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Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-8000F II Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review

by October 10, 2022
Klipsch RP-8000F II

Klipsch RP-8000F II

  • Product Name: RP-8000F II Reference Premiere Floor-Standing Loudspeaker
  • Manufacturer: Klipsch
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: October 10, 2022 00:00
  • MSRP: $ 900/each
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  • Frequency Response: 35-25,000 Hz (± 3dB)
  • Drivers:

Tweeter: 1" LTS (Linear Travel Suspension) titanium diaphragm tweeter with Tractrix® horn

Woofer: Two 8" Cerametallic™ cone woofers

  • Design: bass-reflex with two rear-firing Tractrix ports
  • Enclosure Material: MDF (Internally Braced)
  • Sensitivity: 98dB @ 2.83V / 1m (SPL at 1M, half-space anechoic with 2.83V input, in-room sensitivity)
  • Crossover Frequency: 1630Hz
  • Finish Options: Ebony, Walnut
  • Weight: 61.4 lbs
  • Power Handling: up to 150 watts RMS
  • Size: 10 7/8" W x 43 3/16" H x 17 9/16" D
  • Impedance: 8 ohms


  • Made a good waveguide even better
  • Good directivity control
  • High sensitivity does away with the need for a monster amp
  • Excellent dynamic range
  • Decent bracing system
  • Nifty industrial design


  • Odd on-axis response makes optimal placement unintuitive
  • Klipsch’s placement advice is not great


Klipsch RP-8000F II Introduction

8000 II pair hero5We were pleasantly surprised by the Klipsch RP-8000F when we reviewed that tower speaker back in early 2019. It wasn’t perfect, but it was much better than we were expecting. It had a neutral response and tonally balanced sound, and that was surprising coming from Klipsch, who had garnered a reputation for hot treble and bass for an aggressive ‘rock’n’roll’ sound. Their tractrix waveguide also did a good job of giving the tweeter a nicely even dispersion throughout its bandwidth so that the speaker had very good directivity control. In other words, there wasn’t any flaring of acoustic energy at an odd angle that would have degraded the in-room sound. The crossover circuit didn’t do the best job at blending the tweeter and woofers, especially off-axis, but given the speaker’s strengths, that was a very forgivable flaw, especially considering the price. All-in-all, we found the speaker to be an outstanding value for a tower loudspeaker pair.

Klipsch RP-8000F II Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review YouTube Discussion

Recently Klipsch has revamped their Reference Premiere series, now in its seventh generation, and they sent us the successor to the original RP-8000F named the RP-8000F II. While the same basic design remains the same, some important details have been changed, and the price has also been substantially raised. In these times of rising inflation, the price hike is understandable, but what are we given in return? Has the RP-8000F been significantly improved, or is the RP-8000F II just a coat of paint on the original? Let’s dig in to find out…


The RP-8000F II is not a small floor-standing speaker, but it isn’t huge either. It can be had in two finishes, ebony or walnut. We received the ebony pair, which has a black woodgrain veneer except for the front baffle which has a satin black finish. The wood grain is really a vinyl imitation, but it is not apparent unless given a very close inspection. The satin black baffle serves as a nice contrast against Klipsch’s trademarked copper metallic cones. 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. There is a slight chamfer around the edges which helps to give the RP-8000F II a slightly softer and sleeker look. There is a copperish Klipsch badge in the lower part of the speaker with or without the grille. The top front of the speaker is almost completely taken up by the waveguide for the tweeter, and the geometry from a squared waveguide to a round one as it moves inward adds an interesting visual element. The grille hides all of this copper, and with the grille on, the RP-8000F II just looks like a tall black box with a slight backward lean. The feet are black aluminum rails that give the speaker its slight backward tilt.  

8000 II grille5   8000 II pair4

Style-wise, there hasn’t been much change over the last version except that the waveguide is now a bit larger. Unfortunately, the RP-8000F II is not available in a gloss finish unlike the original which was a pretty slick-looking speaker. A gloss finish might have added two or three hundred dollars per speaker, but it would have been a nice option to have. Overall, the RP-8000F II is not a bad-looking speaker at all, and the copper accents help to give it some personality.

