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RBH SV-61R Measurements and Conclusion


RBH SV-61R bookshelf speaker testing.jpg

The RBH SV-61R bookshelf speakers were measured in free air at a height of approximately 7.5 feet and gated at 9 ms. At this window gate, some resolution is lost below 250 Hz, and accuracy is completely lost below 110 Hz and so that range should be ignored. The microphone was placed 2 meters away from the speaker at a height level with the tweeter. All measurements are unsmoothed.

RBH SV-61R bookshelf speaker response_curves.jpg 

RBH SV-61R Bookshelf Speaker Response Curves 

The SV-61R speakers have a very good response overall. They are a tad soft in upper treble frequencies, taking a 3 dB dip above 7 kHz with respect to the rest of the response, but that isn’t an audible character that I noted when I was listening to them. Note the marvelously flat response from 600 Hz to 6 kHz. There is very little evidence of the 2700 Hz crossover point between the drivers. This is a crossover done right. One admirable trait is the similarities of the early reflections curve and listening window curve to the direct axis curve. This means the speaker will sound the same even well away from the direct axis angle. Another aspect to note is the very gradual rise on the directivity index curves; it is mostly pretty flat up to 5 kHz. This means that the directivity, or the off-axis energy, does not change substantially within that frequency band. More evidence of this property will be seen in the polar map graph below. For a good explanation of these curves and their significance, we refer the reader to this Audioholics article: Objective Loudspeaker Measurements to Predict Subjective Preferences.

RBH SV-61R bookshelf speaker horz.jpg 

RBH SV-61R Bookshelf Speaker horizontal frequency response +/- 100 degrees: 3D view

RBH SV-61R bookshelf speaker Horz_profile.jpg 

RBH SV-61R Bookshelf Speaker horizontal frequency response +/- 100 degrees: 2D view 

The above graphs depict the SV-61R’s axial response out to 100 degrees in 5-degree increments. Again, we see the terrifically neutral power response from 600 Hz to 6 kHz. The response drops a bit below and above that band, but still remains flat after the drop. The off-axis response beautifully mirrors the direct response and does not significantly change in shape except for a gradual narrowing of directivity. This dispersion behavior is textbook perfect for this type of design and design goal. The dispersion is wide and uniform in shape. This is a speaker that will sound the very close to the same on and off-axis. It will cover a very wide listening angle with essentially the same sound quality. If you have a broad listening area, this speaker is a great choice. Furthermore, the acoustic reflections of the speaker in the room, which is most of what we hear in normal listening situations, will not have deviations from the sound character from the direct axis response. So, this speaker will sound great in almost any room. You do not need a room with heavy acoustic treatments to get the SV-61R speakers to sound good. They are designed to sound good in any normal domestic environment.

The flattest response occurs on direct axis, but those who want to shave a little energy off the high frequencies for a warmer sound can toe them in or out by 20 or 30 degrees or so and that may subdue some of the treble energy. My advice is to listen to them on direct axis, and, if possible, with grilles removed. As with so many other speakers, the grilles do put some nicks in the treble frequencies from diffraction effects, although those negative effects aren’t really that audible. However, for the absolute best response, leave the grilles off. 

RBH SV-61R bookshelf speaker polar.jpg 

RBH SV-61R Bookshelf Speaker Polar Map 

The above polar map of the horizontal dispersion of the SV-61R speakers depict the same information as the two waterfall graphs above, but tells the story in a different way that can offer further insight regarding its behavior. We see again the fabulously controlled dispersion up to 6 kHz. Dispersion tightens a bit above 6 kHz but still maintains a respectably even response up to 20 kHz out at a 40-degree angle away from the direct axis. The story here is that the SV-61R speakers have a very uniform response over an 80-degree angle from the front of the speaker. If you listen anywhere within that angle, the speaker will not change much in sound character. These are not speakers that have a small ‘sweet spot’ or a single narrow position of good sound and not really anywhere else. All you have to do is sit somewhere in front of them and they will sound good. Again, listening on direct axis would be best, but you lose relatively little by sitting 25 or even 35 degrees off axis.

