Klipsch will never be accused of lack of production, leadership, or general (polite) aggression. This is a company that does things its way, and why shouldn't they? Klipsch has earned its status as one of the top loudspeaker companies in the world, building on its own product and innovation reputation while also steadily gobbling up its competition. The Klipsch Group now owns Mirage, Energy, Athena, and Jamo, and earlier this year Kadence Designs named Klipsch the official U.S. distributor and licensee of the LightSpeaker, the first product to combine efficient LED lighting and wireless ambient sound into a single unit that installs like a light bulb.
Klipsch's upmarket Reference Series contains an assortment of only 24 models (c'mon guys, pick up the pace), featuring bookshelf, floorstanding, surround, center, and subwoofer designs. The RF-63 Floorstanding Loudspeaker sits second from the top in its six-model floorstanding class (RF-83, RF-63, RF-82, RF-62, RF-52, RF-10).
The RF-63 ($1998.00/pair MSRP) utilizes a 1.25-inch titanium tweeter, mated to a 90 by 60 degree square Tractrix Horn, the latest generation of its famous horn loudspeaker technology. Klipsch believes in using as little amplifier power as possible when driving a loudspeaker, which keeps amplifier effort and distortion down. Like 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 generated its share of controversy 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 RF-63's tweeter crosses over at 1.7kHz to three 6.5-inch copper-colored Cerametallic woofers (anodized aluminum with a ceramic-like coating) which the company says offer a very high stiffness-to-mass ratio and superb damping characteristics. The RF-63 employs three wide rear-firing ports, which fit nicely into the cabinet with plastic fittings, and dual sets of high-end, five-way gold-plated binding posts for bi-wiring/bi-amping, plastic-coated and nicely mounted on a plastic fitting inset beautifully into the cabinet. The RF-63's rear panel is super clean and well-designed, and the side-protruding claw-style feet look great and come with optional spikes. The RF-63 offers Cherry and Black real wood-veneer finishes, which look terrific, and provides magnetically-attached grills which make removal easy. The smooth plastic front baffle is clean-looking with nice set screws, and the three copper woofers make a bold, if not a little aggressive, statement. Measuring 46.1 inches high by 8.5 inches wide by 19.5 inches deep and weighing in at a very heavy 81 pounds, the RF-63 is flat-out big and very heavy. The RF-63 provides an overall very high level of fit and finish, with a synergistic package of design, fit, finish, and parts quality.
The RF-63 presents a nominal 8 ohm load with an astonishingly high 99dB efficiency. The speakers needed only average quality power sources to sound their best. Its always nice to see a large speaker that's so easy to drive.
The RF-63s threw a very deep and wide soundstage with super crisp imaging. The typical immediacy and intensity of Klipsch's sound came through very well, but complemented with a punchy, fat bass that balanced the overall feel. The sweet spot was larger than usual for horn-based designs, and even on par with many dynamic designs at the price. The RF-63's treble, while a bit hot, sounded very good and well integrated, especially with rock and electronic material. It also added a lot of presence to large scale classical recordings, and acoustic and jazz material. This overall musicality on the top was revealed due to the great integration with the very solid midrange, which sounded fast and liquid and only slightly honky and thin. The mids sounded particularly good on rock and electronic material, with a good sense of pace and flow and very nice overall coherence with the top end. The mids rolled into the bass with ease, and the low end is what really makes this speaker. It's tight but also deep and rarely flabby. It rounds out intense electronic material and adds nice bloom and weight to large scale classical recordings. While you can never fully escape the sizzling top end in the RF-63, the mids and lower frequencies more than make up the difference and really round things out to the point that the coherent whole is what you hear, not a certain section or two. And that's the key to a good speaker. Nothing sticks out too much to mar the experience, and its overall sonic profile remains musical and enjoyable over a lot of material and long listening sessions. The RF-63 succeeds in all of these areas, reigning in the horn to channel its strengths and minimize its weaknesses, and utilizing a mid and low end design that picks up the ball and runs with it. The RF-63, of course, also sounded great and never broke a sweat at high volumes. It also overall sounded better away from walls, as it kept the mid and low bass from getting too fat.
Read about the high points and the low points of the RF-63 on Page 2.
� The RF-63 offers a well-balanced sound that utilizes its very good midrange and bass to properly complement its detailed, crispy top end.
� The RF-63 sounds great at high volumes, and can fill a large room with ease.
� The RF-63 doesn't require high power to perform optimally.
� The RF-63's top end got a little too hot and mildly took over the presentation on the occasional track.
� The RF-63's midrange exhibited some honkiness and sounded a shade thin overall.
� The RF-63 is big (and heavy), which exacerbates its aggressive look when grill-less.
The Klipsch RF-63 achieves an impressive level of overall performance, with lots of versatility and a controlled sonic profile that maximizes the strengths of horns while minimizing their weaknesses. The design's speedy midrange and tight, extended bass mate very well, and provide a perfect complement to the sizzling top end. The RF-63's overall sonic profile is musical, appealing, and never offensive or drawn too far in any one direction. On top of all that, it comes in two beautiful finishes, is built very solidly, and is priced very reasonably given its attributes. At $2k per pair, they represent an excellent value and deserve a serious audition.