Design Analysis

At a glance, the basic overall design of the RP-8000F II looks almost exactly like the original: a vented enclosure of the same size and two 8” Ceramatallic woofers and a horn-loaded tweeter. But while the RP-8000F II has many similarities to the original RP-8000F in design, when we take a closer look, there are some notable differences that are bound to have an effect on the resultant sound performance. However, for a description of the similarities, I will just borrow passages from the review of the original where things have not changed. Such is the case with the horn-loaded tweeter.

In horn-loaded loudspeakers, the geometry of the horn shape plays a big role in determining its sound character. The RP-8000F II uses what Klipsch calls a “Hybrid Cross-Section Expanded Tractrix” horn. A Tractrix is a geometrical term that 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 unwanted diffraction effects.

8000 II tweeter

The RP-8000F II horn is divided into two sections by the copper ring embedded into the horn. The inner section is a conical plastic piece that 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 put excursion demands on the tweeter that might be more than softer dome types such as fabric could withstand without physically deforming. 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 the effects of thermal compression since the larger surface area is able to radiate more heat than the smaller surface area of a neodymium motor.

One difference between the RP-8000F II horn and the original is that Klipsch has widened the horn so that the mouth almost reaches the edges of the front baffle. The larger horn should help to lower the frequency where the horn can control the directivity of the sound. It should also reduce any diffraction effects coming from the front baffle of the cabinet.

8000 II cone

Two large 8” woofers take the bass duties as well as much 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.

One improvement Klipsch has done to the woofers over the previous generation Reference Premiere speakers is the addition of shorting rings. As their name implies, shorting rings short out the induced current that is caused by the voice coil’s motion in the magnetic field. In loudspeaker drivers, we just want the motion of the voice coil without the side effect of the induced current. This induced current reduces the bandwidth of the driver by making it less sensitive in upper frequencies, and it also increases even-order harmonic distortion. So the addition of the shorting rings should increase the upper-frequency sensitivity and reduce distortion.  

8000 II binding posts

Klipsch specifies a 1,630Hz crossover frequency between the tweeter and woofers which is a bit lower than the previous generation, and this may be due to the larger horn allowing the tweeter to play a bit lower. That crossover frequency is right around where many 8” cones would normally start to narrow dispersion, so it looks like a smart handoff point to the tweeter. There is a fourth-order electrical high-pass filter on the tweeter and a second-order low-pass filter on the woofers. The RP-8000F II has dual binding posts that can be bi-amped or bi-wired. I don’t think that is justified in this speaker, and it probably shouldn’t be used in a typical setup. With a listed power-handling spec of 150 watts continuous, these speakers wouldn’t really handle much more wattage than a mid-level AVR can put out, providing that the power isn’t spread out over nine other speakers in a surround sound system. Klipsch has also put in a pass-through binding post for an Atmos module to be easily added to the top of the speaker without a wire trail. While that probably didn’t add too much more cost to the speaker, I don’t think it was a worthwhile inclusion since most Atmos module speakers are very poorly designed and are not worth adding to any system, but that is a rant for another article. 

8000 II rearThe cabinet still uses ¾” thick MDF paneling and bracing like the previous iteration, but it has had a lot of internal redesign over the previous generation. One big change is that each of the woofers is given its own compartment that is sealed off from the rest of the speaker. Each of these compartments has its own port. Since that subdivides the cabinet into two compartments, the modal frequencies of those chambers are raised and so no longer have as much bandwidth. Panel resonance also becomes more easily addressable by basic bracing and internal damping, and there is a healthy amount of Dacron-type stuffing on the interior. The internal bracing network is fairly complex, and since there are now solid braces throughout the enclosure, this should be a pretty inert cabinet.  

