Klipsch R-15PM review:

Powered speakers make viable alternative to a sound bar

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The Good The Klipsch R-15PM is a breeze to set up, and its abundant feature set is buoyed by feisty, solid performance. The phono input will be of interest to fans of vinyl new and old. The speakers are solidly built and attractive.

The Bad The Klipsch R-15PM's sound veers toward the bright side of neutral. If you're using stands it will take a little more effort to hide cabling. For best results, a subwoofer will help.

The Bottom Line The Klipsch R-15PM is a likeable powered speaker offering convenience, lively sound and an abundance of features.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Sound 7.0
  • Value 8.0

When it comes to buying sound equipment, most people either buy a receiver and speakers or an integrated solution like a sound bar. But there is another. A set of powered speakers can be an inexpensive way to incorporate the benefits of both sound bars and separates.

The $499 Klipsch R-15PM offers the connectivity and stereo separation of a receiver-speaker combo as well as the all-in-one simplicity of a sound bar. Sound quality is neck-and-neck with competitors like the less-expensive Audioengine A5+, and the Klipsch's addition of a remote control, and a phono input helps mitigate the price difference.

The Klipsch does have its disadvantages -- for instance, dangling four different connections plus a power cable and a speaker output may get messy when these are sitting on stands, and adding a subwoofer is definitely recommended. However, for this kind of money the RP15PM makes it a refreshing and "proper" hi-fi alternative to the all-in-one sound bar systems you usually see.

Australian and UK pricing and availability are yet to be announced.

Design

klipsch-r-15m-powered-speakers-02.jpg

These new Klipsch R-15Ms are a pair of powered speakers you can add to your audio or home entertainment system.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Given the similarities in the model names, you could reasonably assume the RP-150M and the R-15PM are riffs on the same basic speaker: the former being passive, and the latter a powered monitor (PM). But the R-15PM is a little less than an amp shoved in the RP-150M, though it shares many of the same technologies.

klipsch-r-15m-powered-speakers-02.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The most obvious difference between the two speakers is size. The RP-150M is a medium-size bookshelf speaker (14.57 inches high by 7.67-inches wide and 10.67 inches deep), while the R-15PM shaves off a couple of inches off at 12.5 inches high and 7 inches wide.

klipsch-r-15m-powered-speakers-02.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Both speakers do employ Klipsch's 5.25-inch "Spun Copper Cerametallic Cone Woofer" and a 1-inch horn-loaded Tractrix tweeter, but the R-15PM uses the company's older, less-fancy tweeter enclosure.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Both speakers use the brushed black vinyl wrap also favored by budget speakers like the new ELAC Debut and Uni-Fi ranges. Be aware that these mark and scuff easier than traditional wood veneer/vinyl wraps.

klipsch-r-15m-powered-speakers-02.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The system comes with a credit-card-style clicker, which is fairly easy to use for basic things such as volume and changing the input.

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