 RBH SV-61R bookshelf speaker vertical response.jpg

RBH SV-61R Bookshelf Speaker vertical frequency response +/- 90 degrees: 3D view 

The above graph depicts the SV-61R’s frequency response behavior on the vertical axis, so zero is directly ahead of the tweeter, -90 degrees facing the top of the speaker, and 90 degrees is facing the bottom. Uniformity in dispersion on the vertical axis isn’t nearly as important as it is for the horizontal axis, but it certainly does not hurt to have well-behaved vertical dispersion performance, and the SV-61R speakers do well on this front. We do see some notches centered at 2.5 kHz at the 20-degree angle that are interference effects from the tweeter and woofer canceling each other out. This is common and will affect any speaker that has drivers separated by a distance that lay on the same plane. As with many other speakers of this type, these should be listened to with the tweeters at or near ear level.

RBH SV-61R bookshelf speaker impedance.jpg 

RBH SV-61R Bookshelf Speaker Electrical Impedance and Phase 

The SV-61R’s impedance curve exhibits an overall benign load. Impedance stays above 8 ohms until up to 3 kHz. At its lowest, it dips down to 6 ohms from 4 to 5 kHz, but the phase angle is not extremely steep around this minima, so this is not a particularly taxing load at any one point. All steep phase angles occur at high impedances, which makes for an easy amplification load. We can see from the dip in the low-frequency saddle that the port tuning frequency is 60 Hz. This speaker can be easily run on any amplifier and has no special amplification requirements at all. This is evidence of smart design and well thought-out engineering.

 RBH SV-61R bookshelf speaker groundplane.jpg

RBH SV-61R Bookshelf Speaker low-frequency response 

Since the 7.5 foot elevation of our free-air testing doesn’t allow us to get a sense of the low-end response of the SV-61R speakers due to the acoustic reflections of long wavelengths of low frequencies, we conducted ground-plane measurements which do give us a useful bass response. We can see the SV-61Rs have a slight 2 dB rise in the response centered at 100 Hz, but for the most part, the low-frequency response is quite flat. The low end starts rolling off at 80 Hz, so these are clearly intended to be used with a subwoofer with the normal 80 Hz crossover frequency. This is a very sensible design choice, since extending the low-frequency response lower would necessitate lower sensitivity or a larger cabinet and port.


ThoRBH SV-61R bookshelf speaker single angle.jpgse who have read this far will know that I do like the RBH SV-61R speakers. They do a lot right and not really anything wrong at all. The question then becomes, are they worth the asking price? The $1,900 MSRP is a not insignificant asking price for a pair of bookshelf speakers, but, in my view, this is a fair price for the SV-61R speakers. They sound great, they look very nice, and they measure very well. Their build quality is also quite good; there is no evidence of shortcuts or penny-pinching in the parts selection or construction.

There are a lot of terrific choices in this price range, so why choose these from so many others? I would say these make a great choice for those looking for a bookshelf speaker that is on the ‘warm’ side, in that it doesn’t have accentuated treble but not without losing detail. Many times speakers simply use an elevated treble response to create a greater sense of detail. The SV-61Rs manage a nice sense of detail without heightened treble, and my guess is that is due to the relatively wide dispersion of the treble response. With these speakers, you can have detailed sound without scorching hot treble. 

The SV-61Rs also look pretty outstanding for medium-sized bookshelf speakers compared to much of the competition, especially in the Rosewood finish. This is a very classy-looking speaker and would not be out of place even in a luxuriously furnished environment. Any bookshelf speakers selling for nearly $1,900/pair better look nice, and these do, very much so. As was mentioned before, the grilles do them no favors in appearance as well as sound quality. Just leave them off if possible.

Due to their wide and even dispersion pattern, they can excel in a number of roles, not just as front left and right speakers. They would also make for excellent surround speakers where the user needs wide coverage over a short distance. As was said before, they do well as desktop speakers where their superb dispersion pattern makes any wide lateral movements of the listener have relatively little effect on the overall sound. 

