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Klipsch RP-8000F Tower Speaker Review

by March 22, 2019
Klipsch RP-8000F Tower Speakers

Klipsch RP-8000F Tower Speakers

  • Product Name: RP-8000F Tower Speaker
  • Manufacturer: Klipsch
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: March 22, 2019 20:00
  • MSRP: $ 1199/pair - Base price: ebony or walnut finish, $1500/pair - gloss black
  • Buy Now
  • FREQUENCY RESPONSE 32-25kHz +/- 3dB
  • SENSITIVITY 98dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • POWER HANDLING (CONT/PEAK) 150/600
  • NOMINAL IMPEDANCE 8 Ohms Compatible
  • CROSSOVER FREQUENCY 1750Hz
  • HIGH-FREQUENCY DRIVER 1” Titanium LTS Vented Tweeter with Hybrid
  • Cross-Section Tractrix Horn
  • LOW-FREQUENCY DRIVER Dual 8” Cerametallic Cone Woofers
  • ENCLOSURE MATERIAL MDF
  • ENCLOSURE TYPE Bass Reflex via rear-firing Tractrix Port
  • INPUTS Dual binding posts / bi-wire / bi-amp
  • HEIGHT 43.12” (109.5 cm)
    WIDTH 10.90” (27.7 cm)
    DEPTH 17.56” (44.6 cm)
  • WEIGHT 60 lb (27.2 kg)
  • FINISH Ebony, Walnut, Piano Black

Pros

  • Neutral, accurate response
  • Nicely controlled dispersion
  • Wide dynamic range
  • Above average sensitivity
  • Copper tones on gloss black is very slick looking

Cons

  • Listed 98dB/2.83v/1m sensitivity spec does not give context (non-anechoic)

 

Klipsch RP-8000F Introduction

It has been a while since Audioholics haRP8000 pair hero2.jpgs reviewed a Klipsch product, and we thought that their refresh of the Reference Premier line would be an ideal time to take a look at what Klipsch has been up to in the loudspeaker world. Today, we take a look at the RP-8000F floor-standing speaker. We have opted to go with the Piano Black edition because we can appreciate good looks as well as good sound. These speakers are Klipsch' highest-end  conventional tower speakers next to the RF-7 III. Klipsch has Dolby Atmos speakers that are a bit pricier, but we would rather focus on fundamental performance rather than Atmos embellishments since the sound character of these speakers will largely be determined by the base design. The cost of the standard RP-8000F is about $600 each, but the Piano Black finish of our review pair brings that pricing up to $750 each. These are moderately priced tower speakers and in a highly competitive price bracket. So what do the RP-8000F speakers bring to the table to make them a compelling offer in a market that is crowded at this price point?

Appearance

RP8000 pair front.jpg      RP8000 pair full grilles2.jpg

The RP-8000F is a bit larger than most tower speakers, but it is not gigantic as tower speakers go. With the grille on, our piano black RP-8000F is a gleaming, tall, black box. With the grille removed, we are presented with Klipsch’s hallmark copper cones and Tractrix horn-loaded tweeter. As always, the speaker has a lot more personality with the grille off. The feet are just rails that hold the speakers at a slight upwards tilt, so it does not stand at a perfect 90˚vertical angle. The frame of the cones has a copper ring around them, and there is a copper ring within the Tractrix horn; these rings add a nice bit of refinement.

Also adding a touch of class is an increased beveling of the edges moving up along the speaker’s height. The piano black finish, slightly angled stance, and gradual beveling give the speaker some style even with the grilles on. These touches along with the elegant copper rings lend it a degree of sophistication that makes this tower speaker look more attractive than many of the Klipsch speakers I have seen in the past. In fact, this is the nicest-looking Klipsch speaker I can recall seeing except for the discontinued Palladium series that were far more expensive. The overall effect is of something that is debonair yet powerful, almost like a well-heeled MMA fighter. The large 8” woofers and horn-loaded tweeter give it an undeniably muscular cast that can’t be ignored but they are implemented in a very attractive manner.  

Design Analysis

As a large tower speakRP8000 tweeter close up7.jpger with two 8” woofers and a horn-loaded tweeter, the RP-8000F is bound to be a relatively powerful loudspeaker for home audio. More acoustic firepower is always a good thing, but what about the sound quality? There is a lot in its design to suggest that great care was taken into making the RP-8000F into a very high-fidelity speaker. Let’s start our discussion of the RP-8000F’s design with an attribute of speaker design that Klipsch has long been known for: the horn.

