Klipsch RF-52 Floorstanding Loudspeakers Reviewed

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Part of its diverse Reference Series of slightly upmarket loudspeakers featuring a staggering twenty models, the Klipsch RF-52 Floorstanding Loudspeaker sits second from the bottom in its six-model floorstanding class (RF-83, RF-63, RF-82, RF-62, RF-52, RF-10).

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The $658.00 per pair (MSRP) RF-52 utilizes a 1-inch titanium tweeter with a neodymium magnet motor structure, mated to a 90 by 60 degree square Tractrix® Horn, the latest generation of its famous horn loudspeaker technology. Klipsch believes in using the least amount of amplifier power as possible when driving a loudspeaker, in that it minimizes amplifier effort and, therefore, distortion. Analogous to the cheerleader's bullhorn effect, Klipsch attaches a horn to the front of a driver to mechanically amplify its output. While this type of design has certainly fueled more than one argument over the years, it offers a few unequivocal advantages. Klipsch speakers play loud and clear with very little power, and offer sensational dynamic peaks and crispness. According to the company, Tractrix® refines the shape of the horn to improve smoothness and detail. Horn manufacturers have had to refine their basic design in order to reduce the honkiness typically associated with horns, along with directionality and lack of dispersion. The tweeter crosses over at 1.9kHz to two 5.25-inch copper-colored woofers composed of Klipsch's Cerametallic material (anodized aluminum with a ceramic-like coating) which exhibits a very high stiffness-to-mass ratio and superb damping characteristics, according to the company. The RF-52 employs a rear-firing port, which fits nicely into the cabinet with a plastic fitting. The RF-52 provides dual sets of five-way gold-plated binding posts for bi-wiring/bi-amping. As with the other models in this series, Klipsch did an excellent job with the rear panel. It looks great, and really exudes high quality and design. The RF-52 employs good-looking claw-style feet that protrude from the sides of the cabinet, and includes spikes for easy coupling to the floor. The RF-52 has a Black Woodgrain Vinyl finish, and offers magnetically-attached grills which make removal easy for those that like the slightly aggressive look of the copper woofer, driver arrangement, plastic baffle and set screws. Measuring 37.6 inches high by 6.75 inches wide by 14.25 inches deep and weighing in at 38 pounds, the RF-52 offers a pretty compact footprint and some heft. Overall, the RF-52 provides a very good level of fit and finish, with the baffle's smooth plastic complemented nicely by the woodgrain vinyl, and the cooper woofers providing an interesting, aggressive look.

The RF-52 presents a nominal 8 ohm load with a very high 96dB efficiency. The speakers only needed average quality power to open up properly, and better quality power sources barely registered on the radar.

The RF-52s threw a very deep and wide soundstage with clear imaging accentuated by the horn tweeters. As with most Klipsch speakers, the RF-52s immediately impressed with their biting, sizzling treble and directivity. They get on you, and fast. But the speakers had a little refinement to them, tempering their excitement with a nice dose of smoothness, just enough to keep things polite. The horn did make the sound a bit directional, with a narrow sweet spot. Into the midrange, the RF-52 resolved a good level of detail and stayed fairly neutral, offering a fair balance of liquidity and warmth. Classical, vocal, and piano tracks sounded a bit zippy and cold, but not overly so and still intelligible and musical. The RF-52 sounded better in the middle with rock and electronic material, where its dynamics could carry the presentation. Getting into the bass, the dual 5.25-inch woofers packed some excellent punch, with the rear-firing port staying quiet and adding good extension. The bass had a tightness and speed that combined wonderfully with the crispy top-end, making the overall character of the speaker very fast and lively. The RF-52 rarely appeared flabby on the bottom, even when it tried to reproduce very low bass. It did what it could, and omitted the rest. While this didn't lend itself to large scale classical material, it matched very well with rock and electronic material, and even some peppy jazz and vocal tracks. And, as if it needed to be said, the RF-52 had no problem at high volumes. Moving towards a wall, the sound fattened up, which improved matters in almost every instance. It gave the speaker a little rounding on the bottom, and warmed up the overall tonal balance. Overall, the RF-52 presented a tight, crisp, well-balanced sound with an aggressive but not offensive angle.

Competition and Comparison
In order to compare the Klipsch RF-52 loudspeakers against their competition, read our reviews for the
Polk TSi400 loudspeakers and the Boston Acoustics CS 226 loudspeakers.  You can also find more information in our Floorstanding Speaker section.

Read more about the RF-52 on Page 2.

HTR Product Rating for Klipsch RF-52 Floorstanding Loudspeakers

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High Points
• The Klipsch RF-52 provides a well-balanced, lively sound that stays on the right side of refinement and impresses with its punch and clarity.

• The RF-52 offers enough speed and musicality to appeal to classical, jazz, and vocal music lovers.
• The RF-52 doesn't require high power to perform optimally.

Low Points
• The RF-52's top end got a bit zippy at times and carried that into the midrange, giving the sound a cold quality that exposed itself mostly on classical, vocal, and piano tracks.
• The RF-52 has some directionality issues that shrink the sweet spot, and could use a little more bass extension.
• The RF-52 only comes in a Black finish.
• The RF-52's copper woofers may not appeal cosmetically to those wanting to listen without the grills.

The Klipsch RF-52 offers a compelling value proposition. It certainly rocks the house in the Klipsch tradition, but it also brings some refinement to the table. It holds its own on classical, vocal, and piano tracks from a purely musical perspective, even with its slight lack of warmth and soundstaging. Its pacing and tonal balance remained fairly even over most material, which encouraged further listening and prevented fatigue. It has its flaws and limitations, certainly, but it keeps them mostly away from the overall presentation and remains open and listenable. Further, it's very affordable and can fill a decent sized room with sound without a big amp in the rack. If your needs fit these qualities, the RF-52 should definitely be on your audition list.

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