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RSL C34E In-Ceiling Speaker Preview

RSLs C34E in-ceiling loudspeaker

RSL's C34E in-ceiling loudspeaker


  • Product Name: C34E
  • Manufacturer: RSL
  • Review Date: December 27, 2015 15:00
  • MSRP: $125 each ($250/pair)
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Buy Now
  • Magnetic Grill with Edgeless design
  • Dual 4 1/2” polypropylene woofers and a 7/8” silk-dome tweeter
  • Pivoting tweeter
  • Lateral driver alignment
  • Low-profile 4" height
  • 8 ohm nominal impedance


Executive Overview

Here at Audioholics, we’ve become very impressed with RSL’s loudspeaker and subwoofer lineup.  How much so? Well, we awarded the RSL CG24 5.1 Surround System our Top Pick in our 2015 AV Gear Guide for the compact systems category.  

Nowadays, with the thrust towards Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D immersive audio setups,  traditional surround systems seem to be, well, a bit outdated. So when RSL’s owners, Howard and Joe Rogers, announced to us that they were launching new in-ceiling loudspeakers, we certainly wanted to take a closer look.   

RLS’s C34E line of in-ceiling speakers are designed to be a perfect complement for immersive audio setups or stand-alone architectural speaker systems.  In fact, RSL is marketing the new in-ceiling speakers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X installations, home theater, and stereo applications.

Realizing that prospective customers will need install the C34Es in both new construction and retrofit them in existing structures, RSL designed the speakers so that they are only 4” deep and weigh in at 4 1/4lbs.  In fact, they only require a total depth of 4 3/4” (including ceiling thickness), making them ideal for several tight-fitting installations.  The C34Es will require a 10” mounting hole and take up a total diameter of 11 5/8”. 

RSL side

Angled profile view of the C34E

One of the things that has really impressed us about RSL during our hands-on review of their products is that their speakers are built with high quality parts.  Not only that, but RSL products tend to feature elements that you typically find in much more expensive speakers. The same holds true of the C34E.  

The C34E is comprised of dual 4 1/2” polypropylene woofers and a 7/8” silk-dome tweeter.  The tweeter can swivel, making it easy to fine-tune and direct the tweeter’s frequencies post-installation.  A pivoting tweeter likewise makes the C34E’s highly flexible in a number of installation scenarios and allows the C34Es to be used as side and rear surrounds. 

Because the C34E is a backless design, the frequency response you’ll get out of these speakers will vary on the nature of the cavity they are installed into.  However, as with all of RSL’s speaker offerings, they want you to support the low-end frequencies with their stellar-performing Speedwoofer 10 subwoofer.  Therefore, in the typical installation, you’ll likely get a realistic in-room response somewhere down to the 60Hz range out of the C34E speakers making them an easy speaker to blend with a subwoofer.  

RSL back

RSL C34E rear

When I spoke with Howard a bit about the design of the C34Es, he told me that the crossover on the speaker is a hybrid.  It is 12db on the woofers and 6db on the tweeter. Howard also told me that the C34E uses a quality air core inductor (no ferrite cores) and only polypropylene caps (no electrolytics). As you’d expect, push terminals are gold-plated.

Many in-ceiling speakers mount the tweeter in the middle. To do so, they normally need to mount the tweeter with a bracket in front of the woofer.  For Howard and Joe Rogers, they couldn’t tolerate such a design.  Howard told me, “It causes an erratic frequency response as some of the sound bounces off the back of the tweeter (and in some speakers the bracket it’s mounted on) and reflects back into the woofer causing cancellation at various frequencies.”

Instead, RSL used a lateral alignment in the C34E where the tweeter is alongside the woofers. In addition, Howard told me that the baffle plate is molded so that the speakers are time aligned for phase coherency.  Also, the baffle plate is slightly angled allowing the user to aim the speaker as well as swiveling the tweeter. 

 Just like their traditional speaker counterparts, the speaker grille is magnetic.  It also sports an edgeless construction that doesn’t require a trim plate.  

RSL C34 Pivoting Tweeter

The slik-dome tweeter can pivot

The C34E costs only $125 each (including shipping!).  Just like their traditional speaker counterparts, C34E’s have all the typical RSL hallmarks to indicate that these may very well be another high-performance, incredible value. 

RSL C34 Polar Plot

RSL C-34E Polar Frequency Response

RSL doesn't supply detailed frequency response data on their in-wall speakers because they feel it is highly dependent on the space behind the speaker.  However, I did manage to get them to send us a polar response plot which shows this speaker has pretty broad dispersion making it quite suitable to be used for immersive audio formats as a height channel.

But here’s a real kicker about the C34Es. RSL is so confident that you’ll love these speakers that they come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  You can install and try them in your home for 30 days and can ship them back if your not satisfied!  Return shipping is free and there are no hidden restocking fees.  Seriously, how many companies are willing put forth that kind of no-risk guarantee on architectural speakers?

If our experience with RSL’s CG24 setup is any indication, the C34E should be another winner both for RSL and us home theater enthusiasts.  If you’re looking to jump into the immersive audio gig in a major way or if you’re in the market for an architectural speaker solution these C34Es likely deserve a serious look.  If we can find a place to poke some more holes in our ceilings, we want to take the C34Es for a serious spin.

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About the author:

Theo is a serious audiophile and home theater enthusiast—a passion he's enjoyed for over 20 years. He heads up many of our speaker system and receiver reviews as well as covering the latest in streaming technologies and Ultra HD video.

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Recent Forum Posts:

JPyman325 posts on December 30, 2015 23:53
I will second that they are an awesome company I just picked up the CG24 5.1 system and Joe (co-owner) has been very gracious in walking me through setup questions. My only issue that I have had with my new RSL speakers is my wife won't let me take back the rears (set them up in the bedroom to help break in). Now its time to save up for these
gene posts on December 28, 2015 21:13
R8der, post: 1110525, member: 77472
Gene, can we get some specs on these speakers? Frequency response? Are they 6 ohm speakers? What is the degree of dispersion that is so important for Atmos configuration? How about a speaker plot? I've asked RSL and they won't return my e-mails (plural). Thanks. I'd like to know this info before cutting 10" holes in my ceiling….regardless of their return policy.
I sent an email to RSL and they responded with impedance, a polar plot and reasoning why they don't spec frequency response for in-walls. Please check out the updated preview. Also they wanted me to relay they were sorry for not getting back to you due to the holiday rush but would like for you to give them a call or drop them an email when you get a chance. Great company!
R8der posts on December 28, 2015 15:09
Gene, can we get some specs on these speakers? Frequency response? Are they 6 ohm speakers? What is the degree of dispersion that is so important for Atmos configuration? How about a speaker plot? I've asked RSL and they won't return my e-mails (plural). Thanks. I'd like to know this info before cutting 10" holes in my ceiling….regardless of their return policy.
gene posts on December 27, 2015 21:59
RSL has quickly become an Audioholic favorite for compact systems with their powerhouse 5.1 setup. Now RSL has launched their C34E in-ceiling loudspeaker that makes a perfect compliment for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio installations as well outfitting your residence for whole-home audio.

A dual woofer design; silk dome pivoting tweeter; and a low, 4" profile make these speakers perfect for new construction or retrofitting. High quality parts, great design, and a ridiculously low price make these new in-ceiling speakers from RSL something to keep an eye on.

RSL C34E In-Ceiling Speaker Preview
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