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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

dav0043

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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.
View attachment 268368
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:
View attachment 268369

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:
View attachment 268370
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:
View attachment 268371
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:

View attachment 268372

View attachment 268373

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:
View attachment 268374

Some really get narrow and this one looks a bit wider than normal which is good:
View attachment 268375

Vertical directivity is wide so if you use the speaker vertically, you don't have this issue:
View attachment 268376

The dual drivers plus wideband port response helps a lot with distortion in bass:
View attachment 268377
View attachment 268378

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:
View attachment 268379
Here are the waterfall and step responses:

View attachment 268380


View attachment 268381

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:

View attachment 268382
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.

------------
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/
I'd like to see 2 ratings for each review in cases like these. Looking at the graphs and numbers I would not expect this to be a recommended product, based on science alone. The recommendation appears to be subjective (with EQ, listening to reference recordings, look & feel). Both ratings (measurement based vs subjective) are of value but when they are jumbled together it muddies the water. Not a complaint as I love reading these. Just an observation/suggestion.
 

TimW

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That’s vertical, which is not as important in a centre speaker use case. May I ask for the horizontal? Or the source of the measurements?
I linked the source in my post, it is the underlined here. I gave the vertical because the speaker was measured in the vertical orientation, this would be the horizontal for the center channel version.
 

Battlebeast

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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.
 

Newman

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I don't understand how any MTM gets recommended as a center channel.

It should be a blanket "no"
Inexcusable use of a smiley-face panther for a speaker that fails on the bench in a science based forum.

I understand Amir has provided an excuse, but I don’t accept it.
 

Thomas_A

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My take is that Amirs grading mostly fits with measurements. With hundreds of reviews there will always be a few deviations one way or the other. Bias is not possible to remove completely, unless listening is done blind.
 

sarumbear

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I linked the source in my post, it is the underlined here. I gave the vertical because the speaker was measured in the vertical orientation, this would be the horizontal for the center channel version.
Do you think less then +/- 10 degree window is better than this speaker on test?
 

TimW

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Do you think less then +/- 10 degree window is better than this speaker on test?
Not sure if this is what you refer to, but the -6 point (dark orange line) for the CMT-340SE2 is about +/- 15 degrees in the narrowest area. Maybe not quite as good as the RSL CG25 but very similar.
 

sarumbear

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Not sure if this is what you refer to, but the -6 point (dark orange line) for the CMT-340SE2 is about +/- 15 degrees in the narrowest area. Maybe not quite as good as the RSL CG25 but very similar.
As the colours change at every 3dB one can interpret that the dark orange line means -8.5dB and as it skirts something like a +/- 5 degree line (pink), this is not an acceptably large dispersion. However, irrespective of any argument of the values in my book no domestic speaker should have such a narrow dispersion. It is simply not acceptable. Naturally you may disagree.

1677754434277.png
 

rvsixer

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As the colours change at every 3dB one can interpret that the dark orange line means -8.5dB and as it skirts something like a +/- 5 degree line (pink), this is not an acceptably large dispersion. However, irrespective of any argument of the values in my book no domestic speaker should have such a narrow dispersion. It is simply not acceptable. Naturally you may disagree.
Moving the cursor over the graph will give you x,y,z coordinates/values (though the y values is a bit rough being in 10 degree increments). The actual -6db point is at around +/- ~15 degrees for the 340SE2 (pretty much on par with the RSL here).
(Unfortunately, the cursor doesn't show up in the screenshot below, but it was right on the lowest point of the darker orange line. Try for yourself and see.)

1677763386333.png
 
Last edited:

sarumbear

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Moving the cursor over the graph will give you x,y,z coordinates/values (though the y values is a bit rough being in 10 degree increments). The actual -6db point is at around +/- ~18 degrees for the 340SE2 (pretty much on par with the RSL here).
(Unfortunately, the cursor doesn't show up in the screenshot below, but it was right on the lowest point of the darker orange line. Try for yourself and see.)

View attachment 268766
Thank you. I only had the screen grabs hence only could guess.
 

