Klipsch RP-5000F, a tower speaker to be reckoned with
The Audiophiliac kicks back with one of Klipsch’s more affordable tower speakers.
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.
The Klipsch Reference Premiere 600M bookshelf speaker was my Speaker of the Year for 2018. I'm still coming to terms with how remarkable that speaker is, but the question was raised, why not try a Klipsch tower speaker? As I scanned the offerings I was drawn to its Reference Premiere 5000F. Priced at $750 a pair it's not all that much more expensive than the $550-a-pair RP 600M, but by adding another woofer and a larger cabinet, those are differences you can literally feel with the RP-5000F. This bad boy can shake a room and your booty!
The RP-5000F's front baffle is decked out with a 1-inch titanium tweeter and a pair of 5.25-inch spun copper Cerametallic woofers. The tweeter is mounted in a Tractrix horn, which is a specialty of Klipsch. The horn focuses the acoustic power of the tweeter so it can be tapped much more efficiently, and the tweeter's output is greatly increased.
The speaker is remarkably sensitive, 96 dB @2.83 volts/meter), that's a lot higher than average. The high sensitivity allows the RP-5000F to use less power to play at a given volume level than most speakers. So it will sound great with low power amplifiers and still sing with high power amps. Impedance is rated at 8 ohms (compatible).
The RP-5000F is a ported design, but instead of the usual round port, there's a rear baffle mounted Tractrix port shaped like the tweeter's horn. Below that, I liked that the bi-wire speaker cable connectors felt sturdy. The bottom of the cabinet features outrigger feet to enhance stability and decrease the chances it will accidentally tip over. The RP-5000F's stout medium-density fiberboard cabinet measures 36.1 x 8.2 x 14.4 inches, and it weighs a manageable 37 pounds. Finish options run to Ebony, Walnut (both are vinyl), and piano black. My review samples faux walnut finish which was attractive. Cloth grilles are provided, but I never took them out of the box, I think those copper drivers look cool.
I teamed the RP-5000F speakers with a NAD C 316BEE and Cambridge Audio AXA35 integrated amps with an
205 Blu-ray player for almost all of my listening sessions.
The liveliness is the first thing you notice about the sound, the RP-5000F lets music cut loose, and that sort of vividness is addicting. While it's just a skinny, 36-inch tall speaker I'd still classify it as a small tower. Klipsch makes a bunch of larger models, but the RP-5000F might be the sweet spot for buyers who need some potency to the music and/or home theater.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers The Live Anthology set was a joy to listen to. The RP-5000F is the sort of speaker that encourages loud volume sessions, mostly because it never sounded strained when Tom and the boys rocked their hearts out. The softer acoustic tunes fared just as well, in either case, the RP-5000F was always coasting. An RP 600M couldn't match the RP-5000F's bass power and dynamic slam, not by a long shot.
Jazz alto saxophonist's Lee Konitz' Billie Holiday tribute album, Strings for Holiday, sounded lovely. Konitz's breathy and soulful sax was accompanied by a small string chamber ensemble. Stereo imaging was big and spacious.
Compared with the JBL Stage A170 tower speaker I reviewed in late June the RP-5000F's sounded more immediate and clearer. The A170 countered with a richer tonal balance, the RP-5000F's midrange was more neutral, more accurate, and the treble had more sparkle and brilliance. The A170 was more laid back, it sounded hazier than the RP-5000F.
The spikey rhythms punctuating The National's I Am Easy To Find album had more transient energy over the RP-5000F, but the A170s warmer sound might be preferred by some listeners. One thing's for sure, Matt Berninger's baritone vocals were easier to follow over the RP-5000Fs. Overall, I preferred the RP-5000Fs for their superior transparency, but there's something to be said for the A170s sweeter presentation.
The Klipsch Reference Premiere 5000F makes a strong case for speaker buyers trying to decide between bookshelf and tower speakers. Small speakers can be good, but great towers like the RP-5000F handily trump the smaller ones in terms of power, deep bass, and dynamics. Listen to a pair and you'll see what I'm talking about.