Klipsch has unveiled a new line of ported subwoofers in the Reference Premiere series, and while the faces may look the same, as always, it’s what’s underneath that counts. The RP-1000SW is the smallest of the new brood, packing a 10-inch version of Klipsch’s signature Ceramatallic cone–but it’s anything but small. Set in a lodge-sized MDF cabinet that stretches over two feet back, this is the longest subwoofer I’ve had the pleasure to evaluate.
If you can fit it in with your decor, the 1000SW will reward you with clean yet brutish bass that reaches deep into the sub-registers with equal parts power and musicality. With only a few ways to adjust the sound, this isn’t the most versatile bass box in its class, but its blend of guttural power and smooth precision makes it a great value, and an absolute blast to play with.
Pulling the 57-pound RP-1000SW from its dual-boxed packaging is an exercise in patience. (Or maybe just exercise.) It just keeps on going, emerging from its foam enclosure like a freight train from a tunnel. Seriously, this isn’t a subwoofer, it’s a bench. It is a handsome bench, though, looking debonair with its front-facing, Ceramatallic cone in Klipsch’s signature copper tone.
The model Klipsch sent us has obviously gotten some use, showing a few scratches on the front face. But luckily it looks just as good, if more demure, with the included fabric grille that attaches to the front on four metal posts.
At the back of the robust cabinet, you’ll find modest controls including a pair of stylish white knobs for adjusting the Gain and Low Pass Filter settings, two rubber-tipped switches for phase (at 0 or 180 degrees) and power/auto/standby, and that’s the lot. Connections include dual RCA ports for connecting a stereo out or the more traditional line-out LFE port found on most amplifiers and receivers. There’s also a wireless adapter port (adapter not included) alongside the power port.
The available settings are a little underwhelming when compared to options like the SVS 3000 Micro I’ve been auditioning, which includes onboard keys for multi-point phase adjustment and a decked-out mobile app for adjusting nearly every facet, from a parabolic EQ to presets for three different listening modes.
If you’re connecting the RP-1000SW to a modern receiver, its limited tuning options probably won’t matter, as you’ll have built-in system settings like EQ, phase, and room-mode correction to fine-tune the sound for accuracy and reducing standing waves. If, however, you’re connecting to a more plug-and-play setup such as my trusty KEF LSX powered bookshelves, your calibration options are essentially limited to volume, crossover, and room placement. Given how unwieldy the cabinet is, moving it around the room isn’t a joy, either.
That said, fewer adjustment modes makes things simpler in some respects, and I was able to lock in my 2.1 system pretty well with the tools at my disposal. I started, as Klipsch recommends, with the cabinet in the room’s front corner, making sure to align the metallic cone in parallel with my KEF speaker cones, and setting phase at 0. I played with wall placement a bit, settling on about 12 inches each between the side and back walls, and the rest was up to simply adjusting volume and the Low-Pass filter.
After the luxury of adjusting the 3000 Micro from the couch with my iPhone, getting up each time I made an adjustment to Klipsch’s sub felt a little like changing channels on a dial TV (and yes, I’m old enough to remember them). The lack of an app or deeper settings isn't uncommon for even pricier subs, though, and tuning is a short-lived process after all. I also dig the feel of Klipsch’s smooth white dials, which offer plenty of granularity for micro-adjustments. And besides, I could use the exercise.
I did find myself coming back to make adjustments a few times after I thought I had things settled–the sub reaches so deep and with so much force, a new show or movie would suddenly blow the virtual doors off my small listening room. Eventually, I settled on a compromise of a crossover/Low-Pass filter point at around 90Hz and volume at around 3.5 out of 11. That’s right, this thing literally goes to 11.
Klipsch didn’t extend the RP-1000SW’s cabinet like an infinity mirror without reason. Part of the aim is to provide airflow for the new front-facing aerofoil port, cut inconspicuously into a vent below the cone that runs across the full width of the cabinet. Klipsch says the vent design minimizes port noise and distortion and also allows for more placement options. The cabinet officially measures 16.64 x 15 x 24.96 inches (HxWxD).
The new Ceramatallic cone has been redesigned for less distortion and better efficiency. It’s powered by a Class D amplifier with a claimed 600 watts peak power and 300 watts RMS power and a max SPL of 118dB. For comparison, that’s 4dB and 100 watts more RMS power than its predecessor, the SPL-100. The claimed frequency response is an impressive 19-132Hz, reaching down to its lowest register with surprising authority. And numbers definitely don’t tell the full story here.
