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RBH Sound 3rd-Gen Impression Series Speakers - Made in USA!

RBH Sound Impression Series

RBH Sound Impression Series


  • Product Name: 85-i Tower Speaker, 5-i Bookshelf Speaker, 55-i LCR Speaker, 12-i Subwoofer
  • Manufacturer: RBH Sound
  • Review Date: April 02, 2024 00:00
  • MSRP: $1,195/pair - 85-i Tower Speaker; $700/pair - 5-i Bookshelf Speaker; $450/each - 55-i LCR Speaker; $900/each - 12-i Subwoofer
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
RBH Sound 3rd Generation Impression Series Virtual Press Event

RBH 85-i Tower Speaker

Frequency Response: 45Hz-20kHz (±3dB)

Impedance: 6 Ohms

Sensitivity: 87dB

Dimensions: 6-3/4”W x 40-1/4”H x 10-11/16” D

Weight: 36.35 lb

RBH 5-i Bookshelf Speaker

Frequency Response: 70-20k Hz (+/- 3 dB)

Impedance: 8 Ohms

Sensitivity: 87dB

Dimensions: 6-3/4”W x 11-7/8”H x 10-9/16” D

Weight: 11.55 lb

RBH 55-i LCR Speaker

Frequency Response: 70-20k Hz (+/- 3 dB)

Impedance: 6 Ohms

Sensitivity: 89dB

Dimensions: 17-1/2”W x 6-3/4”H x 10-9/16” D

Weight: 16.65 lb

RBH 12-i Subwoofer

Frequency Response: 29Hz-150Hz ± 3dB

Power: 350 Watts

Dimensions: 15-3/4 W x 15-11/16” H x 16-7/8” D

Weight: 43 lbs

RBH Sound Impression Series 3rd Generation - Value Champs?

It’s no secret that RBH Sound is held in high esteem by the Audioholics team. The Utah-based company has been designing, engineering, and manufacturing high-quality audio equipment since 1976, and the brand’s flagship SVTRS active tower speakers currently hold pride of place in the Audioholics Smart Home’s custom home theater. But not everyone is able or willing to drop $50K on a pair of speakers. For the rest of us, RBH offers its Impression Series speakers, which aim to deliver high performance at low prices. We’ve been consistently impressed with these speakers since the originals were launched in 2009 under RBH’s sister brand, EMP Tek. At the time, the Impression E5Tir offered unbelievable value and great looks to boot, making them a no-brainer for audiophiles on a budget. After addressing concerns with quality control and adopting a different production process, RBH launched a totally revamped 2nd-generation Impression Series in 2018. Though a bit more expensive, the 2nd-gen Impression speakers featured enhanced engineering and far superior product consistency, making them a worthwhile upgrade over their predecessors. The 2nd-gen Impression series consisted of two different performance tiers, differentiated by driver materials. Our own Steve Feinstein thoroughly tested the range-topping RBH Impression Series Elite R-55E tower speakers in 2018, concluding that these six-driver, three-way towers were “an excellent product — outstanding sound, great looks, well-chosen compromises, and above all, a truly outstanding value.” Now RBH is back once again with an all-new 3rd Generation Impression Series, comprising the 85-i Tower Speaker ($1,195/pair), the 5-i Bookshelf Speaker ($700/pair), the 55-i LCR Speaker ($450 each), and the 12-i Subwoofer ($900 each).


