Rat Shck Presidian 40-5053. Next Sonic Impact?

I just bought a pair. Supposedly a guy from the Connecticut Audio Society bought a pair for his video system and couldn't believe how good they are. He was floored.

Thanks for the link, I need to find a place to use those.

At $39.95 for a two way, it's absurdly cheap. I thought at first that had to be the price for a single, not a pair.

Over the years I've seen you post many, many times about different speakers you've bought. If someone asked "what Audio Forum Member has owned the most speakers", you would be the first one to come to mind!

So, considering the vast number of speakers you've owned, how do these $40 speakers compare? Can you give us a "These are as good as XXX model 123"?

I'm looking for a pair of inexpensive speakers to have around for spares or for my portable system. So far, I haven't heard anything under $139 (Parts Express Kit) that I would buy. Maybe these would be "The Ones"!

Off topic: Did you unload the speakers a few months back so you could buy your Dream Car project?


Albertporter...If you stacked up 14 of these little boxes, each one oriented horizontal, you would have a 7-1/2 foot line array. Sound familiar? It would cost $559.30, but probably less because RS gives volume discounts.

A joke? Well sort of. But I bet it would sound a lot better than many sub-grand speakers. And the cost is less than what one might spend on drivers for a home-brew line array. Maybe you could biamp them with a couple of Sonic-T amps.

I ordered them over the net so they should be hear next week. An Agon member named John just went to the store and bought some. He just sent me an email saying that he's really digging the speakers. Maybe he'll post his impressions.

I still haven't sold the speakers but I bought the car anyway! (<:
Eldartford, you happen to be correct.
Not to hi-jack this thread, but I'm running "two-pairs" of the older Optimus Pro 7AV's (stacked line-array style) in the big rig for a while, with a pair of Super Cube 8" subs.
They're heavy, built like a tank and sound great.
Almost don't miss the Dahlquists.
GO RAT SHACK !!$$!!$$
Albertporter...If you stacked up 14 of these little boxes, each one oriented horizontal, you would have a 7-1/2 foot line array. Sound familiar? It would cost $559.30, but probably less because RS gives volume discounts.

A joke? Well sort of. But I bet it would sound a lot better than many sub-grand speakers. And the cost is less than what one might spend on drivers for a home-brew line array. Maybe you could bi-amp them with a couple of Sonic-T amps.

Yea, that could work, I experimented in my youth with everything from the "Sweet 16" to JBL, Bozak with home built cabinets, stacked Advents and DIY.

In the end, the guys that build speakers for a living do the best job even if they can stand a bit of touching up (like crossover mods on Maggies, Sound-Lab and Dali).

What I like about the RS is the fact it is simple, cheap and fun. You should be able to tell by now that I respect that end of the business. I joined the Lenco thread and rebuilt a turntable and had a blast with it. Fans of high end audio are usually people who were attracted to the hobby in their youth.

If we don't have great inexpensive (and fun) products for beginners, this hobby will die. So, I'm all for RS speakers at $39.95, Sonic Impact amps, inexpensive DAC's, DIY cables, and all the other stuff in audio that represents the best bang for the buck.

I'd been intrigued with the Sonic Impact amp and decided to try to put together a really, really cheap system that sounded pretty good. I did, adding a used Toshiba 3950 DVD player, some new Athena monitors on closeout for $79 and some DIY cables made up from bulk Canare wire.

But with $39 dollar speakers, the bar has been raised, or lowered. I really don't need yet another pair of speakers but I might have to go for it. If it works out, I can always sell the ProAcs.

