Polk RTi A9 Floorstanding Loudspeakers Reviewed

Published On: February 24, 2010
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Polk RTi A9 Floorstanding Loudspeakers Reviewed

The big boy of Polk Audio's famed RTi series of loudspeaker the A9 is everything Polk has learned over its storied history applied in a single, affordable design. Capable of running with costlier competition the A9 begs the question why spend more if you don't have to.

Polk RTi A9 Floorstanding Loudspeakers Reviewed

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POLKAudio-rtia9-Review.gifIncorporating many of the company's most advanced driver and cabinet technologies, as well as real wood-veneer cabinetry, Polk's RTI series provides an affordable alternative to those who don't want to step up into the real loudspeaker big leagues to get some advanced performance. The series offers three floorstanding models (RTi A9/reviewed here, RTi A7, RTi A5), two bookshelf models (RTi A3, RTi A1), two center models (CSi A6, CSi A4), and two surround models (FXi A6, FXi A4).

Additional Resources
• Read more floorstanding speaker reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Find a subwoofer to pair with the RTi A9s for a 2.1 system.


The flagship of its RTi line, you don't need to squint to see the RTi A9. It's...well...kind of big. When considering its affordable price ($1699.90 per pair, MSRP), at first glance you get the firm impression that, if nothing else, you are getting a lot of speaker for the money. Measuring 48.625 inches high by 8.875 inches wide by 21.375 inches deep and weighing in at a cool 75 pounds, the RTi A9 takes over a room in a big way. On the top, the design employs a 1-inch Silk Polymer Composite Dome Tweeter crossed over at 1.8kHz and 12dB per octave to two 5.25-inch Dynamic Balance midrange drivers. Polk cleverly houses the tweeter/midrange array in its own sealed sub-enclosure which the company says improves performance, and negates the need for porting. Developed in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University, Dynamic Balance® resulted from a laser interferometry research project that enables Polk to analyze the entire surface of a vibrating driver in real time, in order to determine the right combination of materials for the particular product.

The midrange drivers cross over at 120Hz at 12dB per octave to three 7-inch Polymer Composite woofers. The RTi A9 utilizes the company's PowerPort Plus technology, which consists of two ports - one front and one rear firing - supplemented by internal "plates" to reduce air turbulence and increase efficiency. Located under the woofer array, the large front port fits nicely into the cabinet with a silver fitting. The very slick rear port puts a cone at the mouth of the port to streamline airflow, reduce chuffing, and smooth out frequency response. But unlike most ports that simply end at the edge of the cabinet, Polk uses an elegant plate to terminate the PowerPort, which adds a wonderful cosmetic touch. The RTi A9 provides two sets of 5-way, gold-plated binding posts for bi-wiring/bi-amping. As with all the RTi designs, the RTi A9 features real-wood veneer side panels and utilizes an elegant, tapered cabinet design, which looks great on a big speaker while also likely improving performance by minimizing and diffusing internal standing waves.

Generally (although it has to be executed properly, of course), less boxy designs have the potential to sound better, as they can cancel internal resonances and quiet the enclosure. To that end, Polk also utilizes its DAHLI (Damped Asymmetric Hex Laminate Isolation) technology to thoroughly brace the cabinet with a six-layer laminate with five viscous layers. The RTi A9 offers two optional veneer finishes - Cherry and Black - with the Cherry really distinguishing itself. The removable grills, with nice looking molding on the top and bottom creating an elegant blend into the baffle, look good but their plastic construction sticks out just a tad. Without the grills, the drivers look great against the baffle and that helps, as it seems there's, like, eighteen of them. The overall fit and finish of the RTi A9 goes a bit beyond what one would expect at the price point, even by today's standards.

The RTi A9 presents a nominal 8 ohm load with a 91dB efficiency. It needed a solid boost in overall power quality to open up properly, and went up another notch when paired with better quality power sources.

