Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Polk RTiA 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System

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Setup of the Polk RTiA 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System

Given the size of the A9 towers, I decided to setup the RTi system in my 16' x 22' main media room. Source components were my Integra DHC-9.9 pre/pro, Wyred 4 Sound 7 channel amplifier (550 watts @ 8ohms x 3 for the front channels, 250 watts @ 8ohms x 4 for the surround channels), and Oppo BDP-83SE NuForce edition Blu-ray player. Cabling was a mix of Kimber speaker cable and Blue Jeans HDMI, XLR, and RCA cables. I started with the towers about 3 feet from the back wall and 4 feet from the sidewalls. The CSi A6 was placed directly on top of my Salamander Designs Triple 20 TV cabinet. The A3 surround speakers were mounted on B-Tech BT-77 wall brackets and aimed directly at my primary listening position. This only gave the back of the A3s a few inches of clearance from the wall, but surprisingly led to very little bloat in the bass. The DSWPRO660wi subwoofer was installed in the same front corner spot where my reference sub is placed, as it provides the smoothest overall bass response in my listening room. Given that I had the appropriate cabling run, I did not use the PSWK-1 wireless kit though a brief trial confirmed that it worked exactly as advertised. Subwoofer setup was pretty easy with the included remote control. You can set the phase to 0, 90, 180, or 270 degrees (0 degrees worked best for me) right from the remote and you can also select from one of four preset position locations: cabinet, corner, mid-wall, or mid-room (I used corner). There is a separate button to disable the front panel blue LED light (it still lights up when receiving a command from the remote) as well as a "night" button that when pressed cuts the sub's volume level by 50%.

I have only two gripes about the operation of the DSWPRO660wi. First, you must count a series of short and long blinks of the front panel LED to determine the volume level which is not necessarily difficult, but annoying. Second, the remote sensor seems to have a very limited range. A wider reception range would be greatly appreciated as it would make the sub far more responsive to remote commands. I do wish to acknowledge the excellent instructions on the subwoofer, as they very clearly illustrate the multiple options for connecting the subwoofer to pretty much any system out there.

My initial listening sessions led me to move the A9 towers slightly further apart (now 3 feet from each sidewall), which improved imaging nicely. I also moved each tower closer to the back wall, finally settling on about 2 feet from the back wall. This extra foot of distance from my listening position (now about 10.5 feet from my ears) increased the coherence of the A9's sound without causing any noticeable bloat in the bass. As the A9 is a very large tower with multiple drivers I would recommend that you sit at least 10 feet from the front baffle to ensure that the sound gels together properly. If you don't have that kind of space, one of the smaller RTi towers would probably be a better idea. After experimenting with speaker toe-in, I found that I preferred the sound of the A9s with them firing towards a point slightly behind my head. This gave the smoothest overall mid-range/treble response while maintaining very good imaging. After spending some time comparing the sound of the A9s with and without the grilles, I found that I preferred them with their grilles off as there was a touch more detail in the upper mid-range and treble. To keep things consistent, I removed the grilles from the CSi A6 and RTi A3's for the remainder of my listening sessions. I also ran my Integra DHC-9.9 through a full Audyssey Pro calibration to ensure that all speaker distances and levels were appropriately set as well as to get some listening position measurements for each speaker.