Product Review (September 2009) - RBH Sound
MC Series Speaker System
(MC-616C, MC-44C, and TS-12AP)

By Kevin Nakano


RBH MC Series

RBH Sound offers a wide range of loudspeakers that appeal to both the audiophile and the home theater enthusiast. The RBH MC Series is a line of loudspeakers that is designed to satisfy both camps without sacrificing sound quality. These speakers employ a proprietary aluminum cone technology, also found in their flagship products, that offers inherent stiffness, low mass and self-damping properties. The result is a speaker design capable of delivering sonic qualities needed for today's high resolution music and movie soundtracks. RBH utilizes computer optimized crossover designs that produce smooth transitions between the low and high frequency drivers while minimizing distortion and increasing power handling capability. The MC Series cabinets are constructed from medium density fiberboard (MDF), which removes sonic colorations that often affect the soundstage and imaging of a loudspeaker. RBH's Resonance Damping Alloy Baffle (RDAB) technology is designed to dampen cabinet vibrations and minimize tweeter diffraction, all while providing a pleasant look. The heavy cabinet construction is evident and each speaker is finished with a genuine hardwood veneer.

RBH offers several models in the MC Series. We had the opportunity to review the MC-616C (LCR) front channels ($449 each) along with the MC-44C surrounds ($959.99/pair). In addition, RBH sent us the TS-12AP subwoofer ($799) to provide the low frequency bass response for the system. For those who need to conceal the speakers in the walls, RBH offers the MC Series in-wall loudspeakers that are sonically (timbre) matched to their freestanding models. This is an important issue when mixing different types of speakers in a system.

RBH Sound PackagingPackaging
Generally we do not cover the packaging of speaker systems, but in this case I felt the need to address the exceptional job RBH Sound has taken in making sure their speakers reach customers undamaged. Having reviewed many expensive components from a variety of manufacturers, it is heart-breaking to receive an item that is damaged by rough carriers. Yes, it happens and we have been on the receiving side of it too many times. It is a hassle for everyone and can largely be avoided with good packing. RBH Sound double-boxes their speakers with lots of heavy padding and a good gap between the inner and outer box. This decreases the chance of receiving a damaged item. We commend RBH's on this. I wish everything I receive was packed this well.

System Configuration
Our system consisted of a Denon AVR-5308CI receiver mated to a Parasound HCA-2205AT five-channel amplifier. The Denon is capable of decoding all of the latest surround formats including multi-channel DSD (SACD), Dolby True-HD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The Parasound amplifier provides the extra drive capability needed for speakers with lower impedances. Our source material was played from the new OPPO BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray player using the HDMI interface. The Denon is a THX capable receiver with the crossover frequency set to 80Hz, which is ideal for the subwoofer.


RBH Sound - MC-616C SpeakersMC-616C LCR Speakers
Three MC-616C front channels were used in our 5.1 setup. This was ideal and allowed us to have all front channels timbre matched for a seamless transitions as sound panned across the front of the room. The MC-616C features two 6½-inch aluminum cone woofers and a single 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter in a D'Appolito (woofer-tweeter-woofer) configuration. The speakers can be placed horizontally or vertically depending on the desired installation. We placed the left and right channels vertically, while the center channel was placed horizontally below our screen. The woofers utilize powerful magnets with extended voice coils and a bumped back plate. This gives the driver high linear excursion for accurate sound reproduction. The woofer design also includes a bucking magnet to cancel stray B fields that may affect CRT displays. The tweeter also uses a proprietary aluminum dome design that has Ferro Fluid liquid cooling, giving it greater power handling capability. The steep acoustic slope crossover design has an internal polyswitch (current limiter) that protects the tweeter should it be overdriven. The cabinet is heavy (24 pounds) and provides an optimal enclosure for the high performance drivers and crossover design. The MC-616C is flexible and can be used horizontally or vertically and also features video shielding. The rear binding posts accept a variety of connections.


RBH Sound MC-44C Surround SpeakerMC-44C Surrounds
RBH included a pair of MC-44C surround channels to complement the MC-616C front channels for our 5.1 configuration. The MC-44C also features RBH's aluminum cone technology, with two 4-inch woofers and two 1-inch tweeters in a bi-polar configuration. The speaker has a frequency response of 100Hz-20kHz (±3dB). The MC-44C measures 9.5" H x 10.5" W x 6" D and weighs 12 pounds. The cabinet is designed to mount on the wall and includes a pair of integrated key-slot mounts on the back of the cabinet, allowing for fast and secure mounting. The two baffles are separated by 90 degrees from one another and 45 degrees from the wall.

