This week we reviewed the Klipsch RF-7 MKIII floorstanding speaker, the iconic model from the American manufacturer. This third version stands out from the Klipsch RF-7 MKII due to its use of a brand new acoustic horn and tweeter. The RF-7 is back to our delight. It is fitted with a brand new titanium tweeter and featuring an acoustic horn with molded-rubber lining. While the RF-7 MKIII is already off to a good start, it has many more tricks up its sleeve.
Klipsch RF-7 MKIII: some convincing arguments
If there is one thing that we like at Son-Vidéo.com, it is when the new version of a speaker is heavier than its predecessor. It shows that the manufacturer is not coasting on the reputation of an earlier model and didn’t start skimping on construction quality and using cheaper components to save money. The RF-7 MKIII felt like a quality loudspeaker right out of the box. It weighs 45 kg (99 lbs), which is 5 kg (11 lbs) heavier than the RF-7 MKII. Klipsch is quite open about this new design. The cabinet was reinforced, some parts benefit from an extra layer of plywood, and the drivers are fitted with larger magnets. In other words, all meaningful improvements.
Klipsch RF-7 MKIII: a unique model
The Klipsch RF-7 MKIII stand out from the other metallic cone model. The Cerametallic mid-bass drivers (metal and ceramic cone) used for the RF-7 MKIII are 10” (25 cm) models -which represents a 50% size increase of the emissive surface. It cannot be emphasized enough; the emissive surface is an essential component to ensure quality sound restitution. The greater the emissive surface, the better the separation of frequencies -given that the drivers are kept under control. A large driver naturally benefits from a lower resonant frequency, which results in an extended response in the lows and ensures a natural authority.
Klipsch RF-7 MKIII: some serious assets
If you are familiar with Klipsch subwoofers, you are probably already aware that certain models (Klispch R-10SW) are fitted with 10” Cerametallic drivers. It is important to note that the drivers used for the RF-7 MKIII are very different. The coil is different, the cone is thinner, and the surround was revamped. The 10” drivers of this floorstander were designed to ensure precise bass delivery but also to efficiently cover mids and low-mids. The drivers used for subwoofers are not capable of covering such a wide frequency range as their weight limits their scope to very low frequencies.
Klipsch RF-7 MKIII: dual chambered enclosure
Another notable feature which sets the Klipsch RF-7 MKIII apart from the other Klipsch speakers is its dual chambered enclosure design. Each driver is loaded in a dedicated chamber fitted with an exclusive bass-reflex port. Since the drivers are not in the same chamber, they do not affect each other’s sound restitution. Concretely, the sound waves coming from the back of driver A (notably the mids) do not reverberate inside the cabinet and affect the cone vibrations of driver B.
Thanks to its two 10” drivers, the Klipsch RF-7 MKIII speaker has the ability to deliver lows down to 32 Hz and benefits from a fantastic sensitivity rating. In other words, this speaker can sing even with a modest amount of power, although a powerful amplifier is strongly recommended. The 10” Cerametallic drivers were entirely redesigned with the Klipsch MKIII in mind and their response in the mids was optimized.
The speaker’s sensitivity rating drops by 1 dB at 1 kHz compared to the MKII and therefore ensures a softer sound restitution.
The star of the Klipsch RF-7 MKIII is its tweeter. While all the other smaller floorstanders from Klipsch are fitted with a 1” titanium dome tweeter, the RF-7 MKIII features a 1.75” model, which has a significant impact on its sound signature. The resonance frequency of this brand new compression tweeter was lowered to enable it to cover lower frequencies (1300 Hz) without resulting in harsh sounding overlapping frequencies (caused by the combination of the tweeter and mid-bass drivers). This 1.75” model is loaded in a brand new acoustic horn featuring a special molded rubber coating for both its mouth and throat. The acoustic horn was designed to eliminate interference inside the acoustic horn and to ensure softer sound restitution.
This new acoustic horn ensures improved sound dispersion: 90×90° versus 90×60° for the previous model. As a reminder, the main advantage of using an acoustic horn is to mechanically amplify the mids (not the highs), in order to lower the vibrations of the dome and minimize the distortion rate. Moreover, less power is required from the amplifier due to the natural sound amplification, which further reduces the distortion rate.
The Klipsch RF-7 MKIII floorstanding speaker has a frequency response of 32 Hz – 25 kHz (+/- 3 dB) for a staggering sensitivity of 100 dB @ 2.83V / 1M. Its power handling is 250 W RMS, 1000 W peak power.