In horn-loaded loudspeakers, the geometry of the horn shape plays a big role in determining its sound character. The RP-8000F uses what Klipsch calls a “Hybrid Cross-Section Tractrix” horn. This geometry looks to be shared by all the Reference Premiere line but is different from the previous standard Reference line that also used a tractrix horn. I would guess that this new geometry offers some significant improvements over the older Tractrix horn shape since Klipsch has entirely abandoned that design in favor of its “Hybrid Cross-Section” tractrix design. A Tractrix is a geometrical term which signifies “the Catenary Involute described by a point initially on the vertex” to use one (very technical) definition. It is a shape that is used in loudspeaker horns under the assumption that the emerging pressure waves expand out from the transducer diaphragm as a spherical wavefront. As the wavefront exits the horn, it will constantly be at a perpendicular angle to the edges of the horn. This supposedly helps to reduce horn related anomalies such as odd reflections in the horn itself and also diffraction effects. 

RP8000 tweeter close up9.jpg 

Klipsch has divided the RP-8000F horn into two sections by the copper ring embedded into the horn. The inner section is a conical plastic piece which serves as the throat of the horn, and the outer section, the mouth of the horn, is a softer silicone piece that takes on a more orthogonal shape. The softer silicone material of the mouth is used to avoid bell resonances in the horn. The throat of the horn is a round conical shape in order to reduce early diffractions as the soundwave leaves the tweeter diaphragm. The squarish mouth shape governs its dispersion pattern. A 1” titanium dome tweeter is used to load the horn, and it uses what Klipsch calls the ‘Linear Travel Suspension’ system which is a carefully designed suspension that allows for larger excursions of the moving assembly before the suspension thwarts linear motion thereby incurring distortion. Titanium seems like a natural choice for the diaphragm material since the horn-loading and lower crossover point might be more than softer dome types such as fabric could withstand. The rear chamber of the tweeter is vented to allow backwave energy to better dissipate instead of being reflected back into the diaphragm which would also increase distortion. The tweeter motor uses a ferrite magnet instead of neodymium, and this can help reduce effects of thermal compression since the larger surface area is able to radiate more heat than the smaller surface area of a neodymium motor.RP8000 cone close up.jpg

Two large 8” woofers take the bass duties as well as some of the midrange. Klipsch has named the woofer’s cone composition ‘Cerametallic.’ This seems to be an aluminum layer that has been hard anodized to form a ceramic coating which is stiffer than the aluminum substrate and also dyed a copper color. The ceramic coating makes the cone stiffer than pure aluminum thereby pushing breakup modes to higher frequencies that are easier to filter out by a crossover circuit. The aluminum layer provides a light but strong platform for the ceramic layer and also provides additional damping due to the differing densities of the materials. I can’t be sure of how well it works versus a plain aluminum cone, but I am sure Klipsch would not go through the trouble of anodizing all of their cones if the effects were insignificant. 

For deep bass, the bass drivers load a sRP8000 rear.jpghort, rectangular port that is flared on both sides using a tractrix geometry like the horn. I can’t think of a reason why a tractrix shape would have an advantage over a typical flare shape in a port, but it probably isn't significantly worse. I think that maybe someone over at Klipsch really likes the word ‘tractrix.’ The port is mounted right above the terminal cup that has dual 5-way binding posts for those interested in bi-amping. As I have said in previous reviews, I don’t believe that bi-amplification is a useful feature for conventional home audio speakers of this type, but Klipsch’s marketing research probably concluded that was a feature that consumers wanted, so they threw it in there. At least it’s not doing any harm except for a slightly higher cost.

I was not able to get a good look at the crossover since it wasn’t easy to disconnect from the rest of the speaker, but it uses a 1,750 Hz crossover frequency with a 4th order electrical high pass and a 2nd order electrical low pass that combine with the natural response of the drivers to give an approximate 6th order acoustical response. The horn-loading of the tweeter allows a much lower crossover frequency than traditional non-horn-loaded speakers since the horn provides more acoustic impedance against the diaphragm, or, to put it another way, the air within the horn provides more pressure against the tweeter diaphragm since it can only travel in a narrow, enclosed space instead of a free, open area. That extra force against the tweeter allows far more efficient low-frequency output from it because the greater pressure is a better match for the tweeter’s density than the more open air of a flat baffle.    