RBH has released a very strong choice among loudspeakers of this type and price class. I can say that were I shopping for bookshelf speakers in this price range, they would definitely be one of the top contenders on my list. Even among all the very good bookshelf speakers in this range, the SV-61R is a welcome addition to this market. The world needs more great loudspeakers, not less, and RBH has made an excellent contribution in this respect.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Kursun posts on October 12, 2020 05:44
@Shane Rich

I hadn't seen your comment before…
I would like to add further clarification to your clarification…

You are right that using an electrolytic capacitor on the low-pass section of a crossover, in parallel to the woofer won't affect sound quality much.
But on the other hand, an electrolytic capacitor needs forming DC voltage to keep its life long. It won't find any DC in a speaker.
Without any DC present shelf life of an electrolytic capacitor is about 2 years.
This means, inside a crossover, an electrolytic capacitor will constantly deteriorate and change its value. In a few years the crossover frequency will have changed enough to deviate from its nominal value. I suppose you wouln't want that…
Arkh82 posts on August 25, 2020 12:29
What do you mean? I could spoil my self way more lol.

But, I figure I spend more time at the PC than in front of the TV. And going by your name I figure you'd appreciate what I have set up for that. A pair of BP3000TL towers, matching C/L/R 3000 center, and BP10B as rears. The center makes a loud pop every time its powered on though - perhaps you know a bit about that?

Anyways, I use the PC for work (sometimes) but mainly it's for gaming and music, with the occasional movie or what have you. I put a lot of time and money into the pc itself as well. We'll just say that if I had speakers that were 1k each I'd still be less than what the PC cost. (for a 5.1 setup) Perhaps I have a problem haha.

I got a pretty good deal on the 906's at $899 a pair. and the center I snagged for $799

Having RBH about 5 miles from me may be bad for my wallet.
AcuDefTechGuy posts on August 25, 2020 09:46
Arkh82, post: 1414105, member: 92287
I could potentially pick up a pair of these, but also recently purchased a full set of Focal Aria 906's( 2 pair and CC900 Center). how would you compare the Aria's to the SV-61/R's?

These would indeed be used at my computer, and i have gone a bit overboard and paired them with a Rel T/9i Sub. have the speakers about 6 feet apart, and i can be seated anywhere between 4 feet to 8 feet from them.
You are WAY TOO SPOILED to be using $2K/pair speakers as COMPUTER speakers!

My computer speakers cost $20.

But seriously, great sounding speakers will sound great - they sound more alike than different, especially in the treble and midrange. $2K RBH speakers are going to sound equally great compared to $2K Focal, Dynaudio, Revel, KEF, or Monitor Audio speakers.
Arkh82 posts on August 25, 2020 03:56
I could potentially pick up a pair of these, but also recently purchased a full set of Focal Aria 906's( 2 pair and CC900 Center). how would you compare the Aria's to the SV-61/R's?

These would indeed be used at my computer, and i have gone a bit overboard and paired them with a Rel T/9i Sub. have the speakers about 6 feet apart, and i can be seated anywhere between 4 feet to 8 feet from them.
Shane Rich posts on May 11, 2020 14:15
Hello all, I thought I would take this opportunity to share some insight into the topic being discussed. RBH Signature Series products (and most high quality speakers on the market) only use polypropylene capacitors for high-pass filters in crossover networks for tweeters (this is where it matters). Electrolytic capacitors have more resistance at higher frequencies and are therefor not ideal for use in series with high frequency drivers. For mid/low frequency drivers, non-polarized electrolytic capacitors are used as shunt (in parallel) capacitors where there is no advantage to using a polypropylene capacitor . They are typically also used in series for high-pass filters for mid-range drivers where the size and cost of using a polypropylene capacitor is not practical, in which case, a smaller bypass polypropylene capacitor is also used to preserve signal integrity. In the RBH model SV-61R, the only electrolytic capacitor used is in parallel with the mid-woofer and not in the signal path of the driver.
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