I'm in the same boat your in. I have fifteen pairs of speakers. Most are in the Attic, closet, or loaned out. (<:

Wouldn't it be nice if the $39 Radio Shacks sound better than ANY of them! I'm not conviced that expensive parts make a great speaker(my Boston Acoustics VR20's sound better than a lot $5,000 speakers). I'm sure that every once in a while someone stumbles onto that perfect combination of components and design than makes a great speaker. We'll find out if these are the real deal next week.
as these speakers break in, they are simply impossible to criticize for the price. to my ear, they offer a surprisingly clear, robust and balanced sound within their 65-20K range. there is of course a degree of opacity compared to my current speakers (vintage hartley monitors with crossoverless midbass driver and upgraded tweeters/tweeter crossovers), but i attribut this to several factors, not the least of which are they are 1) brand new and 2) most surely have bargain basement chinese crossover components (and i guess drivers, but they are not the weak link IMHO). to boot, my current (and incredibly modest) system is currently running a lower echelon (and unworthy of mention) vintage amp while my primary (also vintage but much higher quality) amp is being completely overhauled and updated by audiogon member ezekiel.

the midbass driver looks to be a simple paper-cone-yet-fairly-long-throw deal with treated cloth surround, and the tweeter is some type of polymer 0.5" dome. they are (contrary to the RS website) 10.5 by 7.4 by 6.6 inches and weigh a whopping 5.25 pounds each. 8 ohms impedance with 50 watts nominal and 100 watts maximum power handling. bass reflex design with a small rear port.

to look at them they make me think of something along the lines of a black vinyl clad, chinese linn kan. after a week or so of break-in, my tentative plans are (depending on the degree of improvement experienced) to consider upgrading the crossover components, internal wiring and binding posts, and maybe putting some dampening material on the (likely stamped) woofer basket. all told, still less than $100 per pair and a helluva lot of fun for my money, come what may.
Since I had to return a gift to RS today, I picked up a pair of these speakers. I'll give you an update when I get a chance to play with them a bit.

Bet they're made in China. Any bets as to how long it will be before the China bashers start in on this thread?
Hdm...I examined one of these speakers, and it is assembled in the USA using components made in China. Legally this might mean that they just put the grill on.
hdm-I think you already did.
Somebody (in the Dallas area) really should build a 7 1/2' line array with these things (and then have a shootout with his Dali's). Hint, hint...

I'll donate some CAT-5 for the wiring.
OK, I hooked up the Presidians to my trusty Sharp SD-EX111 (which was THE killer deal on closeout for $70 at Overstocks.com) and right out of the box they sound pretty good. They are a bit lacking in bass, but sound pretty good and much better than the $40 would suggest. Of course, they will likely improve when they get some break-in time on them too...

I took an opportunity to open up the speaker to take a look at the components. There is only a single 1 Microfarad capacitor on the (+) tweeter lead, so the mid-woofer is running rull range. The box is very cheap and thin MDF with no internal bracing (except a bit in a couple of corners. The port is a cardboard tube glued to the inside of the back panel. There is no stuffing or sound dampening material inside.

So, for the adventurous type, possibly changing the cap, internal wiring and adding some dampening may provide some sonic gain for very little money.


I knew it! All this crap this hobby suckered me into was a trick. Assuming Rat Shack uses standard retail markups that's a $20 pair of speakers. I wonder what they cost to build maybe $15 ?? What was I thinking ??
Come on over Nick, lets put them together.

The only requirement is you bring your kid to help. He was a blast when we were working on your turntable.
I could use a project like this - it would be a nice break from M&A case analysis. If you're seriously up for this one, shoot me an e-mail. JQ will stay at home this time.
No JQ??? How can we have any fun?

He's the only group member that's not uptight about all this audio stuff. How old is he now, five? :^).
I'd be very wary of this speaker. I took a look at the tech specs and it very clearly states that the only language supported was English. So if you're into any opera, world music, foreign films, etc. this is NOT the speaker for you. I guess to keep the price that low they eliminated the Universal Translator circuits.
Picked up a pair yesterday just for fun. If they sound decent I'll pick up a 2nd pair and try stacking them. I'll report back when I play around with 'em a bit.

ALso - The floor models in the store simply say "Made in China" - nothing about assembled in USA, so I'm wondering if (per Eldartford's info) there are already different manufacturing lots to be aware of. I haven't opened my box yet, so don't know about those.
midrange clarity improving with break-in. it's faults continue to be eminently forgivable at this price! a fun little speaker, especially enjoyable with acoustic jazz, folk etc.
>only a single 1 Microfarad capacitor on the (+) tweeter lead, so the mid-woofer is running rull range.

