Polk Audio engineers and designers are hip to the fact that everybody wants the smallest possible speakers. Big displays and small speakers are where it's at, and Polk's RM95 home theater five pack comes with four tiny satellites and a very compact center speaker for $600. You add your choice of subwoofer--Polk's or otherwise--to mix and match yourself up to a full 5.1 system.
It's one thing to design small satellites; making them sound big is something else. Faced with that challenge, the engineers developed a dual-driver design that significantly increases the satellites' dispersion to create a room-filling sound. The three-sided, triangular shape of the satellite speakers is key to meeting the design goal. One side has the usual midrange/woofer and tweeter, the next side has a single midrange/woofer, and the third is finished in a high-gloss paint finish. You set up the speakers with the tweeter/woofer side directly facing the listening position, while the woofer-only side faces the closest wall. The reflected sound increases apparent image size.
The satellites are 7.5 inches by 4.25 inches by 4.25 inches, with the 2.5-inch composite cone midrange/woofers and 0.75-inch silk/polymer dome tweeters. Removeable cloth grilles cover the drivers--one on each side. The sat cabinets are fabricated from molded "composite" material that we suppose is similar to that found on the Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 speakers (DefTech and Polk are sister companies), but the Polks felt less substantial. The individual speakers are available separately as the RM8, so you can get a second set ($250 per pair) if you need to expand to a 7.1 configuration.
The RM95's center channel speaker is a conventional, front-mounted woofer-tweeter-woofer array; it's available separately as the RM8 Center ($150). Viewed from the side, the center carries over the sats' three-sided design. It's 3.25 inches tall by 9.4 inches wide by 3.8 inches deep, one of the smallest we've seen outside of a home-theater-in-a-box system. The RM95 is available in either high-gloss black or white finishes. The look and feel is fine, but it's not going to be confused with a high-end speaker system.
The satellites can be shelf mounted with the included tripod base or wall mounted with the supplied brackets. Polk offers an extra cost floor stand, the SA3, that attaches to the threaded insert on the bottom of the sats. The center speaker can rest in the supplied cradle/base or wall mount via its threaded insert. We were disappointed to see Polk used spring-clip connectors on all of the RM95 speakers; we would have preferred more secure banana jacks or binding posts.
The RM95 speakers are all too small to produce bass on their own so we used them with a Polk DSW PRO 400 sub for all of our listening tests. Achieving a smooth blend between the sats and sub took some doing, and we eventually settled on using a 120Hz crossover on our Denon receiver's bass management/speaker setup menus. Still, the blend was less than perfect, so we were occasionally aware that all of the bass was coming from the DSW PRO 400. And when that happens, the RM95 sats sounded like the small speakers they are.