OLi RA is the third generation of Roth’s successful OLi speakers range, the previous incarnation of which impressed us greatly in our 2012 review. The key feature of this new series is that all models have been acoustically tuned by master speaker designer Richard Allen (hence RA), who has previously voiced speakers for high-end 'boutique' brands like Arcaydis and EB Acoustics.
But if you’re thinking all this audio expertise comes with a sky-high price tag, you’d be wrong. Roth sticks with the same value-for-money ethos it applied to previous OLi ranges, which means you can bag yourself a full 5.1 speaker system with a powered sub for a very reasonable £546.
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The front and rear speakers
The system on test here comprises two pairs of OLi RA1 bookshelf speakers (£99 a pair) for the fronts and rears – the smallest and cheapest in the range – alongside the C30 centre speaker and KH30 subwoofer, both successors of the C20 and KH20 included with the previous OLi system.
If you want to go bigger, then the OLi RA range also features a slightly larger RA2 bookshelf speaker (£149 per pair), plus the RA3 and RA4 floorstanding speakers, which sell for £299 and £399 respectively.
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The centre speaker
Given the RA1’s £99 price tag you’d be forgiven for expecting a few cut corners, but incredibly there’s little evidence of that. The solid, heavy cabinets are styled in a smooth matt black finish with curved corners. These serious-looking speakers don’t stray far from the traditional bookshelf template, but their smart, contemporary design has real living room appeal.
Each RA1 stands 231mm high (59mm shorter than the RA2), which isn’t exactly compact but won’t gobble up an unreasonable amount of space either. You can place them on shelves and speaker stands or even hang them on the wall – Roth supplies 5mm adhesive pads that cushion the back and give the rear ports room to breathe.
The sub woofer
Naturally this chic styling is consistent across the range – both the KH30 and C30 share the high-quality matt finish and curved corners of the RA1s. The C30 measures 370mm wide and 153mm deep, ideal for placing in a rack or TV stand shelf. All of the speakers are rear ported with metal binding posts on the back and come with magnetic cloth grilles.