Published On: February 28, 2024

Klipsch RP-400M Bookshelf Speakers Review: Compact and Capable

Published On: February 28, 2024
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Klipsch RP-400M Bookshelf Speakers Review: Compact and Capable

Klipsch Speakers are an excellent choice for anyone looking to get the most out of their music.

Klipsch RP-400M Bookshelf Speakers Review: Compact and Capable

By Author: Mark Henninger
I’m an AV enthusiast, equipment reviewer, photographer, videographer and drone pilot. I’m also a THX-trained video calibrator with extensive experience reviewing consumer displays including TVS, projectors, monitors and smartphones.

As one of the most recognizable and long-lasting brands in the speaker business, Klipsch knows a thing or two about how to build a great speaker that offers capability and value.

The Reference Premiere line is the company's modern high-performance line of speakers, with a wide array of models, affording many options in size and capability. And the starting point for Reference Premiere—the least expensive option—are the speakers featured in this review: The RP-400M ($399/pair), which were released in 2018.

This model enjoys immense popularity, thanks to its small size, approachable price, good looks, and great performance. Here is proof you don't have to sacrifice quality when you're looking for compact speakers. Reference Premiere RP-400M offers high fidelity in a small package and is perfect for tight spaces. A pair delivers the rich, full sound you expect from Klipsch.

Features and specifications

Klipsch Reference Premiere bookshelf speakers have horn-loaded titanium-dome tweeters and "Cerametallic" ceramic-aluminum woofers in the signature copper hue.

The tweeter is housed within a Klipsch "Tractrix" horn, which is a squared-off design with equal amounts of horizontal and vertical dispersion: 90 degrees in each axis. The 4" woofer crosses over to the tweeter at 1500 Hz, and the speaker's overall frequency response is rated by Klipsch as 52 Hz - 25 kHz.

Klipsch RP-400M 2 speakers

These speakers play loud but take it easy on your amplifier. Sensitivity is specified at 93 dB, 2.83V/1m. But there is a technicality: It is an in-room figure which is how Klipsch has measured sensitivity since before anechoic chambers ever existed. The anechoic sensitivity of Klipsch speakers is typically a few dB lower so keep that in mind compared to the sensitivity of other speakers.

These bookshelf speakers are 8 ohms-compatible, meaning they'll work with any amp, and power handling is listed at 50 W continuous with 200 W peaks, which covers a broad range of amplifier options.

Here's a bit of speaker physics 101: with a compact bookshelf speaker like the RP-400M, the woofer decides sensitivity. That's not to say that the horn doesn't help with the efficiency of the tweeter, it does: This tweeter does not have to work very hard, which minimizes distortion and practically ensures you'll max out the woofer before the tweeter reaches its limits.


While there are many power options for an easy-to-drive pair of speakers such as these Klipsch, I used an Onkyo AVR: The 7.2-channel TX-NR6100 ($799.00).

Using a 7-channel AVR run a single pair of bookshelf speakers is not nearly as crazy as it may seem. It is technically 'overkill' for the task, but it packs in a ton of additional capability including a full range of music streaming options, plus room correction.

When you use an AVR for simple stereo, the power supply only has to feed the two channels you are powering, and that means the AVR can achieve a higher power output than with all speakers making sound at once.

The TX-NR6100 AVR is 100 W/ch into 8 ohms with 0.08% THD (20 Hz - 20 kHz at half power), but it only applies to running it as a stereo system.

Besides offering a lot of power to drive a pair of speakers, a 7.2-channel AVR is a great choice if you plan to expand your system with additional speakers in the future, for example adding subwoofers and creating a surround sound system.

As an example of where you could go with it, two pairs of RP-400M, plus an RP-400C center and an R-100SW subwoofer make for a tidy and robust 5.1 speaker system. And a pair of RP-500SA ($699/pair) added to it creates a 5.1.2 Atmos configuration.


The Onkyo is more than capable of driving these Klipsch to the limits of their potential. That's the great thing about the RP-400M being a part of the Reference Premiere line, it is aesthetically and sonically a perfect match for all the other speakers in the series.

For this review, I simply hooked the speakers up to the Onkyo with a pair of speaker cables, at first with no sub or surround sound in the mix, just a classic stereo system and some good music, and me sitting in the middle, positioned so I can properly experience their soundstage and imaging. This offered a glimpse of their raw performance.

But, since bass is not the strong suit of a small bookshelf model, and these speakers seem so suitable for home theater applications, I also wanted to glean how they do in a 2.1 configuration, plus as part of a full surround-sound system.

Klipsch RP-400M Speaker

In this case, I used the RP-400M as front left and right speakers, in a system that includes a dual-opposed 12" sub and does 5.1.2 Atmos, albeit with a phantom center channel. I'm not a big fan of center channel speakers and rely on phantom center and good imaging, all the better to judge how these Klipsch handle movie and video game sound.

Klipsch speakers are an excellent choice for anyone looking to get the most out of their music for a reasonable investment. What you get out of them is hours upon hours of listening pleasure.

Do you want to know what happens when you pair Klipsch speakers with a great album? You get drawn into the music, it emotionally engages you. That's because if there's one thing that compact bookshelf speakers can do—that makes up for their comparative lack of bass—it projects a hyper-precise soundstage. And arguably, the woofer in this bookshelf has acoustic characteristics typically associated with a midrange driver, including a wide dispersion pattern that should be easier to match up with the tweeter.

From the opening notes of "Get Lucky" to the thumping bass of " Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", Daft Punk's tracks are brought to life with crystal clarity. Klipsch's impeccable imaging and the focused soundstage create a listening experience that you would not expect from speakers this size or price.

With these speakers, instruments, and vocals seem to float in mid-air, moreover these holographic "sound objects" have the proper scale and texture to create a believable audio illusion that you are hearing an actual performance. And like any proper audiophile speaker, these Klipsch can effectively disappear, so that none of the sounds in the mix appear to come directly from the speakers. The main catch with this pair is the modest bass response. Given the bass-heavy nature of the music I like, they truly beg for a subwoofer.

And once you go 2.1 with a pair of these, their quality becomes even more apparent.


Klipsch RP-400M Bookshelf Speakers provide clear, dynamic, and musical sound. They are a crowd-pleasing favorite and their popularity is easy to understand. These speakers are perfect for rock and electronic music, as well as jazz, classical, and for that matter any other genres you like. The only question, in my view, is what subwoofer to pair them with. But, even without a sub, they will work hard to deliver punchy-sounding tunes.

The versatile design of these Klipsch speakers makes them perfect for home theater setups, or as part of a music system. You'll love the clear, balanced sound they produce. They have good imaging and powerful dynamics considering their compactness, making them perfect for any home audio system where a compact bookshelf speaker is the right fit.

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