Roth Audio OLi3 review

We loved the Roth OLi1 speakers but now it is the turn of the OLi3s to be scrutinised Tested at £249.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The price is right, but the quality of sound produced could be better


  • +

    Fine build

  • +


  • +

    decent midrange


  • -

    Unbalanced sound

  • -

    soft, ill-defined bass

  • -

    pronounced treble

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We gave a glowing five-star review to Roth Audio's Oli1, the company's entry-level bookshelf speaker. Now it's the turn of the Oli3 floorstanders to come under careful scrutiny.

First impressions are good
Take a cursory glance and you'll be impressed with what what's on display. The two-and-a-half-way speaker design features twin 5.25in woven fibreglass hybrid cones, and is topped off with a 1in soft-dome tweeter.

Build quality is solid, and the OLi3s exhibit impressive class that belies their budget price tag.

They're also the only speakers in the Roth Audio range to use the company's DALtech (Dead as Lead Technology) damping. This involves positioning special damping material at strategic points within the cabinet.

Roth Audio claims this absorbs any unwanted vibrations to help deliver a purer sound.

Spin Madonna's The Power of Goodbye and the OLi3s dish out their take on Madge's vocals with relish. They sound solid, cohesive, expressive and up there with the best at this price point.

Yet not all is well elsewhere in the frequency range. Your attention is drawn to a hint of thinness in the treble. It's not a major problem, but we certainly wouldn't recommend that you partner them with bright-sounding kit.

Struggle to impress
The OLi3s also struggle to impress lower in the spectrum. The rampant bassline fired out during Madonna's Sky Fits Heaven sounds soft and ill-defined.

The class-leaders at and around this price point, such as the Monitor Audio Bronze BR2 (£200) serve up greater precision and punch, and a more dramatic sound.

This is even more obvious when you move onto The Battle from Gladiator. It should build up to an amazing crescendo, but the OLis just fall short.

We hoped the OLi3s would continue the trend set by the OLi1s. They certainly look the part, but something seems to have been lost in the move from stand to floor.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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