Klipsch has an enviable history in speaker manufacturing, having been started in 1946 by Paul W Klipsch, who developed his interest in speakers while working on electric railway locomotives in Chile in the 1930s. These days it’s part of a much larger group, encompassing speaker brands including Heco, Jamo and Magnat, and its latest arrival is the new generation Reference Premiere line, of which the RP-600MII bookshelf/standmount speakers, at £829 a pair, are a part.
Despite their relatively compact size – they stand some 40cm tall – these aren’t the smallest RP-series speakers, but they promise more bass extension and sensitivity than the entry-level RP-500M II model, which is some 5cm shorter and uses a smaller mid/bass driver.
The payoff for the slightly larger design, which will be equally at home on stands or shelves – well, sort of – is a bigger, more powerful sound even when used with modest amplification. If you want to make the most of a small integrated amp such as a Pro-Ject MaiA S3, or an all-in-one streaming system –The Denon PMA-900HNE is a good bet – look no further than these speakers.
This is a thoroughly modern design, but there are plenty of echoes of Klipsch heritage here: for example, the 25mm tweeter, with its Linear Travel Suspension and titanium diaphragm, is vented to prevent distortion and mounted in a silicone horn to control its dispersion, giving crisp, accurate stereo imaging across a wide listening area.
This high-frequency driver is shared across the Reference Premiere range, as is the ‘Cerametallic’ mid/bass driver, here in 16.5cm form, combining a spun metal cone and a ceramic coating for stiffness without unwanted weight, ensuring plenty of low-end punch without sacrificing accuracy.
The low-frequency driver is tuned with a large port in the rear panel of the speaker – and that’s where the ‘well, sort of’ comes in: Paul W Klipsch popularised the use of speakers designed for use in the corners of the room, but the RP-600M IIs need a bit of space behind them and to the sides, or at least positioning on open shelves, if the powerful output from that port isn’t to muddy the sound.
The speakers are beautifully built and finished, although the ‘wood’ finishes here – ebony (black) or walnut – are actually a vinyl wrap rather than real veneer, it’s of a very high quality, and extensive bracing inside to add to the sense of solidity. The grilles attach magnetically, leaving a clean look when they’re removed, there are bi-wiring terminals to the rear with wire jumper cables supplied for single-wire use, and the base of the cabinet is finished with a cork pad to keep the enclosures stable when they’re used on shelves
Used with their grilles off, these speakers definitely have an eye-catching look, thanks to the deep horn in which the tweeter sits and the coppery shine of the mid/bass unit, and they live up to their style with a sound that immediately grabs the attention. Dull they’re not, and while they’ll immediately impress with their ability to pound out big rock and dance tunes even when using a compact amplifier, they’re not all shine and no substance. For all their speed and drive, they’re actually well-controlled and rather refined, and just as capable with the slow movement of a string quartet as they are with a flat-out floor-filler.
A lot of the appeal is in the hands of that excellent high-frequency section, even though you may be marvelling at the way a speaker so small can deliver a huge, weighty sound; the combination of the tweeter design and the horn-loading, produces a focused, clean image in which you can hear performers positioned across the width of the space between the speakers. You may have to angle the speakers in a bit (ie toe them in) for the best stereo image, but with that done there’ll be no shuffling along the sofa to find the point at which the best image appears; in fact, they’re excellent at delivering a fine sense of stereo to several listeners sharing the same couch.
In other words, these Klipsch speakers just about have the lot: they look as dramatic as they sound, with a serious, ‘pro-audio’ look once you have the grilles off, and are as adept playing it loud and proud with some party music as they are when you turn down the level – and the lights – for some gentler late night listening, when their focus and fine integration will transport you to the perfect jazz club or chill-out lounge
You don’t need a huge amp to get these speakers shaking – just about any modest stereo integrated or ‘just add speakers’ streaming system will do, thanks to the high sensitivity here – and they really make the most of what any system has to offer. Fast, dynamic and dramatic, they can also do subtle and refined – just remove the grilles, which soften the sound slightly, and mount the speakers on rigid stands or a hefty piece of furniture for the best results.
Don’t be fooled by the all-American looks: the RP-600M II speakers can do brash attack when you want them to, but they’re also capable of a controlled, delicate sound, with bags of detail and an excellent handling of vocals and instruments across a wide range of musical style
Takagi & Ketra Bubble
Taken from the Italian duo’s EP of the same title, which includes six mixes of the track, this Eurodance outing will show just how fast the Klipsch speakers can track rhythms while still delivering a pounding bass beat.
The Bar-Kays Street Walker
From the much-sampled 1969 Stax classic album Gotta Groove, this is an object lesson in mixing funk with late 60s psychedelia, all thundering drums, charging organ and powerful guitar licks. Add in soaring brass, and you have just the kind of sound these little speakers adore
Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1
Yes, the Klipsch speakers can do classical music too, and here they deliver a wonderfully detailed and dramatic picture of soloist Ingrid Fliter and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, recorded in 2015 for the Linn Records label
Well, the fact they’re a whole load of fun should be reason enough, but the useful extras are that they’ll also flatter modestly-powered amps thanks to decent sensitivity, sound a lot bigger than speakers this small have any right to, and yet deliver superb stereo imaging over a wide listening area. They’re a fine all-round buy.