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Klipsch Sculptural looks, artful sound

Klipsch's curvaceous RVX-42 front speaker makes a handsome bit of sculpture when you mount it on the wall, and the black-finished trio arrayed around my plasma TV looked very cool. The company's heritage is in horn speakers, and the RVX-42 has a MicroTractix horn-loaded tweeter to control its dispersion. The RSX-4 speaker for the surround channels (shown below with the subwoofer) is essentially a quarter-size, single-woofer RVX-42. Klipsch-RVX-42.jpg

Klipsch-RVX-42-back.jpgSETUP Since the RVX-42's extruded-aluminum cabinet is vented by small ports on both sides, you can't mount it flush with your flat-panel TV. Threaded inserts on the back of the speaker, one at the bottom and the other in the middle, let you orient it either vertically or horizontally, whether on the wall or on the supplied shelf-top stands. A rocker switch on the back, labeled On-Wall/Off-Wall, adjusts the bass for each mounting scenario. I set all three RVX-42s to On-Wall, which tightened sounds in the upper bass, like male voices. To optimize the imaging, I pulled the L/R pair about a foot and a half out from my TV screen.

The RSX-4 surround has only a single port, on the back. Its integrated, swiveling ball-joint stand/mount lets you place it either on a shelf or the wall - but holds it a good 3 inches away because of the port.

MUSIC PERFORMANCE During two-channel playback, the pair of RVX-42s produced enough bass to hold their own with TV shows, if not for serious DVD movie watching. The bass on pop music tracks - like the insistent bass/piano unisons throughout Brian Wilson's SMiLE - sounded warm and solid, though a shade looser than on my regular speakers.


PRICE $2,148

PLUS • Dynamic, powerful performance • Cool sculpted shape

MINUS • Slightly warm upper bass/lower midrange

But the Klipsch system really came into its own with the RW-10 subwoofer engaged, producing a big, well-balanced soundstage with realistic presence and crisp drum attacks. The dense, musical-comedy textures of SMiLE 's "Song for Children" came across with the puckish grace Wilson was no doubt going for.

MOVIE PERFORMANCE The Klipsch array delivered all of The Bourne Supremacy's cinematic impact without breaking a sweat. Pick a car chase, any car chase - Chapter 20's, for instance. Despite all the vehicles whizzing from channel to channel and street noises being panned every which way, there was no sonic discontinuity to pull my attention from the screen - not even an out-of-position tire squeal or an unrealistic, thin-sounding crash.

The RVX-42 worked very well as a center speaker. It was a close tonal match for the vertically placed front left/right speakers, and it sounded pretty much the same even when I moved to the far side of my couch. A woofer-tweeter-woofer layout often makes male voices distinctly more colored when heard from off-center positions, but that wasn't the case here. Klipsch-RVX-42-speakers.jpg

The RSX-4 surrounds performed about as well as most small, conventional, front-firing two-way satellite speakers. Atmospheric effects - like the sounds of the protest-rally crowd in Chapter 12 of The Bourne Supremacy - weren't as spacious as from good dipole surrounds, and the speakers didn't have the heft and openness of the best bi poles on multichannel music. But their ball-and-swivel bases made them easy to aim to enhance the sense of space.

The RW-10 subwoofer provided deep and smooth bass except for a little extra oomph in the upper bass, which sometimes made the sound slightly warm, though with no midbass thump. Having the sub's level control mounted on the side made it easy to adjust, but if you have inquisitive young children, it might be a little too accessible.

Klipsch's RVX-42 on-wall setup is a well- balanced performer. It might sound slightly warm (depending on the room), but it provided the cleanest sound in this group at high volumes, and the subwoofer really delivered the goods.

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