Klipsch RF-82 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-82 Floorstanding Loudspeaker sits third from the top in its six-model floorstanding class (RF-83, RF-63, RF-82, RF-82, RF-52, RF-10).

The $1098.00 per pair (MSRP) RF-82 utilizes a 1-inch titanium tweeter with a ceramic motor structure (as opposed to the neodymium structure used in the RF-52), 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 2kHz to two 8-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-82 employs two wide rear-firing ports, which fit nicely into the cabinet with plastic fittings. The RF-82 provides dual sets of high-end, five-way gold-plated binding posts for bi-wiring/bi-amping, plastic-coated and mounted on a plastic fitting inset beautifully into the cabinet. As with the other models in this series, Klipsch did an excellent job with the rear panel. The RF-82 employs good looking claw-style feet that protrude from the sides of the cabinet, and the company includes spikes for easy coupling to the floor. The RF-82 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 43.6 inches high by 9.5 inches wide by 16.25 inches deep and weighing in at a very heavy 66 pounds, the RF-82 can certainly be classified as big. They're not very slim and not really short, either, so anyone looking for low profile should probably look elsewhere. Overall, the RF-82 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.

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The RF-82 presents a nominal 8 ohm load with a very high 98dB efficiency. The speakers only needed average quality power to open up properly, with better quality power sources having little effect. For many, needing such little power to drive such a large speaker will no doubt be welcome.

The RF-82s threw a deep and wide soundstage with satisfactory imaging and a greater than normal sweet spot for a horn-based design. The absolute sharpness of the imaging sometimes got a little shrouded in the overall hugeness of the sound. With two 8-inch woofers and a lot of cabinet, the RF-82 brings a lot of sound and offers very little in the way of subtlety. The top end had tremendous bite, typical of horn designs and of Klipsch designs in particular, and sounded terrific with rock and electronic material. With acoustic and jazz material, the top end had an appealing quality for a bit, but eventually sounded more edgy and unnatural than refined and detailed. The midrange had a very similar quality, with a shrill yet murky and somewhat canned feel that lacked refinement and speed. The detail and pacing was less of a window into the recording and more a part of a forward, aggressive presentation. For electronic material, this had its benefits, with a crisp, dynamic, driving sound that picks you up and takes you along for a while. The bass was the best part of the RF-82, with a very engrossing, punchy, deep presentation that partners with the zippy top end to create two gigantic bookends of extremes that eclipse the shallow, canned midrange. On rock and electronic material, the RF-82's bass ranks as one of the best anywhere near its price. It really rocks. Even with the large porting, it still packs a lot of crisp punch, and fills even a large room with ease. But, as with the rest of the design, it just doesn't know when to quit. Large scale classical tracks brought this out very well, as did opera and solo vocal. The RF-82 reproduced size fairly well, but couldn't sufficiently present all of the layers of fine detail and different instrumentation in recordings, or the naturalness of vocals. Different material sounded somewhat different individually, but never escaped the RF-82's overall big, aggressive, and colored character, which stripped much of the warmth and speed out of acoustic and vocal tracks. The RF-82 sounded better away from walls, which kept the balance from getting too boomy, and, of course, played loudly with virtually no breakup.

Competition and Comparison
If you are looking to compare the Klipsch RF-82 loudspeakers against their competition, be sure to read our reviews for the Polk TSi400 loudspeakers and the Definitive Technology BP 7004 loudspeakers.  You can also find more reviews and information available in our Floorstanding Speaker section.

Read about the high points and low points of the RF-82 on Page 2.

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