This week we will be reviewing the famous Klipsch RF-7 MKII floor-standing speakers, the top-of-the-range models from the U.S. brand’s Reference series. These speakers enjoy an excellent reputation, made for home cinema as well as hi-fi use and delivering convincing results with both audiophile tube amplifiers and home cinema amplifiers. Impressive and going beyond any standards, technically and musically speaking, the Klipsch RF-7 MKII benefits from outstanding acoustic solutions. We will go over these features and discuss how this famous model sounds. This test is the integral version of the one published in our winter 2015 catalogue. Our interview with Klipsch’s vice president is available in our Klipsch dedicated section.
The advantages of high sensitivity
One of the main characteristics of the RF-7 MKII is its particularly high sensitivity. While most speakers have trouble delivering sound over 92 dB for 1 W (standard measurement at 1 m), the Klipsh RF-7 delivers 101 dB in the same conditions. By comparison, the maximum level in a cinema room is 105 dB. The Klipsch only needs a few watts to deliver extremely realistic sound. This 9 dB difference is equivalent to a sound level eight times superior for the same amount of power in comparison to a different speaker. In other words, the Klipsch RF-7 MKII requires eight times less power from the amplifier to deliver the same sound level as an average speaker. What is the point of it? An outstanding decrease in distortion level and extraordinarily enhanced musicality.
Very efficient drivers
For the Reference MKII series, Klipsch developed medium/bass drivers with a copper alloy coated ceramic cone. Light and extremely rigid, this membrane suffers almost no deformation and is therefore efficient with low frequencies as well as very precise in the lower-medium and medium ranges. The Klipsch RF-7 MKII is also fitted with two 10″ Cerametallic drivers with a powerful magnet and a high quality voice coil. The speaker’s large dimensions grant an important air volume to the drivers wich greatly benefits low frequency delivery. Two wide circular ports are placed at the back of the speaker and allow a frequency response down to 30 Hz. Enough to make your chest literally resonate to the sound of an organ or explosive action film.
The advantages of the acoustic horn
Let’s talk about the famous Tractric horn, so intriguing yet frightening for whoever experienced this technology in a concert situation. We should immediately mention that the aggressiveness and projection issues are not applicable to the Klipsch RF-7 MKII. In a PA system, a tweeter needs to be able to handle power far superior to what is applicable to a hi-fi or home cinema system, thus explaining the need for a thicker diaphragm, infinitely less rigorous and precise than the mylar dome tweeter of the Klipsch RF7-MKII. For this speaker, the horn is used to enhance the efficiency of the tweeter in medium frequencies and not to boost up the volume to a deafening level. It also allows to reduce the excursion of the cone thus decreasing sound distortion. The diaphragm here is a 1.75? model placed at the bottom of a square resin horn.
We tested the Klipsch RF-7 MKII with a McIntosh MHA100 stereo amplifier and a Pioneer SC-LX57 home cinema amplifier. We used Viard Audio Silver HD12 speaker cables and let the amplifiers’ built-in DAC decode FLAC digital files (CD,HD).
A royal speaker
On paper, the Klipsch RF-7 MKII is not exactly the most discreet floor-standing speaker around. With its 120 cm in height and 40 kg, it is pretty impressive. Yet, its proportions are actually surprisingly harmonious: the two large drivers fit perfectly with the cherry wood of the cabinet and it doesn’t take long to appreciate the aesthetic qualities of this beautiful speaker. If you still hesitate at the idea of adding such large models to your living room, listening to them will quickly dissipate any possible doubt.
Puccini: Turandot – Erich Leinsdorf, Renata Tebaldi, Leonardo Monreale, Orchestra dell’Opera di Roma(FLAC 16/44)
While some speakers have a hard time establishing a credible sound scene, the RF-7 is outstanding of fluidity. A lot of space, a lot of room around solo instruments, the sound stage levelling is as real as it gets. The emissive surface of the horn and drivers probably have a role to play in this sensation of immersion. There is absolutely no sound colouring in the low range, the medium and treble enjoy an equal dynamic capacity. It is impossible to dislike opera with such a sound.
Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 1 In G Minor Laure Favre-Kahn, Les Trilles Du Diable – Nemanja Radulovic (FLAC 16/44)
The micro-dynamic is a real pleasure, from the bow bouncing on the violin’s strings to the crisp attacks delivered with impressive realism. The piano in the back is absolutely etheral.
For All We Know, Chet Baker (FLAC 16/44)
This track is a true test for speakers. The stand-up bass is well articulated and surprises the listener as it dives down in the sound spectrum to deliver powerful and deep string vibrations. Yet, it doesn’t take over the sound of the snare brushes. The different ranges in Chet Baker’s vocals are perfect. The loud trumpet sound is matched brilliantly. We loved every second of it. The same applied to the following track, a cover of Blue Moon, in which the stand-up bass, then drum solo are calling for a very rigorous speaker.
André, Sanseverino (FLAC 16/44)
Violin and guitars dance together without walking on each other’s feet. We start bobbing our head, which is always a good sign
Un autre monde, Le jour s’est levé, Jean-Louis Aubert – Live = Vivant (FLAC 16/44)
A very compressed mix, but the atmosphere is still absolutely convincing. The voice of the artist is delivered with a lot of emotion, the Rs are rolling, vocals quivering… no conventional speaker can boast such liveliness.
Lose Yourself to Dance, Daft Punk (FLAC, 24/88)
Purely addictive track. It’s a real festival, the sound is very strong and goes very low. According to our McIntosh VU meter we are beyond a Watt, impossible to stay put and not want to move to the music. This album is definitely of a technical gem. Despite a relatively important compression, the music is always explosive, yet under control. The bass on Get Lucky is simply amazing.
A royal speaker
The Klipsch RF-7 MKII offers an outstanding sound clarity throughout the whole sound spectrum, even at low volume. Despite what its size may suggest, its sound signature is incredibly soft. Maria Callas, Chet Baker, London Grammar, Led Zeppelin, Beyoncé… this speaker can play any type of music with a great amount of serenity, while respecting the balance of each track with no additional sound colouring. The bass is stupendous and it will surprise the listener without stressing him/her out. No jump scare either with this speaker as the infra-bass level and high-bass level are always well balanced. It goes without saying that you will get a very powerful result if you were to turn up the level. This speaker still properly conveys every aspect of the sound regardless of the level. The mediums are sumptuous (probably the strongest feature on this speaker) and improved by the use of the acoustic horn, which results in an incredible delivery of voices. Despite its relatively important size, the tweeter goes up high with no harshness or projection.
The Klipsch RF-7 MK2 can express itself with absolutely no difficulty in a 30m2 room, but also have the required qualities to expand in larger rooms. A completely polyvalent speaker enjoying a well deserved reputation.
One word about the amplifier one should use with these speakers: although its sensitivity makes it possible to use low-power amplifiers, it is better to use an amplifier with a large power supply. For home cinema purposes, the best is to look into the SC-LX series from Pioneer,Denon AVR-X5200W, Cambridge Azur 751R V2 or Parasound electronics. The same process is applicable for hi-fi use: look for class-A/B or class-A amplifiers, with an important power supply in order to fully enjoy what these speakers have to offer. Our advice would be to consider top-of-the-range models from Marantz, Denon, Atoll, Musical Fidelity, Onkyo, Magnat or Hegel and obviously McIntosh.
In a home cinema configuration, the Klipsch RF-7 MKII speakers can be used along with the centre and surround speakers from the Reference series, just like the Klipsch RF-7 MKII System and Klipsch RF-751 MKII System speaker packs.