Energy RC-10 vs PSB Imagine B - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
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A few weeks ago I took a trip to do some fun listening at a local audio shop in Dallas (Audio Concepts). They sell a wide array of high end speakers. Their traditional introductory speaker line is the Paradigms. They recently unloaded almost all their Paradigm stock and started carrying PSB speakers. They claim that the PSB offers a better sound for the price. I started off hearing their Alpha B1s, which sounded small and unresolving. I than heard some Rega RS1s, which were a step back in quality and sound. They than played a $1000/pair speaker, then PSB Imagine B. I was instantly drawn in and fell in love with the PSB sound. It had a wonderful sound stage that was real and detailed. I did not fall in love with the $1k price-tag. I went home a changed man seeking that type of audio fidelity and clarity. I bought a pair of Energy RC-10s seeking to obtain that sound. I spent $300 vs $1k.

In my room the RC-10 did not sound anything like the Imagine B. So I decided to bring the RC-10 to Audio Concepts for a comparison. They bring me into a sealed rectangular room. They have the speakers positioned 4 feet from the back and side wall. They are slightly toed in and I am sitting 8 feet back from the speakers. The speakers were driven by a NAD CD player and amplifier.

The Energy's were played first. They instantly created a huge sound stage that played low and confident. The highs were very detailed and impressive. They did not roll off and sounded full (in a good way). Imaging was also wonderful. These audio shop typically are negative with speakers that are brought in for comparisons. The employee listened, paused and had nothing but compliments for the RC-10s. He said he is surprised that a speaker so small plays so big. He was also pleased with the imaging and the "resolving" sound.

We listened to several different songs, including Greg Brown (album: Further In) and some Diana Kroll. When the Imagine Bs were connected, I instantly noticed that they were more neutral. They also had a bit less detail in the high frequencies. I will say that the PSBs did a great job with female vocals. The female vocals had a little more character and emotion.

Overall I would say the RC-10 was the winner. Even the Audio Concepts employee was very impressed with the RC-10. I told him I paid $599. He said that they would give any speaker a run for their money in that price range and category.

He had not one bad thing to say about the RC-10s. He said he could not justify me spending another $400 to get the PSB Imagine Bs.
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post #2 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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RC-10:





Imagine B:

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post #3 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 04:24 PM
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Thanks for the comparison. I've been researching for months now and your post really helped. The PSB's were one of my contendors.
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post #4 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Awesome! My pleasure. That was my whole intention of posting this thread. I too have searched for the same comparison.
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post #5 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 04:50 PM
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Thanks for the review.


IIRC, The RC series was John Tchilinguirian's last effort with Energy, and given his track record with the true Veritas series speakers (not the new Klipsch designed Energy Veritas that is really an "enhanced" RC series)... it's no surprise to me that the RC series has garnered as much praise as it has.

Still, Paul Barton is often considered somewhat of a speaker design genius, and the Imagine B's are a highly respected bookshelf and are a higher up the price ladder than the RC-10... so for the RC-10's to hang with them says alot.
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post #6 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 04:56 PM
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The RC10 at its full price was always more than competitive with other speakers in its price range ($550 a pair). It held its own against the Paradigm Studio 20 V.4 that I had compared it to (which were more costly)

At $299 it has no peer, it's simply a great bargain for a compact monitor.

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post #7 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 04:58 PM
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This review just makes me feel even better about my RC-10's. Thanks for the write up!

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post #8 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 05:08 PM
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I love my RC-10s, but grille off vs grille on makes quite a difference. It might be different with the PSBs, but the RC-10 grilles cut high frequencies noticably (roughly equivalent to turning down the treble control 1 or 2dB). That might have affected the comparison.
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post #9 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kriktsemaj99 View Post

I love my RC-10s, but grille off vs grille on makes quite a difference. It might be different with the PSBs, but the RC-10 grilles cut high frequencies noticably (roughly equivalent to turning down the treble control 1 or 2dB). That might have affected the comparison.

I didn't even catch that the grills were on the Imagines during the listening session.

Absolutely agree... my experience with both the RC-10 and the PSB Image B4 (both have similar grills) is that they sound dark with the grills on, and really sound much more balanced, and much better, when they're off...
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post #10 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 10:24 PM
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Nice comparison, thanks.

So, were the grills off or on, for both sets?
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post #11 of 26 Old 10-01-2011, 11:34 PM
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Great write up! Being a former owner of the Energy RC's I had chosen them over comparable PSB Image speakers I'd heard. Most recently, I audtioned the newer Imagine B speakers but didn't feel that was the direction I wanted to go. Having owned the Energies...my guess is....I was spoiled somewhat because I really enjoyed how sounded but I wanted a broader soundstage and I think I found my perfect speaker in the Sierra NrT's....

