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Klipsch Reference RB-81 II

Bookshelf speaker (Black Ash)

19 Reviews | 3 questions - 7 answers

Item # 714RB81IIB

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Our take on the Klipsch Reference RB-81 II

The RB-81 II also uses a newly machined, light-yet-rigid Cerametallic woofer with a folded edge to produce smoother mids and tighter bass. The specially treated aluminum in the cone helps to dampen unwanted vibrations and reduce distortion, while an integrated dustcap gives it a cleaner look and adds stability. Dual sets of five-way binding posts let you bi-amp or bi-wire each RB-81 II for even more dynamic sound. And the rigid, braced cabinet comes in a handsome woodgrain vinyl finish.

Klipsch's top Reference Series II bookshelf speaker

Klipsch's RB-81 II bookshelf speaker provides clear, full-bodied sound to those who demand it, but don't have the room to accommodate a floor-standing speaker. Building on Klipsch's previous Reference speaker line, the Series II models have updated drivers and a new crossover system for even more spacious sound. Pick up a pair, and let these impressive speakers create an intimate listening environment on your next movie or music night.

Horn technology for "front row" sound

All Reference Series II speakers feature a redesigned version of Klipsch's famous horn-loaded tweeter. Because high-frequency sounds are more directional than bass frequencies, it's especially important to target them right toward your ears. Klipsch places their titanium tweeter inside a flared opening, known as a "horn," which disperses the highs evenly across your listening area in a 90°-wide, 60°-high pattern. With their Series II speakers, Klipsch has redesigned the shape and slope of their famous horn enclosure, so your movie soundtracks and music will sound more "open," with improved dynamics and efficiency. All in all, you can count on powerful, "front row" sound that's crystal-clear at all volume levels.

Cabinet construction

High-tech driver design

The RB-81 II also uses a newly machined, light-yet-rigid Cerametallic woofer with a folded edge to produce smoother mids and tighter bass. The specially treated aluminum in the cone helps to dampen unwanted vibrations and reduce distortion, while an integrated dustcap gives it a cleaner look and adds stability. Dual sets of five-way binding posts let you bi-amp or bi-wire each RB-81 II for even more dynamic sound. And the rigid, braced cabinet comes in a handsome woodgrain vinyl finish.

Check out the rest of our Klipsch lineup, and build a complete Reference Series II home theater or stereo speaker system. And don't forget to add a Klipsch subwoofer for high-impact bass.

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Product Highlights:

  • frequency response 44-24,000 Hz (±3dB)
  • power handling: up to 150 watts RMS (600 watts peak)
  • sensitivity 97 dB
  • 8-ohm impedance
  • Tractrix® horn with 1" titanium dome tweeter
  • 8" Cerametallic™ woofer
  • bass-reflex design via front-firing port
  • black ash woodgrain vinyl finish
  • dual binding posts for bi-amping or bi-wiring
  • dual bottom threaded inserts for use with a stand
  • 9-1/2"W x 19"H x 12-5/8"D
  • warranty: 5 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Black two-way bookshelf loudspeaker
  • Detachable magnetic grille (attached)
  • 4 Self-adhesive rubber feet
  • Owner's Manual

Great sound a low and high volume paired with a Marantz SR5009

JeffA, St Louis


Klipsch Reference RB-81 II Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(19 Reviews)

Good bang for a few bucks.

John from New Port Richey, FL on 10/5/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Great sounding speaker. Good bang for the buck. Sorry to see them discontinued. Paired to a 50 watt Jolida tube amp, rebuilt Dynaco Pas 3. I pod streams pandora most of time, unless I break out ole vinyl on my BIC 940 with my Shure M97HE riding the groves. Definitive Technology Pro Sub 1000 really rounded out the lower bass freqs. Very musical system

Pros: Powerful for size, Pretty efficient, drives without fatuige for long periods of time.

Cons: Needs paired to a powered sub to help them really sing.

Great Speakers

JeffA from St Louis on 2/14/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Great sound a low and high volume paired with a Marantz SR5009

Pros: Good Looks

Cons: N/A

The best!

Tony from Lafayette, IN on 1/24/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Super clear and strong sound compared with all the speakers I've gone through! I'm absolutely satisfied with these pair of speakers and would definitely recommend it to anyone!

Pros: Strong sound. Great for movies and music.

Cons: It's a little heavy for a bookshelf speaker.

very good speakers considering size

rayw from Hope, Idaho on 12/28/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I have had Polk Monitor speakers for 40 years and they were still working very well but we moved and wife said they were to big for the living room and had to go. The Klipsch RB-81 II speakers are not like any other book shelf speakers I have heard. These are not toys. Very good sound. As other reviews indicate these are heavy speakers and being 19 inches high it does take a little advance planning. The wife is very happy which is a good thing!

