RBH 61-SF Bookshelf Speakers Reviewed

Price: $1,600.00

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RBH’s latest offering, the 61-SF from their Signature Series of audiophile products, sets a compelling standard in the realm of bookshelf speakers. At a glance, this smaller audiophile speaker boasts an unassuming yet sleek design, but it is what lies beneath that truly entices audiophiles: an optimized 6.5-inch aluminum cone woofer, paired with a one-inch fabric dome tweeter, that promises to deliver a full, precise and open sound.

Whether you’re a music lover seeking sonic clarity or a home theater enthusiast craving immersive experiences, the RBH 61-SF appears poised to cater to both. With a rated frequency response ranging from 55 to 20k Hz, these speakers may just be the compact solution for those unwilling to compromise on audio fidelity, even in tighter spaces. Let’s find out…

RBH's 61-SF is their $1,600 per pair audiophile bookshelf speakers
RBH’s 61-SF is their $1,600 per pair audiophile bookshelf speakers

What Makes the RBH 61-SF Bookshelf Speakers Special

  • The RBH 61-SFs feature a 6.5-inch aluminum cone woofer and a one-inch fabric dome tweeter, ensuring a blend of deep bass and crisp highs. That’s the standard configuration for high-performance bookshelf speakers in this price range, which can output eye-opening bass while imaging like there’s no tomorrow. 
  • With a reported range of 55-20k Hz (+/- 3 dB), the frequency response of the RBH 61-SFs covers a broad spectrum of sound, ensuring both the low bass notes and the highest trebles are rendered faithfully. There aren’t too many instruments that go much below the rated 55 Hz low end of the RBH 61-SFs speakers, other than some very low piano notes, the lowest of bass guitar notes, and pipe organs, as well as any number of synths often found in electronic music. If you want to hear/feel them when using the RBH 61-SFs, then a modest to midsized audiophile-grade subwoofer would be a good idea. 
  • The RBH 61-SFs are available in both black and white satin paint finishes. Featuring magnetically attached grilles, the RBH 61-SFs have an elegant, minimalist design, ensuring they will fit seamlessly into a variety of decors.
  • The RBH 61-SF boasts 87 dB sensitivity and an impedance of eight Ohms, allowing the speaker to be compatible with a wide range of amplifiers and receivers. These speakers would fall in the middle of the spectrum of easy versus hard to drive range, but in my testing, they have the ability to put out quite a bit of sound from a modest amp and/or an integrated amp. I expect that a modest AV receiver would drive the RBH 61-SFs up and down the street, too.
  • The RBH 61-SFs are 7-3/4 inches by 14-13/16 inches by 12-3/16 inches, thus its compact size is an ideal choice for rooms where floor space is limited, without compromising on sound quality – especially on the imaging front.
  • A generous 10-year limited warranty indicates RBH’s confidence in the product’s durability and performance. These are made in America by proud craftsmen in Utah. The RBH team is proud of their work and willing to back up the quality of their craftsmanship with an epic warranty. A recent review of a complex digital component with a lot of moving parts showed a 12-month warranty. RBH betters that standard by tenfold, and at $1,600, too. 
  • At 17.6 pounds and with components housed in a cast aluminum basket, the RBH 61-SF combines sturdiness with elegance. These speakers really feel great to handle, and you can tell immediately that you are holding a quality, robust product in your hands.
The RBH 61-SF audiophile bookshelf speaker in gloss white
The RBH 61-SF audiophile bookshelf speaker in gloss white

Why Should You Care About the RBH 61-SF Bookshelf Speakers

The RBH 61-SF Bookshelf Speakers carve out a unique niche for enthusiasts who prioritize crisp, detailed and analytical sound. In a competitive bookshelf speaker category teeming with choices, these speakers stand out for their ability to articulate the subtleties in music with notable clarity and precision. Their sleek yet potent design appeals to those seeking an immersive auditory experience, whether for music or home cinema, without the bulk of larger systems. 

Owning a pair of RBH 61-SF speakers is not only about acquiring high-quality audio equipment as it is also about investing in RBH’s renowned legacy of sonic excellence. These speakers are ideal for audiophiles at any level, from experienced listeners to those newly exploring high-fidelity sound. The RBH 61-SF exemplifies the evolution of modern bookshelf speakers, offering a sound that is both richly detailed and remarkably clear, encapsulated within a design that enhances any space it inhabits.

The RBH 61-SF installed in Nasim Abu-Daggar's audiophile system
The RBH 61-SF installed in Nasim Abu-Daggar’s audiophile system

Listening to the RBH 61-SF Bookshelf Speakers…

For this listening session, I paired the RBH 61-SF bookshelf speakers with my trusty Yamaha A-S301 amplifier and my Topping E30 DAC, playing lossless files from Roon to ensure high-quality audio delivery.

To start off, I chose Arctic Monkeys’ “There Better Be A Mirrorball” (buy at Amazon) to assess the RBH’s ability to recreate the song’s intricate production and layered instrumentation. The RBH 61-SF captured the subtle nuances of this modern track with precision. The speakers rendered the delicate balance between the vocals and instruments flawlessly, providing a clear window into the song’s intricate production. The slightly treble-forward sound profile highlighted the resonance in the guitar strings and the crispness of the high hats, embodying the analytical nature of these speakers. This track’s atmospheric and expansive soundstage was beautifully captured, with each instrument occupying its own distinct space, demonstrating the RBH 61-SF’s adeptness at conveying a detailed and immersive listening experience.

