34E MKII is on your test list.
 
If nothing else (well not nothing else this is good) This is a very pretty thing for 4 bills.
 
so, it can cover a couch............

How far away is said couch from the mtm speaker ?

And to be far, some of us are not against a bit of dip under 2khz.......

I'm not sure what a 4.5khz spike sounds like.
6khz added some clang to cymbals.
8khz adds spitting of s's and t's.
 
Interesting speaker.

RSL’s “Speedwoofer” subwoofer has gotten a lot of acclaim. I suggest it would be worthwhile getting ahold of one to see what the fuss is about.
Amir reviews subwoofers? Anyways, Audioholics already measured it.

Consulting this form, https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...fyBjaxK69dkXte6ZL6anVTW2_M/edit#gid=834598950, It seems to be quite compelling. Looking at various different options on this form, Its extension and output levels are rather high for price and size. It's only beaten out exclusively by more expensive and larger subs (Not larger woofers per se, but larger enclosures) without exception. I also quite enjoy mine, it does everything it needs to do in a compact form factor. Nice little unit.
 
I love my RSL's.....They can be made to sound any way you want them.
 
I agree with the complaints about MTM sideways speakers. It is literally the worst configuration you can come up with for a center channel in terms of directionality. It is convenient to place below a screen, but so is a soundbar. You could take a medium sized stereo speaker of good measurements and lay it sideways. MTM just gives you a symmetrically poor result vs an asymmetrical poor result.

The only four I've seen which look to be alright are the C208 and C52, KEF center and Ascend Acoustics center all reviewed here. And you can see why. They are something of a tall center with vertically oriented tweeter and midrange flanked by woofers. A TM/WW layout? Or the KEF center which is a coaxial mid-tweeter flanked by two woofers per side. Or the Ascend Acoustics center which is a mid below a flat tweeter (very poor vertical response however) flanked by woofers.

Both of those are in and around 12 inches tall. About the height of a JBL LSR305 or 306. Seems you'd get better results with one of those sitting on top of a woofer than any of these MTM designs. Not as pretty perhaps. Maybe an M106 on a woofer then. Or a KEF coax speaker sitting on a woofer.

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RSL’s “Speedwoofer” subwoofer has gotten a lot of acclaim. I suggest it would be worthwhile getting ahold of one to see what the fuss is about.

Well, let me put it this way, I have two of the last generation models and when I accidentally ran a sweep at what I think was -12db without any taming EQ I cracked the plaster in the ceiling. Current gen has 100W+ and deeper extension. Luckily I had some IEMs acting as ear plugs...
 
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