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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've enjoyed my Polk tsx220b/cs10 combo for a few months. It was a big improvement from what I had, but now I'm starting to notice that dialog sounds slightly nasal and brilliance isn't their strong suit. It's time for an upgrade. Here's the 5.1 skinny:

Onkyo TX-NR535
Polk tsx220b r/l
Polk cs10 center
room is 1900 sq
80% movie bias

I think I've settled on a NXG bas-500 sub-wise, but I wanted to purchase surrounds first, which brings me to my question: A 100$ pair of Polk rti4's are available and although I have not heard them, I imagine they would be an improvement. So one choice would be to use the rti4's as my forward channels, throw the tsx220b's in back and eventually upgrade the center with a cheap Polk refurb to match the rti line. With some luck I would be happy with the improvement and could get on with throwing money at my other hobbies.

The second, more costly option would be to find a better set of sub 300$ bookshelf speakers to use as surrounds, and eventually complete the system with that line. I know plan one is subjective, (as are opinions on better sounding speakers of other origins) but I figure someone has some Polk insight other than disdane here.

So far I've turned an ear to Klipsh's offerings and witnessed a mediocre demo of the Energy cb10 and Definitive 55's, but in all fairness, I had little control over the source material there, (crazy-bigbox-store-dynamic-action-scene-vomit.) I need to find and visit some real audio joints.

I've been out of the game for several decades so any input would be appreciated.

Thanks
 

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Add the sub first. You're currently missing out on a very large part of movies sound tracks and even a lot of music by not having any response below 60hz.
 

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I would probably try and order the matching center sooner than later, those RTi speakers from Polk's Ebay Store (which are new btw) are discontinued so once that stock is gone, it will hard to find them.
 

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If dialogue is the issue I would look at your CS10 settings and position first. Do you have the CS10 set as "Small" with a crossover of 80hz? Does the rear port of the speaker have room to breathe or is it stuck in a cubby hole?

Without a subwoofer you are really killing your home theater...

As Polk RTi4's owner with Polk CSi3 Center I do not think buying them will improve your sound quality that you are trying to achieve. You stated the problem is dialogue which your center channel is responsible for so I would focus on that. Personally I would diagnose your center problem(position, settings in receiver, etc.) and get a subwoofer. Maybe buy the matching center to your TSx speakers like the TSx250c

If you want RTi4's with their matching center (Polk CSi3) here is the links to Polk's ebay store.
-Polk RTi4's: In black ($200 a pair) or in Cherry
-Polk CSi3 Center: In black ($170) or in Cherry

These speakers than their matching center will be gone soon as mentioned above and they are not producing more they have almose sold off all their stock from the older RTi line.
 

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If dialogue is the issue I would look at your CS10 settings and position first. Do you have the CS10 set as "Small" with a crossover of 80hz? Does the rear port of the speaker have room to breathe or is it stuck in a cubby hole?

Without a subwoofer you are really killing your home theater...

As Polk RTi4's owner with Polk CSi3 Center I do not think buying them will improve your sound quality that you are trying to achieve. You stated the problem is dialogue which your center channel is responsible for so I would focus on that. Personally I would diagnose your center problem(position, settings in receiver, etc.) and get a subwoofer. Maybe buy the matching center to your TSx speakers like the TSx250c

If you want RTi4's with their matching center (Polk CSi3) here is the links to Polk's ebay store.
-Polk RTi4's: In black ($200 a pair) or in Cherry
-Polk CSi3 Center: In black ($170) or in Cherry

These speakers than their matching center will be gone soon as mentioned above and they are not producing more they have almose sold off all their stock from the older RTi line.
Oh for that price you can get a new rtia a1 for 224 with the current sale, I think that line is better and looks nicer worth the 25 bucks. But he had a lead for the rti4 pair at 100. You could use an rti 4 as the center first see what that gets you.
 

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Oh for that price you can get a new rtia a1 for 224 with the current sale, I think that line is better and looks nicer worth the 25 bucks. But he had a lead for the rti4 pair at 100. You could use an rti 4 as the center first see what that gets you.
They sound identical in a side by side test. The only thing the RTi A1's have going for it is the looks.

Keep in mind the matching center in looks wise is an additional $80
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My center IS inside of cabinetry with an open back and the grill poking out a half inch. I placed it on top, just under the tv and it seemed to sound the same. hanging the flat screen and placing the center on top of the cabinet is a last resort.

I was going to mix and match rti and rita as I've heard they sound about identical.

The sub should be on the way next week.
 

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The CS10 is the smaller center speaker in the CS series. Try and give the CS20, or a larger TSX center if there is one (not familiar with the TSX series) a try. I also found the CS10 to be a little weak when I compared it to the CS20 a few years ago.

You can always get your $100 back off Craigslist on those RTi4's so you wouldn't really lose anything if you gave them a try.

I like the cosmetics of the older RTi's better then the newer ones. Especially the Ebony models. They had a very expensive look and feel to them. The cherry models kinda remind me of formica though.

I also think the older RTi's are a bit brighter then the newer ones which I think they toned down a bit.

To sum up, try a larger center and get that subwoofer.
 

