Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater System

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Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater System

Post by TNRabbit » Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:58 am

I'll be doing my own review of this system eventually, but with the constraints in my tiny living room, I don't want to color my impressions with the inadequacies of the room. Incidentally, I purchased my system from a local Klipsch dealer (strictly an installer who didn't have anything in stock & had to order everything) for the sum total of $4,200 out the door (over $2,200 less than MSRP).

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The Link:

http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/speake ... ystem.html

...and the text:

Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater Speaker System
by Daniel Kumin • Photo by Tony Cordoza • November 2006


Details:

Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater Speaker System

The Short Form
Price $6,394 (AS TESTED) / klipsch.com / 317-860-8100

Snapshot
A big, powerful system that should make short work of any movie soundtrack, even in near-ballroom spaces.

Plus
•Consistent spread and balance of sound
•Excellent surround-channel function
•Benchmark subwoofer performance

Minus
•RF-83's bass may overwhelm small rooms

Key Features
RF-83
•($2,498/pair) 1.25-in dome compression tweeter with rectangular horn; (3) 8-in woofers; 49.6 in high; 100 lb
RC-64
•($899) 1.25-in dome compression tweeter with rectangular horn; (4) 6.5-in woofers; 33 in wide; 61 lb
RS-62
•($998/pair) (2) 1-in dome compression tweeters with rectangular horns; (2) 6.5-in woofers; 15 in high; 28 lb
RT-12d
•($1,999) 12-in driver, (2) 12-in passive radiators; 800-watt RMS amplifier; 24 x 18.8 x 21.8 in; 71 lb •Finish: gloss-black, cherry, or black-ash wood veneers

As much fun as a monster truck and almost as imposing (but with better bass), the Klipsch RF-83 home theater speaker system is big, heavy, and powerful. It's also unusual in a couple of ways. Klipsch uses advanced, sexy-looking ceramic-aluminum woofers throughout, and bipole — not dipole — surrounds. And these are among the few home loudspeakers today to employ horn-loaded mid/high-frequency drivers.

Horns have several advantages: high efficiency, closely controlled directivity (the sound "spread"), and very even coverage within the speaker's zone. But they're tricky to design for smooth, coloration-free response and require a specialized type of transducer for best results in reproducing both treble and midrange. That said, Klipsch is among the oldest, most experienced makers of horn (or any) speakers still active — the late Paul Klipsch's first product some 60 years ago was a horn design, and the type has keystoned the line ever since. So the RF-83 and its fellows are simply the latest in a long and illustrious line.

SETUP The main challenge here was unboxing and placing an array weighing a grand total of nearly 400 pounds. The RC-64 center, essentially a moderate-size tower speaker on its side, went on my sturdy (fortunately!) stand just below my 50-inch Samsung DLP. The RS-62 surrounds went on high shelves astride the listening zone. The RT-12d subwoofer went in my standard spot just left and behind the left-front tower, a location known from long experience to deliver my room's smoothest bass.

Then there was the question of crossover settings. The RF-83s don't really need a sub for anything much above 40 Hz. On the other hand, set-up full-range with the sub contributing only LFE seemed kind of underkill for a $2,000 subwoofer. More significantly, the RF-83s unfiltered were a touch bass-heavy in my room, so I wound up with a slightly paradoxical 60-Hz crossover, which enabled the sub's variable level (and room-correcting EQ) to help even up the bottom octaves. (In a different room, I would probably try running the front left/right pair full-range, sending only center, surround, and LFE content to the RT-12d.)

Test Bench

The RF-83 system excels with dynamic capability and high sensitivity. The front and surround-channel speakers will play loud with little amplifier power, and all channels have exceptional bass. The subwoofer has Olympic-class bass uniformity (measuring 110 dB SPL at 32 Hz and 105+ dB from 25 Hz and up). Its operating controls work as described, and the room EQ addresses modal irregularities with finesse and understatement.
— Tom Nousaine

Full Lab Results

MUSIC PERFORMANCE Beginning with stereo listening sans subwoofer, I quickly found that the RF-83 is a lot of speaker. It throws a broad, highly detailed soundstage that's remarkably consistent both horizontally and vertically. Comparing it to excellent but otherwise conventional cone 'n' dome speakers revealed a difference beyond any obvious distinctions in tonal balance: Certain "internal" elements, such as reverberant decays or the "edges" of picked strings, were subtly but distinctly more prominent on the Klipschs. This is an effect I've noticed from other horn speakers. You might think it has to do with the lower distortion or greater dynamic potential of a horn-loaded driver — perfectly plausible contributors. But I suspect it's mostly the 60 x 90-degree horn focusing its mid-high frequency output into the listening area so you hear more of the recording directly, disc-to-ear, and "less of the room" than with conventional speakers. Regardless, the RF-83s proved impressively consistent within their wide and unusually tall coverage area. This is that rarity, a speaker whose tonal balance and treble "air" or "bite" change little within, say, any position 15° left or right of center and virtually not at all whether you stand or sit.

