Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater Speaker System Page 2

The Short Form

Price $6,394 (AS TESTED) / klipsch.com / 317-860-8100
A big, powerful system that should make short work of any movie soundtrack, even in near-ballroom spaces.
•Consistent spread and balance of sound •Excellent surround-channel function •Benchmark subwoofer performance
•RF-83's bass may overwhelm small rooms
Key Features
RF-83 •($2,498/pair) 1.25-in dome compression tweeter with rectangular horn; (3) 8-in woofers; 49.6 in high; 100 lb RC-64 •($899) 1.25-in dome compression tweeter with rectangular horn; (4) 6.5-in woofers; 33 in wide; 61 lb RS-62 •($998/pair) (2) 1-in dome compression tweeters with rectangular horns; (2) 6.5-in woofers; 15 in high; 28 lb RT-12d •($1,999) 12-in driver, (2) 12-in passive radiators; 800-watt RMS amplifier; 24 x 18.8 x 21.8 in; 71 lb •Finish: gloss-black, cherry, or black-ash wood veneers
Test Bench
The RF-83 system excels with dynamic capability and high sensitivity. The front and surround-channel speakers will play loud with little amplifier power, and all channels have exceptional bass. The subwoofer has Olympic-class bass uniformity (measuring 110 dB SPL at 32 Hz and 105+ dB from 25 Hz and up). Its operating controls work as described, and the room EQ addresses modal irregularities with finesse and understatement. - Tom Nousaine Full Lab Results
MUSIC PERFORMANCE Beginning with stereo listening sans subwoofer, I quickly found that the RF-83 is a lot of speaker. It throws a broad, highly detailed soundstage that's remarkably consistent both horizontally and vertically. Comparing it to excellent but otherwise conventional cone 'n' dome speakers revealed a difference beyond any obvious distinctions in tonal balance: Certain "internal" elements, such as reverberant decays or the "edges" of picked strings, were subtly but distinctly more prominent on the Klipschs. This is an effect I've noticed from other horn speakers. You might think it has to do with the lower distortion or greater dynamic potential of a horn-loaded driver - perfectly plausible contributors. But I suspect it's mostly the 60 x 90-degree horn focusing its mid-high frequency output into the listening area so you hear more of the recording directly, disc-to-ear, and "less of the room" than with conventional speakers. Regardless, the RF-83s proved impressively consistent within their wide and unusually tall coverage area. This is that rarity, a speaker whose tonal balance and treble "air" or "bite" change little within, say, any position 15° left or right of center and virtually not at all whether you stand or sit.

I also found, unsurprisingly, that this system was at least 2 dB more sensitive, all around, than my everyday speakers. This means that, in theory, anyway, I could do with perhaps a third less power or expect greater potential dynamic peaks before the onset of amplifier clipping or limiting. In any case, the Klipschs' dynamic abilities were obvious. An SACD featuring superbly recorded rock drums sounded quite stunning, with outstanding transient edges and kick-drum impacts.

Still, in my 3,000-cubic-foot studio, the RF-83 proved a bit of a bass-lover's pizza, delivering helpings of 40-160 Hz that were a bit too rich for my ears. Pulling the towers well away from the wall (almost 6 feet) helped a lot, but put the speakers practically in my lap: My system is placed crossways in the 22 x 16 room to dodge some standing waves. I solved the problem by crossing over the speakers and using the RT-12d's variable controls to balance up the system properly, but observe that, in my room at least (remember, every room is very different), the big Klipschs were probably overkill. Ideally, I think the RF-83s need a room 20 feet or more on its shortest side to show their best.

MOVIE PERFORMANCE I expected impressive movie performance, and I got it. The RC-64 is a superb center speaker: There's little or no timbral shift as you move from left to right on most voices (deeper males reveal a bit), and its vertical consistency is even better. The tonal match between the center and the RF-83s is a little less perfect - the RC-64 is a bit tighter and leaner in the male-voice regions - but it's close enough to make a superbly well-integrated front stage.