Right off the bat, the RTi A9s hit you pretty hard with a crisp, punchy sound. They threw a deep, wide soundstage with very good imaging, with an upfront tonal balance that distracts from those qualities just a smidge. The high end, while certainly veering towards crispy, never offends and offers a lot of detail and speed. The midrange offers an excellent amount of musicality, inner detail and neutrality, meshes well with the top end and excels with vocals and piano. While Polk chose to play the midrange drivers down to 120Hz, which seems pretty low, the midrange doesn't seem to have suffered for it, nor does the bass, which really packs a punch and keeps things very tight and controlled.

Click to Page 2 for The High Points, The Low Points and The Conclusion.

It stays in time with the top end, adds its own dose of pace and
musicality, and rarely sounds even a little sloppy and never sticks out
too much. The RTi A9 also plays loud when powered properly, with very
little breakup. In fact, the speaker rarely broke a sweat in this area.
Even with the PowerPort Plus, the RTi A9 needed some room around it to
sound its best, with the sound fattening up a little too much as it
moved closer to walls. Overall, the RTi A9 delivers an excellent level
of sonics with great pacing and dynamics, crisp imaging, and a healthy
dose of refinement and transparency. The forward presentation can be
defined as more of an overall flavor than an inferior aspect of one or
more particular bands. Underneath it, nothing sticks out negatively,
and the sound quality brings a ton of game on virtually every level.

High Points
• The RTi A9 provides a superb
overall level of performance and musicality, with great soundstaging, a
smooth and detailed high end and midrange, and punchy, extended bass.
• The RTi A9 provides an impressive amount of design and technology, and looks fabulous in both of its finishes.
• The RTi A9 sounds as big, if not bigger, than its large footprint
would suggest, with dynamics and bass capable of filling even very
large rooms.

Low Points
• The RTi A9 has a somewhat forward tonal balance.
• The RTi A9 needs good quality power to perform optimally.
• The RTi A9 needs some space around it to sound its best.

The Polk RTi A9 provides a remarkable level of performance and
musicality for its affordable price. It also earns its way there,
packing a ton of design into its large enclosure. Its minor sonic flaws
never interfere with its excellent transparency, overall neutrality,
big sound, and punchy bass. Large floorstanding speakers have come a
long way over the years. Consumers can now expect to receive high-end
design elements, lustrous finishes, and much improved performance from
what the market offered even only five years ago. The Polk RTi A9 is
indicative of that progress, and then some.
Additional Resources
• Read more floorstanding speaker reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Find a subwoofer to pair with the RTi A9s for a 2.1 system.

  • Derek McCluskey
    2022-01-15 02:13:06

    Will a pioneer vsx-d1s have what's it takes to power the rti a9's.

  • Brendon Trotter
    2018-08-31 00:01:12

    Nope, didn't do any internal modifications, only removed the jumper between the binding posts to isolate the tweeter/mids vs woofers. Not sure why would cause any unwanted issues, but at least I haven't heard any. I make sure that the cutoffs I use for the amps allow for some wiggle room above/below the respective speaker crossover cutoffs so I make sure I'm not removing anything I don't want to. Granted I'm doing this only on my home theatre setup, and not my primary music system though. Definitely appreciate the resistance many people have with Class D/Crown amps, but honestly I've been incredibly impressed with what they're capable of...especially for a home theatre type setup.

  • Brendon Trotter
    2018-08-31 00:47:44

    Hmmm....this is something I setup almost 3 years ago, so I don't recall the exact freq cutoffs I used with the amps. But looks like the woofer + mid/high crossover on the A9's is 120Hz, so I would have set woofer crossover obviously above that, and the mid/high amp below by some number of Hz. My thinking in using the crossovers in the amps was to reduce the freq spectrum they had to drive as opposed to running them without a low or high-pass filter active. Both amps obviously have independent output controls, so relative wattage can be adjusted easily...and I don't recall the exact ratings of the amps, but amp I'm using to drive the woofers is significantly more powerful. Assuming there was adequate room in the filter cutoffs above/below that of the speaker crossover, I'm still not clear why there would be any interaction. But do you think it would be better to forgo the amp crossover altogether? I see what you're saying though, this isn't a true active biamp setup as I'm still using the passive crossovers in the speakers nor was it intended to be....the active crossover setup in the amps I only did to reduce the load on the amps for frequencies that were going to get filtered out passively anyways.