Test conditions and listening impressions
We listened to the Klipsch RF-7 MKIII using the Hegel H190 and McIntosh MA252 stereo amplifiers. We listened to FLAC files (streamed via DLNA protocol by the Hegel amplifier) and watched movies with DTS and PCM soundtracks (mixed in stereo by our LG OLED TV). We connected the speakers to the amplifier using Viard Audio Silver HD12 HP cables.
The Klipsch RF-7 MKIII is more easy-going than the MKII, which only makes it more attractive. Far from delivering a bland sound, this speaker is designed to guarantee an astonishing respect of the signal phase. In other words, a sound in mono (lows, mids, or highs) is placed right between the two speakers. It is impossible to complain about this speaker’s directivity, a common flaw for speakers using an acoustic horn, thanks to a wide sweet spot between the two speakers. Voices are centered when they need to be and completely separated from the background. This is one of the RF-7’s many impressive features which benefits both films and music.
The soundstage is wide, remarkably spacious and it feels great. The RF-7 MKIII inspires the listener to sit down in front of the speaker to embark on a vibrant musical journey. Whether you are listening to jazz, opera, or rock music, each instrument is clearly defined, every vocal inflexion is heard, and the notes benefit from a long, natural fade out.
IThis Klipsch RF-7 MKIII speaker is stunning, even at low volume. While the speaker is physically massive, we quickly understood that its large stature was not just for delivering commanding sound. The lows are substantial only when necessary.
Let it be said, the Klipsch RF-7 MKIII is able to extract a fantastic amount of detail from movie soundtracks. The absence of a center speaker is unnoticeable. The sounds that should be in the center of the stage are right where they are supposed to be and the restitution is spacious at all times. Voices are exceptionally clear and natural. The Klipsch RF-7 was designed to deliver impressive lows and pack a stunning punch. We watched a few excerpts from Jurassic World and Pacific Rim (we would be hard-pressed to find more demonstrative soundtracks) and the delivery was simply sensational at high volume. Nevertheless, the restitution maintained its delightful breadth and serenity.
Lows: extremely responsive, with more energy in the infrabass than in the high-lows. We were often astonished by how precise the restitution was in the lows.
Mids: the low-mids are a bit shy but the energy is skillfully balanced between the mids and high-mids. The micro-dynamic range is remarkably restituted.
Highs: a lot of energy kept well under control. The harmony between the highs and the mids is exceptional.
Sound stage: amazingly spacious and well constructed, even at very low volume.
Timbre: the RF-7’s Achilles heel is the limitation imposed by the metallic cones. While instruments sound precise and accurate, the delivery of the notes may be a bit cold at times, which can prevent a full immersion for some.
Klipsch RF-7 MKIII: compared to …
Klipsch RF-7 MKII: the RF-7 MK3 sounds softer and is less directive. It also inherits its dynamic qualities from its older siblings. The Klipsch RF-7 MKIII has the advantage over its competitor.
Focal Kanta n°2: the Focal Kanta n°2 has a more organic sound signature and is warmer in the mids, though less dynamic. The Focal speaker is not quite as energetic in the highs. It also suffers from a few phase issues and has trouble building a realistic soundstage. The Klipsch RF-7 wins this round.
Tannoy Legacy Cheviot: the Tannoy speaker is refined and warm, and offers a classic and pleasant balance. The British brand designed a speaker whose subtle tone restitution is capable of inspiring an emotional response. Although the infrabass is not quite as convincing as with the Klipsch speaker, the high-bass is a lot richer. Moreover, the Klipsch RF-7 MKIII benefits from a more spacious soundstage. Although these two speakers are two completely different beasts, the Tannoy speaker is the way to go if you are looking for an intense listening experience.
Klipsch Forte III: the Forte III boasts an exemplary balance between the lows, mids, and highs, and offers a warmer and more harmonious sound restitution than the RF-7 MKIII. The Forte III also benefits from an extended dynamic range. The RF-7 MKIII has the advantage when it comes to soundstage depth, but the Forte III takes the lead on all the other aspects, including when it comes to finish quality.
Klipsch RF-7 MKIII: conclusion
What we liked:
- The clear and soft sound restitution
- The 3D soundstage
- The deep and precise lows
What we would have liked:
- A warmer sound restitution.
The new Klipsch RF-7 MKIII is clearly a step-up from the MKII: softer sound signature, better balance, easier to listen to, and just as impressive. The RF-7 MKIII can be paired up with a more modest amplifier, as long as it ensures solid lows in order to maintain the speaker’s balance. The ideal solution is to pair the speaker with a 2×80 W class AB amplifier, at least (Rega Elicit-R, Rotel RA-1592 or Denon PMA-2500NE for example). Considering the price of this speaker, the Klipsch RF-7 MKIII deserves all of your attention.