Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater Speaker System

As much fun as a monster truck and almost as imposing (but with better bass), the Klipsch RF-83 home theater speaker system is big, heavy, and powerful. It's also unusual in a couple of ways. Klipsch uses advanced, sexy-looking ceramic-aluminum woofers throughout, and bipole - not dipole - surrounds. And these are among the few home loudspeakers today to employ horn-loaded mid/high-frequency drivers.

Horns have several advantages: high efficiency, closely controlled directivity (the sound "spread"), and very even coverage within the speaker's zone. But they're tricky to design for smooth, coloration-free response and require a specialized type of transducer for best results in reproducing both treble and midrange. That said, Klipsch is among the oldest, most experienced makers of horn (or any) speakers still active - the late Paul Klipsch's first product some 60 years ago was a horn design, and the type has keystoned the line ever since. So the RF-83 and its fellows are simply the latest in a long and illustrious line.

SETUP The main challenge here was unboxing and placing an array weighing a grand total of nearly 400 pounds. The RC-64 center, essentially a moderate-size tower speaker on its side, went on my sturdy (fortunately!) stand just below my 50-inch Samsung DLP. The RS-62 surrounds went on high shelves astride the listening zone. The RT-12d subwoofer went in my standard spot just left and behind the left-front tower, a location known from long experience to deliver my room's smoothest bass.

Then there was the question of crossover settings. The RF-83s don't really need a sub for anything much above 40 Hz. On the other hand, set-up full-range with the sub contributing only LFE seemed kind of underkill for a $2,000 subwoofer. More significantly, the RF-83s unfiltered were a touch bass-heavy in my room, so I wound up with a slightly paradoxical 60-Hz crossover, which enabled the sub's variable level (and room-correcting EQ) to help even up the bottom octaves. (In a different room, I would probably try running the front left/right pair full-range, sending only center, surround, and LFE content to the RT-12d.)