  • Fink
    2018-08-31 00:25:09

    First? The amount of power needed is depends a LOT on the frequency of the 'split'. The 50:50 point is around 350hz. This is for normal music and may change, depending on exactly what. A LF laden movie might move the point slightly downward, for example. Second? Removing the jumpers just splits the crossover into 2 pieces. It leaves the crossover part alone. With my panels, the low pass is somewhere below 600hz and is 12db per octave. The high pass is just OVER 600hz and is at 6db per octave. Together, they sum FLAT thru the passband. But when I remove the jumpers? Crossover UNCHANGED and I continue to feed EACH side of the speaker with a FULL RANGE signal which the crossover handles as before. Just NO longer any connection between the now 2 amps...... Can you provide ANY detail about what you did? What I'd start with is the frequencies of the speakers crossover AND the settings on the crown. Generally? Running a crossover INTO a crossover is a bad idea. I run a full-range signal INTO my sub and let its crossover worry about the High Cut duties. I COULD High Cut TO the sub and let the sub run full range. But the sub has a 24db per octave and the bass managment in my preamp is only 12db per octave. I chose the steeper slope to get the sub out of the way MUCH more quickly.

  • Fink
    2018-08-29 22:34:51

    So, does that mean you went into the speaker and deleted the internal crossover? Generally, running a crossover (at the amps) AND an internal crossover, will create some kind of sonic disaster. I'd buy better amps, delete the internal crossover, maybe leave the mid /tweeter crossover in place and use something like a MiniDSP in a TRUE biamp config.

  • Brendon Trotter
    2018-04-07 05:09:34

    personally i've biamped with a couple crown amps, they have built in crossovers which makes it too easy the low-end need a lot more wattage than the high-end, so plan accordingly when making a purchase decision....there's no exact equation for the right mix when you're using different amps, you just have to play around to find a mix that sounds appropriate

  • Guest
    2014-01-27 19:03:12

    Please tell me how you are biamping the A9's with two external amplifiers. Most people use one external amp for the woofer section and then use the speaker out terminals of the AVR for the upper section. Are you using an RCA-cable splitter from the pre-outs of your AVR to go to two separate external amplifiers?

  • Mike48
    2014-01-10 20:52:33

    You need another amp, the RTI A9 will blow you away, I have a Yamaha RX-Z11 11.2, 1180 watt amp running the top end of the RTI A9’s 140 x 2, Burr-Brown DACs, my center channel Klipsch RC-62 and my 2 rear surround speakers Vintage Infinity SM 80’s. A home theatre amp even bi amped will not give you enough power, I have added a Crown XLS-1500 DriveCore Series 600 watts into 8 Ohms for the bottom, with pro series wires running everywhere, you will not need any sub and you will not be able to listen to then even a half volume. The Bass from this RTI A9 will punch the bass port will blow your hair dry and the top end is a great mix, I can here every detail in them. I have 3 subs running 2 Velodyne Optimum 12 12’s rated at 1200 watts RMS and a Klipsch sub-12 300 watts continuous, but these are now overkill. After hours of use I can say these Polk Audio RTI A9 will rock your world but with one amp these are going to sound like glorified computer speakers. Be careful when selecting a Home Theatre amp as many of the new ones do not come with RCA pre outs so adding a second Amp is near impossible to do.

  • Chill
    2012-08-12 21:31:14

    Can you test the RTi A5? What was the setup for the RTi A7 and A9?

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