Polk Audio RC85i 2-Way In-Wall Speakers Review


Polk Audio is an audio equipment manufacturing company with more than 45 years of experience in the industry and the RC85i model is one of their most successful products because of its ability to produce a high-quality sound accompanied by a deep baseline where your lows and highs won’t get in the way of each other. If this isn’t enough, know how you can always count on this stealth 2-way speaker to produce impeccable sound, even in harsh and humid environments like your second-floor sauna, thanks to the high quality of build level and the list of materials that includes items like stainless steel and butyl rubber.

This speaker is featured on our list of Best In-Ceiling Speakers and the list of Best In-Wall Speakers.

Getting the right in-wall speaker that will fit well with the feng shui energy of your living room isn’t easy. There are unlimited aspects you’ll need to consider, from the type of wall your house is built from to the size of the speaker that will look good with everything else in the room.

Polk Audio RC85i 2-Way In-Wall Speakers Review 1
Mounted In-Wall

After countless hours of browsing on Amazon, you can’t find anything that feels right. You start nagging your friends to recommend an affordable solution that produces some high-quality bass. You become desperate and even try compromising by going with an in-ceiling speaker instead because you can’t find an excellent little speaker you can put on your wall.

Ceiling speakers are great, but get them only if you need them.

Polk Audio RC85i 2-Way In-Wall Speakers 2
Mounted In Wall

We know how painful the lookup for a quality in-wall speaker can get, and that’s why we’ve reviewed dozens of options before selecting a group of long-lasting speakers you can count on.

Polk Audio is one of those brands that caught our attention thanks to their ability to create high-end products that won’t hurt your budget while giving you the chance to build a home entertainment system that looks good to each member of the family. They have a couple of really interesting in-wall speakers to choose from. A list includes the bulky, powerful 265RT (Ea) option and the horizontally positioned tiny 255C-RT model.

Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, you have the RC85i, a 2-way in-wall speaker that offers both great design and out-of-the-world functionality without the need to compromise when it comes to sound quality. It’s a true rarity to see a speaker that looks good placed on the inside of your wall and offers an audio experience you’ll never forget.

Here’s why Polk Audio’s RC85i model is viewed as an industry-leading piece of audio equipment in that price range:

Adjustable Size That Can Endure Everything

One of the most important elements that will surely affect your decision of which mountable speaker you’ll go with is the ability to choose from different sizes and dimensions. This is a burning question a great number of companies fail to address, but we’re happy to inform you how Polk is a manufacturer that gives you enough options to choose from.

When getting your Polk RC85i you’ll be able to select one of three available speaker sizes:

  • 8 inch
  • 5 inch
  • 25 inch

This may not sound essential for those living in huge houses with ten-foot walls. Still, we’re considerate enough to know that efficiency is something that a great deal of people look for when planning the arrangement of their home entertainment system.

Professional musicians also tend to be picky and look for a compact solution that will blend with its surroundings, so it’s always good to know that there’s no need to get stuck with a one-size-fits-all type of speaker.

Even enthusiasts who want to equip their bathroom or outdoor jacuzzi with powerful speakers can get the job done with the RC85i thanks to its quality built, and all materials used during production are moisture-resistant.

Now, that’s one pair of versatile speakers that can make even the pickiest audiophiles happy.

But what about the quality of the build?

Top of The Line Quality

Speakers with great designs that aren’t there yet when checking the level of sound quality they provide are flooding the market. The number of companies unable to build a quality speaker due to their lack of experience and overall incompetence in audio equipment manufacturing grows by the minute.

Check AliExpress if you don’t trust us. There are hundreds of different speaker manufacturers; it’s not even funny.

The problem with these guys is that they don’t invest enough time and resources into researching how to get a better sound from their product. They buy a low-quality driver in bulk from a cheap manufacturer and try to be clever with the design they push on the market.

This is not how you build a reputable brand.

For a company that has been in the game since the early 1970s, Polk knows how to adjust to current trends and promote a product that satisfies the needs of everyday music listeners and industry professionals.

After all, we’re talking about more than 45 years of experience in the audio industry. Imagine all the connections the company developed over that timespan. They must use only high-quality production materials and get them with some loyalty discount from their list of trusted suppliers.

And they surely do.

Polk Audio is a part of the Sound United groupation, which includes companies such as Denon, Heos, and Classe. This places them in a position where they can use top-of-the-line equipment and materials, but at the same time, their pricing strategy can go in a direction where a wider audience can afford their line of products.