I also found, unsurprisingly, that this system was at least 2 dB more sensitive, all around, than my everyday speakers. This means that, in theory, anyway, I could do with perhaps a third less power or expect greater potential dynamic peaks before the onset of amplifier clipping or limiting. In any case, the Klipschs' dynamic abilities were obvious. An SACD featuring superbly recorded rock drums sounded quite stunning, with outstanding transient edges and kick-drum impacts.

Still, in my 3,000-cubic-foot studio, the RF-83 proved a bit of a bass-lover's pizza, delivering helpings of 40-160 Hz that were a bit too rich for my ears. Pulling the towers well away from the wall (almost 6 feet) helped a lot, but put the speakers practically in my lap: My system is placed crossways in the 22 x 16 room to dodge some standing waves. I solved the problem by crossing over the speakers and using the RT-12d's variable controls to balance up the system properly, but observe that, in my room at least (remember, every room is very different), the big Klipschs were probably overkill. Ideally, I think the RF-83s need a room 20 feet or more on its shortest side to show their best.

MOVIE PERFORMANCE

I expected impressive movie performance, and I got it. The RC-64 is a superb center speaker: There's little or no timbral shift as you move from left to right on most voices (deeper males reveal a bit), and its vertical consistency is even better. The tonal match between the center and the RF-83s is a little less perfect — the RC-64 is a bit tighter and leaner in the male-voice regions — but it's close enough to make a superbly well-integrated front stage.

his is a system that fairly begs for blocks to bust. Sahara is a movie of a badness rarely equaled even in Hollywood, but it's got an action soundtrack packed with rip-offs of — er, tributes to — every famous action sequence from Dr. No to Die Another Day. The climactic battle features lots of helicopter-circling, hovering, and zooming. Whirlybirds produce an exposed, repeating wide-band sound that's difficult for systems to keep from audibly localizing to individual speakers as it pans about. But the RF-83 setup was just about perfectly smooth in pans across the front and very nearly as good with movement to the rear. Despite being bipoles and not dipoles, the RS-62 surrounds were almost as non-localizing as the expensive dipoles I use every day, possibly because of the tightly controlled spread of the horns (which were aimed away from the listener in my setup).

The RT-12d sub is a sophisticated beast described elsewhere (see "Triangular Logic"). Here I need say only that it equalled the best subwoofer performance I've heard in my room. Its room-compensation seemed to work: Bottom-end sound was audibly tighter (but no less deep). A quick test-bench scan of the sub's processing, via its line outputs (for daisy-chaining additional subwoofers), showed the correction introduced a broad response notch in the 75-Hz region — about a third-octave higher than the primary modal peak in my room, but it did address the problem somewhat. Sahara's machine-gun and cannon fire slammed with all proper impact, but the soundtrack — even the copter crash — couldn't really bring a sweat to the RT-12d's tri-cornered brow. So I broke out some old standbys, such as the T. rex footfalls in Jurassic Park. Yeow! The earth moved....

Triangular Logic

With the RT-12d, Klipsch aims to outgun the biggest and baddest of 12-inch subs with a design that's highly capable, visually striking, and feature-laden. Its 12-inch front-firing ceramic-aluminum driver is driven by an 800-watt digital amplifier and "vented" via matching passive radiators on the other two sides of its triangular form, making this, technically, a bass-reflex design. Though clearly optimized for corner positioning, the RT-12d looked quite natural in my left-front wall placement.

Klipsch packed in some sophisticated electronics for tweaking the sub, though you wouldn't know. Its only controls are a five-button navigation pad and one-line display on top; all crossover, level, phase, EQ, and other settings are reached here, menu-driven. Unfortunately there's no supplied remote control, so a certain amount of back-and-forthing is inevitable to get it tuned if you're working alone, as I was. However, the RT-12d does have an IR sensor (and a USB port) on its rear panel for connection to custom remote systems. The USB port is also said to allow some advanced room-correction features through optional Klipsch software intended for professionals.

