98dB @ 2.83 volts/1 meter
125 watts maximum continuous (500 watts peak)
8 ohms compatible
Bass reflex via rear-mounted port
Two-way system using one 1" (2.54cm) magnetically shielded, titanium dome compression driver tweeter with a integral 6" (15.2cm) square 90°x60° Tractrix® Horn and two 8" (20.32cm) magnetically shielded, aluminum cone woofers
K-130-DN 1" (2.54cm) Titanium dome compression driver
HIGH FREQUENCY HORN:
6" square 90°x60° Tractrix® Horn
Two K-1122-OB 8" (20.32cm) Cerametallic® cone / cast polymer frame
Two sets of binding post speaker terminals (connected via brass strap jumpers)
40.9" (103.9cm) x 9.25" (23.5cm) x 14.8" (37.6cm)
54 lbs. (24.5kg)
Medium density fiberboard construction (MDF)
Black Ash, Light Cherry wood-grain vinyl
Internally wired with Bandwidth Balanced™ Monster Cable®
I'm sure most of you know that I got into tube gear over the summer. It started with a Dyna ST-70 tube amp and then I got an Antique Sound Lab AQ-2004DT tube pre amp. I love the sound of tube equipments and have always heard great things about tubes and high efficiency horn speakers. Along with the great things, I've also heard horror stories of horn speakers being too bright, harsh and fatiquing. I knew it was going to be a gamble when I get a pair of horn speakers. I was either going to like it or not.
I decided to look into the Klipsch Reference series after I read some positive reviews. The Refrence speakers are pretty much the LSi of Klipsch. The RF-35 is the middle man in the line of tower speakers. There's an RF-15, 25 and the two bigger boys are the RF-5 and 7.
When I was ready, I went down to the nearest Klipsch dealer. They had all the Reference models up to the RF-35. The thing that surprised me at first was their size. I had no idea they were going to be very big. Anyways, I decided to give them a listen. At first the bass was too strong and then I remembered that they have large ports on the back and the speakers were set up to close to the front wall so I ignored the bass and focused on the highs and mids. They were powered by a high end Onkyo and a TOTL Denon DVD/CD player. They sounded very good there in the demo room. I was surprised that I didn't hear bright highs. The mids was warm sounding and the highs was very airy.
After listening to the RF-35, I listened to the RF-25. I was thinking I should go for the 25 because it's much smaller than the 35. But after listening to them I decided I should get the 35. I really forcused on the mids when listening to both speakers. The RF-25 was good but it didn't sound as warm as the 35. The mids was slightly brighter. The bass was very impressive on both models, but the 35 had more slam and dynamics. After hearing the 25 I knew I'd be happier with a pair of 35 and the only thing that wouldn't be happy is my pockets.
I brought them home and set everything up. I had a problem with a woofer on one of the speakers. I brought the speaker back to the store. They sent it out to the nearest repair center and I got it back in 4 days with a new woofer.
The RF-35 looks very expensive with the grilles off. But as you get close to the speakers you will notice that the cabinet is not very good. By looking at it and feeling it, you will know it's vinyl immediately. Those of you who love the build quality of Polk speakers will be dissapointed here. But there is one feature I just love. These speakers have magnetic grilles that snap on and off easily. So with the grilles off you won't see any holes around the cabinet.
I'm running single wire right now with speaker cables in place of the metal jumpers. I haven't tried bi-wiring on them yet.
These speakers are very difficult to set up. I would move them around every night trying to find a spot where they would sound better than the last. They also need a good amount of toe-in. This is probably because the horns are very directional.
I hooked them up to my Dyna amp and ASL pre. The RF-35 are extremely efficient speakers. They are rated at 98db/w/m. My RT800i are 90db/w/m which means that to reach a peak of 110db, the Klipsch will only need 16 watts of power while the RT-800i will need almost 128 watts.