Still a energy fanboy at heart...lol.

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post #12 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 12:12 AM
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Did they level match the speakers when you switched pairs?

The RC-10, in manufacturer specs (which may not be a good gauge), is 1dB more sensitive. Some will say that could make a difference is perception.

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post #13 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 07:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

The RC10 at its full price was always more than competitive with other speakers in its price range ($550 a pair). It held its own against the Paradigm Studio 20 V.4 that I had compared it to (which were more costly)

At $299 it has no peer, it's simply a great bargain for a compact monitor.

Yeah, and this audio shop said that the PSB Imagine B sounds better to them vs the Studio 20 (the newest version). As I said earlier, they are probably going to ditch Paradigm and stay with PSB. They say the build quality is better and more reliable, and they sell faster once people hear them.



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Originally Posted by joshtee View Post

Nice comparison, thanks.

So, were the grills off or on, for both sets?

They were not off for both sets. Honestly, I thought the Imagine Bs would win before they started playing them. I requested to pull the grills off the RC-10, as they were mine. I guess he did not think to do the same when repping his speaker.



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Originally Posted by cschang View Post

Did they level match the speakers when you switched pairs?

The RC-10, in manufacturer specs (which may not be a good gauge), is 1dB more sensitive. Some will say that could make a difference is perception.

To answer your question, no.

I brought 2 speakers for the comparison (rc-10 and HSU hb-1) vs the Imagine B. The Rc-10s were played first and brought to an appropriate volume. When the HSU HB-1s were connected, the gain had to be turned up (as the employee noticed the RC-10 were more sensitive and the volume seemed low). Finally the Imagine Bs were connected. The volume knob should have already been a bit higher vs the RC-10. When I noticed that the Imagine B seemed to sound more neutral (and a tad less detailed), the employee turned up the gain a little more. He must have noticed the same thing at the same time .
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post #14 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 07:40 AM - Thread Starter
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If you want to read my write up comparing the HB-1 and RC-10 I brought to the shop vs their Imagine B:

Quote:
Originally Posted by deepstang View Post

Final follow-up:

I had trouble deciphering between the RC-10 and HB-1, so I decided to pack them both up and bring them to a local audio shop yesterday. I fell in love with a pair of PSB Imagine B speakers a few weeks back at this audio shop (Audio Concepts in Dallas). They are $1k/pair speakers. Yesterday I asked if we could do a comparison of my RC-10 and HB-1 versus the Imagine Bs.

The RC-10s were connected first. They were pulled 4 feet away from the back and side walls. We were about 8 feet from the speakers. The Energy's instantly created a wonderful large sound stage. The employee said that he is surprised that a speaker so small plays so large. They sounded full, played low and was very detailed. The imaging was amazing as well. I was so impressed.

Next the HB-1s were connected. I made the mistake of telling him the price of the HB-1s, $150 a piece. He was shocked at the quality of build and the piano finish at that price. The HB-1's took a turn for the worse once the demo started. The HB-1s instantly sounded like they were missing detail. They also did not play nearly as low, had a smaller sound stage and did not sound dynamic. The employee said that vocals sounded a bit "shouty" and "unresolving". I had to agree. In my room I thought the vocals sounded more confident, bass was low and full, and overall the HB-1 seemed to have a larger sound stage. I was surprised the difference a room and positioning can make!

Finally the PSB Imagine B were connected. The same material of Greg Brown ("Further In" album), Diana Kroll and others were played. The Imagine B had a wonderful neutral sound; however, it sounded less detailed than the Energy RC-10s. The RC-10s seemed to image a bit better. I will say that female vocals on the Imagine B had more emotion and character. Overall I would say that the RC-10 was the better speaker. The employee said that the RC-10 would give any speaker a run for their money at it's price point. I told him the RC-10 was $599

I walked into that demo telling the guy I was probably going to return the RC-10s. I realized the treasure I had with the RC-10s upon leaving the shop. I was initially in love with the Imagine B, but now I finally found favor with the RC-10.

Now this morning I started doing some more critical listening in my room with the RC-10s. Again, the sound stage seems a bit small and the bass seems a bit forced and boomy. I realize what a HUGE difference room and placement makes to the sound of speaker. I guess the HB-1 does better with close wall placement while the RC-10s need room to open up. As I said before, I think the HB-1 creates a larger sound-stage in my room with bass that sounds more effortless.

I appreciate the advice with getting the Klipsch. I may get a pair from BB to demo. I actually want to bring home the CB-20 and see how that sounds in my room. It seems to be mix between Energy and Klipsch (as it should be).