This makes them a similar design to Reference 3A. First-order crossover, correct? I imagine the drivers are not physically time-aligned, but that shouldn't matter much. Effectively no crossover, which approach always seems to deliver some sonic benfits as well as some problems.
Lack of an inductor in series with the woofer means that they rely on the limited frequency response of the woofer to roll off its HF response. This means that the woofer must not exhibit any wild peaks and dips as it approaches its HF limit. The purpose of the low pass section of a crossover is to keep the woofer signal away from this eratic frequency range. So the success of the full range woofer depends on the characteristics of the driver. A light cheap paper cone is more likely to work well than a metal cone driver, although the metal cone is far superior if properly used.
depending on the brand of speaker, i guess the one cap crossover could either be considered "elegant" or "cheap." maybe a little bit of both in this case?
Mounting both drivers on a planar surface yet featuring a first-order crossover on the tweeter and no crossover on the mid-woofer is no doubt a feature designed to help optimize placement. If the speaker is placed horizontally (with the tweeter closer to the center) a slight toe-in will time-align the drivers. You'll know when you've hit the right amount of toe-in when the image "snaps" into focus. I'm almost positive this is what Rat Shack intended.

Bring on the 7 1/2' array!!!

So what are we gonna use for the bottom octive-and-a-half?
I just gave these a listen. I'm very impressed.
What's the sensitivity on these. Anyone try them with a Sonic Impact amp?
I'm thinking about trying this arry idea. I don't know much about arrays. I guy at work says that 14 per side wouldn't work. He says you can't wire them in series as it would double the ohms every speaker, etc.

I don't understand what in the hell he's talking about. Would someone mind explaining it to me and how I should hook these up together.



I own the Ref. 3A DeCapos and these Presidians. There is no confusing the two! BTW, My Decapos which supposedly "have a single cap" on the tweeter, actually have 4 components in the crossover. It's strange: When I enquired with Divergent Technologies (Distributor for Ref 3A) they said there is "effectively" a single cap on the tweeter. Whatever that means!


when i found my vintage hartley monitors, the crossover was the same, a single cap to an older cone tweeter with the mid-woofer running "wide open." the response of my friend who dabbles in speaker design was "ugh." the new tweeters and crossovers from hartley have three components (now four, i added a bypass cap), and the sound is now very acceptable to my tin ears. a similar upgrade for these little puppies naturally springs to mind.

funny about the deCapos and the use of language. sign o' the times......
Let's assume that each "element" (speaker, driver, whatever) actually behaves like an 8 Ohm resister.

Let's also assume that we're going to use 16 elements (instead of 14). It makes the math easier.

We need to recognize that resisters in series are simply additive:

R(1) + R(2) = R(3)

But resisters in parallel are not:

1/R(1) + 1/R(2) = 1/R(3)

So we'd arrange the elements into serial groups that are parallel to each other in attempt to keep the total resistance in an "ideal" range (around 8 Ohms).

If we used 16 speakers, we'd create 4 groups of 4 speakers and wire each of those 4 groups in series:

S(1) + S(2) + S(3) + S(4) = G(1) = 32 Ohms
S(5) + S(6) + S(7) + S(8) = G(2) = 32 Ohms
S(9) + S(10) + S(11) + S(12) = G(3) = 32 Ohms
S(13) + S(14) + S(15) + S(16) = G(4) = 32 Ohms

Now wire each of those groups in parallel:

1/G(1) + 1/G(2) + 1/G(3) + 1/G(4) = 1/Total = 8 Ohms
Though the total impedance might be 8 ohms, it would require too much voltage to put any decent amount of power to each one; they'd all be coasting along-
Hooked 'em up tonight. First impressions - they are undoubtedly excellent for the price, and may repond to some tweaking or EQ. They image very well, and do have an excellent coherence - which is of course to be expected since they're basically crossoverless. Without having done any measurements, I'd say they're a fair bit forward in the 3.5 k to 4.5k freq. range which is a little fatiguing. The highs are quite good though - these appear to be decent tweeters. The 65 hz low end stated in the specs is a bit of an exaggeration. I don't think they go much below 100 hz, and even there it's pretty rolled off. Plus, I'd say from 100 up to about 300hz is pretty sloppy - not audiophile quality.

