Rob Standley is the Vice President in charge of global marketing and product development for Klipsch. He agreed to talk to us about the Klipsch Reference Premiere series, a new range of speakers.
How would you describe the Klipsch sound?
Paul Klipsch invented his first speakers because he wasn’t satisfied with what was commercially available. He thought that the sound wasn’t close enough to alive music experience. From Paul W. Klipsch’s initial designs through to today’s models, Klipsch speakers are engineered to deliver musical emotion thanks to a tremendous amount of detail and incredible dynamic capacities.
What are the advantages of high-efficiency speakers?
Simply put, high-efficiency designs deliver dynamic sound reproduction with less mechanical movement. This keeps the sound clean and effortless, even at concert level volumes.
Why is Klipsch one of the few major players in the world of hi-fi to use acoustic horns?
Klipsch has perfected its approach to acoustic design, using horn-loaded drivers for over 70 years. This experience translates into the ability to produce a speaker system that’s accurate as well as highly efficient.
Some say that the sound of acoustic horns can be “harsh”, even “projected”. Would you agree with these statements?
Horns are commonly used in professional sound reinforcement scenarios. Sometimes these environments prioritize decibels over other acoustic concerns. When horns are optimally implemented, they can be just as accurate and “sweet” as other designs while delivering amazing dynamics and detail — even with moderately powerful amplification. The detail present in Klipsch speakers is revealing, it will have you noticing things you may not hear when played back on other systems.
Can you tell us about the new Klipsch Reference Premiere range? What innovations does this range of speaker bring to the table?
The Reference Premiere range delivers tremendously high value for both music and movies. The highly efficient driver materials are on par with the legendary Klipsch sound while ensuring an elegant look. The diversity of the range provides virtually any size room a great option for stereo listening or multi-channel home theater installations with Dolby Atmos capabilities.
What has changed compared to older models?
The new Reference Premiere models feature a new ultra-premium vented tweeter design that further smoothes high frequency response for enhanced detail and clarity. Cast aluminum feet give the speakers a modern appearance while minimizing contact with the floor to reduce resonance. A new Dolby Atmos upfiring speaker, that can also be used as a side surround, is voice optimized with the flick of a switch on its back panel. The new range features more compact models, including a 10.6 cm (4”) bookshelf, dual 10.6 cm (4”) center and dual 10.6 cm (4”) tower model.
The new Klipsch RF-7 MKIII is not part of the Reference Premiere range, can you tell us why?
While the RF-7 III has a lot in common with the Reference Premiere series, it is capable of even higher performance due to its large 4.45 cm (1.75”) compression driver, 25.4 cm (10”) cast basket dual woofers and significantly larger cabinet volume. Designed and assembled in the USA, the RF-7 III also utilizes furniture-grade wood veneer finishes in Walnut, Black Ash or Natural Cherry finish options.
Would you say that the Klipsch RF-7 MKIII and Klipsch Forte III are competing speakers or complementary models? Who is the target audience for these speakers?
While the pricing is similar, and both are high-efficiency designs with tremendous output capability, the cabinet size and aspect ratio of the speakers are much different. The RF-7 is a modern example of a tower loudspeaker — narrow across the front, tall and fairly deep. The Forte III is built along the same dimensions of the original and classic Forte from the 80s. It has a wide baffle, fairly compact height and a relatively shallow depth. Hidden in the back is a massive 38.1 cm (15”) passive radiator that produces more bass than the cabinet would suggest. The voicing on the two products has some differentiation as well: the Forte’s sound is closer to the Heritage products, while the RF-7 III has a sound signature closer to the Reference Premiere speakers.
What does the future hold for Klipsch products?
Klipsch is always working on ways to incorporate the latest innovations in design and materials to improve performance. With the advent of voice activated control paradigms, there are also significant opportunities to create solutions that offer a marriage of the latest technologies with acoustic excellence, whether it be for room speakers, portable models or entire installations.
Lastly, what is your fondest music-related memory?
Music inspires me on a regular and ongoing basis. While my favorite genre is heavy metal and I love the power and energy of a live performance, the moments that have impacted me most have been simpler and more involving, like a singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar captivating an audience. The moment that stands out most was when I showed up for a state solo singing competition and heard my daughter belt out an Italian opera song. I had no idea she was performing this song (or was even capable of it)… that memory brings a smile to my face even now.