3rd Time is the Charm for RBH Impression Series

85-i BlackThe 3rd-generation Impression Series speakers are built around two core components: a proprietary fabric dome tweeter and a 5.25-inch aluminum cone driver with phase plug. (In the 2nd-generation Impression Series, only the upgraded Elite models used aluminum cones.) The 85-i tower represents what RBH calls “the best value for money” in its lineup. Promising a “truly full-range sound that is sure to impress for its size and price point,” the 85-i is a smallish tower at just over 40 inches tall, and includes a single tweeter, a single 5.25-inch midrange driver, and a side-firing 8-inch woofer. The cabinet is tuned to 32Hz, providing what RBH describes as “rich bass that is shocking for the size of the speaker.” Both the crossover design and the physical spacing of the drivers were carefully considered in order to ensure that all of the drivers are phase coherent, according to RBH Sound. This reportedly contributes to a natural-sounding sonic signature. Weighing in at 36.35 pounds apiece, the 85-i features an HDF (high-density fiberboard) cabinet that is unusually sturdy for this price range. Measuring 40.25 inches tall, 6.75 inches wide, and 10.69 inches deep, the speaker has the exact same dimensions as the well-received RBH 641-SE tower speakers of yesteryear. (My first exposure to the brand was when John Atkinson reviewed the 641-SE for Stereophile in 2002.) RBH Sound calls the 85-i tower “a spiritual successor to the 641-SE for less money.” Audioholics President Gene DellaSala told me in an email that the 85-i looks “pretty amazing for the price,” noting that the woofer’s close proximity to the floor is a good thing to minimize floor-bounce, and that the 85-i’s bass extension is mighty impressive for a speaker this size.

5-i White

The 5-i bookshelf speaker is “a compact and affordable speaker that combines great sound and convenient size,” according to RBH. It combines a fabric dome tweeter with a 5.25-inch aluminum mid-woofer in a cabinet measuring 11.88 inches tall, 6.75 inches wide, and 10.69 inches deep. Weighing in at 11.55 pounds each, the petite 5-i only plays down to 70Hz (+/- 3 dB), so we’d suggest pairing it with the 12-i subwoofer — more on that in a moment. 

55-i Black

The 55-i LCR features an MTM configuration that employs a pair of 5.25-inch mid-woofers with black aluminum cones, solid metal phase plugs, and cast-aluminum truncated baskets, flanking the single fabric dome tweeter. RBH says the 55-i is perfectly symmetrical for horizontal and vertical operation, making it a great option for mains, center-channel duty, and surrounds. The dual 5.25" drivers have an output and sensitivity advantage over the 5-i bookshelf speakers for those that desire LOUDER sound. If you’ve been in search of an affordable way to get a completely timbre-matched home theater setup on a budget, the 55-i might be a great way to go. It weighs just under 17 pounds and measures 6.75 inches tall, 17.5 inches wide, and 10.69 inches deep. 

12-i Black

Finally, the 12-i subwoofer is described as “compact and capable,” pairing a proprietary 12-inch polypropylene cone with a 12-inch down-firing passive radiator and a built-in 350-watt hybrid digital amplifier. Despite being RBH’s most economical subwoofer, the sealed 12-i still features a made-in-house HDF cabinet that is hand-painted — no cheap vinyl wraps here. It also uses a powerful magnet in its motor structure, housed in a sturdy steel frame, according to RBH. Despite its compact dimensions — it’s basically a 16-inch cube — the 12-i reportedly “excels at providing mid-bass that you can feel in your chest,” providing a “thunderous surround experience” when paired with the Impression Series speakers, according to RBH Sound. 

You’ll be grinning about the depth and life your 12-i Subwoofer will bring to the party. Your music and video will present the full audio impact they were created to impress you with.


RBH Sound Impression Series Made in the USA!

While we haven’t yet had first-hand experience with these brand-new designs, we expect the new 3rd-generation Impression Series speakers to set a high bar for value at these very reasonable prices. It’s becoming increasingly rare to find well-made, good-sounding speakers in this price range that don’t skimp on details. Yet all of the Impression Series models are available in Satin Black or White Paint, with no vinyl wraps in sight. The cabinets are made in the USA and constructed from HDF — a solid upgrade over the industry-standard MDF. And while inexpensive speakers often use cheap plastic grilles with push-pins, the black or white fabric grilles on the Impression Series have ⅜-inch MDF frames (¾ inch for the subwoofer) and are magnetically attached. This level of attention to detail is almost unheard-of in this price category, and we love to see it.

More information: RBH Sound

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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