My best guess is adding a small sub that could crossover at 120hz to 150hz might make these very affordable monitors for someone on a budget. A stack of 2 per side might help by inducing some coupling in the lower end and altering the effective EQ. I'd also experiment with leaving out one pair of tweeters from the mix. Placement in room corners would definitely help - which I'm not able to do in their current location.

I'll post again when I have time to experiment.

BTW - Mine state on the cabinets "ASSEMBLED IN CHINA" - so there are apparently different manufacturing lots out there (per Eldartford's version).
Nrenter's recommendation of side placement with inboard tweeters and toe-in was a good one IMHO. still wondering about upgrading the tweeters though, but need to start doing my homework first.
6r4apo001@sneakemail.com..."Coasting along" Exactly what we want to get decent volume without distortion.
I'm waiting for a pair to hit the classifieds. Hopefully Audiogon will have a used bluebook price soon.
Just shoved an old t-shirt a few inches into each port and draped the rest over the top and then behind. Makes the upper lows and lower mids much more natural IMO without any effect on the freq. range as far as I can hear. So it's probably worth adding damping to the cabinet and filling the port tube with it. I doubt that the "port" had any audio design parameters involved in the first place.
Can someone who's listened to these give me some sort of reference as to just how good they are for the money? I mean I see that it's obvious from the previous posts that they sound way better than their $40 price would suggest... but does that mean like speakers in the $200-$300 range, which I usually find unlistenable, or does that mean these compare favorably to speakers in the $400-$700 range like System Audio SA-205 or Krix Equinox or Quad 11L???

Yeah, yeah - I know that it's only forty bucks so I shouldn't worry about it, but I have WAY too many speakers already and have been on quite the spending spree as of late. Also I don't wanna buy stuff and then return it just in order to get my kicks and giggles to hear it - I don't think that it's very fair to the retailer.

But if there is some way that these speakers really do compete with some of the mini-monitors mentioned above, even if they are a bit less than them performance-wise, then I want a pair. After a good time spent listening and evaluating, they would probably then be put into service as a replacement of the rear surrounds in my stock home theater system. (I've already replaced the fronts and middle with Krix and Celestion and the improvement has been wonderful).

If the midbass driver is a simple paper-cone would anyone planning on performing the inexpensive dyi upgrades mentioned above consider painting this driver with "Damar Varnish" to stiffen it up a little?? I have used it on other paper cones and felt it was beneficial tweak.


I bought a pair of these to use for testing and for casual listening in a "portable" system. They are very good for $40 and are decent at 2-3 times that price. However, they do not compare favorably to the $400+ speakers you mentioned.

If you don't need a pair of cheap, disposable speakers, I don't think these are going to "do it" for you.....

I pretty much agree with Reubent. I haven't had any cheap speakers since my Spica TC-50's fifteen years ago, but the Presidians would certainly be no match for them with music.

An easy, affordable line array might be a legitimate idea though. or they might make decent cheap center channel speakers - you can by a pair with a friend and have one each for $20! They'd make a lot of sense in settings where you don't want or need a $400 pair but still want decent sound - like in a garage or workshop.
for those of you who may have a pair of these gathering dust in a closet (as i did), and don't mind getting your hands dirty (as i love to do), i have discovered some worth-while upgrades and tweaks that really make a difference for the little presidian.

as some of you have discovered, the cheap "one cap" crossover yields a crossover frequency of about 9 kHz, making the little midwoofer work way too hard. i'm not sure if this has anything to do with wth the lively sound that has resulted in positive first impressions, but for me they got tiring real fast.

anyway, introducing new low and high frequency crossovers (mounted hard-wired on separate boards), along with a new (larger) tweeter make for a much more realistic design with a more detailed and even sound.

