Signature Series 41-SE Comparisons and Performance
The uniqueness of RBH's Signature Series 41-SE's are not only noted by their aluminum cone drivers, but also their cabinet size and performance. The 41SE's are 11 ½" H x 6 ¾" W x 10" D with a frequency response ranging form 60Hz to 20kHz +/- 3dB. One would not necessarily expect a speaker with a 4" driver to be 10" deep and have such a low frequency extension. There are many speakers from more popular manufacturers which offer 6" drivers and have smaller cabinets in combination with frequency responses that do not play down to 60 Hz with such authority.
There are many factors that affect a speaker's bass performance. While cabinet size isn't an ultimate basis for speaker comparison, it does offer some insight into how the manufacturer designed and tuned the cabinet to match the performance of the drivers. The dimensions of the RBH 41-SE is only part of the formula for creating their 60Hz to 20kHz +/- 3dB frequency response.
Performance of the RBH Signature Series 41SE
Listening tests are typically subjective and are an expression of the listener's personal taste in sound quality. Even the best listening tests are usually conducted with some form of comparison to a variety of speakers in an isolated room with various audio tracks. For our review, we used familiar music from CD's, DVD-A, DTS CD's and DVD Movies. The RBH 41SE's were installed in Reference System 2 in multiple usages. Because of my many years of playing guitar and performing, I have also established a keen ear for how certain instruments sound, especially during live performances. This helps me appreciate the tonal character of instruments and vocals during music playback.
We began our listening test by using them as the main front channel speakers. We then switched them over to surround channel speakers and lastly, we installed them as the 7.1 channel rear surrounds.
When considering a home theater speaker package, many of us fall victim to the wife acceptance factor (WAF) . Now, please don 't think I'm bashing wives with this broad statement, but I'm sure most of us will be willing to admit that our significant others typically prefer smaller speakers as they are less obtrusive in the room. When considering a small speaker package for either two channel stereo, or 5 / 7 channel surround, we believe the 41SE's are well suited. On their own as main speakers, they produced an accurate, broad range frequency response that one would expect from a larger speaker. While these speakers do not produce bass frequencies lower then 60Hz with much authority, they do produce a tight, very accurate mid and semi-low bass capable of enriching any listening experience, especially when mated with a musical subwoofer. This is especially noticeable when focusing on the sound of musical instruments such as bass and drums. The 41SE's were able to recreate a life-like soundstage with adequate presence for a speaker of such a small footprint. In addition to their impressive bass performance, the RBH 41-SE did an outstanding job of recreating neutral and accurate midrange and the higher frequencies of instruments and vocals with equal favor. When attention is turned toward their representation of guitars, horned instruments, and vocals, it's easy to notice how well rounded and accurate these speakers really were.
With some speakers in this price range and above, certain vocalists can sound somewhat lisp with emphasis on "s." This can be the result of an inaccurate implementation or overly bright tweeter. When hearing vocals from Patricia Barber, Norah Jones, Jewel, Donald Fagan and Cowboy Junkies on the RBH 41SE's, there are no lisp "s" to be noticed. The soft dome tweeter of the signature series is able to reproduce the detail of the vocals, without being overly bright.
As for their performance with mid bass, it is best noticed when paying attention to guitars and snare drums. My favorite listening test for this is don e by using Steely Dan's, "Two Against Nature" CD and Larry Carlton and Lee Rittenour's CD simply titled, "Larry and Lee." Both of these CD's offer superior fidelity when compared to many other CD's. On the Steely Dan CD, Walter Becker uses a custom built guitar from Roger Sadowski. The pickups in this CD offer a unique sound that is signature to Sadowski's guitar. The sound difference to some may be minor, but to the musician, it's easily identifiable on a quality pair of speakers. With the refined sound produced by the 41SE's, the sonic signature pickups in Sadowski's guitar were clearly identifiable.
The Larry and Lee CD is well suited to test the frequency extension of a speaker due to its broad range of instruments and quality fidelity. The 41SE's did an outstanding job of recreating the tightness of the drums, along with a sufficient amount of tight bass all in perfect balance. The horn section came across as being dynamic, without being overly bright.
There is no doubt that the 41SE's are well suited for main speakers for those looking for refined sound in a small package. When coupled with an RBH sub to handle the deeper bass, the 41SE's become the ultimate budget speaker offering superb fidelity and quality at an affordable price.