The ports are still a Tractrix shape seen in the last generation of Reference Premiere speakers. This is pretty silly since the reason that the tweeter waveguide uses a Tractrix shape has nothing to do with how a loudspeaker port works. I think Klipsch just likes putting their branded design cues all over their products, but there is no reason why a Tractrix port would work better than a standard flared tube that I could know of. It is essentially just a flared slot port with a silly marketing name. Nonetheless, it probably works just fine for its intended purpose. The addition of the second port may increase the level of port-generated output before turbulence sets in.

The feet are extrusions on an aluminum rail. They are pretty solid and give the speakers a nicely stable placement on the floor. Users should be careful about moving the speakers on hardwood flooring, because these feet could scratch that type of flooring if the speaker is slid on a floor instead of being lifted up and moved. Klipsch might want to consider adding some kind of soft-padding accessory for the bottom of the feet for those with hardwood flooring. The grille uses magnetic adhesion and is simply some acoustically transparent fabric draped over a thin plastic frame. Unlike more substantial grilles, it doesn’t cause much diffraction from the frame, although it wouldn’t offer much protection from heavy objects coming at the front of the speaker with any significant force. 

The big changes over the original RP-8000F look to be the enclosure re-arrangement, the addition of the second port, improved drivers, and the larger waveguide. While the speaker looks very similar to the previous version, these changes look to be more of a redesign than just a quick refresh. But, much like the original, the RP-8000F II still looks to be a formidable speaker with some serious dynamic range. Let’s see how it does in practice…

Listening Sessions

In my 24’ by 13’ (approximately) listening room, I set up the speakers with a few feet of stand-off distances between the back wall and sidewall and equal distance between speakers and listening position. After some experimentation, I angled the speakers with a time-intensity toe-in where the speakers’ aim crosses in front of my listening position. The listening distance from the speakers was about 9 feet. No equalization was used and no subwoofers were used.

Music Listening

The most important duty of a loudspeaker is undoubtedly the faithful rendition of human vocals, and one album that would serve as a good test of that is Avi Kaplan’s recent release “Floating on a Dream.” This studio album cleanly presents Avi’s strong basso profondo range voice, and the recording as a whole is magnificently recorded and mastered. “Floating on a Dream” is Americana music with a strong country music vibe. It is not an overproduced studio entity but rather a personal expression given top-notch sound engineering. I listened to this album on Qobuz in a 96kHz/24-bit resolution.    

The RP-8000F II could image Avi’s voice with pinpoint accuracy, especially after I positioned the speakers for a time-intensity toe-in where their aim crosses in front of my listening position. This is where I had the best results for imaging with the original RP-8000F speakers on account of their narrow dispersion. This type of placement mainly benefits listeners who do not have an equidistant listening position from both speakers, but it can still yield a more precise image for those who are in the ‘sweet spot’ with equal distances between the speakers. (For those who want to know more about time-intensity trading, Audioholics discusses it in this Livestream presentation: Finding the Loudspeaker Sweet Spot). I tried the RP-8000F IIs with no toe-in as well as a toe-in that angled them to face my listening position directly. With no angling, the speakers could still image well but it was broader imaging and less precise. Angling the speakers to face the listener directly tightened up the imaging, but angling the speakers inward even further really sharpened the imaging. As I angled the speakers inward, the soundstage did shrink a bit since there were fewer acoustic reflections from the speaker to its closest sidewall. I decided that the trade-off of a broader soundstage for more precise imaging was worth it for these particular speakers.

Back to the album itself, the RP-8000F IIs gave a rich, full accounting of “Floating on a Dream.” Avi’s deep voice sounded natural and correct. As noted before, imaging was pinpoint precise when it was mixed to sound as such. In some passages, a chorus effect was added, and his voice expanded across the soundstage as a multiplicity of voices, and the RP-8000F IIs contrasted the single voice against the chorus effect beautifully. Tonality was very good; instruments and vocals sounded balanced and even. Bass was present and strong without being overwhelming. While I don’t remember every detail of the sound of the original RP-8000F, I do remember that it was a bit bass-heavy in a way that this generation is avoiding, at least with this album. Every track was enjoyable, and I did not notice anything off. I would say that anyone into folk or Americana has a safe bet with the RP-8000F IIs. 

