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Klipsch R-4B review: Decent sound quality and features, but ultimately falls short

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The Good The Klipsch R-4B offers an excellent build quality and a subwoofer constructed of wood instead of plastic. The speaker is capable of decent cinema sound for the money.

The Bad The speaker lacks DTS decoding meaning you need to use PCM digital to play all of your movies. The features count is a little low in comparison to competitors which offer HDMI and wi-fi connectivity. The sound can be a little too bright playing back music.

The Bottom Line The Klipsch R-4B sound bar delivers decent features and sound quality, but better alternatives are available for the same price.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

Shopping for a sound bar to improve the sonics of your television? The sweet spot is around the $400 mark, where you get the best mix of features and performance. You can pay much more, but you don't really get as much of a return for your money, especially when a quality pair of speakers and receiver can be had for under $500. Say, as an example, the ELAC B5 and the Yamaha RS-X279.

The Klipsch R-4 fits in the sound bar "golden zone" at $399, and includes all of the features you'd expect: wireless sub, Bluetooth, optical connectivity. Yet while this was a perfectly acceptable arrangement in previous years, competition has ramped up significantly. Models like the Yamaha YAS-203 and the LG LAS751M have shown that features and sound quality are no longer mutually exclusive at the budget end of the spectrum.

If you're not looking for an exhaustive features list and are already a Klipsch fan, then the R4 carries the company name quite well, but competition is tough in this very lively field, and it's not the best choice for the money.

Design

klipsch-r4-b-10.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The R-4B is the little sibling to the more expensive R-10B we reviewed in 2014, and with the $200 savings come a couple of changes, mostly physical. Both the sound bar and the wireless speaker are smaller than before, and the bar itself is only 3.5 inches tall.

klipsch-r4-b-07.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

While the R-10B was rather macho-looking, the R-4B uses a little less testosterone while still retaining a family resemblance. It's 40 inches wide and contains two 2.5-inch woofers in conjunction with dual 3/4-inch horn-loaded soft dome tweeters. The main speaker houses a readout in the middle with text which, albeit small, is better than the Aldis Lamp-like LEDs that most competitors use.

klipsch-r4-b-02.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The R10 and R20 feature large subs, but the R-4 is more compact, featuring a 6.5-inch woofer inside a 6.3-inch-by-14.2-inch-by-10.4-inch enclosure. It's constructed from MDF instead of plastic and features the attractive brushed vinyl we've seen on other products this year, including others from Klipsch.

klipsch-r4-b-11.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote control is a credit card-style model in the company's bronze and black livery. It includes controls for both the sub and general volume, but like most of kinds of this style of clicker, it's not at all ergonomic.

Features

The R-4B is a 2.1-channel sound bar with a wireless subwoofer that's primarily designed to be hooked up to your TV via an optical cable, or for listening to music streamed over Bluetooth from your smartphone.

Like its brethren, the Klipsch will decode Dolby soundtracks but not DTS from your DVD and Blu-ray discs. The bar isn't a true surround model, but it comes with several modes including Virtual Surround, Voice Enhance and Night Mode.

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