RSL 5.1 Theater System

RSL 5.1 Theater System

With speakers, the best things usually come in big – and expensive – packages. But the RSL 5.1 Theater System turns that truism on its head, delivering superior home theater audio from small speakers, all for a (comparatively) affordable price.

Thanks to its design and construction, the bookshelf-size front and surround speakers produce sound usually reserved for their taller, more imposing relatives, floorstanding models. Their small size means those of us who don't have a dedicated home theater room can easily add big surround sound without the speakers dominating the decor.

The RSL system overcomes one of the biggest flaws in bookshelf-size home theater speakers: It delivers bottom-end sound with aplomb through crisp, defined bass and low-frequency effects (LFE). Credit some of that to RSL's decision to put the woofer above the tweeter, which the company says reduces the interference between frequencies.

But even more props go to the 10-inch subwoofer. In addition to the tactile rumble most subwoofers produce, you can hear the details that comprise the effect. When the Batmobile races to catch the Joker in 'The Dark Knight,' the engine's rumble vibrates the floor with impressive oomph, but you also hear the tire's rubber on the road. It's a rare feat for a system at any price point.

RSL's system is versatile, too; it produces full vocals and delivers balanced sound on music playback, whether listening to rock, classical, opera, or rap.

The system is only available through RSL's website; the company offers a 30-day trial and pays shipping both ways. [$2,075; rslspeakers.com]