Floating on a Dream  St John Passion

For a recording of human vocals on a much grander scale, I found another terrific recording on Qobuz in Bach’s “St. John Passion” that was released on Deutsche Grammophon earlier this year. This performance was conducted by the renowned Sir John Eliot Gardiner and performed by the Monteverdi Choir along with the English Baroque Soloists in the historic Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, England. Given such a high caliber of talent involved with this project, the recording quality is, of course, sublime, but what is surprising about that is this performance was recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown, and all of the performers were physically distanced from each other so as to reduce chances of infection. Nonetheless, it still sounds fantastic, and one would never guess that the recording conditions had some unusual compromises. I can see this recording becoming the modern reference point for Bach’s epic oratorio.

Despite my aggressive inward positioning of the RP-8000F IIs, they still managed to project an expansive choir that stretched across the front of my room. Solo vocalists were given well-defined positioning within the soundstage, and the vocalists’ placements in duets and trios were always crystal clear. The recording as a whole sounded tonally balanced, and individual instrumentalists and vocalists sounded even. While Klipsch is known for a spectral tilt of elevated bass and hot treble, I didn’t get a sense of that with the RP-8000F IIs. However, the original RP-8000Fs had a fairly balanced sound as well, except perhaps for a somewhat elevated bass response (that was also a consequence of my own room acoustics; in a larger room, the bass would have been better tamed).

The RP-8000F IIs shined in the crescendos, which is what I would have expected. The dynamic range of this recording was very wide, ranging from quiet, intimate passages to the force of the orchestra and choir going full bore, and the RP-8000F IIs handled everything with aplomb. The RP-8000F speakers acquitted themselves very well with this recording of St. John Passion,” and classical music lovers are bound to enjoy what these speakers can do for their music collection.   

Taking a one hundred eighty-degree turn from the liturgical music of Bach, I found an obscure but interesting album of experimental electronic music titled “Life Strategies” from an artist named Event Cloak. This music layers arpeggiated synths and spoken word samples into rapidly flowing compositions that somehow evoke a sense of calm despite its heightened tempo. Event Cloak’s playful use of stereo imaging and inventive exploration of sound is what drew me to this album, and I wanted to hear what this otherworldly music would sound like on a set of powerful, full-range speakers like the RP-8000F IIs.

The soundstage of “Life Strategies” as presented by the RP-8000F IIs was enveloping yet precise. Warm synth pads stretched across the width of my room, while syncopated samples and sequenced lead synths meticulously danced across the stage with rapid panning effects. The many stereo effects employed by Event Cloak were reproduced with exactitude by the Klipsch speakers. The sounds themselves, largely generated by synthesizers, were given such a full body and rich detail by the RP-8000F IIs that they vividly realized the musical world being constructed by the artist. The many layers of sound were all easy to discern on these speakers no matter how bizarre or radical the music would get (such as in the final track, “Situation Comedy”). I am guessing this album is likely heard mostly on headphones where the stereo effects would be quite extreme, but I would recommend trying it on speakers that can prevent a soundstage as competently as the RP-8000F II speakers for a more tangible presentation. 

Life Strategies      Fight Fight Fight

I never heard anything resembling distortion or compression from these Klipsch speakers.

To see what the RP-8000F II speakers could do when pushed hard, I threw in Two Fingers’ “Fight! Fight! Fight!” This 2020 release of electronic bass music is meant to be played loud, but the problem with that is many sound systems are simply not capable of playing these tracks loud without going to an early grave. The bass is massive, and unless your system can move some serious air, it will not be able to recreate the full glory of these tracks. However, this is not just party music; the rhythms and basslines that Two Fingers conjure are artful and innovative which elevates this music beyond typical dance music. With the proper sound system, it’s loads of fun to listen to, and it also allows your woofers to really stretch their legs - maybe to the breaking point.

