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RSL Outsider II Outdoor Speaker Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the RSL Outsider II outdoor speaker. It is on kind loan from a member who intends to use it as Dolby Atmos speaker (due to ready inclusion of bracket and mounting screws). The Outsider II costs US $200 a pair from the company direct.

Seems like every outdoor speaker manufacturer uses the same plastic mold for these speakers:

RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker review.jpg


The outsider II though feels quite light although no worse than any budget outdoor speaker. The back panel is as expected:
RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker back panel bracket review.jpg


Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I used 800+ measurement points which resulted in error rate of slightly above 1% in upper treble frequencies.

Temperature was 68 degrees. Measurement location is at sea level so you compute the pressure.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

The tweeter on this speaker is offset to the right. I tried to find it but had no luck even when using a flashlight. So I used a reference point that is in the middle of the speaker and to the right of the logo.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Frequency Response Measurements.png


There is good news and bad news. Good news is that frequency response on axis is pretty flat in the all important region between 200 and 3 kHz. Bad news is that there is significant peaking in high frequencies and directivity (how the waveform beam of the woofer and tweeter match) is poor in the crossover region.

Early window reflections are a bit better and naturally apply if you use the speaker indoor in stereo setup:

RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama early window  Frequency Response Measurements.png


Using the same assumptions, this is our predicted response:

RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Predicted In-room  Frequency Response Measu...png


I had little idea how to draw that trend line. Either way, there is too much high frequency energy.

Here is the near-field measurements of the tweeter and woofer:

RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker Driver Woofer Tweeter  Measurements.png


The tweeter peaking is not very visible. This could be due to offset measurement of that driver at less than half inch distance from it.

Impedance dips to 5 ohm which is better than 4 ohm or lower we typically see:
RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker Impedance and Phase  Measurements.png


Distortion is fairly high:

RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker Relative distortion THD  Measurements.png

RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker distortion THD  Measurements.png


Interesting sudden peaking above 7 kHz. Seems like the tweeter is getting unhappy there.

As noted, directivity is not very good:

RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker Horizontal Beamwidth  Measurements.png


RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker Horizontal Directivity Measurements.png



RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker Vertical Directivity Measurements.png


Speaker Subjective Listening Tests
I went into the listening tests thinking this would be a bad sounding speaker given the peaking in highs, high distortion and directivity error. Such was not the case. Yes, on a lot of content it did sound bright but linearity of the response elsewhere allowed it to have good tonality. Certainly my "hifi tracks" sounded hifi.

I decided to cure the brightness with a quick EQ but it was not fully successful:

RSL OUTSIDER II outdoor speaker Roon Correction EQ  Measurements.png


My Roon DSP doesn't have an easy to use target curve module so I had to do with that shelving filter.

I put in my usual dip for the room mode. This was a mix blessing as you do want some room enforcement here. Overall, I liked that it didn't sound too tubby at the cost of some bass.

I also put in a high pass filter and that really reduced distortion resulting in more open sound. Bass loss was minimal.

Once there, speaker response was very good as was power handling. It was hard to make the unit fall apart even at very elevated levels. Surprising to be sure as that held even without my EQ.

Conclusions
Objectively and superficially, it would be easy to dismiss this speaker as not being good. But subjectively and especially with EQ, the Outsider II sounds very good and can be put in use in home hifi use in addition to its outdoor applications.

As such, I am going to put the RSL Outsider II on my recommended list.

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

Sometimes it pays to overdue something. Such is the case with tomatoes in our climate. Despite the battering of rain as of late and much colder climate, we still had enough of these pear and plumb tomatoes to fill a nice box:

Yellow Pear Tomatoes.jpg


Had the golden pear tomatoes with tuna salad for lunch and boy where they sweet and tasty!

Beside these, we harvest another 50 to 60 pounds of melons, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, etc. It is getting close to the end of the season so we are pulling what all we can and have room for.

Back to misery around the house, the plumbers showed up to put in a new pipe in the septic tank to make it easier to unclog next time. What was supposed to be a 1 hour job or less, wound up being 3 hours. The experienced plumber sent junior down who could not pull out the pipe, only to discover 2 hours later that there were two extra bolts holding the flange. Thankfully I had negotiated a fixed $900 price. Not so thankfully, they discover that the pipe leading to the tank is lower than the inlet so stuff accumulates in there causing a clog. :( Now I have to have my helper come to dig a trench and for these guys to come back and run a new 6 foot pipe for hundreds of dollars more!

Tempting to do the work myself but who wants to deal with all that dirty sewage? I am hoping you all donate the money so I can focus on doing reviews using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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MZKM

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Looked at the front page and went: "Why have the Focal and the Classé switched places?.... Ohhh, wait." :D
I'm assuming the same user sent them in.
_____
The Outsider II costs US $200 from the company direct.
$200/pair for those wondering.
I tried to find it but had no luck even when using a flashlight. So I used a reference point that is in the middle of the speaker and to the right of the logo.
With grille off:
Screen Shot 2020-10-11 at 6.07.15 PM.png
 
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Blumlein 88

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It should give you lots of "height" with that uptilted treble in Atmos use.
 