RP8000 outdoors4.jpgThe cabinet is a fairly heavy construction and comprises the vast majority of the speaker’s 60 lbs weight. The paneling and bracing all use ¾” thick MDF. There is a series of cross braces and also two vertical braces running up the sidewalls to reduce panel resonance. There is also a generous amount of stuffing filling the cabinet. As was mentioned before, instead of normal feet, the RP-8000F uses some cast aluminum rails that hold the cabinet up at a slight angle. Even with the slight angle, this tall tower speaker has a very stable stance. In fact, it feels more planted to the ground with better stability than most other tower speakers I can remember using. I wouldn’t mind seeing other manufacturers start using this type of feet.

The overall design of the RP-8000F suggests a speaker that is highly efficient and also one that has a relatively narrow directivity for a home audio speaker. The large size, large woofers, and horn-loaded tweeter should make for a high-sensitivity design. The large woofers and horn-loaded tweeter should also do a lot to restrict the sound to a tighter dispersion pattern than the typical speaker using domes or AMT tweeters on a flat baffle or that might be mounted in a shallow waveguide for some controlled coverage. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘sweet spot’ or listening area is small, but it should make for a sound that is less affected by acoustic reflections from room surfaces. But, to get a sense of its sound character, let’s do some listening…

Listening Sessions

The RP-8000F recreated this performance with a naturalism that defied Klipsch’s reputation as a ‘rock’n’roll’ speaker brand.

In my 24’ by 13’ (approximately) listening room, I set up the speakers with stand-off distances between the back wall and sidewall, and equal distance between speakers and listening position. I used various toe-in angles during listening and settled with the speakers facing the listening position directly. Listening distance from the speakers was about 9 feet. Amplification and processing were handled by a Pioneer Elite SC-55. No room correction equalization was used. At times, subwoofers were used to supplement the bass with an 80 Hz crossover frequency. A speaker of this nature (horn-loaded) will change its sound character for listening at different angles more so than typical designs, so owners are encouraged to experiment with different toe-in angles to see what works best for their preference.

Music Listening

An album which came hJimmie Lee Robinson.jpgighly recommended that I listened to on the RP-8000F speakers is ‘Remember Me’ by Jimmie Lee Robinson. This 1998 blues album by the now deceased blues veteran Robinson is impeccably recorded and is an essential part of many jazz enthusiasts’ collections as well as many other audiophile’s libraries.  Most tracks are simply Robinson’s vocals along with his acoustic guitar playing. Robinson’s soulful lyrics and expressive singing are well-matched by his masterful guitar playing, and the intimate recording captures his performance in exquisite detail. The RP-8000F speakers reproduced this album admirably. This recording is done near-field, so the listening impression is that Robinson is playing right in front of the listener. The RP-8000F speakers convey that impression; they put the listener at the microphone and catch the all of the details of Robinson’s voice, whether he becomes gravely at low-pitched notes or more graceful in higher octaves, or when he chooses to whistle instead of sing. Guitar playing is rendered with exactitude as well, and the RP-8000F brings out the sound of the entire instrument, so we not only hear the strings but the sound of the body and fretboard being used as percussion as well. Imaging was precisely focused with Robinson’s voice positioned a tad off center to the right as though he were playing to the side of the listener by a few feet. ‘Remember Me’ is not a complex recording but it is a very high-fidelity one nonetheless, and the RP-8000F provided a terrific retelling of Robinson’s musical story. I am sure that any blues fans would be quite happy with these speakers.

Another album I listened to with the RP-8000F speakers was ‘Gothic Voices: ThGothic Voices.jpge Spirits of England and France.’ It’s a 1994 album performed by the Gothic Voices group, a male choir specializing in early music, so much of the music performed here was composed from 1300 to 1500. Being such old music, it is all sung in either Latin or French. The Gothic Voices ensemble is comprised of five tenors and two basses, but these pieces weren’t written for a large group, so no track has more than five singers. Some tracks have an instrumental accompaniment in the form of a medieval fiddle. The performance is simple and elegant, yet the compositions are surprisingly complex for such old pieces. This recording from the Hyperion label is quite beautiful and pristinely arranged; the vocals, as captured in the Boxgrove Priory Church in the UK, are delicately rendered and unadorned with anything except for the modest reverb of the church location. The RP-8000F recreated this performance with a naturalism that defied Klipsch’s reputation as a ‘rock’n’roll’ speaker brand. The precision of the soundstage and timbral veracity of the performers were spot-on, and nothing felt exaggerated or ‘livened-up’ by a spectral tilt that one would expect from speakers built for more raucous content. Even when voices of the same range sang simultaneously, they were still distinct entities that were imaged with well-defined locations across the soundstage. The acoustics of the church where the performance was recorded were recreated with an uncanny tangibility, as though my listening room had transformed into an ancient chapel. The RP-8000F speakers surprised me with their ability to reproduce ‘The Spirits of England and France’ with such a refined touch. They might be marketed as a ‘rock’ speaker, but on this album the RP-8000Fs revealed themselves to be a plain old ‘good’ speaker.       