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My center IS inside of cabinetry with an open back and the grill poking out a half inch. I placed it on top, just under the tv and it seemed to sound the same. hanging the flat screen and placing the center on top of the cabinet is a last resort.

I was going to mix and match rti and rita as I've heard they sound about identical.

The sub should be on the way next week.
What are the settings for it in the receiver? Small or Large? If small what is the crossover set at?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My center, R L speakers are set to large as I haven't purchased a sub yet.

I listened closely to some other shows last night and noticed some things. That nasal sound I complained of is much more apparent in scenes indoors with the reverb of large rooms, (Homeland). Outdoor dialog sounds more natural but overall the upper mids dominate. I have the bass set to 8 and treble to 2 on my Onkyo. Under certain circumstances these speakers sound really good to my ears, but then I find myself focusing on them instead of the material I'm viewing..

I plan to buy the rti4's today and then I'll have something to compare the tsx220b's to. I know it's ideal to have all front speaker cones match, but do you think I could get away with the 5.25" rti4's as RL channels and use a 6.5" cs2 as a center?

Will utilizing a larger cone in my system make that much of a difference with crossovers set at 80hz for a sub?
 

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I've owned Polk RTi4's and Csi3 combo. That center is poor imo. I would look at something else. Just not quality sound. And for that matter I would avoid the Rti4's. They are decent for music but I also used them for tv listening upstairs in 2 channel. Switched to PSB Alpha B1's and was a huge improvement. For music and tv listening. I'm not anti-polk. I've also had rti a1's and currently are using a pair of upgraded vintage Monitor 10's for home theater downstairs, which are incredible.
 

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My center, R L speakers are set to large as I haven't purchased a sub yet.

I listened closely to some other shows last night and noticed some things. That nasal sound I complained of is much more apparent in scenes indoors with the reverb of large rooms, (Homeland). Outdoor dialog sounds more natural but overall the upper mids dominate. I have the bass set to 8 and treble to 2 on my Onkyo. Under certain circumstances these speakers sound really good to my ears, but then I find myself focusing on them instead of the material I'm viewing..

I plan to buy the rti4's today and then I'll have something to compare the tsx220b's to. I know it's ideal to have all front speaker cones match, but do you think I could get away with the 5.25" rti4's as RL channels and use a 6.5" cs2 as a center?

Will utilizing a larger cone in my system make that much of a difference with crossovers set at 80hz for a sub?
Currently I would set your center channel to Small with an 80-100hz crossover!!!

If you buy the Polk RTi4's I would only ever recommend to you 2 different center channels since you seem to be hyper sensitive to Dialogue sound, and that is the matching centers to the RTi4's. Mismatching center channels to a person who is hyper sensitive to dialogue sound is a bad idea.

With the Polk RTi4's you should get either the Polk CSi3 Center or Polk CSi5 Center. Do NOT buy the CS2 center which is for the monitor/TSi -series. And no matter the center and the front the standard recommendation for you would be 80hz. The one benefit for you is the CSi3 is not rear ported(just has small front port) where as the CSi5 is both rear and front ported.
Personally I have no complaints with my Polk RTi4's and CSi3 center for my home theater set-up when I had it up and running. They sound great in my opinion
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I demoed the rti4's and they sounded a bit shrill compared to my tsx220's, but to be fair, they're used. They could be clapped out. Regardless, I didn't go with them. I can't seem to find a store in my area that stocks them new, but that would be helpful.

I also need to spend some time with the center outside of the open back cabinet and mess with my tuner's crossover. I have a feeling the rear firing port is causing unwanted resonance inside the furniture. I can't really mount my tv to the wall, so I'll have to buy a stand that enables the screen to clear the center if that's the case.

Thanks for all the advice guys!
 

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Have you heard a ribbon at your price range? They seem to lack midrange, but the frequencies reproduced by the tweeter are very crisp, detailed and have a decent sparkle to them - given the price range.

The Wavecrest HVL-1s sound like they could also be something you would enjoy. They have a very soft/relaxed (tweeter) and warm feel to them with great midrange. They are also front ported.

The NHT Absolute Zero, I've read, is also a great speaker. I never did see a budget. After reading the posts, it seems you would like to stick to polk with a $150-$300 budget

Be on the lookout for sales on Amazon, I was reading the specs on Polks RTI A9 (newer RTI line of speaker) because of the rated 18hz extension and I found it on sale at Amazon for just over $500 each shipped I contemplated purchasing a pair to bi-amp them and see how they sound and see how much low bass output they could actually achieve. I'm sure the RTI A1s or 3s could go on sale for the price of 2nd hand, or refurbished. Currently, the RTI A3s are $299 shipped.
 

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I demoed the rti4's and they sounded a bit shrill compared to my tsx220's, but to be fair, they're used. They could be clapped out. Regardless, I didn't go with them. I can't seem to find a store in my area that stocks them new, but that would be helpful.
Than I wouldn't get the RTi4's if you didn't like their sound. It is not worth taking a risk on them. Maybe get the matching center to the TSx220 the TSc250c. Also I might suggest repositioning your center channel to allow the rear port breathing room
 
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