So what kind of sound do you get from high efficiency speakers? Very clean, undistorted and very dynamic sound. Just like a concert. The RF-35 sounds a million times better at home with my gear than the demo room in the store.
These speakers really need to break-in. At first I noticed this sharp sound in the highs and upper mids. It wasn't annoying or distracting but it was there. After about 2 days it was hard to tell anymore, and within one week it's completely gone. Other members on the Klipsch forum noticed the exact same thing. The highs are now very smooth and detailed. The way the tweeter radiates sound is controlled. The horn is 90 degrees vertical and 60 degrees horizontal.
The sound is very different from normal direct radiating speakers. Direct radiating speakers have a mellower sound with less dynamics. The Klipsch is more forward, lively and doesn't sound compressed even during the loudest passages. They are brighter than both my RT800i and LSi9. It's not a bad kind of bright. "Lively" is probably a better word for it. There's also less warmth in the upper mids compared to my previous speakers.
One thing the Klipsch does very well is providing BIG sound. They sound like much bigger speakers with dynamics that can scare the crap out of you. They can play very nicely and suddenly hit you really hard without any strain. You will hear the weight and power of a bass drums and bass guitars. The decay of each instrument can clearly be heard as well.
One form of music they really stand out with is extreme metal like Cradle of Filth, Amon Amarth, Moonspell, etc. They just sound effortless, crystal clear and extremely dynamic on the Klipsch. I was listening to some metal at very high volume a while ago and I got the same feeling I get in metal concerts. Usually when the music builds up to a climax, it sounds like the whole venue is about to collapse from the sheer power and very high volume. I get the exact same feeling with the Klipsch during loud passages. The only thing missing is the bass that that moves the hair on my head.
They perform very well on other forms of music too. While listening to Sarah Brightman, it sounded like she was right there singing in front of me. The way vocals sound on the Klipsch is amazing. The sound has so much presence that it grabs your attention immediately. Her airy voice was sounded very sweet. I really like the way the horn tweeters make your room feel alive. The sound just takes over the whole room and when needed it will pound you! The RF-35 will make your amp sound like it has an unlimited supply of power.
Classical also sounds superb. The dynamics contrast between each instrument can clearly be heard. But again, the "airy" sound makes the big orchestra sound, well....big.
Just like the LSi9, the RF-35 will play to a certain point and then it drops like a brick. I'm guessing the RF-35 begins to drop fast around 40hz. But what you hear over 40hz is amazing impact and dynamics. Drum rolls and double bass rolls sound effortless and they don't skip a beat. IMO a subwoofer is not needed for music.
This is one area that some people would consider a weakness with the Klipsch. The soundstage is there but not as pin-point accurate as Polk speakers. Instead, the sound feels closer and sounds much bigger. It sounds more like a concert than home audio speakers. There's also less depth in the soundstage. The thing that makes up for this is the way it does front to back imaging. Very big sound with a great sense of "air".
I also gave them a good listen with my SS gear. They sound excellent with the ASL pre and NAD amp. The tube smoothness and warmth went through the NAD amp and sounds very sweet with the Klipsch. Again, it sounds like you have an unlimited amount of power and reserves. The highs also sounded very sweet with the tube pre/ss amp combo. It sounds a lot like the ASL/Dyna combo but without the extra air and warmth.
My least favorite is probably the NAD pre/NAD amp combo. I didn't listen to this combo for too long but from what I heard, I didn't really like the highs and the bass was too warm. I still need more time with this set up.
Last night and today I gave them a good listen on the Rotel pre/NAD amp and really enjoyed the sound. Not as good as any of the tube combos but it had a very clean and detailed sound. So far it was better than the NAD pre/NAD amp combo.
The Klipsch Reference series are awesome speakers that far exceeded my expectations. Forget all the horror stories you heard about horns. If you have good gear, they will sound great. If you're looking for a new pair of speakers and want a very big, dynamic and lively sound, give the Klipsch a listen.
Thanks for reading my review. I hope it didn't bore you too much.