For music on a larger scale, I listened to an orchestral album from the TeTime Warp.jpglarc label called ‘Time Warp,’ an early all-digitally produced in 1984. This album was an audiophile essential in its day and was widely used as a demo disc for promoting the compact disc technology on account of its wide dynamic range. In fact, there is a warning in the inner sleeve that damage could result to the speakers and other components if the album is played back at high levels. The music is comprised of orchestral covers of science fiction-themed music, such as pieces from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ ‘Star Trek,’ and ‘Star Wars,’ as performed by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. On account of its wide dynamic range, I elected to play this album loud since the speakers’ design suggested that they could handle that. While this recording was made in the mid-’80s, I would never have guessed it was that old, on account of its superb sound quality. The RP-8000Fs had no trouble with the elevated levels at which I listened, and the overall reproduction was rather spectacular. This recording makes use of some very deep bass frequencies, and the Klipsch speakers had no trouble on that front. In fact, I don’t know that the addition of subwoofers would have added much at all. When asked to bring the bass, the RP-8000Fs could really thump. The brass, at high volumes, had a visceral, startling effect, much as they do in reality. The textures of all instruments were reproduced with remarkable detail and clarity. And again, the soundstage sounded authentic and well-defined. For those who like their orchestral music with some bombast, the RP-8000F speakers can deliver ‘in spades’ on that front, and they do so without distorting the tonality of the instruments. Owners of these speakers owe it to themselves to give this ‘Time Warp’ a spirited listen for a sensational musical experience.

When asked to bring the bass, the RP-8000Fs could really thump.

To see how these speakers do with more conventional studio recordings, and somethQuantum Physics.jpging that was deliberately loud and brash all the way through, I listened to ‘Quantum Physics’ by Current Value. ‘Quantum Physics’ is electronic music from the Drum’N’Bass subgenre which means very rapid breakbeat percussion, heavy bass lines, jarring synthesizer lead instruments, and ominous dialogue samples from movies and documentaries. This music is a heavily-compressed and unrelenting assault on good taste, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, with the volume cranked high, and with a pre-emptive aspirin, I dove into ‘Quantum Physics’ with the RP-8000F speakers knowing full well the fatigue that would ensue by the album’s end. The RP-8000Fs were able to blaze through this album nicely, and given my previous listening experience with them, I had no reason to think they would do otherwise. However, I was surprised how easy it sounded at this output level. Many speakers with a bright sound, as Klipsch speakers have historically had, can be hard on the ears at high levels on this type of music, especially in the snare drums, which can sound too loud with ‘forward’ sounding speakers. That was not the case here. This kind of music is spectrally dense, so when one frequency range is replayed at a hot level, it can be heard, and I didn’t get a sense of that with the RP-8000Fs. These speakers could pound out the bass without any problems as well. Those two 8” woofers did get a workout, but I never felt that they became stressed or couldn’t keep up with the load. If I had used the plethora of subs that I normally would for a recording of this type, I could probably have achieved much hotter levels of bass with a smoother response, but the RP-8000Fs managed enough bass output to keep it at an even level with the rest of the frequency range. It is not surprising that the RP-8000F speakers could competently play loud and coarse music, but they did surprise me with how balanced their presentation was, and this music was much less abrasive due to that.

Movie Listening

One movie that I watcheSamsara.jpgd with the RP-8000F speakers was the 2011 wordless documentary ‘Samsara’ by Ron Fricke. This movie is a compendium of shots from around the world that are strung along with a musical score to form a theme about the spiritual unity of mankind, so the scope of the movie is massive, and it is appropriately filmed in 70mm. Since it is such a universal theme, it makes sense that it uses no narration or dialogue. The sound mix of this film is almost entirely music, but there are also effects sounds to match some of the scenes. The music itself, composed and performed by Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard, and Marcello De Francisci, is as epic as the cinematography and subject matter. Stearns is no stranger to these cosmic, larger-than-life scores, as he had previously made the music for other Imax-type features such as ‘Chronos’ and ‘Baraka.’ This movie is best played loud in the tradition of Imax/Omnimax sound, so the question was, could the RP-8000F speakers replicate that nearly monumental experience? In a word, the sound reproduction was marvelous. I watched this with subwoofers and center speaker disengaged, so it was essentially a 6.0 system with the RP-8000Fs taking the entirety of the front stage and also low-frequencies, and they proved to be more than up to the task. The soundtrack uses a variety of exotic instruments and vocal work, and the Klipsch speakers were as adept at rendering the subtleties of the plethora of voices as it was with the grandiose sounds such as volcanic lava flows and enormous Tibetan bells within Buddhist temples. Lisa Gerrard's sonorous vocals and Michael Stearn’s sweeping synthesizers were given a depth and breadth that befitted the colossal 70mm Imax source material. Watching ‘Samsara’ with the RP-8000F speakers demonstrated their proficiency at projecting a huge soundscape if called to do so. 

