The Klipsch R-15PM is smaller than I expected it would be from the pictures. It's a mere 12.5 inches high, but from the front it looks like a near twin of the Klipsch RP-150M monitor speaker I raved about in October.
The R-15PM's inputs and connectors make it obvious that this speaker has built-in power amplifiers. The RP-150Ms don't, they're "passive," so they have to be hooked up to a power amp or a receiver.
You can directly hook the R-15PMs up to your computer, Blu-ray player, cable box, game console or even a turntable, and you're good to go. And not just turntables with built-in phono preamps; the R-15PM has its own phono preamp!
The speaker features a 5.25-inch copper-toned woofer, and a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter mounted in a Tractrix horn (video), just like the horns used in higher-end Klipsch speakers. Horns play a role in maximizing the speakers' sensitivity and dynamic range capabilities. The R-15PM's back has a bass port.
The right channel speaker houses stereo 50-watt-per-channel amplifiers and an RCA subwoofer output jack, an optical digital input, a USB input, a 3.5mm analog stereo input and stereo analog RCA inputs that can be switched to work with either standard line-level sources like a CD player, or with a turntable with a moving-magnet phono cartridge. The R-15PM also features Bluetooth wireless technology; the speakers come with a remote control.
Power to the people
No one would describe the R-15PM's sound as shy and retiring; this little guy kicks butt. Dynamics are lively, rock music had plenty of sock, and the wee R-15PMs trumped the similarly sized, but more fully featured Yamaha NX-N500 powered speakers ($800 per pair) I had on hand. The NX-N500s sounded smaller, less potent and boxy or confined next to the R-15PMs.
Next, I hooked up a U-Turn Orbit Basic turntable ($179) to the R-15PMs and listened to a 45rpm single of Stereolab's "Escape Pod From the World of Medical Observations." The sound was decent, but just a tad lean for my taste, so I decided to turn on the Orbit Basic's built-in Pluto phono preamp and play the 45 again. The Pluto made a nice difference, and the sound took on a more pleasing, fuller balance. The R-15PM's phono preamp is certainly good enough for background listening, but if you're really into vinyl consider investing in a better phono pre. The Orbit Basic turntable with the built-in Pluto is $249.
Back with CDs the R-15PMs' sound was good, I really enjoyed the freewheeling dynamics that no small, comparably priced speaker can match. Stereo imaging was spacious and broad; my only real complaint about the sound was a whiff of sibilance on vocals, and acoustic instruments sounded a little bright.
I wish I still had the slightly larger Klipsch RP-150M bookshelf speakers on hand to compare with the R-15PMs. As memory serves the RP-150Ms sounded more dynamically alive, less bright, and the bass was more powerful than the R-15PMs', but the RP-150Ms lack all of the R-15PMs' connectivity features. The RP-150Ms currently sell for $335 per pair; they'd sound sweet with the Dayton APA100 stereo integrated amplifier ($100). The R-15PMs speakers sell for $499 per pair.
If the simplicity of putting together a bedroom or dorm system where the amplifiers, digital converters, Bluetooth and phono preamp are all tucked away inside the stereo speakers appeals to you, the Klipsch R-15PMs should be on your short list.