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Klipsch Reference Premiere Review

Verdict

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The Klipsch Reference Premiere is an impressive 5.1-channel system that delivers a big and tonally balanced sound that benefits from exceptional sensitivity thanks to the horn-loaded tweeters. Visually though, these remain an acquired taste.

Pros

  • Great sound quality
  • Exceptional sensitivity
  • Impressive tonal balance
  • Well integrated bass
  • Solid build quality

Cons

  • Horn tweeters not for everyone
  • Sub lacks some depth

Key Features

  • 5.1 speaker packageFloorstanding, centre and surround speakers plus subwoofer
  • Tractrix horn-loaded tweetersDesigned for improved sensitivity and wider dispersion
  • Cerametallic woofersDesigned for improved mid-range response
  • Tractrix reflex bass portsDesigned for deeper bass response

Introduction

The Klipsch Reference Premiere 5.1 speaker system is based around the company’s Reference Premiere Series of home cinema speakers, which includes floorstanders, centre speakers, wide dispersion surrounds, a Dolby Atmos module, and subwoofers. The line-up also boasts audio innovations, better materials, and numerous cosmetic changes.

The range uses Klipsch’s proprietary Tractrix horn technology, where the tweeter is mounted inside a square horn assembly recessed into the front of the cabinet. This approach corrects the difference in air pressure between the tweeter and the air in front of it, resulting in improved sensitivity and better dispersion.

The tweeter itself uses a ceramic magnet housing and venting, combined with a rigid titanium diaphragm. The midbass drivers use Klipsch’s signature copper-spun Cerametallic woofers, while the low-end is given a boost thanks to Tractrix reflex-ports that help minimise distortion and maximise efficiency.

Availability

  • UKRRP: £2900
  • USARRP: $2800
  • EuropeRRP: €2999

The 5.1-channel system reviewed here is built around the £1,149-per-pair RP-6000F floorstander, along with the £499 RP-404C dedicated centre speaker, the RP-500SA surround speakers at £575 a pair, and the £679 SPL-120 subwoofer. As a result, the entire system will set you back a total of £2,900.

Design

  • Distinctive horn-loaded tweeters
  • Excellent build quality
  • Choice of ebony or walnut vinyl finishes

The Klipsch Reference Premiere design might not be to everyone’s taste, with the use of horn-loaded tweeters giving the speakers a somewhat retro appearance. The drivers also have a striking copper colour that stands out against the black satin painted, scratch-resistant baffles.

However, if you don’t like the design aesthetic it’s not an issue, because the magnetic black fabric grilles actually cover the tweeters and drivers. The MDF construction is extremely solid, with copper trim rings around the tweeters and woofers, and a choice of ebony or walnut vinyl finishes.

Features

  • Tractrix horn-loaded tweeters
  • Cerametallic woofers
  • Tractrix reflex-ports
  • Multi-function surround speaker

The RP-6000F is a well-made and nicely finished floorstanding speaker that uses dual 6.5in woofers, combined with a 1in tweeter and a rear port with inner flares to reduce air turbulence and minimise port noise.

Klipsch RP-6000F with its grille off
RP-6000F floorstander

There are dual binding posts for those who like to bi-wire or bi-amp, and each speaker has cast aluminium feet that provide better support and isolation. The claimed frequency response is 34Hz-25kHz, with a sensitivity of 97dB, and 125W of power handling. Each speaker measures 237 x 1006 x 432mm (WHD), and weighs in at 22.2kg.

Klipsch RP-500SA with its grille off
RP-500SA upfiring speaker

The RP-500SA utilises a 5.25-inch mid-bass driver and 1-inch tweeter, and thanks to a clever design it can perform as a surround, height or upward-firing speaker. You simply flip the switch on the rear between Dolby Atmos or surround.

There’s a keyhole for wall mounting, and the binding posts are housed in a recessed area for tidier cabling. These speakers can handle 75W of power, and each measures 173 x 188 x 284mm (WHD), and weighs in at 3.6kg.

Klipsch RP-404C with its grille off
RP-404C centre speaker

The RP-404C centre speaker combines the same 1-inch horn-loaded tweeter with four 4-inch mid-bass drivers – two on either side. This reduces the height of the speaker, which is handy for fitting in front of a TV, but also produces a radiating area equivalent to the two 6.5in drivers used in the floorstanders.

As a result there’s better tonal balance across the front soundstage. The RP-404C is also rear ported, has a single set of binding posts and comes with stick-on rubber bumpers. The claimed frequency response is 59Hz-25kHz, with a sensitivity of 97dB and 125W of power handling. It measures 660 x 144 x 330mm (WHD), and weighs in at 12.7kg.

Klipsch SPL-150 subwoofer
SPL-120 subwoofer

The SPL-120 subwoofer uses a 12-inch long-throw Cerametallic driver designed to complement the other speakers in the Reference Premium range. It’s powered by 300W (600W peak) of Class D amplification, uses a bass-reflex design with a front firing slot, and has a claimed frequency response of 24-125Hz.

