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Interview with RBH on T-2 Signature Speaker System

by August 30, 2004

See Our Full Review of the RBH T-2 Signature Speaker System

In preparation for our visit from RBH Sound on November 7th , we have prepared a short FAQ article to better understand their new flagship Signature Series speaker system know as the T-2 (not to be confused with Terminator 2?). Technical Director and Chief Designer Shane Rich of the RBH Sound T-2 System has responded herein to our questions. Given the sheer size and weight of this system, we believe it is properly named and may be the Arnold Schwarzenegger speaker of choice.

Technical specs (T-2 N & P)

System Type: Modular Tower

Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz±3dB

Sensitivity: 90dB (2.83V @ 1 Meter)

Power Handling: 500 Watts

Drive Units: (2) 10" Aluminum Woofer

(4) 6 1/2" Aluminum Woofer

(3) 1" Silk Dome Tweeter

Tweeter Protection: No

Crossover Frequency: 2500Hz

Crossover: 24dB/Octave

Impedance: 4 Ohms

Cabinet Material: Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

Cabinet Finish: Black Oak Woodgrain with NevamarT tops and bases

30 different real hardwood finishes

Dimensions: 61 1/4""H x 13 1/4"W x 18"D

Weight: 190 lbs.

Audioholics: Can you describe the design goals of the T-2 system?

Shane Rich: The concept of the T System originally started as a replacement for our Status Acoustics Titus . Customers were requesting a product with the performance characteristics of the Titus that could be readily produced. Up to that point in time, Status Acoustics products were built custom to order and required long lead times for production. The design goal of the T System was to produce a speaker system that had performance similar to the Status Acoustics Titus at a fraction of the price. Building a modular system based on our already much revered 1010-SE subwoofer seemed to make the most sense. We had already built a custom speaker system based on the concept of combining two of the 661-SEs. After much experimenting and testing different driver alignments, the speaker evolved into what is now the T-1. From a performance standpoint, we knew the speaker had to fit in with our existing philosophy which is that it perform equally well in both home theater and two channel audio environments. In fact, all of the initial listening tests during the design stage of the T system were strictly two channel. The final result is a speaker system that throws a huge soundstage with a very wide sweet spot both horizontally and vertically and a dynamic range that is beyond what the Status Titus was capable of.

Audioholics: How do the drivers in the T-2 system differ from those in the rest of the Signature series?

Shane Rich: The only difference is the tweeter. The tweeter in the T system incorporates a back chamber which lowers the resonance frequency an octave below that of the tweeter used in the rest of the Signature Series products. This allows a lower crossover point to be used and power handling is increased.

Audioholics: What are the benefits of having multiple active subwoofers in a two channel loudspeaker system?

Shane Rich: By using separate amplifiers to power the woofer section of the T-2 or T-3 system you gain more flexibility for system setup. The T-2P system includes two separate woofer amplifiers which allow level and crossover frequency adjustments to be made so the integration between subwoofer and midwoofer can be optimized for your room. Of course having dedicated amplifiers for low frequencies also allows more of your main amplifier power to be used specifically for mid and high frequencies. The system is currently available with a passive subwoofer for those who wish to use their own amplifier to power the bottom end. It should be noted that the T-2 system will be available in the near future with a passive crossover between the subwoofer and T-1 so the speaker system can be powered full range with a single amplifier. Then of course, there is the issue of stereo output at low frequencies. Reproducing stereo bass information through a full range two channel system helps preserve the spatial cues that occur as a result of the phasing between the two speakers at bass frequencies.

Audioholics: The speaker topology implemented in the T-1 system appears to have much in common with a line array. How do you deal with lobing issues inherent in these types of designs? How will a large baffle design such as the T-2 system image compared to the rest of the Signature Series conventionally smaller vertical baffle alignments?

Shane Rich: First of all it is important to understand that every speaker design will have lobing issues of one type or another unless it is a true point source radiator. The driver alignment of the T-1 is enough of a departure from a traditional line array that the lobing characteristics are quite different. The T-1 is actually quite a breakthrough in terms of its dispersion performance. The dispersion averaging integration of the drivers and high order crossover makes for a very uniform frequency response at the listening position. The horizontal off axis response to the outside of the speaker and vertical response below and above the baffle is controlled in way that reduces the negative effect that close boundary reflections can have on imaging and soundstage. Within the plain of the baffle between the speakers the dispersion is very uniform and broad, more so than any other speaker we produce. The soundstage is extremely open and expansive both in width and depth. Imaging is remarkably defined and uniform through the whole width of the soundstage. One of the most impressive aspects of the performance of the T system is the disappearing act these speakers are able to pull off. Most big speakers have a hard time disappearing into the soundstage due to a large baffle area. Due to the alignment of the drivers on the baffle and particularly the positioning of the tweeter to the inside edge of the baffle, the speaker is able to pull off a disappearing act only rivaled by our very smallest two way systems.

