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HTS Senior Moderator
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First off, let's get this straight, this is NOT a fair comparison and it is not meant to be. There are countless subjective speakers reviews out there and this is not one of them :unbelievable:; the purpose of this post is to show how much difference there can be between a typical enthusiast speaker compared to a typical HTiB speaker. No subjective ears or opinions (other than my own :bigsmile:, and my wife's :shhh:), just the physical and hopefully my own objective opinion (yeah right :whistling:) but, I'll do my best. When I started this thread I figured to let the pictures speak for themselves,... then I decided a little info may be more helpful so,......here goes.

RBH Sound is not a well know brand,... they have been in business about 30 years now and have been an OEM for some of the biggest names in the audio industry. RBH has built for, and/or provided engineering and speaker design consulting for McIntosh, Fosgate Audionics, Parasound and JBL to name a few (yup, those guys,.. not a misprint :yes:). They have an excellent reputation as those in the know, know :R. And are one of the few and oldest companies that are still run by the founder who in this case is Roger B. Hassing. RBH employs a team of highly skilled technicians whose only job is to build Signature Series products. Each product is hand-assembled from start to finish by a single technician in RBH’s Layton, Utah. facility, and not on a foreign assembly line. Upon completion, each speaker is thoroughly hand-tested for all aspects of performance; ensuring all Signature Series products are built to the highest possible standards in the USA.

This statement is not meant to be an advertisement for RBH as I'd bet Monitor Audio, PSB, Totem Acoustic, Triad and many other mid - high end speaker manufacturers' procedures are similar.

Kenwood,... well what can I say? They are a very well known consumer brand with a long and storied history. These particular speakers came packaged in one of the best all around Home Theater in a Box systems ever produced (The Kenwood HTB-504 system) by a mass market manufacturer and I assume were produced on a large scale mass market assembly line.

Basic specifications for the two speakers are:

................................. RBH Sound 661-SE .................................... Kenwood KS-505HT
................................. (typical enthusiast speaker) ......................... (typical HTiB speaker)

Enclosure: ................... Bass Reflex, 3/4" MDF .................................. Acoustic Suspension, 1/2" particle board
Nominal Impedance ....... 4 ohms ..................................................... 8 ohms
Binding Posts ............... 5 way gold plated posts ............................... Spring Clips
Max Power .................. 200 Watts ................................................. 100 Watts
Sensitivity .................. 90db 2.83V/1M ........................................... 88 db 1W/M
Frequency Response ..... 45 Hz - 20 kHz +-3db .................................. 80 Hz - 20 kHz +-?db
Crossover Frequency ..... 2700 Hz ................................................... 10,000 Hz
Weight ....................... 37 lbs ....................................................... 8 lbs

Please excuse my photography skills, or lack there of :bigsmile: and click on any image for a larger picture.


Side by side, Kenwood KS-505HT on the left and the RBH 661-SE on the right.


Both have cloth grills of a similar design utilizing plastic posts and a similar rubber insert in the cabinet, the main difference here is the actual frame.
The Kenwood frame is molded plastic and the RBH frame is wood. Finish on both is a Black Ash,... even though my photo skills are pretty limited, the quality of finish seems fairly obvious.


Here we come to the first big difference, aside from the actual physical size and weight difference,... Drivers;
All drivers in both speakers are magnetically shielded, and appropriate for use in a home theater system.
First we'll take a look at the tweeters. The Kenwood speakers use a Kenwood 3/4" Mylar dome tweeter and the RBH use the venerable Vifa D27 1" silk dome tweeter.
Mid-woofers for the Kenwood consist of two Kenwood 4" paper cone woofers with what appears to be a Polyester Foam surround and stamped steel baskets. The paper cone is not as rigid as Kevlar, carbon fiber, or aluminum, so it lacks the rigid structure that may provide a wealth of inner detail. These properties could prevent the speaker from playing as loud as aluminum, but the onset of breakup is much more gentle and progressive.
The RBH use two custom designed proprietary 6-1/2" aluminum cones with butyl rubber surrounds to minimize ringing and any resonance that may be caused by the aluminum cone mid-woofers, these aluminum cone drivers' stiffness, low mass and self dampening properties allow the driver to provide a more linear response. Rigid cast baskets are standard components of the SE series.


Binding posts, the Kenwood's use a spring loaded clip design while the RBH are outfitted with high quality, five way, gold plated binding post for very good connections.
In this picture you'll also notice the vents or ports on the back of the RBH speaker along with the supplied foam port plugs, the versatility provided by this seemingly simple and inexpensive addition helps facilitate installations near a back wall or integration into cabinetry. Also of note, you'll see that the RBH is finished on the back side and the Kenwood is not.


