Roth OLi RA1 speakers review
What’s in the box?
The packaging of the Roth OLi RA1’s is simply a brown branded cardboard box (pictured, below) not unlike Amazon packaging. Holding the two speakers in place inside the box is cut-form foam, which keeps the speakers dead still in transit. The speakers are wrapped in a soft cotton wrap and the two speaker fascias are packaged in clear plastic re-sealable bags.
The packaging is simple yet robust, and inspires a lot of confidence.
In the box, you get two OLi RA1 speakers, two magnetic fascias, eight foam stick-on pads which act as feet, an instruction manual and two brackets for installing the speakers on to a wall.
Roth OLi RA1 review by techlech.
Bookshelf speakers are the space-saving man’s best friend, but even by bookshelf speaker standards the Roth OLi RA1’s are petite. They measure only (HWD) 231mm x 151mm x 153mm each and weigh in at 4.8kg for the pair. This makes them smaller than the vast majority of bookshelf speakers on the market and only a little bigger than your standard desktop speakers.
I got mine in black, but there are white RA1’s available too. With speakers at this price you usually expect there to be signs of cost-cutting, but I’m pleased to report that these little OLi’s are extremely well made and feel the business thanks to their 2.4kg weight (per speaker). The front tweeter and fiberglass mid/bass driver can be protected by the supplied magnetic mesh covers, and thankfully these speakers don’t pick up fingerprints like some others do because they’re matte.
I was genuinely surprised by the dynamic and rhythmic sound of these little Roth speakers.
Despite their small stature, don’t be fooled for the RA1’s deliver where it matters most: sound.
I was genuinely surprised by the dynamic and rhythmic sound of these little Roth speakers which as I discovered are perfect for listening to Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower where the opening exchanges are tight and controlled and the chorus handled with aplomb.
Faced by Kanye West’s Bound 2, the OLi RA1’s handled the highs supremely well and even handled the bass quite well, too. In fact, whatever music I threw at the RA1’s including CHVRCHES’ Lies and Eels’ Grace Kelly Blues I was never tempted to stop the track mid-song. This to me is the best quality of the Roth OLi RA1’s – they’re extremely well balanced.
But then they should be. These were, after all, designed by British audio fettler Richard Allen – and the same goes for Roth’s other speakers in this range, the RA2’s, RA3’s and RA4’s.
It’s only when you turn the volume up to say 80% that these speakers start to come unstuck.
As a media set up, the Roth’s impressed yet still. I hooked them up to my own Onkyo amplifier with some quality speaker cable and as a 2:0 speaker system they’re excellent, far surpassing the standard audio on my Samsung television – and living with more expensive kit, such as speakers from Wharfedale. Combined with the Roth OLi KH30 subwoofer (£250 online), the RA1’s would make for an excellent budget 2:1 sound system set up.
But as they are, these speakers are an ideal upgrade over your standard audio set up in your living or bedroom.
The RA1’s deliver where it matters most: sound.
It’s only when you turn the volume up to say 80% that these speakers start to come somewhat unstuck. If you go beyond 80% output, the speakers get muddled and struggle to cope with all manners of audio – in a word, they start to sound overwhelmed. But, if you intend to use these in a small-ish room or as secondary speakers, this shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, if it is, there’s always the Roth Oli RA2’s or the OLi RA3’s to consider – you pay for what you get, as they say.
Remember when you could go out and buy speakers for around £100 that sounded great? No, me neither. What Roth has managed to do here is create a set of speakers that have completely changed what I expect of low-end speakers. I haven’t tested any speakers better for the price and I highly recommend you buy some, like, NOW.
Website: Rothaudio. Price when reviewed: £99.99.