With two 8” woofers, I didn’t doubt that the RP-8000F IIs could do bass but listening to “Fight! Fight! Fight!” at a loud level proved they could do it without shirking the dynamic range. While they didn’t dig quite as deep as a subwoofer, they did have the mid-bass punch one would have expected from a sub. The treble and upper midrange had a snap that could make me wince at a loud enough level. A track that serves as a lesson in wide dynamics is “ZX Rhythm” with its bouts of percussion and bass separated by a gentle reverb. The following track, an absolute bruiser on bass titled “Zero Face,” made the woofers visibly move for its duration, but I never heard anything resembling distortion or compression from the speakers. The RP-8000F II could easily get louder than I could tolerate, so I wasn’t blasting them at maximum levels, but I was playing them at a level that most people seldom would, and they didn’t break a sweat. If you are looking for speakers that could sound good as an intimate two-channel system as well as handle a house party, these are a great option. The RP-8000F II is a high-fidelity headbanger’s choice.

Movie Watching

The Klipsch speakers gave the mass battle scenes a proper big screen sound.

One movie I had not yet seen was the 2018 war movie “12 Strong.” This movie is purportedly based on a true story of a special forces team that attempts to form a partnership with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Naturally, they find their mission fraught with danger. With lots of shooting and explosions, this big-budget Hollywood actioner promised to capitalize on the wide dynamics that Klipsch is known for, but would the RP-8000F II live up to Klipsch’s reputation?

The first scene that expresses the RP-8000F II’s dynamic range is the Chinook chopper ride deep into enemy territory. The rapid ‘whoomping’ of the helicopter blades thundered in my home theater room with subwoofer-like force on the RP-8000F IIs. The speakers also provided an authoritative boom for the many air strike bombardments on enemy positions. The crackling of the many Kalashnikov and M4 rifles were sharply rendered by the Klipsch speakers. The plinking ricochets of bullets and shrapnel were also relayed with a potent snap. Artillery strikes and grenades gave a palpable thump. The Klipsch speakers gave the mass battle scenes a proper big screen sound. Lorne Balfe’s dutiful but unmemorable orchestral score was also reproduced with the epic scale and bombast that was called for by the sound mix. Dialogue intelligibility was never a problem, at least for the English-speaking characters that I could follow since my Pashto is a bit rusty. In the end, I enjoyed “12 Strong” and felt that the RP-8000F II speakers were definitely a good choice to watch it with.

12 Strong Last Nigh in Soho

One interesting new release I watched with the RP-8000F IIs was the latest Edgar Wright film, “Last Night in Soho.” I have been a big fan of Wright ever since “Shaun of the Dead” and consider his Simon Pegg/Nick Frost trilogy to be modern masterpieces of cinema. “Last Night in Soho” did not look to be comedic unlike Wright’s previous films, but it did promise to have an intensive sound mix filled with music much like Wright’s other films. This movie is about an aspiring fashion designer who moves to London and shortly thereafter starts to have vivid dreams about a ravishing singer in a nightclub in the 1960s. Her dreams start to take a darker turn after her waking life begins to unravel.

the RP-8000F IIs gave the twisted sound mix enough energy to become truly nightmarish.

“Last Night in Soho” turned out to have a very busy sound mix, indeed, but the RP-8000F IIs were able to keep the many layers of sound clear and apprehensible. At times there could be 60s pop music mixed with non-diegetic ambient music with dialogue and effects sounds all occurring at the same time, and it never became incomprehensible despite the complexity. Many of the scenes taking place in the entertainment district of 1960s London could be quite spectacular in the detail and scale of the sound mix. Notable scenes include our protagonist's first venture into the past and her 1960s alter ego's musical numbers. As a horror film involving a dream life, the movie would take psychedelic turns, and when it did, the RP-8000F IIs gave the twisted sound mix enough energy to become truly nightmarish. Dialogue intelligibility was never a problem, and Edgar Wright’s witty banter was always easy to follow. The sound mix was so impressive that after seeing the movie I checked to see what awards the movie received and was not surprised that it was nominated for and won a slew of sound design and music use awards. It’s a movie that ought to be watched on a capable sound system, and thankfully that was the case when I watched it with the RP-8000F II speakers.

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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