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Klipsch RF-62 II review: Speakers for those about to rock

The Klipsch RF-62 II floorstanders are the speaker equivalent of a 1970s American muscle car--big, fun and brash.

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Ty Pendlebury

Editor

Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

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Steve Guttenberg

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.

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4 min read

Wander into the home theater section of any electronics superstore and you're pretty much guaranteed to see two things: Yamaha receivers and Klipsch speakers. Klipsch has been cranking out speakers since the 1940s, and models like the RF-62 II still use several of the company's key concepts, including the horn-loaded tweeter.

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7.8

Klipsch RF-62 II

The Good

The Klipsch RF-62 II is a large two-way tower speaker ideal for high-impact home theater and hard rock, EDM, reggae and hip-hop. Bass is plentiful, and dynamic range impact is as good as it gets for speakers in this price class.

The Bad

Overwhelming for small rooms; acoustic music lacks refinement.

The Bottom Line

The Klipsch RF-62 II floor-standers are the speaker equivalent of a 1970s American muscle car -- big, fun and brash.

It's no surprise the RF-62 II is a monster, both in its ability to rock! and in terms of sheer physical size. If you want to get the party started, these are the speakers to get it done. They have a very crisp top end and so much bass you probably won't know what to do with it (there are no port bungs to rein it back, unfortunately). While they can be subtle -- we had a very pleasant hour listening to the acoustic folk-rock of "Awayland" by Villagers -- their forward nature can make thin-sounding material excessively steely.

While they're not the most accurate speakers around, they are exceptionally fun and definitely capable of better bass than our favorite stand-mounter, the B&W 684 S2. If you like your hip-hop, action movies and metal to sound big, these are the speakers to investigate.

Design and features

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Sarah Tew/CNET

While many speaker manufacturers use wave guides to control the directivity of tweeters, Klipsch has built its reputation on its horn-loaded tweeters since the company's inception in the middle of the 20th century. Think of the outdoor speakers you've seen at any race track, the ones with the giant horns, and you'll know the technology we're talking about. The advantage of horn-loading is that you increase the efficiency of the speaker, which in the case of the Klipsch RF-62 IIs means you can turn them up louder.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The Klipsch RF-62 II features the proprietary Tractrix Horn tweeter in addition to two 6.5-inch "Cerametallic" woofers and boasts a frequency response of 35Hz-24KHz (± 3dB). The woofers are brown in color and contrast nicely with the black plastic and wood finish of the speaker cabinets. The Klipschs feature a removable cloth grille on the front and offer a choice of rubber supports or spikes on its front and funky external rear mounts.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

These cabinets are larger than most at 40 inches tall and a generous 8.5 inches wide. They'll need some space too, due to the two bass ports on their backside, so try to leave a few feet of clearance between the wall and the speakers.

Performance

The Klipsch RF-62 II is a big speaker; we assure you no pint-size speaker or sound bar can ever come close to sounding as powerful. Crank this bad boy up, feel the sound, and then crank it up a lot more -- the RF-62 II will take it all in stride. Home theater bombast, EDM, hip hop or rock & roll; they all sounded great at low, medium or silly loud volume. A NAD C 356BEE, 80-watt-per-channel stereo integrated amp supplied the get-up-and-go for all of our listening tests.

We started with the Rolling Stones' newly released "From the Vault: Hampton Coliseum" Blu-ray and bassist Bill Wyman's rock-solid foundation was the first thing we felt. Man, these speakers go nice and low; definition is very decent. Meanwhile, Charlie Watts' drum kit sounded live.

The RF-62 II did such a great job bringing this 1981 concert back to life, we pitted it against a pair of PSB Imagine X1T towers, and the differences between the two towers were hard to miss. The X1T is more midrange forward, and there was a lot less bass and treble detailing. It sounded more in-your-face and immediate, so vocals, guitars and drums popped more.

On the other hand, the X1T wasn't as credible a rock and roller because it couldn't match the dynamics and low-end muscle of the RF-62 II. We preferred listening to the X1T at a more moderate volume level than the RF-62 II.

We also had a pair of SVS Prime Towers on hand, and they were significantly more see-through transparent than the other towers, but they were no match for the RF-62 II's bigger bottom end.

Listening to Lucinda Williams performing Bob Dylan's tune "Tryin' To Get To Heaven" on acoustic guitar, the RF-62 II's soundstage was dimensionally flatter and smaller; the X1T generated more depth and Williams' vocal and guitar sounded more life-like. With jazz saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom's "Sixteen Sunsets" high-resolution Blu-ray, the X1T did a better job on the sax; acoustic bass definition topped the RF-62 II's, which was overly bassy and full.

The CNET listening room's moderate size may have contributed to that impression to some degree; in larger rooms the RF-62 II's generous bass output might be put to better use. Again, the Prime towers cut a better balance of clarity, dynamics and wide-open stereo imaging than the other two speakers.

Annie Lennox's new "Nostalgia" album has real orchestral strings, but they sounded like synthesizer strings over the RF-62 II, and more like the real deal over the X1T. With classical music, the RF-62 II's sound was too brash and overly bassy.

Moving onto two-channel home-theater trials with the "Black Hawk Down" Blu-ray, the RF-62 II pulled well ahead. Their considerable dynamic range and brute force dynamic punch was felt when a helicopter was brought down, the X1T sounded comparatively small and feeble. The Prime tower can't match the RF-62 II's room-shaking skills, but its vivid presentation makes up for any low-end losses. Not that the Prime Tower's bass is lacking, just that the RF-62 II has a fuller sound.

Conclusion

At this price it's hard to think of a speaker that does "big" in quite the same way. The Klipsch RF-62 II has a lot of personality; it's gutsy, powerful and exciting, but it does lack refinement. Its big sound will be a plus for rock and home-theater fans, but overall we prefer the SVS' more versatile character.

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7.8

Klipsch RF-62 II

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Sound 8Value 7