EDIT: One other interesting point is that the HB-1s were more efficient in my room; however, the RC-10s were more efficient in the demo room.



http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...8#post21025288
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post #15 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 07:41 AM
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Ideally, you really should have level matched with a handheld meter. It's been shown time and time again that even a small difference in volume will tend to favour the louder speaker, even a difference as small as 1dB which is barely detectable. Level matching by ear is bound to be error prone.

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post #16 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

Ideally, you really should have level matched with a handheld meter. It's been shown time and time again that even a small difference in volume will tend to favor the louder speaker, even a difference as small as 1dB which is barely detectable. Level matching by ear is bound to be error prone.

Yeah, I agree. I was quietly kicking myself that I did not bring my SPL meter. I was also a little surprised that they did not attempt to use one, especially when the Imagine B seemed to trail the RC-10. I don't think my rat-shack meter could accurately measure "1db". As I said, I would guess the dbs on the Imagine B was cranked a little higher than the RC-10 to compensate. Even if the speakers were level matched I don't think the results would change. An A/B test may have helped compare the 2, but even in that scenario the speakers would been at different pistons thus flawing the comparison. The RC-10 created a broader sound stage that did not sound forced, but that retained great detail.

The Imagine B is an amazing speaker; however, the RC-10 would be my pick. It is a plus that the retail on the RC-10 is half the price and with a true cost that is more than 1/3 the price!
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post #17 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepstang View Post

The Imagine B is an amazing speaker; however, the RC-10 would be my pick. It is a plus that the retail on the RC-10 is half the price and with a true cost that is more than 1/3 the price!

yup.

I do like the sexy looks of the Imagine B With the grill on and in black, the RC10 looks like any nondescript bookshelf speaker from the eighties. I really liked the rosenut finish that Energy used to offer but for some reason they discontinued all the nice wood colored finishes.

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post #18 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

yup.

I do like the sexy looks of the Imagine B With the grill on and in black, the RC10 looks like any nondescript bookshelf speaker from the eighties. I really liked the rosenut finish that Energy used to offer but for some reason they discontinued all the nice wood colored finishes.

Well, they discontinued the RC series altogether, and sold off all of the cherry/rosenut at clearance pricing first, since black was always the better seller...

It's just that there seems to be a supply of black ash RC still floating around...

On the other hand, the new Veritas, which are basically an updated RC series, come in gloss black or gloss rosenut.
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post #19 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 10:00 AM
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Yep, I got my cherry RC-10s when they started selling them off a couple years ago.The Rosenut and Cherry fnishes are definitely better than black ash.

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post #20 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afrogt View Post

Yep, I got my cherry RC-10s when they started selling them off a couple years ago.The Rosenut and Cherry fnishes are definitely better than black ash.

I dunno...I had the 3 finishes to pick from and I opted for the black ash....I couldn't understand why Energy offered the rc mini in HGB and not their larger speakers from the same line?

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post #21 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 10:13 AM
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The RC Mini cherry is the same as the cherry in the other RC speakers. Not a problem for me.

Quote:


I dunno...I had the 3 finishes to pick from and opted for the black ash....I couldn't understand why Energy offered the rc mini in HGB and not their larger speakers from the same line?

Or you could ask why didn't they offer the RC Mini in black ash?

I used to have the Take 5 system and it came in high gloss black. tough to keep them clean as they showed fingerprints easily.

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post #22 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afrogt View Post


Or you could ask why didn't they offer the RC Mini in black ash?


I never thought to ask....

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post #23 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 10:48 AM
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Did you learn somethings on placement you are going to try to use in your room? Or are you stuck a little in placement like myself?

My review comparisons of Energy RC-70s to Veritas V6.3 http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...8#post21199418
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post #24 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

Well, they discontinued the RC series altogether, and sold off all of the cherry/rosenut at clearance pricing first, since black was always the better seller...

I guess so, it seems black must be the best selling since it stayed around so long. The wood colored finishes were very pretty IMO, especially since they were real wood veneers and looked expensive to make (maybe that's why they discontinued them)

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post #25 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalgaryCowboy View Post

Did you learn somethings on placement you are going to try to use in your room? Or are you stuck a little in placement like myself?

Yeah, I am limited to my positioning in relation to the wall. All I can do is adjust toe.

My HB-1s:

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post #26 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

yup.

I do like the sexy looks of the Imagine B With the grill on and in black, the RC10 looks like any nondescript bookshelf speaker from the eighties. I really liked the rosenut finish that Energy used to offer but for some reason they discontinued all the nice wood colored finishes.

+1 across

That reason is probably cost. The RC-10 black ash veneer looks affordable and easy to slap on the mdf :/
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