RSL CG5 loudspeaker review: High-end sound with a budget price tag

California-based RSL has been delivering monitor speakers that defy their size and price for 50 years. The company has manufactured speakers that are the darlings of some Hollywood record producers. RSL’s newest flagship lineup, the CG5, is the successor to the highly acclaimed CG4, and it consists of two models: A two-way monitor, the CG5 (reviewed here) and an MTM monitor design called the CG25. 

The CG5’s sonic performance, build quality, and price point ($800 for the pair) left me awe-struck. Read on why you just might want a pair of CG5 under your Christmas tree.

RSL’s History

RSL (the acronym stands for Rogersound Labs) is a well-known brand in die-hard audio circles, but it’s far from being a household name. Founder Howard Rogers started selling speakers factory direct from his store in North Hollywood in 1970. This approach allowed Rogers to use high-quality components while keeping prices low by cutting out the middleman.

RSL got a big break when a Warner Brothers Records producer purchased a set of RSL speakers and told his friends about them. Soon, RSL speakers started popping up in record companies throughout Southern California.

Rogers developed and patented his Compression Guide speaker technology in the 1980s, and it remains the hallmark of all modern RSL speakers.

Top view of the CG5’s rounded front baffle. Theo Nicolakis / IDG

Top view of the CG5’s rounded front baffle.

Fast forward and Howard’s eldest son, Joe, now helms the company with his dad, maintaining the same focus on bang for the buck and an emphasis on personalized customer service. You can audition any RSL speaker with a free, 30-day in-home trial. The company offers free shipping in the continental United States, and there’s no restocking or return shipping fees in the unlikely event you decide you don’t like the speakers. Now that is a true no-risk trial.

Build quality beyond their price point

This is my third review of RSL speakers. My first was the CG4 series in 2015, followed by the CG3 series in 2017. Each time, I’ve come away shaking my head in disbelief with the build quality and sound of the RSL setups. This time? It’s déjà vu all over again.

The CG5’s gorgeous gloss finish is fingerprint resistant. Theo Nicolakis / IDG

The CG5’s gorgeous gloss finish is fingerprint resistant.

Unboxing the CG5, I was immediately struck by the CG5’s solid build quality. The 16-pound weight is your first clue. The CG5 is like one of those elements on the periodic table whose physical mass is far greater than its physical size would imply.