Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Klipsch Reference II 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System

ARTICLE INDEX

Design and Setup

Klipsch, like many speaker companies, is never stagnant. They are always testing, tweaking and improving their products. For example, the Reference II's are already on their fifth update in just over 10 years of product life. The newest Reference Series speakers have updated drivers, re-engineered crossovers and a refreshed look.

In the RF-82 II's, the tweeter handles the frequencies over an extended range from 1,400 Hz to 24,000 Hz. (The crossover is 1,500 Hz in the smaller speakers of this surround system.) The driver is a 1" titanium compression driver with a linear suspension. Klipsch says that this tweeter is a "trickle-down" design courtesy of their flagship Palladium speakers. The driver is mounted in a 90° x 60° square Tractrix® horn. The horn itself is molded plastic that seamlessly transitions to the plastic baffle cover. It has a clean look.

The mid/bass drivers are two 8" Cerametallic™ cones. Cerametallic™ is Klipsch's proprietary implementation of coated anodized aluminum cone technology. This material has the desirable properties of being both lightweight and very stiff. These particular cones have a copper color to match the rest of the trim theme for the line. They have concave dust caps that integrate nicely with the cone. The seams are nearly invisible from a typical seating position. So, again, the look is very clean.

The cabinets are finished in either black ash or cherry wood grain vinyl. The cabinets are ported with two generously-sized ports on the back of the cabinet. The speaker connections are a pair of heavy duty gold-plated binding posts. The speaker is stabilized by rear "out-riggers" that can be fitted with either padded discs or floor spikes, both of which are included. The grilles are satiny and attach with magnets that fit into little holes on the speaker baffle.

The other speakers in the line include smaller mid/bass drivers and in the case of the surrounds, smaller tweeter horns. The RC-62 II center speaker is ported and the ports are on the front of the cabinet. I like this because so many center speakers are mounted in a "confined space" that would not work well if the speaker were rear-ported.

I originally wrote that the RS-62 II surround speakers were bipole designs with a tweeter and a mid/bass driver mounted on each side of the cabinet. This is what Klipsch said when I sent in the review for fact checking, "actually we call it Wide Dispersion Surround Technology (WDST) with the dual horns creating ambience closer to the wide ambience created by dipole speakers, yet with ambience all around the listening area instead of in just a small "null" area where dipoles create their best ambience. The WDST technology also reproduces direct sounds very faithfully, which both bipole and especially dipole speakers have trouble with (they produce these sounds usually with too much ambience). Finally, the WDST design of our surrounds makes them very placement flexible in a room, whereas, with dipole speakers especially, they need to be carefully placed for their best effects."

The subwoofer Klipsch sent along was their brand new SW-311. This cute little sub is a just over 13" on a side. The active driver is a smallish 10" woven fiberglass driver mated to a pair of 10" passive radiators. I know you are probably thinking that they've got to be kidding using this tiny little sub to complement speakers that have an efficiency rating of up to 98db. Right? That's what I thought. But let me tell you, Klipsch markets their subs as "Pound for Pound" and I must agree with them on this claim. The SW-311 is driven by a 1,200 watt BASH amplifier. Plus the active driver is a long-throw design with a well engineered motor structure. So the long and the short of it is that this baby really puts out! It also has an auto calibrate/EQ routine with an included microphone. Klipsch calls this their Adaptive Room Correction II. The ARC II system features 12 active filters.

I placed the main speakers 11' apart, 10' from the listening position. The center speaker was placed on a shelf below my Pioneer Kuro display. I toed in the main speakers to where I could just see the tweeters inside the throats of the horns, but the speakers were not facing directly at the listening position. The surrounds were mounted on the rear wall by their keyhole insert. They were about 12' apart and 6' above the floor. The sub was placed in the front left corner of the room, right next to the left main speaker.

Finally, I used the included mic to calibrate the sub. It was a simple procedure. You place the mic at the prime listening position, plug it into the plate amp on the sub, select the calibration routine on the top-mounted display and then kick back while the system puts 12 filters to work smoothing the bass response. This system calibrated quickly and did a terrific job of compensating for the major room effects.