The rear binding posts are all metal and accept various types of interconnects including bare wire. The spacing is tight, so users may be limited to what fits in the space behind the speaker when attaching them to the wall. We used bare wire for our testing.


RBH MC Series Impedance

MC Series Impedance
While most reviews concentrate solely on the speaker's frequency response, we like to measure the speaker's impedance while the frequency is swept across the audio range. Using a Sencore SP295 Audio Analyzer, the 1/3 octave points are captured in the table. Both the MC-616C front channels as well as the MC-44C surrounds are shown. The MC-616C speakers have a nominal rated impedance of 6 ohms. We found that the MC-616C speakers had a a maximum of 11.2 ohms at 80 Hz and a minimum impedance of 4.2 ohms at around 200. The MC-44C surrounds had a similar impedance signature with a peak at 125Hz (15 ohms) and a valley at 250Hz (4 ohms). In both cases the speaker impedance average was just over 6 ohms agreeing with the manufacturer's specification. Most well designed receivers and power amplifiers will not have any problem driving these speakers.


TS-12AP Subwoofer
The TS-12AP subwoofer handles the low end of the frequency spectrum. The designs includes a single 12-inch aluminum cone driver with a rubber surround and is powered by a 200-watt RMS Class A/B amplifier. The cabinet is constructed from MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), which offers excellent rigidity and comes in a black oak wood grain finish. The subwoofer measures 18-3/4"H x 16"W x 20-1/4"D and weighs 52 pounds, making it more manageable than some earlier designs that utilized conventional linear amplifiers. The dual front ported subwoofer has a rated frequency response of 27Hz-200Hz (±3dB) with a 12dB/octave slope.

RBH SoundRear Panel
The rear panel is occupied by a large heatsink to keep the output devices cool when running the subwoofer at higher levels. The RBH TS-12AP uses a conventional linear amplifier topology that produces the best sound reproduction for the discerning audiophile. While many subwoofer have migrated to the cheaper BASH amplifiers, RBH has stayed with the proven performance of the class A/B design. The TS-12AP has three
adjustable controls for Level, Low Pass Frequency (40-180Hz), and Phase (0-180 degrees). Line level inputs and outputs are provided. Speaker level inputs and outputs are also provided for those lacking line level interfaces. The Power switch has three positions (Auto On, Off, and On). Auto On uses an auto sense circuit to detect when an audio signal is present and activates power to the subwoofer. This can save significant power when the subwoofer is not being used for extended periods of time.


System Performance
The MC Series is a reasonably priced multi-channel speaker system that is designed for those wanting a high performance multi-channel system with a limited budget. The complete 5.1 MC Series reviewed here retails for just over $3000, yet performed like a system easily costing more than twice that. Medium powered receivers should have no problem driving this system and with the powered subwoofer, there will be plenty of high-impact bass available for both music and movie soundtracks.

Bonnie Raitt - Road TestedAudio Performance
We were interested in hearing how well the MC Series sounded with 5.1 multi-channel audio sources. Some of our favorite material is available in the DTS Surround format. One such album is Bonnie Raitt's Road Tested, where excellent fidelity from a live concert makes for a realistic and engaging experience. Track 8 (Disc 1) Have a Heart has deep bass and chimey guitar licks that reproduces well on this system. Another nice multi-channel recording is Steely Dan's Gaucho. Tight percussion and harmonious vocals on this track reveal the high level and detailed reproduction these speakers are capable of.

Movie Soundtracks
Blu-ray movies such as Slumdog Millionaire
with the DTS-HD Master Audio audio track had excellent fidelity with an impressive dynamic range. The scene where the famous Bollywood movie star arrives in a helicopter at the nearby airport places you right in the middle of the action. Similarly, Kung Fu Panda presented in Dolby TrueHD sounded excellent with these speakers. In chapter 21 where Po fights Tai Lung, the sound effects are aggressive with high impact deep bass, completely exercising the 5.1 speaker system. Dialogue was clear and precise with smooth transition of sound as it passed from one speaker to the next. The TS-12AP subwoofer produced tight, deep bass with the convincing impact one expects in a high quality home theater speaker system. Listening to the MC Series over extended periods of time was not fatiguing even at higher volume levels. Subtle sounds were intelligible when played with a low noise floor. When these speakers are mated with a large cinematic screen such as our 100-inch Stewart Firehawk filmscreen, the whole presentation becomes engaging.