The design mirrors the rest of the system, but the black fabric grille attaches using unsightly studs that poke out from the front baffle. The sub measures 374 x 451 x 506mm (WHD), and weighs in at 20.4kg.

Sound quality

  • Detailed, sensitive and efficient
  • Excellent overall tonal balance
  • Soundstage has a real sense of scale
  • Subwoofer could go deeper

The Klipsch Reference Premiere 5.1 speaker system’s big selling point, and that of most other Klipsch products, is the use of horn-loaded tweeters for improved sensitivity. This is an area where these speakers really excel, retrieving exceptional amounts of detail and not requiring huge quantities of power to be driven effectively.

In addition to their sensitivity, these speakers also deliver an impressive overall soundstage that benefits from their excellent tonal balance due to the use of identical tweeters and drivers. As a result, when effects are steered from one speaker to another there’s a seamless fluidity to the movement combined with remarkable cohesion.

Klipsch RP-6000F with its grille on

There’s also an undeniable sense of scale thanks to the three large speakers at the front of the room. As a 5.1 system all the speakers are engaged, with the surrounds spreading the audio across the rear of the room, and the subwoofer filling in the lower frequencies as it crosses over seamlessly with the floorstanders.

The sub doesn’t dig quite as deep as competing models, but the added weight of the floorstanders ensures some impressive bass extension. The excellent centre speaker not only integrates perfectly with those big floorstanders, but also delivers clear and focused dialogue that’s anchored to the images on screen.

Klipsch RP-404C with its grille on

All these strengths were put to the test by the film Men in Black’s excellent sound design. When a floating ball zips around uncontrollably, it provides plenty of opportunity for effects to go from speaker to speaker. The delivery is admirably precise, with sounds of damage clearly emanating from various points in room, as the whizzing ball zooms seamlessly around the soundstage.

The sense of scale is best demonstrated when a flying saucer crashes. There’s a genuine sense of size and weight as it flies around the room before exploding and impacting with the ground, producing an earth-shaking sonic shockwave. The floorstanders retain plenty of depth on their own, and the sub goes commendably deep, ensuring you actually feel the saucer slamming down in front of you.

Klipsch Reference Premiere lifestyle system

The sensitivity of the speakers and their ability to resolve the smallest detail was put to the test with A Quiet Place. The soundtrack is filled with subtle aural cues such as insects, breathing and footsteps. The Klipsch pulled all of these tiny acoustic details out of the mix and reproduced them with unerring accuracy, while also generating plenty of dynamic range in the louder moments.

Black Hawk Down demonstrates the system’s ability to create a convincingly immersive soundstage, with helicopters flying around the room, while the score is rendered across the front with a pleasing musicality. The high frequency sound of gunfire and shell casings tinkling to the ground are incredibly realistic, as is the effect of rubble falling all around you as buildings explode.

Klipsch RP-500SA with its grille on

The excellent centre speaker delivers plenty of width, while also resolving dialogue clearly. The surrounds ensure the rear channels spread out, filling the spaces behind and to the sides as bullets ricochet around the room and explosions rip through the walls. The effective integration of the sub ensures explosions heavy machine-gun fire hit with plenty of low-end impact.

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Should you buy it?

If you want a soundstage that’s detailed, tonally balanced and has a real sense of scale then this powerful system is ideal

If you want deeper bass you might consider a different subwoofer, and horn-loaded tweeters aren’t for everyone

Final Thoughts

Klipsch has been making speakers for nearly a century, and this Reference Premiere 5.1 system clearly demonstrates that accumulated knowledge, even if the proprietary horn technology looks a bit dated. These speakers deliver an impressive sense of scale thanks to cabinets that are unashamedly big, and a performance that enjoys an American boldness.

The subwoofer lacks a little depth, but the overall soundstage has cinematic scale and excellent tonal balance. The delivery also retains a remarkable level of detail and sensitivity, so if you’re looking for speakers capable of delivering the highs and lows of a modern blockbuster without requiring excessive power, this particular system makes perfect sense.

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How we test

We test every surround speaker package we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Used as the main sound system for the review period

Tested with Atmos discs

FAQs

Does the Klipsch Reference Premiere system support wireless connectivity?

No, this is a traditional surround sound system that uses wired connections to connect its speakers

Full specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
Manufacturer
IP rating
Weight
Release Date
Model Number
Driver (s)
Front Speaker (Dimensions)
Subwoofer (Dimensions)
Centre Channel (Dimensions)
Height Module (Dimensions)
Colours
Frequency Range
Sensitivity
Subwoofer?
Speaker Type

Full specification

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
Manufacturer
IP rating
Weight
Release Date
Model Number
Driver (s)
Front Speaker (Dimensions)
Subwoofer (Dimensions)
Centre Channel (Dimensions)
Height Module (Dimensions)
Colours
Frequency Range
Sensitivity
Subwoofer?
Speaker Type

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