Here2Learn

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At least this review has some caveats about not reflecting outdoor use in parts.

I don't see the benefit of using in-room response measurements to compare outdoor speakers. Sim them in an outdoor setting, either free field or fixed to a wall over lawn or concrete.

Wasn't the preference score better on the Focal's (3.9 vs 2.1 here), but these got a wide-eyed panther and the Focal's a shrug? I know cost comes into it, but again, these preference scores are based on in-room response and not measurements suitable for the intended use case.

This needs fixing frankly. Compare apples with apples etc.
 

MZKM

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these got a wide-eyed panther and the Focal's a shrug?
The main note in the listening section for the Focal was that it sounded boomy, and it does have a lot more bass distortion than this RSL. However, since these 100% will be used with subs, that negative aspect will likely go away. Amir also notes some harshness with female vocals, that I don't see in the measurements that would cause the RSL to not have that.
 

Chromatischism

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It should give you lots of "height" with that uptilted treble in Atmos use.
This is an interesting observation, but the peaking doesn't quite line up with the transfer function used for upfiring Atmos:

1602455097098.png


Though I don't know how much this applies. This is applied to upfiring drivers, which, I would guess, assumes there is absorption of some frequencies from the ceiling material. I don't think a HRTF is applied to on-ceiling speaker channels, but I'm not sure. Maybe there should be...would need further research.
 
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Here2Learn

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The main note in the listening section for the Focal was that it sounded boomy, and it does have a lot more bass distortion than this RSL. However, since these 100% will be used with subs, that negative aspect will likely go away. Amir also notes some harshness with female vocals, that I don't see in the measurements that would cause the RSL to not have that.

In an outside environment, bass is not reinforced by reflective walls, so that should be to the Focal's favour to help ensure bass is better at time of arrival to a listener, since so much bass energy will be lost of not reflected by walls. Amir's notes of "harshness with female focals" are subjective and do a disservice to the focus of being an objective review site.

If we focus on the objective and believe in the work of Toole, then the one with the better preference score is the better speaker - or so the science suggests. Saying otherwise is to not believe the science behind the preference score.
 

AnalogSteph

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So here's another example of poor FR and directivity, plus really insipid measured bass (-6 dB at 55-60) yet, subjectively, it makes good noise. What can we learn from this?
1. The boss is quite happy without deep bass, just don't fall apart trying to reproduce it.
2. He doesn't mind a bit of 1 kHz dip, about as much as the rest of us.
3. Get the midrange right, and you're more than halfway there.

I'm honestly surprised that vertical aberrations aren't any greater than they are, woofer output looks to be hardly attenuated above crossover at all - maybe a lone series inductor.
 

hardisj

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Interesting that the farfield tweeter response does not match the nearfield tweeter response >3kHz.

Notice that in the farfield the spl at 3kHz is about 85dB and at 13kHz about 94dB.

While the nearfield shows about 105dB and 107dB, respectively.


index.php




index.php
 

richard12511

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Given that @Chromatischism sent both of these in, this puts him in a very interesting objective vs subjective predicament :)

One one hand, both this speaker and the Revel M55XC measure similarly awful, yet sound good to Amir. The Focal measures quite a bit better than either, but sounded worse than both to Amir's ears. So, @Chromatischism , what do you trust more, Amir's subjective opinion, or the measurements?

Let us know which ones you decide to keep. Would also be curious of your subjective opinions of these vs the Focal's.
 

Here2Learn

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One one hand, both this speaker and the Revel M55XC measure similarly awful, yet sound good to Amir. The Focal measures quite a bit better than either, but sounded worse than both to Amir's ears. So, @Chromatischism , what do you trust more, Amir's subjective opinion, or the measurements?

This is exactly it. I've stalked about these forums for many years before even registering. On the electronics front I think most reviews are sticking to the objective data and Amir does well and I applaud the work in this area.

When it comes to speakers I feel differently.... most reviews are good, but there are frequent enough juxtapositions of ranking based on Amir's subjective impressions that I feel subjectivity has won the day, especially when a preference score based on science from Floyd Toole is used to rank speakers by MKZM, but for Amir to present them in a juxtaposed light where he favours the poorer measuring units, especially if they hail from Harman Group ranks.

It's a reason I am not on here more often, or a donor. Either we abide by the aim of being objective, or we allow Amir's hearing to trump the science. If the latter is entertained, the site becomes like any other audio/hifi one and becomes about subjective opinion. in my view this is worse if everybody then just believes it and ignores the preference scores. Subjective opinion is fine if you want to give it any merit. But when there becomes a following, like intimated earlier with "The boss is quite happy without deep bass, just don't fall apart trying to reproduce it" then some are going along with Amir's subjective preferences over the science.