the kit i received consisted of the crossovers (four boards with hard-wired components and wiring), two tweeters, two faceplates for the tweeters (although i modified the faceplates from the stock tweeters to receive the new ones), and some unique adjustable internal braces (front to back) to be used between the drivers.

additional tweaks i added myself: i changed the wiring from the crossovers to some kimber tcss that i had lying around. i added dynamat to the inside of the cabinet and also to the stamped woofer basket. lastly i stuffed the cabinets with some lambswool that i also had in surplus. i suppose "acousta-stuf" would be the most logical choice here. i have a few other ideas for "finishing touches" that i haven't employed yet.

now granted, these are cheap speakers to begin with and the mods/tweaks don't make them into totem model one signatures, but they do improve upon them in a most obvious way (to my tin ears that is), and makes them even more of a value IMHO.

DISCLOSURE: i have NO vested interest in this product beyond my own use and enjoyment. i know my post reads like a shill but i suppose my only reply is "there's no greater zealot than a convert" :-) the origin of this kit is my soliciting the developer, who goes by the user id "litekeys" on ebay, after performing his mods on a pair of minimus 7s from the local habitat thrift store. this fellow has sold upgraded crossovers for the old radio shack minimus 7 and 77 for some time now (among other things), and was receptive to the idea of refining yet another budget speaker from the shack. he is a dedicated enthusiast and gentleman. his communications are prompt, polite and detailed.

the final price for the kit will be determined by him, but all of his offerings appear to be high-value. i suggest you contact him directly if interested. i'll likely be modding a second pair over the winter.

be well.

Any idea of a possible price range for the upgrade?

Has anyone here that is interested in a cheap DIY project seen the Best Buy Insigna Speaker upgrade performed by Danny Richie at GR Reasearch? Looks way cool for the price. Supposedly sounds really good and cost about $150 total including the original speakers. Check it out:


If we could just get someone to come up with an affordable upgrade to the "Book Speaker" from Parts Express. It would be WAY COOL to have a totally discrete speaker that sounded decent. Check it out:


These speakers really do look exactly like a book. They are totally discrete when placed on a bookshelf. Really cool, but don't sound very good. Mine sound better with the tweeters disconnected!


i have received word that the initial price of the kit will be $19.50 plus shipping. lower than i thought it would be, so it leaves more pennies for dynamat and other tweaks.

That's Awesome! I gotta try it....

I have three pair of those Parts Express "book" speakers and I think they sound great. They don't have great detail but tonally they are right to my ears. None of the dreaded high frequency tizz.

If someone would come up with a mod kit I would be very interested.
since i'm temporarily bored at work i'll just add that i removed the original tweeters from their faceplate, snipped off the phase thingy, traced a circle from the template onto the faceplate with a pencil, and used a curved file to open the hole carefully until the new tweeters fit snugly into the opening. nice cosmetic result. takes a little while though. kind of like whittling.
If that the goal might be worth a shot. If you guys want cheap and realy good sound a fostex fe126e in a 3x4ft, 3/4in T. baltic birch baffle, a 2 1/2ft -2ft baffle would also work just bass is reduced .Sounds wonderful can run on low power and is affordable and a very easy build a home center would cut the baffle, a jig saw can cut hole for driver, shelf brackets work great as baffle stands. I use 1 each on back of baffle and slightly lean back this helps with image also couples baffle to floor eliminates most standing waves because of slope and allows one to use just 1 -12in shelf bracket for stands the brakets are pre drilled and a madisound cone fits if one wants. This loudspeaker is time and phase correct has no crossover is also dipole. All for $70 and some plywood brackets etc.Bet you could build a pair in a few hours and this incs time to get ply materials etc. I use shalac for finish this drys fast mins and adds to sound quality.Build a pair you will thank me later. great for SI or tubes- small SS.
JohnK, Thanks for your thoughts. I am looking to make a small bookshlf with a 4" or 8" fullrange drivers for a room setup to mate with a SET. Do you have any plans for the project you mentioned above or any other plans? Thanks