Klipsch RF-7 III review & sound test

Klipsch RF-7 III review and sound test

Klipsch RF-7 III is still a wildlife.

  • The dynamics are extreme. The RF-7 III thrives and the sound is better resolved than before, making the speakers even more consistent.
  • It’s tough to be difficult, but it’s also a challenge when the speakers are to be placed. They are not quite as easy as before.

There is little that satisfies more than getting the favorite music served on silver platters, in a super-detailed soundtrack. But instead of focusing on the small details of the music, iconic Klipsch RF-7 makes the Hubble telescope – and gives us the galaxies! For Klipsch, dynamics are about the ability to play the highest and most powerful, with the lowest possible distortion. And that with impressive little requirements for amplification. Put a 50-wat on the RF-7, and you’ll get more fun than what other speakers give with half a kilowatt!

Where the giant Klipschorn costs $20,000 for a pair and takes the place of two large refrigerators, the RF-7 rope model makes much of the same at a far more reasonable price – “only” $5,600 and from the square of two refrigerators of only medium size…

A combination of aluminum and ceramic materials is used in the membranes of two sturdy 10-inch, to give light weight and high stiffness.

Since the first version of RF-7 came almost 20 years ago, it has been the flagship in the Reference series. From there, Klipsch has renewed the series several times, with more or less logical approaches to name changes. The last thing that was done was to split it into two, with a cheap Reference Series and a more expensive Reference Premiere, with better cabinets and components. The RP-280F was until recently the top model, with two 8-inch, where F stands for Floorstander. If the RF-7 was hatched today, it would probably have been called RP-2100F. Each 2100 stands for twice 10-inch bass elements. Plus a zero as only Klipsch knows what means. But wisely, the name has passed, and the speaker is now called RF-7 III.

Hi-Fi in my blood

Ever since I was a little boy, hi-fi has been in my blood. Fatter’n was a bit of a hi-fi nerd, but loved the rock ‘n’ roll and consequently also his JBL L112 speakers. He hated boring sound. I was colored, and after graduation, I used all the money on a plant built around the hard-wearing Cerwin-Vega DC-15.

After the sound engineering studies, I started in 2001 as an aspiring journalist in Lyd & Bilde, which was when I really wanted to be presented for true hi-fi and high-end audio. Loudspeakers and electronics for both five and six-digit amounts stood daily in the test room and gave super-detailed audio experiences.

But no matter how ultra-pure sound I was presented, the memories of the fat old rock speakers never dropped. It turned out to be a difficult move to combine real hi-fi audio with a sound pressure that made the neighbors want to call the police. A bass pressure that almost blows the breath out of a stack, one had to go to a concert to experience, at home in the living room, it should be sophisticated. Did it seem like that?

Revelation

But then one day in 2002, a couple of Klipsch RF-7 found their way into the test room. Large as a refrigerator, two heavy 10-inch basses in each, and with extreme sensitivity. With a 10 watt amplifier, they could run as high as most other speakers need 200 watts to get to! That was madness. Completely raw. The music thundered, with a bass pump that I had not heard for a long time. At the same time, the musicality was in a completely different league than the rock speakers I used to. Klipschene, who could actually play normal music, was a new revelation that redefined what hi-fi could be.

Let go, the cabinet played with, the sound was not the most linear and resolved, and the RF-7 did not sound as low at the sound level as they did when they got up. But it did not matter.

Fortunately, Klipsch chose to update the model when new and improved versions of the Reference Series came. With the exception of an ugly and temporary replacement in the RF-83, with three 8-inch instead of two 10-inch, RF-7 has also been accommodated along newer speaker series. The RF-7 II was a better speaker than the first, and with a more modern look.

Upgraded

After the more expensive Reference Premiere series was launched, once again, you have to update the RF-7. The RF-7 II was too expensive for the less expensive Reference series and does not fit in the Reference Premiere series. However, the RF-7 III has received all the necessary upgrades to become a full member – and thus the new flagship – in the Reference Premiere series.

Firstly, the chassisis stiffer, made of proper furniture fins. This is on a base that leans the speaker two degrees backwards, to better focus the sound towards the listener. The tractrix treble horn is now of the same type as the RP series; around the inside for better focus and dynamics, and square outermost for better spread. Coated with a layer of cast rubber to reduce rancidity at the top.

The RF-7 III has recieved the updated base known from the Reference Premiere series, which leans the speaker two degrees backwards.

Bass elements are now separated into each inner cabinet, for cleaner sound with less standing sound waves. The new titanium compression discant will respond promptly to any command from the amplifier, and with a new phase plug to provide better phase response in the throat of the horn. This for a more linear tweeter, regardless of the sound level.

Finally, the bass reflex ports have the geometry of Tractrix horns, which better connect the energy to the outside air and prevent blistering turbulence.

Two rear bases are shaped like Tractrix horns to more effectively connect the energy to the outside and prevent turbulence.

Crossover

RF-7 III is a two-way construction, which means that the bass elements will also play mid-range. When two big 10-inch play all the way up to where the treble takes over, one has to think about the crossover frequency between them. If bass elements play too high tones, they get poorer spread and with uneven frequency rendering beyond sweetspot. But if the treble must go too far, it can also be problematic and distort.

The first RF-7 went as high as 2.2 kHz, while the RF-7 II lowered the split to 1.2 kHz. In the third and most recent edition, 1.3kHz has landed. This is well below the ear’s most sensitive area (2.5-3.5 kHz), where a phase shift will be especially audible. It also means that the treble element must play relatively deeply, but since a horned compression tweeter does not have to move anything special to produce toner, it should be able to tolerate low.