Another movie that I watched with the RP-8000F speakers was the 2017 science fiction Ghost In The Shell.jpgopus ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ a remake of the classic 1995 animated film. A giant-budget action movie like this normally have plenty of material that a high dynamic-range speaker would shine with, and indeed ‘Ghost in the Shell’ does, with a multitude of scenes featuring all kinds of futuristic mayhem, such as cyborg gun fights, virtual reality espionage, and a spider-like tank blowing up a city block with heavy machine guns and missile launchers. Also prominent in the sound mix is the pulsating electronic music score by Lorne Balfe and Clint Mansell, which uses a lot of bass-heavy analog synth sweeps and arpeggiated melodies (sadly, this score was never commercially released but was leaked and can be found online without too much digging). I watched ‘Ghost in the Shell’ at a high volume level to let the RP-8000F speakers shine and immerse me in this technologically hyper-advanced world. The Klipsch speakers vividly brought life to the strange and fantastical setting of ‘Ghost in the Shell.’ Action scenes were given a sense of solidity and tactile impact. The music took on a nearly physical sensation as well, as the RP-8000Fs reproduced the electronic instruments with meticulous definition. Dialogue intelligibility was never a problem, and to assure myself that this was because of the RP-8000F speakers, I had left the center speaker out of the system as it was with ‘Samsara.’ In the end, I found ‘Ghost in the Shell’ to be a great demonstration of the RP-8000F’s attributes: a wide dynamic range and a clear, balanced sound.

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About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

JengaHit posts on May 17, 2019 02:17
Danzilla31, post: 1316817, member: 85700
Although they are more controlled with the dispersion I have no problem setting up a wide sweet spot in my room with them.
I've been able to set up a ~6-7 ft wide sweet spot with my Hsu CCB-8's using time-intensity trading/extreme toe-in (as they are controlled directivity/narrow dispersion speakers); for movies in a 2.1 set-up like mine this is the best way to accomodate multiple listeners without using a center speaker. I was curious if the RP-8000's could achieve the same effect. Narrow-dispersion speakers are well suited to time-intensity trading. Have my eye on the RP-8000's. Looks like a superb tower-speaker value.
Ybills15 posts on May 16, 2019 22:40
I know this may be a little late but the 8000f models are currently on sale on crutchfield and amazon for 958 a pair! Also there is a package on amazon that will throw in the 504c with two RP 8000f's for 1299 which I took advantage of about a month ago! Absolutely no regrets!
Danzilla31 posts on May 16, 2019 12:06
JengaHit, post: 1316726, member: 88330
As the 8000's are narrow dispersion, has anyone experimented with time-intensity trading (extreme toe-in, axis crossing 1-2 ft in front of listening position) to widen the sweet spot for 2-ch listening with them?
Although they are more controlled with the dispersion I have no problem setting up a wide sweet spot in my room with them.
JengaHit posts on May 16, 2019 00:36
As the 8000's are narrow dispersion, has anyone experimented with time-intensity trading (extreme toe-in, axis crossing 1-2 ft in front of listening position) to widen the sweet spot for 2-ch listening with them?
HowardS posts on April 29, 2019 11:02
bigkrazy155, post: 1313549, member: 88650
I'm trying to figure out if the 8000s would be overkill for my room. It measures 22ft x 11ft x 7.5ft (basement foundation/tile floor, drywall and drop ceiling). It does open into a reasonably sized stairwell (close to 1000 ft cubed) that has a door at the top. Usage will be 90/10 in favor of movies and I'm going to get subs regardless. The primary seating position will be about 10 - 12 ft from the LRC.

I'm pondering the 8000 vs 6000 vs 5000 or the 600m on stands. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

I have my 8000Fs in a smaller room than yours as I am waiting on my home to be built. They would not be overkill for your setup, in fact, I wouldn't go with anything smaller.
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