Conclusion
We have covered many speaker systems at various price points. What makes the RBH MC series so attractive is the combination of heavy cabinetry and quality hardware along with audio performance much higher than one might expect given its price. Seldom do you find such a system capable of this level of performance that works so well with both music and movies.

The MC-616C front channel speakers did a great job with clear and precise dialogue with the ability to reproduce subtle detail and loud passages. The MC-44C with their bi-polar configuration enveloped us with a 3-dimensional surround sound. While we enjoyed the performance of the MC-44C surround speakers, we would prefer to have all five channels with the exact same speakers. Therefore, we would most likely recommend a 5.1 system comprising of five MC-616C channels rather than having smaller rear channels in our theater room. Since we often listen to multi-channel music, we would rather have the same speakers in the front and rear. Of course, we would lose the diffused bi-polar surround effect we got from the MC-44C speakers, but we think that would be worth it. If your speaker budget is around $3000, we would recommend auditioning the RBH MC Series with the TS-12AP subwoofer for your speaker system. The performance and value is tough to beat.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Projector: Mitsubishi HC5500 1080p LCD Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
A/V Receiver: Denon AVR-5308CI THX-Ultra2 7x150W Receiver
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Thermal Management: Active Thermal Management Cool-it II Equipment Cooler
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP722 HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver with HDMI
Blu-ray Player: OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray Player with DVD-Audio and SACD
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. T4 Controller
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
HDMI Cables: VizionWare Hi-Wirez 20-meter, Accell 45-meter UltraRun HDMI Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables


Review at a glance


RBH Sound - MC Series Speaker System


RBH Sound - MC-616C Surround Speakers

Techinical Specifications

Frequency Response: 65Hz-20kHz (±3dB)
Sensitivity: 89dB (2.83V @ 1 Meter)
Recommended Power: 50 - 150 Watts
Drive Units: (2) 6-1/2" (165mm) Aluminum Cone Woofers
                          (1) 1" (25mm) Aluminum Dome Tweeter
Tweeter Protection: Yes
Crossover Frequency: 3,000Hz
Crossover: 24dB/Octave
Impedance: 6 Ohms
Cabinet Material: Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Cabinet Finish: Black Oak Woodgrain

Dimensions: 7-3/4" H x 19-1/2" W x 8-3/4" D (197mm H x 495mm W x 222mm D)

Weight: 24lbs (10.89kg)
Warranty: 5 years

Technical Information Sheet

RBH Sound - MC-44C Surround Speakers

Techinical Specifications

System Type: On-wall Surround Speaker
Frequency Response: 100Hz-20kHz (±3dB)
Sensitivity: 88dB (2.83V @ 1 Meter)
Recommended Power: 50 - 150 Watts
Drive Units: (2) 4" (102mm) Aluminum Cone Woofers
                      (2) 1" (25mm) Aluminum Dome Tweeters
Tweeter Protection: Yes
Crossover Frequency: 3,000Hz
Impedance: 6 Ohms
Cabinet Material: Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Cabinet Finish: Black Oak Woodgrain
Dimensions: 10-1/2" W x 9-1/2" H x 6"
(267mm W x 241mm H x 152mm D)
Weight: 11lbs (4.99kg)
Warranty: 5 years

Technical Information Sheet

RBH Sound - TS-12AP Subwoofer

Techinical Specifications

System Type: Powered Subwoofer
Frequency Response: 27Hz-200Hz (±3dB)
Sensitivity: N/A
Amplifier Power: 200 Watts RMS
Drive Units: (1) 12" (305mm) Aluminum Cone Subwoofer
Crossover Frequency: 40-180Hz (Variable)
Crossover: 12dB/Octave
Impedance: N/A
Cabinet Material: Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Cabinet Finish: Black Oak Woodgrain
Dimensions: 18-3/4"H x 16"W x 20-1/4"D
                    (476mm H x 406mm W x 514mm D)
Weight: 55lbs (24.95kg)
Warranty: 5 years/1year*


Company Information
RBH Sound
976 N. Marshall Way, Bldg. 2, #4
Layton, Utah 84041
Phone: 800-543-2205
Fax: 801-543-3300
Website: http://www.rbhsound.com

Source: Manufacture Supplied


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