Dj7675

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Speaker reviews like this are often times some of the more interesting ones..
-Not a pretty measurements
-Apparently by design to allow EQ
-MTM design
We have a far from perfect measurements, and yet with some EQ, listening tests revealed a nice sounding speaker. There are a nice handful of examples of this with other speakers too: JBL 4349, Revel M55XC, Wilson Tunetot (and I'm sure a few more). 100% Objectively minded folks can either dismiss the listening tests, or consider the possibility that some strengths of a speaker may outweigh perfect measurements... bass, dynamics, low distortion etc. I think these kind of examples are sometimes the most interesting and valuable. Of course many can and will dismiss listening tests and that is fine but I think that would be a mistake. Combining measurements and listening can sometimes reveal a good sounding speaker that otherwise might be dismissed.
 

Dj7675

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Why are people repeating this narrative?

It just seems like your typical badly tuned speaker for me.
Becasue Amir said it in the review:
"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."
 

abdo123

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Becasue Amir said it in the review:
"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."

This doesn’t make sense whatsoever?!!

The speaker obviously has an incorrect baffle-step compensation.
 

beaRA

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Speaker reviews like this are often times some of the more interesting ones..
-Not a pretty measurements
-Apparently by design to allow EQ
-MTM design
We have a far from perfect measurements, and yet with some EQ, listening tests revealed a nice sounding speaker. There are a nice handful of examples of this with other speakers too: JBL 4349, Revel M55XC, Wilson Tunetot (and I'm sure a few more). 100% Objectively minded folks can either dismiss the listening tests, or consider the possibility that some strengths of a speaker may outweigh perfect measurements... bass, dynamics, low distortion etc. I think these kind of examples are sometimes the most interesting and valuable. Of course many can and will dismiss listening tests and that is fine but I think that would be a mistake. Combining measurements and listening can sometimes reveal a good sounding speaker that otherwise might be dismissed.
It's the same old story, same old song and dance. Listening tests have value when they are done comparatively with an attempt to control biases. That's the way we connect measurements to perception. Without controlling for biases, listening tests add nothing to our existing understanding.
 

Dj7675

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This doesn’t make sense whatsoever?!!

The speaker obviously has an incorrect baffle-step compensation.
Feel free to disagree, but you asked why do people keep saying it and I simply quoted what @amirm said according to the company and his thoughts on if this was a good or bad thing. You certainly don't have to agree with it of course...
 

Newman

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It's the same old story, same old song and dance. Listening tests have value when they are done comparatively with an attempt to control biases. That's the way we connect measurements to perception. Without controlling for biases, listening tests add nothing to our existing understanding.
Yep. And when anyone tackles Amir about it, we get some good old righteous indignation, somehow based on his formerly-demonstrated ability to spot distortion in blind tests.

Speaker reviews like this are often times some of the more interesting ones..
-Not a pretty measurements
-Apparently by design to allow EQ
-MTM design
We have a far from perfect measurements, and yet with some EQ, listening tests revealed a nice sounding speaker. There are a nice handful of examples of this with other speakers too: JBL 4349, Revel M55XC, Wilson Tunetot (and I'm sure a few more). 100% Objectively minded folks can either dismiss the listening tests, or consider the possibility that some strengths of a speaker may outweigh perfect measurements... bass, dynamics, low distortion etc. I think these kind of examples are sometimes the most interesting and valuable. Of course many can and will dismiss listening tests and that is fine but I think that would be a mistake. Combining measurements and listening can sometimes reveal a good sounding speaker that otherwise might be dismissed.
OK, which part of the spinorama is revealing a good sounding speaker?

And what do you mean, “Objectively minded folks can either dismiss the listening tests…”? How about we chuck it into a properly controlled listening test, and see how listeners prefer it or not vs speakers with better spinoramas. Bet you anything it would be less preferred…and with EQ, it would still be less preferred than speakers whose spinoramas are better than this one with its EQ.

Nah…what you are doing is waiting for a review that looks like an implied contradiction with the science, then jumping on the ol’ bandwagon with the prepared speech, “see, I knew it!”. Well, no, you didn’t know it.
 
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