Pros: The best book shelf speakers I have heard.

Cons: None

Excellent sound

David from Colorado on 12/15/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

You can't go wrong with these speakers. They handle power and produce a clear balanced sound. I use them as front speakers in the surround sound and really enjoy the movies sounding so real and music being so clear and true to life.

Pros: They are not as big as tower speakers so getting high quality sound is not a problem even in smaller rooms.

Cons: none

Klipsch RB-81 II review

Jason from Oklahoma City on 12/14/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Absolutely the best sounding bookshelf speaker I've listened too. I'm upgrading from the 60 series Klipsch bookshelf speakers. The 8" driver fills the room with bass. They sound full and I didn't notice any issues with beaming provided your not right up in the speakers.

Pros: Great low frequency capabilities. Well constructed and can be bi-amped.

Cons: It's a big bookshelf speaker.

Wow, is the only word

Arthur from California on 11/15/2014

i wanna start off by saying what costumer service crutchfield has!! they stayed on the phone with me for 30 minutes solving my Arc connectivity issues,NOW the speakers, i have 4000 dollar a piece speakers in my other home, and these produce better highs without harshness at all! they are loud, great imaging, super detailed, im hearing songs all over again, out of this world. thank you god for giving an audiophile like me a set of speakers to really be satisfied with and thank you crutchfield for providing the quick shipping and great costumer service.

Pros: everything

Cons: nothing

" Copper & Black "

JR from Pocono Lake PA on 10/5/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Good looking & amazing sound, with decent pieces to go with the RB-81-II get ready to be blown away !!!!!

Pros: Awesome sound & imaging

Cons: Plan ahead they weigh-in 28 lbs. each

Klipsch is fine wih me!

BD from Grenada, MS on 7/11/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I bought the open box version and the units look fine and sound great. I am pleased with my first Klipsch purchase.

Pros: Just right for bookshelf use. Some say they are too large, I disagree. Sound is clear and full. No distortion at any level I can withstand. I use these for casual music and home theater use.

Cons: The cabinets are not fancy but the black blends in well.

Clean & LOUD...

David S from OZ on 1/27/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I'm a drummer & guitar player. I like/need loud and accurate performance. The RB-81's are absolute monsters in delivery. I immediately played my fave sound system test-disc collection: ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, Heaven Up Here; TED NUGENT, Electric Ballroom; ROXY MUSIC, Avalon; ADELE, 21; SINEAD O'CONNOR, any of her albums; FOO FIGHTERS, any. I'm using a self-built pre-amp thru an ALESIS power amp and dual 15-band EQ finally to a BBE Aural Exciter (yes, that's my home sound system.)

Pros: Super loud and super accurate/clean; the finish on the cabinets is beautiful.

Cons: Not really a con but a caveat: these are a little larger cabinets and a little heavier than your average bookshelf speaker. Anyone should know that about an 8" loaded cabinet but just to note here to be sure. Wish the cabinets came in cherry or white?

Klipsch Reference RB-81 II

Tim G from Cincinnati, Ohio on 8/16/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Crisp, clean, airy sound to die for with my mono block tube amps. Beautiful cabinets! They sound perfect to Fleetwood Mac, Sleely Dan, and the Eagles. Highly reccomended!

Pros: Dual binding post for bi-amping. Clean, perfect sounding horns, nice tight low end. Very good looking!

Cons: Some mixes the highs over do the lows. That can be fixed with bi-amping and controlling the high, and low volumes. Also with a sub they woud be out of this world!

Great Sound as always from Klipsch

M275 from Honolulu, Hawaii on 8/11/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Sound quality from Klipsch RB-81-II is excellent as always. The box construction is the right size for a bookshelf speaker system.

Pros: Excellent Sound

Cons: Nonoe

Got them Friday and i Love them

Cecil from Greensboro on 2/18/2013

These Speakers are amazing! The sound is just like floorstanders. Make sure you have enough power going to them to get the best quality sound out of them

Pros: Great sound and imaging

Cons: Size but not really

Great sound, soundstage, and imaging if you are in the right spot.

dcmorris from Lexington, SC on 11/25/2012

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I got a pair of these to replace my Infinity Primus P363, which I had just obtained but was not entirely satisfied with. The Primus were good, but the imaging wasn't as good as my old Fried A2s which finally bit the dust after 30 years of wonderful sound. I really like the Klipsch speakers. The imaging is clear and precise, and the soundstage is wide. There is no harshness in the high frequencies (unlike the Infinity). This is a very soft, musical, pleasant speaker that reminds me of my old Frieds. But to get the best imaging, you have to sit in the sweet spot - exactly midway between the speakers, back far enough for the image to snap into focus. They sound good all around the room, but they sound great if you are in the directional beam of the horn tweeters. There is not much bass below 50 hz, but there is some, and it is very good quality, clear bass. Good enough that I occasionally have to turn down the bass control on my amplifier if I play a CD with a lot of low bass.