Now that we know the RC85i will look great when set up on the inside of your wall and ceiling, let’s check out what you can expect regarding sound quality.

Precise Yet Powerful Sound

People tend to focus on design and price too much when browsing for their new in-wall or ceiling speakers. I’m not saying this isn’t important, as you want a budget-friendly solution that will look good in your house. Still, it would be best to consider some other essential things, or you’ll get stuck with a cheap speaker that makes weird ghost-like sounds echoing throughout your walls.

Thanks to the high-quality standard Polk Audio set, when creating the RC85i, you won’t have to fear that something weird will happen once you place the speakers inside your wall. Each piece is made of high-quality material, so sound isolation shouldn’t be a problem.

Depending on which size option you go with (8”, 6.5”, 5.25”), you’ll get the appropriately sized dynamic-balance system based on a speaker cone made out of blue polymer. This little blue shiny circle will even make you reconsider whether you need the white protection grid on your wall.

This isn’t the only positive the blue polymer cone will provide when you start listening to your favorite music in the comfort of your jacuzzi.

The size of the driver isn’t the only factor affecting the quality of the deep and low sounds your speaker produces. The speaker company must use high-quality materials capable of withstanding heavy vibrations. Polk Audio has done this with their RC85i 2-way in-wall speaker, and that’s why this baby can produce sounds so deep that the human ear can’t even hear them.

You may not be able to hear them, but you’ll certainly feel them thanks to the robust driver used with the RC85i that has a range of frequencies starting from 32 Hz and going up to whooping 20kHz. This is some serious power making this innocent 13-inch tall speaker capable of blasting music so loud it will wake up your neighbors.

To avoid this and increase the quality of the sound reproduced by your speaker, keeping the sound signature curve close to that sincere V shape we’re all looking for, you’ll need to use the one-inch adjustable tweeter.

There’s a handy swivel holding the tweeter because you’ll want to adjust the direction of the high-pitched sounds, and this is the perfect tool to do that. A high-quality driver cone and a solid one-inch tweeter allow you to enjoy your favorite music without sacrificing volume levels. These two hardware elements keep the low, mid, and high tones in check, keeping the sound signature close enough to the V line.


The RC85i model created by Polk Audio, a company with more than 45 years of presence in the US market, can be considered a state-of-the-art piece of audio equipment, perfect for novice and experienced users who want to create the perfect home entertainment system.

It’s loud enough to make your party a success, yet it can cover deep sounds characteristic of the opera. This makes the RC85i speaker a high-end solution that can fit the needs of different types of users.

For those of you looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can check out the Micca M-8S, a staple in-wall speaker available for under 100$ we’ve found online.

It won’t be as good as the Polk Audio RC85i, but there’s a noticeable price difference.

I hope this review pointed out why industry professionals always include the 85i among the best in-wall and in-ceiling speakers money can get. We would love to hear about your experience with this speaker or answer some of your burning questions, so don’t be shy and fill out the comment section.

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Author: Outeraudio

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3 thoughts on “Polk Audio RC85i 2-Way In-Wall Speakers Review”

  1. Hi, my basemnt is very big and looking to get two pairs of in-walls for my surrounds and rears to complete my 7.1 audio home theater. My front speakers are klipsch rp-280f and my center speaker is the klipsch rp-450c. Do you think the polk audio rc85i won’t be loud enough for the 3 klipsch speakers?

    • Hey John, thanks for the question!

      I would strongly recommend against installing Polk Audio with your Klipsch system. The Klipsch R-5650-W II In-Wall Speaker was featured at number 6 on our best in-wall speakers list and is designed to integrate with the Klipsch RP series. The issue with cross mixing brands is the sound profiles are different and things will sound off. Also, Polk Audio is an entry level brand while Kilpsch is a premium speaker. You really don’t want to mix the two.

      – Matt

  2. Wow. Installed a pair at our retail business, elevator music. Direct streaming from the desktop, Pandora. Hard Wire.

    No need for expensive Wi Fi amps, smart Sonos, etc.

    Just run a headphone jack from your desktop to a female lead into an old stereo receiver from the eighties or nineties or even the seventies. This 20 foot run is available online

    Splits to RCA dual stereo inputs into the amp. Any input other than a phono input. The pre-amp on the phono muddies up the sound


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