Polk has a well-earned and solid reputation for building good sounding and affordable speakers. They are a US-based company with over 50 years of experience in electronics manufacturing. They’re well known for their production of speakers and soundbars, spanning a broad spectrum of price points.
The Polk Audio RTI A3 is one of their more affordable hi-fi speakers, and on paper at least has plenty to offer. It looks every bit as impressive as some of the bigger Polk speakers. The fact is that the competition for bookshelf speakers around this price is fierce. So, the question is, are the Polk Audio RTI A3 speakers good enough to make you want to part with your hard-earned cash.
Why don’t we get this Polk Audio RTI A3 Review started and find out?
Design & Build Quality
The Polk Audio RTI A3 speakers are the largest in their range of bookshelf speakers.
Polk describes the material they’re made from as being real wood with all MDF construction. Be aware that this is not solid wood. Yes, wood is used, but it’s recycled wood fiber and resin. The MDF part of the description is accurate, but we find the inclusion of “real wood as being a little misleading. We know that a lot of manufacturers do this, but it’s no excuse.
That being said, the quality of the cabinets and the finish is really good.
The Polk Audio RTI A3 speakers share the same design cues as the rest of the range, which is likely to polarize views in terms of their aesthetic appeal. They all feature a very wide and prominent alloy surround to the woofer. It looks a little bulky, but nothing too unusual.
However, the alloy surrounding the tweeter, with the same surround copied under the woofer, demands your attention. They look like something that’s fallen off the end of a piece of scaffolding or a car engine. Clearly a lot of people like this look but we find it all a bit too industrial.
Polk describes their speakers as being elegant and classic. We don’t think so. With this in mind, our choice would be to keep the front covers on. But even here, the Polk description of “Elegant, Classic,” in reference to their covers, is somewhat at odds with our own view.
The grill itself and the Polk logo are all fine. It’s the silver lining to the top and bottom of the grill we take issue with. We can see the practicality of it, all good for preventing wear and tear to the edges; it’s just that it looks like, is a bit of an after-thought.
The way it wraps around the sides of the grill looks clumsy. It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t appear either elegant or classic to us. However, we’re sure they’ll be plenty of people out there who love it. The one place we think Polk can lay claim to being elegant, at least, is in the way the speakers gently taper back from the front to rear. It’s a good look.
Also looking good is Polk’s five-year guarantee for both the cabinets and drivers. It’s nice to see a manufacturer back their product like this.
Features & Specifications
The Polk Audio RTI A3 speakers measure 14.3” x 14.8” x 7.8” and weigh 16lbs. These are relatively large for bookshelf speakers. They are also quite large for use as desktop computer speakers. However, we think that they still fall within the size limits for both.
Before we go any further, it worth pointing out here that these are passive speakers, so they will require some kind of a receiver for them to work.
The 6.5″ polymer-composite-cone woofer takes care of the bass. The 1” silk and polymer composite dome tweeter takes care of the highs. They are, of course, both on shared duty to take care of all that interesting stuff in the middle. There’s no dedicated driver for the mids, which is fairly typical at this price, so no complaints here.
The speakers are able to produce a respectable 150 watts of peak power and have an impedance level of 8 ohms. The impedance level is good enough to make them easily driven by just about any amplifier. There’s no doubt that extracting a decent amount of volume and power from these speakers should be nice and easy.
Connections on the rear of the speakers are quality dual gold-plated, 5-way binding posts. These professional-style connecting posts should ensure optimal and secure connections.
The Polk Audio RTI A3 has its own proprietary PowerPort technology, designed to manage speaker airflow, in order to reduce unwanted noise and to maximize sound quality.
Other onboard technologies include; patented Acoustic Resonance Control® port technology, which reduces internal resonance, patented Dynamic Balance technology, which reduces distortion, RTiA Cascade Tapered Crossover which prevents audio and soundstage degradation, and finally, Klippel motor optimization which ensures uniform performance at all volumes.
We’re sure you’ll agree that there are plenty of features and technologies built into the Polk Audio RTI A3 speakers to optimize speaker-performance.
Now it’s time to dive in and take a look at how these all combine to produce the Polk’s overall sound.
Let’s kick off with how much volume they can produce. We know they are capable of producing 150 watts of peak power, but how does that translate into the real world? Basically, these are fine to use in any medium-sized room. They are perfectly at home as part of your TV audio set-up, as part of a computer desktop set-up, or as a dedicated set of speakers specifically for listening to music.
The Polk RT1 A3 produces a full and bright sound, and it effortlessly fills the room and creates an excellent soundscape. There’s some nice detail with good sound separation between instruments when listening to music.
These are large for bookshelf speakers, and because of their size, they are able to fit in a 6.5” woofer. This is larger than the 5.25” woofer that we’d more typically expect to find. The result is, of course, a fuller bottom end. Probably not enough for people used to a subwoofer and seeking a highly bass-driven sound, but certainly good enough for most.
More good news is that there was no discernible boominess or distractions from unwanted noise or vibrations even when placed close to walls.
The tweeter is precise enough and gives some nice detailed sound. It’s undoubtedly bright but manages to keep the right side of ever becoming harsh. The mids don’t sound to be overly scooped though the lower mids could have been clearer. This was most apparent when either listening to the male spoken or singing voice at lower registers. A little more clarity here would be nice.
Overall, given their price point and physical size, this two-driver set-up produces a full, accurate, and well-balanced sound. They work well with a variety of different receivers, work well as decent PC speakers, and are suitable for listening across a broad range of musical genres.
Polk Audio RTI A3 Pros & Cons
- Good lower end sound.
- No boominess to the bass.
- Great performance at all volumes.
- Solid build quality.
- Five year guarantee.
- The lower mids could be clearer.
- They are quite large for bookshelf speakers.
Other Options From Polk Audio
If you’re also interested in other brands, please take a look at our reviews of the Best Bookshelf Speakers under 1000 dollars, the Best Bookshelf Speakers under 500 dollars, the Best Bookshelf Speakers and the Best Speakers for Vinyl currently available.
So, there we have it. Polk has again successfully manufactured hi-fi sounding audio speakers in a small and affordable package. Matched up to a good quality receiver, these speakers are more than capable of producing clear and well-balanced sound across a range of musical genres.
Their size and power make them suitable for use in any small or medium-sized room as classic bookshelf speakers, as desktop computer speakers or as TV speakers.
We like the larger than normal 6.5” woofers though we have to say we’re not convinced, despite the build quality, of their overall aesthetic appeal. But despite this possible flaw, they are certainly good enough to consider parting with your hard-earned cash.