Video: Klipsch® Reference Series Speakers
Chris Egner is a former writer for Crutchfield. She concentrated on point-and-shoot cameras and speakers while she worked here.
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Steve Kindig has been an electronics enthusiast for over 30 years. He has written extensively about home and car A/V gear for Crutchfield since 1985. Steve is also a volunteer DJ at community radio station WTJU, where he is a regular host of the American folk show "Atlantic Weekly," as well as the world music program "Radio Tropicale."
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Heads up!Welcome to this article from the Crutchfield archives. Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.
Crutchfield experts Steve and Chris share their experiences listening to Klipsch's Reference series speakers, and discuss the technologies that give them their unique sound.
Chris: Hi, I'm Chris.
Steve: And I'm Steve.
Chris: And we're down in the Crutchfield video studio today to talk to you a little bit about Klipsch® Reference Series speakers. Now most of what we'll talk about will apply to most of these speakers, but if you want specific information about any of the models, just go to crutchfield.com/Klipsch.
Steve: Klipsch is an American company. They've been building speakers for over 50 years, and they're one of the most respected names in the industry. They actually started out building really high-end models that only a few audiophiles could afford, but over the years they applied their expertise to models like these.
Chris: And they also build professional loudspeakers for about half the movie theaters out there, so chances are you may have already heard and enjoyed Klipsch sound and not even realized it.
Steve: Yeah, we actually got to listen to these speakers over at my house. These are the RB-61s, and we did hear a sound that was really clear and detailed, particularly the high frequencies came through. There was a jazz cut that we listened to and the cymbals just came through really cleanly.
Chris: Yeah, it was outstanding. I remember too the song that you played that had the glockenspiel, and each of those high-end notes just came through crystal clear, and even when it was fading away you could hear each one distinctly, which was great.
Steve: We also noticed that these speakers played louder than mine at the same volume setting so they're really efficient.
Chris: Right. Efficiency's a big deal for Klipsch, but another thing that's very important, probably their number one priority, is dynamic range. And that just refers to the speaker's ability to go from louder sounds to softer sounds without losing any detail. So for instance if you're watching a movie in surround sound and there's a huge thunderstorm scene and then they cut away to, like, whispered dialogue, you're going to pick it up equally well.
Steve: That's really important.
Chris: I remember too, when Klipsch came to give us training, and they played that song by a female singer and you could hear in between the phrases that she sang, you could hear her taking breaths, which I thought was so impressive.
Steve: That's part of the performance.
Steve: So now let's look at what gives these speakers their characteristic sound. Part of it is the cabinets. They're really well braced, of course, and that cuts down on vibration and resonance, and really keeps the cabinet from interfering with the sound of the speaker.
Steve: And also there are a lot of ported speakers today because that helps improve the bass response, but a lot of other speaker makers put the port in the back of the speaker. Klipsch puts it in the front here, which is kind of cool because it lets you put the speaker like, in a cabinet, or up against a wall, and it still works the way it's supposed to.
Chris: Exactly. It's so neat. Another cool difference you'll see in Klipsch speakers is that they use horn-loaded tweeters. Where most speakers you'll see the tweeters are just flush against the cabinet, Klipsch actually puts them in a recessed area with a flared opening.
Steve: Oh yeah.
Chris: And what that does is it just directs the sound more precisely towards your sweet spot. I know we definitely heard this yesterday at your house.
Steve: Yep. That way you have less sound just bouncing around the room and reflecting off the walls where you don't want it.
Chris: Exactly. So it's more detailed and that's where those crisp, clear highs really come from. It's kind of like if I'm going to call to you from across the room or call my kids I put my hands around my mouth and cup like this so that my voice goes straight to your ears.
Steve: Another interesting thing about these speakers is, Klipsch has a really stiff and lightweight material that they use for the woofer cones, and that lets the woofer cone stop and start really quickly and precisely, so that you get bass and mid-bass frequencies that are really tight and clean and low-distortion.
Chris: Accurate. Exactly. So those are some of the main features that we wanted to call out to you about the Klipsch Reference Series. Of course, from speaker to speaker you will see differences. For instance, most of Klipsch's surround speakers have two sets of drivers that are angled to more evenly disperse the sound throughout your room. So for ambient sounds like birds chirping or rain in the distance, it sounds like it's all around your room and not just coming from that speaker or that speaker, which is what you want.
Steve: Yeah, it really makes it sound more real. Now most of the Reference tower and bookshelf models also offer dual binding posts.
Chris: That's a pretty unusual feature.
Steve: Yeah, it lets you do biamping, and what you can do is, if you have a compatible 7.1-channel home theater receiver, you can actually send twice the power to your front left and right speakers. Separate power to the tweeter and mid-range in each speaker for a much clearer and more dynamic sound. And biamping is really kind of cool and there's a lot of receivers that let you do that. We've got a great blog posted about it at our website at crutchfield.com/biamping.
Chris: So we really think that these Klipsch Reference Series speakers are great if you really, really care about your sound quality. If you like to just sit and listen to music actively, or if you like to watch movies and really care about the sound as much as you do the picture, this is a great way to get that detail and accuracy.
Steve: And there are several ways you can get Reference accuracy. There are pre-packaged systems, you can build your own from speakers like these, and there are also matching Reference subwoofers for great bass from any system.
Chris: Learn more about the speakers and Klipsch at crutchfield.com/Klipsch.
Steve: And you can always call us at 1-800-555-9408.