Deep, powerful bass can be addictive. There’s a reason there are so many cars driving by your house rattling like a space shuttle launch and filling the neighborhood with ear-blasting boom. From your favorite tunes to impactful action scenes in TV shows and movies, Klipsch’s RS-1000SW delivers the kind of thunderous potency in the sub-bass register that pulls you into the action in primal ways higher frequencies just can’t accomplish, and it’s a blast to behold.
I started my evaluation with a favorite demo film, Skyfall. Right from the opening scene, the subwoofer established itself with a startling growl in the lowest regions, lending intense impact to moments like the VWs falling off the train during Bond’s attempts to chase down the bad guy. When he started up the Caterpillar to shield himself from his rival’s radioactive machine-gun fire, I felt a floor-shaking rumble that I’ve not experienced in multiple previous listens. I could feel the machine’s power as though I was in the driver's seat, immersing me in the scene.
Moving further into the film, I was equally impressed by the hefty punch in the percussive soundtrack’s foundational groove and the precision of the rapid-fire 16th notes up above. The Klipsch isn’t quite as tight as the 3000 Micro up top, but it offers a deeper rush of low-end force, and the balance between the two results in a lovely blend of speed, accuracy, and raw power.
I next pulled out my trusty Dark Knight Blu-ray. Again, I felt myself immediately pulled into the action with brute-force strength as the bank robbers blast out the window with a sonic plunge and zipline across buildings. I could feel the violence of the bank manager’s shotgun blasts as he attacks the robbers, pushing me toward the edge of my seat. And all the while, the suspenseful soundtrack pounded with serious gravitas, driving home the palpable urgency as I tumbled down into Christopher Nolan’s gritty vision of Gotham City.
Occasionally, the RP-1000SW’s accentuation of gut-shaking force in the very lowest registers got out of hand, leading to more boom than I wanted in some instances. One such moment happened during my audition of Ant-Man. When our titular hero and Yellow Jacket first fight on the getaway helicopter, there’s an overwhelming warble of low bass that sort of took over the scene. Similarly, when the Imperial starship showed up on Nevarro in The Mandalorian season 3’s penultimate episode, the bassy hum seemed to fill the entire room with ear-smashing buzz with the set below half volume.
It was here that I wished for some EQ in the lower regions so I could tame the deepest bass while keeping the full-throttle punch of the other frequencies. That said, I was able to keep things generally in check by pulling the volume down a level or so, and although I missed some of that extra force elsewhere, it was a solid compromise.
Moving to some of my favorite music tracks, the RP-1000SW once again delighted, showcasing rich and smooth bass that’s nearly as rhythmic and punchy as it is commanding and visceral. The Cerematallic cone did a nimble bit of toe-tapping in The Racountours’ “Carolina Drama,” keeping up respectably with the bass line as it follows the piano in the instrumental turnaround. The sub then turned around and blasted out the lowest part of the main beat in The Weeknd’s “Starboy” with such force and presence I got actual goosebumps.
Throughout my evaluation, the RP-1000SW showed off its mix of unbridled power matched by an equal measure of clarity and definition, sending pulpy blasts of thunder that drew out the more subtle textures in the lowest instruments and effects. The result is a lovely ride that really brings your music and movies up a notch–especially when matched by a great pair of speakers.
One of the toughest parts to square about the RP-1000SW is just how massive it is. Its long length may stick out too much in smaller rooms where stockier 8-inch and 10-inch subwoofers are more common.
The SVS 3000 Micro referenced throughout this review is the 1000SW’s polar opposite in size, offering surprisingly tight and powerful bass from its pair of parallel 8-inch drivers trapped in a stunningly tiny, piano-gloss cube. While it’s pricier and doesn’t dig as deep with the same authority as the RP-S1000W, its minuscule size makes it an attractive companion for smaller rooms, and it offers a ton of ways to tune it to your needs.
Other solid alternatives include the SVS PB-1000 (SVS is the king of subwoofers for a reason), which offers power and versatility at a great price, and Monoprice’s Monolith 12-inch ported subwoofer, which packs a lot of punch for its size as well.
If the RP-1000SW is any indicator, Klipsch’s new Reference Premiere subs are an exciting new prospect in the world of thump. Though the RP-1000SW is monstrous in size for a 10-inch sub, it offers equally monstrous performance, digging deep into the lower regions and doing so with precision, musicality, and detail. I did wish for more ways to tune it, but if you’ve got a modern receiver, this shouldn’t really be an issue. If you’re looking for a clear and powerful sub, and you’ve got the space, the RP-1000SW is an excellent choice.
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