Arctic Monkeys’ “There Better Be A Mirrorball”

Next, I mixed it up a bit with The Beatles’ “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” from The White Album (Buy at Amazon): This Beatles classic was a true testament to the RBH 61-SF’s versatility. The speaker’s ability to unravel the complex arrangement of the track was impressive. From the sharp attack of the guitar riffs to the punchy bass lines, every element was delivered with precision. The smooth transition between the song’s eclectic sections – from bluesy rhythms to psychedelic rock – was handled effortlessly, showcasing the speaker’s dynamic range. The nuanced vocal harmonies, often lost in less capable systems, were distinctly audible, demonstrating the speaker’s exceptional resolution and its capacity to reveal the subtlest of details in a recording.

The Beatles’ “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” from The White Album

Finally, I ended with a classical piece, Niccolò Paganini – “Caprice No. 24” (Buy/Stream at Amazon):  The demanding nature of Paganini’s “Caprice No. 24” was met with the 61-SF’s remarkable ability to reproduce the rapid and complex movements of the violin. The bright and analytical nature of the speakers allowed for each note to resonate with clarity and precision, capturing the essence of the violin’s emotional range. The fast-paced passages, with their rapid bowing and high-pitched notes, were articulated with an almost tactile sense of realism. The speaker’s handling of the violin’s gorgeous lower tones and the sparkling upper register demonstrated a well-balanced and accurate portrayal of this challenging piece. 

Niccolò Paganini – “Caprice No. 24”

Introducing my SVS SB-1000 subwoofer to the setup brought a new dimension to the listening experience. The RBH 61-SF’s detail-oriented presentation was effectively complemented by the SVS SB-1000’s deep and tight bass response. This addition particularly enhanced the Arctic Monkeys track, where the added depth in the bass guitar and kick drum created a more rounded and fuller sound. In “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” the subwoofer seamlessly integrated with the 61-SF, providing a solid foundation to the track without overpowering the mid and high frequencies. The Paganini piece, while not heavily reliant on lower frequencies, also benefited from the subwoofer’s presence, adding a subtle warmth and richness to the overall sound that enhanced the musicality of the violin.

Here's a look at the binding posts on the RBH 61-SF at Nasim's room
Here’s a look at the binding posts on the RBH 61-SF at Nasim’s room

What Might You Not Like About the RBH 61-SF Bookshelf Speakers

  • The RBH 61-SF speakers present a sound signature that is voiced to emphasize the higher frequencies. This quality brings out exceptional detail in vocals and instruments like cymbals or strings, making them ideal for acoustic and vocal-heavy music. However, this emphasis on the higher frequencies might not cater to those who prefer a warmer, less in-the-studio sound. The RBH 61-SF give you a lot of what is on the master tape, with little audio makeup to cover up any sonic flaws in the recording.
  • The RBH 61-SF speakers feature a modern, minimalist design. Their simple yet elegant aesthetic is characterized by clean lines and a lack of ornate detailing, aligning with contemporary interior design themes. However, for those who prefer more traditional or ornate speaker designs, the RBH 61-SF’s stark, modernist appearance might not be as visually appealing. 
The RBH 61-SF in its stock black finish.
The RBH 61-SF in its stock black finish.

Who is the Competition for the RBH 61-SF Bookshelf Speakers

  • The Bowers & Wilkins 705 S2 (Buy at Amazon – $1,649 per pair) is celebrated for its precise yet natural sound. The Bowers & Wilkins 705 S2 features the Continuum cone technology, which is renowned for its transparent and detailed sound reproduction, which you will find in some of the best recording and mastering studios worldwide.
  • The KEF LS50 Meta (Buy at Amazon – $959 per pair) is distinctive-looking with its innovative Metamaterial Absorption Technology, which significantly reduces distortion for a purer sound. This speaker is known for its Uni-Q driver array that delivers a wide and consistent soundstage. The LS50 Meta, compared to the RBH 61-SF, provides a more spatial sound with a slightly warmer tone, appealing to listeners who enjoy an immersive listening experience.
  • Known for its value-to-performance ratio, the ELAC Debut Reference DBR62 (Buy at Amazon), which I reviewed here, features a sophisticated crossover and robust bass response from comparably-sized speakers costing about half as much as the RBH or Bowers & Wilkins options. This speaker tends to deliver an even more dynamic and bass-forward sound, compared to the RBH 61-SF, making it a great choice for genres that benefit from a stronger low-end presence, but still needs a small physical cabinet. 

Do the RBH 61-SF Bookshelf Speakers Have Any Resale Value? 

I’ve found other older RBH speakers on the used market keeping their value relatively well, all things considered, and I would assume that the same will carry over to the 61-SF. It is an understandably well-reviewed speaker in an appealing form factor that comes with excellent craftsmanship, a stellar warranty and great performance. Who isn’t going to have room for a pair of speakers like these somewhere in their house? And if that somebody isn’t you anymore, you will be able to easily sell them, as well as ship them, for a very fair price. Your investment should be safe with the RBH 61-SF speakers. 

RBH 61-SF installed at the factory in Utah
RBH 61-SF installed at the factory in Utah

Final Thoughts on the RBH 61-SF Bookshelf Speakers

The RBH 61-SF bookshelf speakers, with their sleek design and impressive performance, strike a compelling balance in the world of high-fidelity audio. For those who value clarity and detail in their audio experience, the RBH 61-SF’s ability to articulate the finer nuances of music is truly commendable. The addition of a modest subwoofer can round out the lower frequencies nicely for those who value bass heavy music.

In an audiophile market segment brimming with excellent options, the RBH 61-SF stands out for its commitment to delivering a precise and immersive sound experience. It’s a speaker that demands consideration, especially for those who have a keen ear for detail, dynamics and excellent imaging, as the RBH 61-SF deliver on all fronts. 

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