Here the difference in cabinet construction. The Kenwood's (two pictures on the left) are comprised of 1/2" (I think that is a bit generous) particle board construction, absolutely no internal bracing, and no dampening material.
The RBH cabinet (two pictures on the right) is constructed of 3/4" MDF (medium density fiber board), with an abundance of internal bracing and a decent amount of 3/4" thick, dense acoustic dampening foam.


Hmm,.... I think this picture speaks for itself :unbelievable:
The RBH uses a twisted 14 AWG from the crossover to both woofer and tweeter. Twisting the wires in a cable (subjectively?) improves the cable's ability to reject external noise. It also reduces the cable inductance and may be the most effective way to keep the individual wires from vibrating with respect to each other. The Kenwood uses 22 AWG,...ummm :doh: it's pretty small and not twisted :gulp:.


Kenwood (on the left),... is that a crossover? Sorry not very objective, but what'd ya expect from a picture like that :dontknow:
The RBH crossover (on the right), quality components such as Air Core Inductors, Film Caps, and Ceramic Resistors.

Now, I'm not one to complain as obviously I own both sets of speakers and find both have their place in the home theater world. As a side note I'll say my wife prefers the sound of these Kenwood's to our other set of speakers (RBH Sound MC-4C) but we both love our RBH 1266-SE and the 661-SE falls somewhere in-between for her and right behind the 1266 for me.

As I started out I was just going to post a few pictures for comparison hoping that it would be helpful to those of you who really don't see why anyone would want to spend more than $200 - $300 on a 5.1 speaker system. In the end I decided a few comments about the photos would be more helpful.

As for cost,... I do not know if these Kenwood speakers were ever available separately but M.S.R.P. for the HTB-504 was $499.99. This price included a respectable VR-507 AVR (M.S.R.P. on this was $325 alone), a center, two mains, two surrounds and the gem (IMHO) of the system an SW-35HT subwoofer. Definitely a value oriented system and could get just about anyone into a home theater system for a very reasonable price. At the time, MSRP for a single RBH Sound 661-SE was $699.00. As I said, NOT a fair comparison but hopefully this post has some value to the potential consumer of a value price HTiB.
 

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Very nice Compairson. I enjoyed reading it. althoug I do not own either set of speakers. I have foudn that typical entheustis speakers have more bass buil it with better midrange. while HTIB designs tend to push the bass off entirely on the subwoffer and focus on tweeterish sperkas for fronts and surrounds.
 

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Great job Mark :T Im going to place a link to this in my post here.
 

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You did a really good review for us there. When I started looking into subs many years ago, I noticed this type of quality difference between my 'Big Store' brand and SVS. Like what you showed here, HUGE difference!
 

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HTS Senior Moderator
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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you. Looking it over now, maybe I should have done a little more on the drivers? Perhaps I'll add some more to this,... eventually. :bigsmile:
 

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Great post! I used this to talk my friends out of HTIB.

They're using homemade speakers now - and although they are old and have a horrible finish, they actually sound ok so I'm working on pushing them toward some low-cost but respectable speakers like PSB or Monitor.

This is very helpful in illustrating the relative value.
 

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Brilliant! So the speakers of all in one package of Onkyo are actually rubbish? Maybe I should get a amp+speakers rather than a package.
 

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Brilliant! So the speakers of all in one package of Onkyo are actually rubbish? Maybe I should get a amp+speakers rather than a package.
Two things you need to consider, What you have for a budget and what HTIB system your talking about. 90% of the HTIB systems use speakers and subs that are far to small with cheap drivers and receivers. Onkyo particularly their top two systems are actually very good. They use good receivers and the speakers and sub are very good compared to others.
Right now the Onkyo HT S9400 here (Onkyos top end HTIB system) is at a pricepoint thats hard to beat.
 

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HTS Senior Moderator
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Discussion Starter #9
I would not say the Onkyo HTiB systems are rubbish. For the money they are pretty good. The old Kenwood system was pretty good at the time too. It was similar to the Onkyo's in that it had a respectable receiver, a nice little sub and speakers that got the job done. As I pointed out, my wife actually preferred the Kenwood speaker.
Of course purchasing an AVR with the features you want and separate speakers you have auditioned along with a well rounded sub will in most cases result in superior sound; it will also cost a fair bit more.
 
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