Pros: Great imaging, soundstage, clarity, with no harshness. Good, but not great, bass.

Cons: None really for a speaker of this size and price range.

Amazing Sound

Rick from Fort Worth, TX on 10/24/2012

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Amazing sound. Great looking speakers. You can't go wrong with Crutchfield's service and great "special buy" pricing on these speakers.



excellent speakers

klipsch RB-81 ll from Puerto Rico on 5/18/2012

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

excellent speakers

Pros: very good sound for my family room and very strong. The sound is clear and fine and be happy with this speaker.

Cons: none

Great sensitivity, great sound

Phil D from Easton, MD on 2/18/2012

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

At a sensitivity of 97 db, you won't need a big amp to make these speakers sound live. And live is hown they can sound, clear with good high frequency dispersion. As with all bass reflex (ported) speakers, bass drops quickly below the port frequency, so consider a sub if you want some low bass. You better have a beefy 'bookshelf' to put these things on.

Pros: High sensitivity, clean, natural sound.

Cons: None for me

Big in Size and Big in Sound

Dave from New Britain, CT on 9/22/2011

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I've owned quite a few Klipsch speakers and have always liked their sonic immediacy, dynamics and presence. From my first set of Heresy I's from 1978 theirs have been among my favorites. The RB-81II's are no exception and are in my opinion among the best stand-mounted/bookshelf model you can find out there. I admit my fondness for the large JBL L100's or the first Polk 7's is a sentimental attachment from days long gone. The RB-81 II sounds well balanced but I prefer them out a little more into the room. The horn and eight-inch woofer blend well together and are a redesign of the previous RB-81. With better response from bass to treble they put out some tasty up-front sound that should satisfy listeners with average sized rooms for both home theater or music. The sound is very open and clear, and you'll hear the details you won't likely find in cheaper speakers. The cherry vinyl finish is a little darkish compared to their old light colored veneer but if it doesn't work for you they're available in black vinyl as well. I would have liked to see a real-wood veneer option, standard in their top of the line RF-7II's and classic Heritage line. At the price Klipsch is selling these for I doubt you'll find any speaker that comes close to the RB-81 II bookshelfs in fidelity, balance or refinement as these do. For those that don't have room for a floorstander, which I would recommend for larger rooms, these may be just what you want both for casual or critical listening.



Great Bookshelf speakers

Anonymous from San Juan, PR on 8/17/2011

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

These speakers deliver extraordinary fidelity in all frequencies and perform very well at both low and high volume. They are also well built and have a very attractive look. Only drawbacks are that they are front heavy due to depth and don't have a built-in method of anchoring them to a speaker stand or bracket, but there are workarounds to those isues (plan to use straps or something similar if you want to mount them - I do not recommend drilling holes or using screws or other fasteners that will make holes, as doing so may affect the sound and/or void the warrantee).




Hands-on research

Features and Specs

Enclosure Bass Reflex
Video Shielded No
Tweeter Type Tractrix Horn
Tweeter Size (inches) 1
Midrange Size (inches) ---
Woofer Size (inches) 8
Woofer Composition Cerametallic
Woofer Surround Rubber
Power Range 150
Sensitivity 97 dB
Impedance (Ohms) 8
Frequency Response 44-24k Hz
Connector Type Binding post
Bi-amp Inputs Yes
Height (inches) 19
Width (inches) 9-1/2
Depth (inches) 12-5/8
Weight (pounds) 27.5
Mounting Bracket Included No
Recommended Stand Height (inches) 18-24
Parts Warranty 5 Years
Labor Warranty 5 Years

Product Research

Driver Technology
Enclosure Design
Mounting Options

Driver Technology

Highly-Efficient Design: The Klipsch RB-81 II utilizes a highly efficient design to produce more output using less power & energy for louder sound with less distortion. The RB-81 II is able to fill larger rooms with outstanding, accurate, non-fatiguing sound that you can listen to for hours.

Tractrix Horn Tweeter: The Klipsch RB-81 II features a professional-grade 1.0-inch titanium-diaphragm compression driver inside a square Tractrix Horn for smoother high-end response with greater extension, enhanced imaging, and more powerful dynamics. The Tractrix Horn deliver a 90-degree wide by 60-degree high dispersion pattern for a broader sound-stage. Behind the horn lies a 1.0-inch titanium tweeter with a linear travel suspension for open, natural, sound.

