Rethm, Pitch, Texture, the three muses of music. Can’t make it without them, can’t think too hard about them or the illusion fades away. But wait… Rethm? The quietly excellent Indian speaker company that’s been carrying the banner of single driver, powered-bass done differently for many years? The quiet part is now said out loud, as one of my college music theory professors once said: Melody is dead. Rethm Audio is back on the menu with the Rethm Trishna loudspeakers ($9,900/pr USD).
If you’re not familiar with Rethm Audio, look them up. They have long been an intriguing and decidedly different choice of loudspeaker. (I’ll refrain from making a march to the beat of their own drum joke, especially in the global market where Indian speaker brands are few and far between.) Their eye-catching periscope-like aesthetics, fusing Indian futurism with sleek, almost Japanese minimalism, is the brainchild of Jacob George, a talented professional architect and the founder of Rethm Audio.
Words and Photos by Grover Neville
Fast forward to the 2020s and Rethm has seen a significant redesign of the entire lineup. Gone are the elongated solar-punk submarine aesthetics, now replaced by more geometric shapes, floating squares with matte-wood panels and satin aluminum skeletons. Much like the move from the Frutiger Aero bubbly, skeuomorphic Windows Vista designs to the current Corporate Memphis Cyber Minimalism of Meta and Google, the Rethm design has been streamlined, simplified, flattened and generally made more accessible. While I have a soft spot for the irrepressibly quirky, the new designs are quite fetching, and will likely appeal to a broader range of tastes.
It’s also impossible to deny that while the older Rethms were handsome, the finishing on the new Rethm Trishna is really nice. Jacob George has skipped any attempt at visual harmony with your grandmother’s cabinets, and I’m lovin’ it like a McDonalds commercial extra. Although not immediately apparent many will also be happy about the addition of a very sleek grill which integrates with the front baffle. The mating was so seamless I didn’t even realize they were removable at first.
Inside the Rethm Trishna
The redesign of the lineup that took place during the pandemic lockdowns was not just cosmetic, and the sonics have been revisited as well. Jacob told me that he took significant feedback about the tuning, and tweaked the speakers for better high-end extension as well as a more robust lower mid response to better integrate with the bass of the speakers. No longer does the bass module fire downward through a loaded labyrinth. Instead, it consists of an isobaric scheme where two of the woofers fire forward and two fire into a chamber behind them, with a large loading port built into the structure of the cabinet, also firing forward.
I had a chance to reacquaint myself with the older Rethm house sound at Capital Audiofest 2022 where, unfortunately, the show pair did not arrive on time and so an older generation customer pair had to stand in. Fresh off the heels of that incident, however, the show pair that did not arrive in time did show up in short order on my doorstep.
Unboxing was a simple and straightforward affair, with spikes and some nice feet included – a word of recommendation though, for those with hardwood floors like myself, a pair of rubber furniture slider feet will do wonders for positioning these speakers. Speaking of positioning, I found the Rethm Trishnas quite a bit less responsive than most speakers to placement. And I consider this a very good thing.
My room is decent sounding, modest in dimensions but with a very tall ceiling and as part of a larger open floor plan. The sound is good but can sometimes tend to have a somewhat weak and less than totally stable center image until the speakers find the right spot. Being a somewhat older home, the floors and walls are, shall we say, not quite Baroque Cathedral levels of symmetrical. However, the Rethm Trishna hardly seemed to care.
Whether they were spaced wide apart, firing straight forward, or close together again with no toe-in, the Rethm Trishna gave me possibly the best soundstage and image I’ve ever experienced in my room. Toe-in pretty much never seemed to help, so I left them firing straightforward and with what I’d call about a medium distance between them. Frankly though, I could have thrown them about anywhere in the room and had the same results. At shows I’ve seen this same phenomena, with Jacob sometimes being forced to put the speakers near side walls and yet hearing none of the deleterious effects I typically associate with those placement choices. If you have a difficult room, at least in my experience, these Rethms do not care. Room issues need not apply.