The sub relies on digital signal processing for its filtering and EQ and includes an automatic room-compensation routine accomplished with a supplied test mike. There are three recallable EQ modes ("Punch," "Depth," and "Flat") and five user memories for saving combinations of filter/crossover settings, EQ, and level. Of course, if you use the crossover in your receiver or preamp/processor and set the sub to its LFE (bypass) mode, most of this is moot.

The RT-12d performed brilliantly in my space, taking its place among the best subs I've ever tested (see the above RF-83 system review). Unless you're in a very large room, getting enough deep bass from it is unlikely to be a problem; finding the location that yields the smoothest bass should be your paramount concern. But get help: Because of its unusual shape and integral, carpet-grabbing feet, moving the 71-pound Klipsch about on your own is an invitation to back trouble.

BOTTOM LINE

The Klipsch RF-83 home theater speaker system is hugely capable and well-suited to a serious home theater whose first duty is true cinema-like movie playback. It demands a big room and display: My 50-inch TV looked positively puny flanked by the mighty RF-83s. But in the right setting, these Klipschs could be stunning. Literally.


SOURCE: Sound & Vision Magazine, http://www.soundandvisionmag.com
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From FrankieD's lips to your ears: Sunfire - a quiet box of endless power.

Sunfire TG-IV/400~7 Amp
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Benchmark DAC-1
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Active bi-amp: Ashly XR-1001 & 2 Rane PEQ-15s
Main: HotRodded AL-IIIs
Sub: Klipsch RT-12d
Center: Sunfire CRS-3c
Surround: Sunfire CRS-3 (x 2)

OconeeOrange wrote:"Gary likes to play it 'loud' as do I. His system begs you turn it up until you die"

RIP WIlliam B. Dibble, 1948-2012. I'll miss you my friend.

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Re: Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater System

Post by jjptkd » Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:56 am

How'd it turn out? Do you still have this system?
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Re: Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater System

Post by kingman » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:00 pm

Whaaaa????
In reality, it only matters what it sounds like to YOU!!!

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Re: Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater System

Post by TNRabbit » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:10 pm

jjptkd wrote:How'd it turn out? Do you still have this system?
sold 2 years ago to pay for my attorney~
TNRabbit
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From FrankieD's lips to your ears: Sunfire - a quiet box of endless power.

Sunfire TG-IV/400~7 Amp
Carver SD/A-360 CDP
Benchmark DAC-1
Sony SACD/DVD-A
Active bi-amp: Ashly XR-1001 & 2 Rane PEQ-15s
Main: HotRodded AL-IIIs
Sub: Klipsch RT-12d
Center: Sunfire CRS-3c
Surround: Sunfire CRS-3 (x 2)

OconeeOrange wrote:"Gary likes to play it 'loud' as do I. His system begs you turn it up until you die"

RIP WIlliam B. Dibble, 1948-2012. I'll miss you my friend.

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Re: Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater System

Post by jjptkd » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:51 pm

That sucks, I'm sorry! How'd you like it? I remember reading that review when it came out. I've had the 10" version of the sub and the center channel but none of the other speakers.
Oppo Sonica DAC
Sunfire TG-III
Sunfire 300x2
Klipsch Chorus II

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Re: Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater System

Post by OconeeOrange » Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:50 pm

jjptkd wrote:How'd it turn out? Do you still have this system?

----yet another guy with nothing to do until Football season starts - 8-[

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Re: Klipsch RF-83 Home Theater System

Post by TNRabbit » Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:10 pm

jjptkd wrote:That sucks, I'm sorry! How'd you like it? I remember reading that review when it came out. I've had the 10" version of the sub and the center channel but none of the other speakers.

I actually posted a review somewhere....?
TNRabbit
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From FrankieD's lips to your ears: Sunfire - a quiet box of endless power.

Sunfire TG-IV/400~7 Amp
Carver SD/A-360 CDP
Benchmark DAC-1
Sony SACD/DVD-A
Active bi-amp: Ashly XR-1001 & 2 Rane PEQ-15s
Main: HotRodded AL-IIIs
Sub: Klipsch RT-12d
Center: Sunfire CRS-3c
Surround: Sunfire CRS-3 (x 2)

OconeeOrange wrote:"Gary likes to play it 'loud' as do I. His system begs you turn it up until you die"

RIP WIlliam B. Dibble, 1948-2012. I'll miss you my friend.

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