Cerametallic Woofer: The 8.0-inch woofer of the RB-81 II features Klipsch's distinctive, copper-colored Cerametallic cone. Made with an anodized aluminum, this cone is strong and dent resistant. The anodizing process converts the inner and outer surfaces to ceramic. The outcome is a rigid cone with superb damping characteristics that will not flex or resonate at frequencies within the woofer's operating range. The 8.0-inch woofer also employs a rubber surround for added durability.

Crossover Network: For signal purity and perfect driver integration, the crossover on the RB-81 II features the finest components and Klipsch custom internal wiring.

Enclosure Design

Bass Reflex Enclosure: The dual 8.0-inch Cerametallic cone woofer and 1.0" titanium diaphragm compression driver are mounted in a bass reflex enclosure which features a single front-firing port. The RB-81 II's rigid cabinet offers improved internal cross-bracing to minimize panel vibrations that can color sound and a front-firing port to eliminate turbulence noise. A black metallic finished baffle around the horn mouth and woofer dramatically improve acoustics across the sonic range. The bass reflex enclosure features a MDF cabinet finished with either a Black Ash and Cherry wood-grain vinyl veneer.

Magnetic Grille: The bookshelf loudspeaker features a removable magnetic grille which easily snaps into place over its cast-aluminum front baffle. The speaker can be used with or without its grille in place.


Dual Binding Posts: The bookshelf speaker has two sets of binding posts connected by jumpers. Using the dual binding posts, you can bi-amp or bi-wire the speakers. The binding post terminals will accept banana plugs (single only), pin-connectors, spade-connectors, and bare wire.

Mounting Options

Rubber Feet: The bookshelf speaker comes supplied with four self-adhesive rubber feet so you can sit the speakers on a stand or shelf securely. The rubber feet add approximately 0.3125" to the height of each speaker. There are also two 1/4"-20 threaded inserts on the bottom of the loudspeaker for mounting the speaker to third-party stands (sold separately).

Note: The two threaded inserts are spaced 1.625" apart.

Placement: The Reference Series bookshelf loudspeakers are designed to perform well in a wide variety of locations but you will get the most out of the speakers by following these simple guidelines.

  • Place the front left and right speakers on shelves or stands with their tweeters at approximately ear height for a seated listener. When used surround sound speakers, they normally perform best when placed slightly higher than ear level.
  • The bookshelf loudspeakers should be equal distance from the floor and the wall behind them. It can also helps to have the left and right speakers at different distances from their nearest side walls. This sort of staggering helps smooth the bass range.

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Q & A

Customer Q&A

3 questions already asked

Since the speaker is not rear ported I would say you can. However, the wall depth is not as great as the speaker depth. That might be an issue. I have mine sitting on the side atop a bookcase about 7 ft high. You may get some bass kick from mounting in the wall but you may like the results. Good Luck! I love my 81's. [ Barry  Dec 19, 2014 ]
Also Will, like you I want to save floorspace so one of mine is on top of a tall bookshelf & for the other I mounted the bookshelf in the corner near the ceiling (just a little single man shelf)...if I can post a picture here I'd send a picture to you? [ DAVID  Dec 18, 2014 ]
Absolutely they can be -Will. But here's what you need to think about ... they're fairly deep from back to front. Check your interior wall depth and compare that with the specs for the speakers that wsy you'll know ahead time what you're up against. These things sound absolutely incredibly amazing - I've never been happier with a single pair speakers in my life. I'm a musician - I like loud, I like punch and I like clarity... got it. I have a sub with mine which you may or may not want to add but it really does round it out. Follow up with me & let me know how it goes! [ DAVID  Dec 18, 2014 ]
Likely. I do not have mine on the floor either. I have mine above the cabinets in my kitchen as a part of our entertainment system in our kitchen. [ BEHNAM  Dec 18, 2014 ]
I think you would be better off getting in wall speakers. These would work but they would stick out of the wall quite a bit unless you have really thick walls. [ PAUL  Dec 18, 2014 ]
Scratch & dent are open-box items that have minor cosmetic damage. They may be missing non-essential accessories. In some cases the manufacturer's accessories have been replaced with generic equivalents. The manufacturer's warranty applies. You can get an idea about typical cosmetic damage here: [ Jeff  Feb 03, 2014 ]  Staff
The bookshelf speaker has two sets of binding posts connected by jumpers. Using the dual binding posts, you can bi-amp or bi-wire the speakers. The binding post terminals will accept banana plugs (single only), pin-connectors, spade-connectors, and bare wire. [ Jeff  Nov 24, 2013 ]  Staff