Audioholics: What are the benefits of such an enormous speaker system other than scaring off the neighbors and impressing ones friends?

Shane Rich: What more could you want? Actually, I would say one of the main performance benefits from a speaker of this size is the "effortless" nature with which the sound is reproduced. No matter how much you throw at it, the speaker remains composed. It never takes on a hard or edgy character that commonly occurs when a speaker is pushed to its limits. The dynamic headroom of this system is truly remarkable. Given the necessary amplifier power, you can reproduce in room SPLs in the range of 120 dB. While very few people will ever feel the need to drive the speakers to this level, the ability of the speaker to play cleanly with superb low level resolution is just as impressive at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Audioholics: How do the dispersion and frequency response characteristics vary from horizontal placement of a T-1 (such as center channel) vs. a vertical displacement such as a main or surround channel?

Shane Rich: When placed horizontal, the horizontal dispersion pattern is not as linear or wide. This is the case with most any speaker. In most cases however, the horizontal off axis dispersion of the center channel is not as critical as the other main speakers due to its placement directly in front of the listening position. The T-1 still makes for a very effective center channel. With the off axis dispersion optimized above the tweeter it can be placed quit low to the floor with good results.

Audioholics: What speakers do you recommend for rear and back channels with a T-2 system?

Shane Rich: Any of the Signature Series speakers with the 6.5" driver are recommended. The most commonly used products are the 61-SE, 661-SE, 66-SE, SI-760, and SI-740.

Audioholics: What is the best method of hooking up the multiple subwoofers of the T-2 system to an A/V Receiver or Processor (IE. Line Level Sub Out, Main Preamp Out, or Speaker Level) and why?

Shane Rich: That all depends on the bass management options of your processor and whether you plan to use an additional subwoofer in conjunction with the T-2s in a home theater environment. There are numerous ways to set a T-2 system up in a home theater setting and unfortunately they all have trade-offs. Due to the limitations in bass management dictated by those who set the standards that manufacturers have chosen to comply with (or license), the best option is probably the following if you plan on using the system for home theater and stereo listening. Connect the subwoofer amplifiers to the line level LFE (Subwoofer) out of the receiver or processor. Set the main speaker setting to small, this sends low frequencies below the crossover frequency to the subwoofers and enables the subwoofer during stereo playback. In this type of setup the dedicated subwoofer amplifiers should have the internal crossover disabled to prevent stacking of low pass filters between the two components. The crossover point should be experimented with (assuming that it is adjustable on the processor or receiver) for best integration in your room.

Audioholics: What type of power do the T-1 speakers demand and how difficult of a load are these speakers compared to other Signature products?

Shane Rich: The T-1 is a relatively easy load to drive with a nominal impedance of 6 Ohms. Because the T-1 is a two way design the impedance curve is relatively flat. Disregarding the impedance bump at the midwoofer tuning frequency, the Impedance varies from approximately 8 Ohms in the bass region to around 4 Ohms in the treble region. Because of the relatively high sensitivity a modest sized amplifier will drive the speakers quite effectively. To extract the full dynamic range potential from the speaker a high voltage capable amplifier is recommended. The recommend amplifier power is 100 to 500 Watts.

Audioholics: What are the primary metrics for a good speaker cable to mate with a T-1 system?

Shane Rich: Due to the lower impedance characteristics of the speaker in the treble frequencies a larger gauge cable is recommended. Superconductivity would be a real plus :-)

Audioholics: What is the minimum size room the T-2 system should be placed in?

We recommend at least 10 feet from the listening position to the speakers and at least 8 feet distance between the speakers. While the speakers were specifically designed to accommodate larger listening room, they will still perform very well in smaller rooms where the minimum distances between the speakers and listening position are met.

Audioholics: What is the retail pricing of this system?

Shane Rich:
T-1 ($4,099 pr. Black) ($5,399pr. Veneer)

T-2P ($7,499 pr. Black) ($9,299 pr. Veneer)

For more information about RBH Sound Products:

visit: http://www.rbhsound.com

Mailing Address
RBH Sound, Inc.
976 N. Marshall - Bldg. 2 Unit 4
Layton, Utah 84041

Toll-free: 800.543.2205
Fax: 801.543-3300


About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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