The new horn is round inward and square outermost, to best combine focus and spread. The outside is coated in cast rubber, to prevent hardness in the treble.

In the pursuit of making a better and more linear speaker, sensitivity has gone a little bit. But relax, it’s still 100 dB with a watts. Put a 20-wat on these, and even a tough speaker like Focal Kanta No.2 needs 160 watts to keep up.

Release the monster!

It’s been a long time since I tested Klipsch RF-7 II and we’ve had many goodies inside the test room since. Do the speakers still get lost? Two words: no doubt.

I will first test this with the sensitivity and connect to the Teac NR-7CD. A complete amplifier with built-in CD player and streaming. Taking the unblown numbers, it has around 2 x 50 watts in 8 ohms, which should be more than enough to blow life Klipschene.

Proper furniture features characterize the latest version of Klipsch RF-7. Available colors are black, cherry tree and walnut.

The Beatles

It is also well on the way. A proof of it is The Beatles’ masterpiece A Day in the Life. An old classic who deserves to be played as high as you can. Well, that’s an old recording. But the dry, slightly too high-blended drums turn deliciously in the body. The voice of John Lennon is heard with a clear wear on the coil but is otherwise ready for the day. And the orchestra eventually comes into an atonal glossando, and which retains its dissonance through the song, sends goosebumps through the body. Even with a moderate amplifier like the Teac, Klipschene fills the room with pleasure.

The dynamics are formidable, and in addition to being alive in the bass, the horndiskant reacts so fast and effortlessly to the high pitches that one believes you are at a concert.

The two bass elements play in each of their internal chambers, to minimize standing sound waves. Photo: Klipsch

Klipsch RF-7 III vs Naim Uniti Nova

However, there is something missing. Because, even though the speakers make the maximum of few watts, things could have been tighter and the bass more rock noise. Well, I also have more powerful shooting available. Naim Uniti Nova is a power amplifier that has no fearsome effect (2 x 80 watts), but when it comes to Naim, we know that it lives more in the products than you read on the paper. As we learned with little brother Atom with only half the effect of Nova.

Greater peace

With Nova connected, the big puppies get a completely different foundation, and become an important part of the percussion. The stereo perspective is better connected, with a greater calm all over. The overtone area is more reluctant. Some will think it’s Naim’s biggest weakness, others that it contributes to a rich and well-tempered sound image. At least there is no doubt that it works very well with Klipsch RF-7 III. Because, even though the treble horn is covered in rubber, it can quickly lean against the hard, but not with Naim.

Party

You can not have Klipsch speakers without playing a party. And what’s more party-like than good old hip hop à la Pharoahe Monch’s Simon Says? The drummer smells succulent and fierce, with stealthy samples of brass blowers. There are simply no fatter speakers, which at the same time take the hi-fi job seriously. At least not at this price. Why do you step up from here, you almost get to Klipschorn and at the same time see all pension savings go out of the window in the same sled.

At one point I had to shout our webmaster, who is also DJ for Karpe Diem. We sat and listened to ear-dying hip hop for over an hour while other workings had to wait. From Ice Cubes Ghetto Bird to newer sounds like Pusha Ts Infrared. It’s impossible not to smile from ear to ear! At the same time, it is clear that Klipsch has learned RF-7 folk practice. It sounds more tidy and linear than previous versions.

Even hotter

But can not it be even tougher? Because although Naim can play very loudly with steel control, I remember how the predecessor got on with Hegel’s greatest amplifier kit: P30 and two H30 connected in mono. And we have the same set still still, so why not?

With 1,100 watts for each speaker, the theory would have to get a sound pressure of 130 dB ear-dusting. I just did not try that. But I pulled up as loudly as I could, without any part of the plant – nor the speakers – breaking down. There was full control, from top to bottom in the frequency register, and with a thundering rhythm that others can only forget.

Finer tones

Now, not many will spend $5,700 on the table for a couple of speakers, just to play pig-high. Then you can buy a pair of Cerwin-Vega speakers or similar, and get far cheaper. With Klipsch RF-7 III, it’s just as good to sound good.

And whether it’s Ed Sheeran’s cassette guitar or Philips Glass’s piano on the menu, the RF-7 III works very well, even at low levels.

Of course, some things are joking. Because these are not perfect speakers, no coloring. There are both more resolved and neutral speakers. And that goes deeper in the bass, with more linear bass tones. One example is the B & W 702 S2, which also takes a lot less space. But then you miss all the clippings Klipsch RF-7 III has to offer.

Klipsch RF-7 III: Conclusion

The iconic Klipsch RF-7 has become even better, and finally fits the appearance of the Reference Premiere series. Thus, the RF-7 III looks more modern than before, and it also improves in a multi-channel system with other family members.

The RF-7 III is at least as tough as before, and has even greater peace of mind. Acoustic music gets better out of it, with better resolution than before.

There are more resolved and correct speakers. But nobody can survive this punch and playfulness, while maintaining calm and musicality at low sound levels. In this way Klipsch RF-7 stands in its third incarnation quite alone.

Specs

  • Type: Two way bass reflex
  • Intermediate bass: 2 x 10 “ceramic metal
  • Treble: 1.75 “titanium / 8.5” Tractrix horn
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB (1 W / 1m)
  • Impedance: 8 ohms compatible
  • Dimensions: 124,5 x 35,2 x 45,4 cm (H x B x D)
  • Weight: 44.1 kg

Klipsch RF-7 III Price: $5,700

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