Unlike many standmount loudspeakers, the RS3s arrive already mounted on their own integrated, and “acoustically optimised” stands, whose internal construction and external appearance mirrors that of the RS3 speakers. The stands are fitted with metal ‘outriggers’ and robust, oversized, adjustable stainless steel resonance control spikes, complete with a set of machined floor protection cups. The stands position the RS3s at exactly the right height and tilt-back angle for seated listeners to enjoy. Useful details abound, such as recessed speaker cable guides built into the back sides of the stands, or massively overbuilt speaker connection terminals—set up for bi-wiring—mounted on beefy terminal blocks fitted into the rear panels of the speakers. In lieu of fabric grilles, the speakers use sets of horizontal, elastic straps that are spaced 35mm apart and are suspended from vertical metal rods located near the edges of the front baffle. Overall, the RS3s achieve a modern, high-tech look coupled with an emphasis on old school woodworking and craftsmanship.
The core reference system for this review consisted of a PS Audio DirectStream DAC (reviewed in Hi-Fi+ issue 125) used as both a DAC and preamplifier, plus a pair of Gamut M250i monoblock amplifiers. I fed both standard and high-res digital audio files (in PCM, DXD, and DSD formats) to the system via either a PS Audio PerfectWave Transport (reviewed in issue 125) or the excellent AURALiC ARIES wireless streaming bridge. Furutech Flux-series interconnect cables, speaker cables, and power cords were used throughout the system, while AudioQuest USB and I2S cables were used to connect the ARIES and PerfectWave Transport to the DirectStream DAC.
The RS3s sounded impressive from the outset. I was bowled over by the sheer width and depth of the sound stages the RS3s produced. My mid-sized listening room (approximately 5.4m × 4.3) is configured so that speakers are typically positioned along the longer wall, meaning that speakers under review typically wind up being fairly widely spaced. Given this, I can achieve sound stages that stretch from the left to the right speaker, or perhaps a bit further. However, the RS3s confidently went much further than that to create stages that extended well beyond the boundaries of the left and right speakers—sometimes reaching outward to the sidewalls of the room, or beyond. Soundstage height and depth were equally impressive, with stages reaching upwards almost to the ceiling and reaching so far back that sounds often seemed to emanate from far behind the back walls of the room. While it has become commonplace for journalists to praise high-quality standmount speakers for producing ‘big sounds from small boxes’ the fact is that the RS3s stretched the performance well beyond what I previously had thought possible.
For an example of the RS3’s expansive sound staging in action, try putting on Jen Chapin’s rendition of the Stevie Wonder song ‘Big Brother’ from Chapin’s ReVisions [Chesky, 96/24]. The recording was made in the resonant interior of a church sanctuary and shows Chapin singing from centre stage, with saxophonist Chris Cheek performing to Chapin’s left and acoustic bassist Stephan Crump (who is also Chapin’s husband) performing to her right. As the song progresses, the RS3s explicitly show not only show both the performers’ positions on stage, and how Chapin’s vocals, and Crump and Creek’s instrumental contributions interact with the acoustics of the space. As a result, the RS3 not only play the music at hand, but also provide a realistic sense of place (or context) within which the music can unfold.