Speaking of room issues, the bass module on the Rethms offers both level and crossover controls, which allow you to tackle things in a fairly strategic manner. While not as comprehensive as Vandersteen’s 11-band EQ, the cutoff and level functions were extremely helpful in getting the speaker’s low end response to match the room. To oversimplify, the cutoff controls how high the bass crossover filter goes, and the level is the amplitude. One small nitpick I had was that the control markings were not indented, and their location on the bottom of the speaker made perfect matching a little tricky.
I also want to point out that my room, with its nearly 20 ft. ceilings and open floor plan represents a difficult space for a speaker to pressurize. At the highest levels I can imagine one wanting to have the low end, the level knob was no more than 1/3rd of the way up. I experimented a bit with measuring and also tuning the system by ear, and generally found it simple and easy enough to get it right by ear, though my results with a measurement mic were nearly identical to where I set it by ear.
Rethm Trishna Listening
Once set where I felt appropriate, the blending between the bass and full bandwidth driver was quite smooth. I did find that getting the Rethm Trishna a little further from the corners and rear wall helped bass integration, as the closer to the rear wall the integration even with plenty of fiddling was less seamless. My recommendation is generally going to be to pull these away from the back wall as much as you can, even if the seating position seems a little closer than typical.
All of these adjustments make the Rethm Trishna easier to live with, and I never found the availability of adjustments troublesome, though the bass level will require some time to tweak. The result is a speaker with exceptional coherence and a super-wide soundstage, and low-end performance that belies this kind of transparency – the speed, spaciousness and clarity of a single paper driver mated to legitimate bass extension.
While the previous Rethms I heard at Capital Audiofest did seem a little less well-mated in the lower mids, and perhaps a little softer at the very top, the Rethm Trishna was extended in the top, and went down low enough that I couldn’t perceive an exact roll-off point in the lower end of its range. Bass was tight, clean and punchy, and while I’ve heard flatter bass from much more expensive speakers, in this price range I think the bass performance on the Rethm Trishna is quite satisfying, though the absolute most purist fanatics may find the very slight difference in texture between the bass module and full-range driver irksome.
I suspect your choice of amplifier may have some effect here – I opted primarily for the Ampsandsound Black Pearl, a 300B amplifier which tends towards extremely low distortion and high clarity. I did try some other amplifiers, and found that some of the really soft and warm choices emphasized the difference a bit more. That’s not to say you can’t use a colorful SET amp in this application, as the bass level and cutoff controls helped smooth this difference, but the bass even with a relatively soft amplifier remains tight and punchy. I see this as a good thing though – and it certainly never harmed my immersion into many recordings, though this is decidedly a presentation that makes some music sound perhaps enhanced from the original recording. Want to hear sparkle, creamy smooth mids and tight bass, even on less than ideal recordings? Want to have your cake and eat it too? Rethm Trishna.
I think those who are fans of SET and horn speakers from the likes of Avantgarde, where a fast mid and upper range with exceptional coherence mates with powered bass, will enjoy this presentation. The midrange and treble is lightning-quick, pure and coherent, and while not the flattest presentation, reasonably uncolored enough to present most music well. Soundstage is wide and extremely tall yet precise, even when near the room boundaries. With small amounts of power, large amounts of musical engagement result.
Rethm Trishna Conclusions
The Rethm Trishna is an intriguing beast, and I found myself worrying less about audiophile tweaks while they were in my system than I typically do. More frequently I just, well… listened to music. Sure, this speaker may not pound EDM club bangers like a large Magico, or reveal to me the most remarkably flat presentation of a Beethoven symphony a la Wilson, but they do make music. Take a spin with some nostalgic city pop, the expansive hall sound of the Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions, or an upbeat bluegrass twirl through one of The Goat Rodeo Sessions, and you’ll be immersed in an intimate and alive musical experience.
I don’t think you could ask for more, and this speaker comes with one of my most genuine recommendations. I didn’t just have a pleasant review experience, with the Rethm Trishna loudspeakers I had fun.
I know this site likes it’s artsy photography. So do I; you guys take great photos.
But please…please…include at least ONE photo of the full product so we can see what it actually looks like. The photos here are like trying to piece together different photos through a key-hole.