We Now Know What Speakers You Should Buy: The RBH Impression Series is Back!

RBH has long been known as one of the best bang-for-buck speaker companies. Unfortunately, they almost always sell exclusively through dealers and cater to the higher-end market. In those more stratospheric price points, however, they still offered some of the best sound and built quality you could get. Notice we said “almost always.” Occasionally, RBH will release a budget line of speakers that can be purchased exclusively online directly from them. Well, they’ve done it again! The new 3rd generation of RBH’s entry-level Impression Series speakers has just been released, and you can order them directly from RBH’s website. Let’s discuss!

Looks Aren’t Everything

The Impression Series speaker line from RBH isn’t much to look at. They are simple black (or white!) rectangles with some drivers. If you dive just below the surface, however, you’ll find some of the quality that has made RBH so popular. All models use HDF cabinets, not MDF. There are two finish options available: Black Satin and White Satin. Rather than veneer, RBH has opted for paint. The grills use MDF frames and connect via magnets, so there aren’t any visible speaker grill mounts.

But Sometimes They Are!

One thing that seasoned enthusiasts will immediately notice is that RBH has opted for a 5.25″ aluminum mid-range driver with a fixed phase plug. Phase plugs used to be all the rage back in the day but we’ve not seen one on a speaker at these price points in years. While that might not mean much to the uninitiated, the “real” phase plug on their midrange driver indicates that RBH is focusing more on how their Impression Series speakers sound rather than look. As we’d expect, RBH has voiced the entire Impression Series to be timbre-matched so that you can mix and match the different speakers to fit your needs.

Driver Compliment and Naming


Most of the Impression Series sport a fabric dome tweeter and at least one of the 5.25″ midrange drivers. You can tell what drivers are included by the names. There is the 85-i Tower with a side-firing 8″ woofer, 5.25″ midrange, and the Impression Series fabric dome tweeter for example. The 5-i Bookshelf speaker has simply the 5.25″ midrange and the Impression Series tweeter.

If you see a “w” in the same, the speaker is designed for on-wall duty. With some of these on-wall speakers, you’ll also see an “r.” That “r” indicates “reference” and it means that the tweeter has been upgraded to a folded-ribbon model.


The RBH Impression Series 85-i Tower is sold in pairs for $1,195. It uses RBH’s new fabric dome tweeter with a single 5.25” aluminum mid-range driver with a fixed phase plug. A single 8″ aluminum woofer at the bottom provides extension down to a claimed 45 Hz -3 dB. The 5-i Bookshelf is sold for $350 each. The same tweeter and 5 ¼” driver. And they only claim 70 Hz -3 dB extension, even though it’s rear ported.


The RBH Impression Series 55-i sells for $450 each, and it’s here to tick off Reddit. Its dual 5.25” drivers are positioned above and below, or on either side, of the 1” tweeter. RBH claims that, despite the MTM design, they’ve engineered it to have very similar dispersion both vertically and horizontally. So this is an LCR speaker that can be used in either orientation. You might choose this speaker for either all three front speakers or simply as a center.

There are also on-wall models, and the on-walls come with the option of an upgraded tweeter. The 5-iw sells for $300 each. It’s got the same drivers as the 5-i Bookshelf, but in a 3.75” deep sealed cabinet with a French Cleat wall mount. The magnetically attached grill adds another ½” to the depth. If you want a taste of RBH’s folded ribbon tweeters, there’s the 5-iwr Reference that sells for $500 each. The 55-iw for $425 each and the 55-iwr for $700 each are exactly what you would expect: dual driver versions in sealed, on-wall designs.

Lastly, we have the subwoofer. The 12-i Subwoofer goes for $900. It is basically a 16-inch cube, and it uses a passive radiator design. With its 350-watt amp, they claim extension down to 29 Hz -3dB. The back panel provides both RCA and XLR ins and outs, and there’s a fully variable phase knob.


Take Away

We didn’t mention that there are 3-speakers-in-one-bar on-wall models that are only sold through dealers in the Impression line. If you are curious as to whether or not the rest of the freestanding speakers will get the folded-ribbon tweeter upgrade eventually, the smart money is on “Yes.” Also, if you were underwhelmed with the performance specs on the subwoofer, you should be impressed. Impressed that they were so honest with their extension claims! RBH has always been honest (if not conservative) with their specifications and we expect this 3rd generation of Impression Series speakers to be no different. Yes, we’d recommend you pair them with a different subwoofer. But we have no issues recommending the rest of the line!

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