Audio News & Reviews

RSL CG5 Bookshelf and CG25 Monitor/Center Channel Reviewed

For the past two years, I’ve lived with RSL’s CG3 5.2 Home Theater Speaker System on pretty much a daily basis. With most of the Atmos-based AV receivers I’ve reviewed, this rocking little system has served as the bed (augmented by a quartet of GoldenEar SuperSat 3s affixed to the ceiling for overhead duties). When I wasn’t reviewing an Atmos system, the CG3 package has been the alpha and omega of my bedroom home theater speaker system.

That sort of familiarity is essential, in that it allows me to gauge the performance of any new receiver I bring into the house with as few variables as possible. Conversely, that sort of familiarity also leads to some inertia in terms of my perception of the brand. It’s hard for me to not get in the habit of thinking of RSL as a first and foremost a purveyor of speakers that deliver Saison Dupont performance on a Miller High Life budget in a pony-sized package.

RSL-CG25-CG5-WHT.jpgAll of that is simply to say that pulling the company’s new CG5 out of the box was a bit of a shock for me. The CG5 is big. And not just bigger than the CG3, or the larger (now discontinued) CG4 that we reviewed a while back. It’s a beefy beast of a bookshelf speaker, measuring in at over 12.5 inches tall, over 7.5 inches wide, and 10.75 inches deep, and tipping the scales at 16 pounds.

The CG25 LCR, meanwhile, which most customers will probably mate with a CG5 system as the center speaker, ups the ante to 19 by 8.5 by 9.75 inches, with a weight of 23 pounds.

And yet, it takes but a fleeting glance to find the common DNA between these husky new offerings and their much more diminutive forebears. As with the CG3 (and indeed the CG4) lineup, the CG5 speakers feature Rogersound’s distinctive Compression Guide design, which compartmentalizes the interior of the cabinet and manifests itself on the outside as a thin, cigarette-shaped port.

At a casual glance, the CG5 lineup also seems to employ similar drivers to the CG3, at least in terms of the fact that there’s still a synthetic fiber woofer and a soft-dome tweeter, with the former positioned over the latter. Lean in a little closer, though, and you can see that the 5.25-inch woofer is new (this time around, RSL is going with the more generic “aramid-fiber” description, rather than the brand-named Kevlar advertised in the CG3. Whether that’s reflected in a true material difference, I’m not sure.

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Peer even closer, and you can see that the one-inch silk-dome tweeter is now translucent silk, and high frequency extension now reaches 35,000 Hz (± 3dB), in contrast with the 20,000 Hz limit of the CG3. At the other end of the sonic spectrum, the CG5 boasts low frequency extension down to 54kHz (-3dB), with the larger, double-woofer CG25 digging a little deeper to 51kHz. The speakers also boast a respectable 86 dB and 88 dB sensitivity, respectively (@ 2.83v/1 meter), and are recommended for use with amplifiers delivering between 25 and 150 watts per channel.

The Hookup
RSL was kind enough to send me a veritable hoard of speakers from the CG5 lineup, not only so I could tinker with different configurations, but also so I could see what the same speakers looked like in different finishes. With the CG5 and CG25, the company offers two options: black piano gloss and radiant high-gloss white the latter of which, for some wholly incomprehensible reason, make the speakers look like they ought to sell for at least double their asking price ($ 400 for the CG5 bookshelf; $ 500 for the CG25 monitor/LCR/center speaker). 

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That’s not to poopoo the black, mind you. These speakers are straight-up sex any way you finish them. There’s just something about the gleaming white that says, “I’m not just a functional box; I’m part of the décor.”

Both black and white options come with matching perforated metal grills that affix magnetically. The grills are bowed, and only the left and right (or, if you’re employing the CG25 as a horizontal speaker, the top and bottom) of the grill come into contact with the cabinet itself. To say that this curved, almost floating metal grill classes up the joint would be an understatement. But I do have one caveat to discuss here, right from the giddy-up. Unlike most speakers, I kinda consider the grills for the CG5 speakers to be non-optional.

RSL-CG25-BLK.jpgI should explain what I mean there so you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s a valid concern for your own home. The tweeter for both of these speakers extends past the face of the cabinet itself. Just by a few fractions of an inch, mind you, but there’s nothing like a wave-guide or acoustic lens to protect the delicate silk dome. And I can hear some of you yelling, “Just don’t bump into the front of the speaker, ya big clumsy oaf!” Uh huh. Valid. I totally hear you. You may as well be asking a duck not to quack, though. Add to the equation my wife, who can barely walk from one side of a room to the other without doing an impersonation of Chevy Chase doing an impersonation of Gerald Ford. So, grills it is for us. Thankfully, the grills actually enhance the aesthetic of these speakers quite a bit. But if you like your speakers in the altogether and will stand for nothing less, it’s something to consider.

RSL-CG25-BLK-GRL.jpgAt any rate, other than that, setting up the CG5 speaker works much the same as setting up any bookshelf surround sound system. I did quite a bit of tinkering with the collection of speakers RSL provided for review, though, and it’s worth detailing those. The simplest system employed a pair of CG5 bookshelves mated with a pair of Speedwoofer 10S subs. There was also a 2.2-channel setup using the CG25 LCRs standing vertically. I also spent a good amount of time with a full 5.2 setup, with four CG5 bookshelves at the corners of the room, and the CG25 lying horizontally as the center. Then came a 7.2 setup, with all of the above, plus a pair of CG3 bookshelves as rear surrounds. Then back to a 5.2 setup, using the CG5/CG25/CG5 lineup across the front and a pair of CG3 bookshelves as surrounds.

At the heart of all these setups was the recently reviewed Marantz SR8012. And yes, there were a few Atmos setups thrown into the mix, but most of those were set up to gauge the performance of the receiver, not this speaker system, so we won’t dwell on them here.

Audyssey MultEQ XT 32 was employed throughout the review process, with max filter frequencies generally set in the neighborhood of 500Hz. Audyssey did a perfect job of setting delays and levels, and set perfectly reasonable crossover points, as well, though I did tweak the latter from 60Hz to 80Hz for the CG5 system. When CG3 bookshelves were added to the system, I tweaked their crossover points to 100Hz.

Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion…


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