Let me interpret "The boss is quite happy without deep bass, just don't fall apart trying to reproduce it." as, so Amir would prefer just a tweeter to a 2-way with some distorted bass? To each their own. Science it is not. Preference from personal opinion it is.
 

restorer-john

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1. The boss is quite happy without deep bass, just don't fall apart trying to reproduce it.
2. He doesn't mind a bit of 1 kHz dip, about as much as the rest of us.
3. Get the midrange right, and you're more than halfway there.

This is pretty much the crux of it.
 

restorer-john

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but for Amir to present them in a juxtaposed light where he favours the poorer measuring units, especially if they hail from Harman Group ranks.

As @amirm has said in reviews before, speakers that ultimately sound more like his big Revels (his reference) are what he prefers. After all, he bought them likely because he believed them to be the best he could buy at the time. So everything gets compared to that very familiar reference. You can't help doing that.

Most speakers have some redeeming sonic qualities, especially if you listen to them long enough. Even objectively poor measuring speakers can do some things very right. The trouble with living with speakers is our brains compensate for deficiencies and they establish a new "normal".

Unless you can rapidly switch back and forth between multiple speakers against a reference, listening for the flaws, differences etc, it all becomes a blur.

You can always just read the objective part of the review and skip the rest if it bothers you.
 

Here2Learn

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As @amirm You can always just read the objective part of the review and skip the rest if it bothers you.

That is what I do. The bit that bothers me is the seeming group think that follows the review revalidating subjective opinion, such that the threads then read like an echo chamber.

Nothing wrong with Amir expressing his opinion. He should, can, and does. What does irk me a bit is when the panther that represents an overall score is based on personal preference rather than the objective data. In the last two reviews the speakers have also been reviewed in a context they were not designed for: indoor use.

Such things move away from scientific objectivity. I always thought that was what this site is about.

It's OK to have subjective biases, but it is something else entirely to award objectively inferior products a better standing (except perhaps for VFM). I just think speakers should be scored on objectivity. MZKM's lists do better in this regard and allow graphing with cost taken into consideration, so it's a sort of ranking by preference score achievement per buck. Altogether that is much more objective. I rely more on his work than Amir's.

The things I am raising don't really happen with the DAC, HPA, or amp reviews. I wonder why it happens often enough with speakers though. For me, speakers are most important as they make the most difference, so should be the item we strive for the most rigourous objectivity about.
 

richard12511

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This is exactly it. I've stalked about these forums for many years before even registering. On the electronics front I think most reviews are sticking to the objective data and Amir does well and I applaud the work in this area.

When it comes to speakers I feel differently.... most reviews are good, but there are frequent enough juxtapositions of ranking based on Amir's subjective impressions that I feel subjectivity has won the day, especially when a preference score based on science from Floyd Toole is used to rank speakers by MKZM, but for Amir to present them in a juxtaposed light where he favours the poorer measuring units, especially if they hail from Harman Group ranks.

It's a reason I am not on here more often, or a donor. Either we abide by the aim of being objective, or we allow Amir's hearing to trump the science. If the latter is entertained, the site becomes like any other audio/hifi one and becomes about subjective opinion. in my view this is worse if everybody then just believes it and ignores the preference scores. Subjective opinion is fine if you want to give it any merit. But when there becomes a following, like intimated earlier with "The boss is quite happy without deep bass, just don't fall apart trying to reproduce it" then some are going along with Amir's subjective preferences over the science.

Let me interpret "The boss is quite happy without deep bass, just don't fall apart trying to reproduce it." as, so Amir would prefer just a tweeter to a 2-way with some distorted bass? To each their own. Science it is not. Preference from personal opinion it is.

I agree that there's sometimes differences between the Olive score and Amir's impression. I don't really see a problem with that, though, and I'd be more surprised - and skeptical - if it didn't occasionally differ. I've actually come to appreciate the recommendation being based more on the subjective part. I feel like I get attacked whenever I link this site's reviews on other forums. By far the most common attack goes something like "That guy doesn't even listen to the speakers. He just measures them and makes a recommendation based on that. How can you recommend a speaker that you've never heard? Measurements?!? *rolls eyes*". I love being able to respond with "Actually he listens to every speaker, and he doesn't recommend speakers for which he didn't like the sound", as it kills that most common criticism. It legitimizes these reviews in the eyes of MANY non ASR members and thus makes them far less likely to gang bang any link to it. It's very tough to convince newbies on other sites that these reviews are the best out there when you have 6 different people chime in after your post to say ASR is garbage and never trust any reviews from that site. Unless they really seek out the knowledge themselves, then they're far more likely to trust the 6 people telling them that my link is garbage than they are to trust me.

Amir's subjective impressions combined with objective measurements bring more newbies into the audio science world than measurement's alone would.

In some ways, I'd say the measurements are more for the members here, and the subjective impressions are for the non-members that are just reading the reviews.
 
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