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Klipsch RB-61 II Review

Klipsch is a US company well-known for their speaker systems. Especially the very distinctive styling of some of their cabinets. They were founded in 1946 in Arkansas, and they still have an operational center there though they are now based in Indianapolis. They are known for producing drivers, cabinets, and sound systems for the higher end market and produce a range of middle-priced speaker systems for a variety of uses.

The RB61 Bookshelf Speakers fall into that category, and are the subject of this Klipsch RB-61 II Review.

They were bought out by Voxx International of New York, previously known as Audiovox, a US consumer electronics company in 2011.


Klipsch RB-61 II

Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Made In?

Klipsch does spend a lot of column inches to ensure that their speakers bear a ‘made in America’ sticker. In the interest of being as accurate as possible with these reviews, we are not sure if that is a wholly accurate statement. It depends, of course, on your understanding of ‘made somewhere’ on a label.

Certainly, it appears that the majority of the components in these speakers are ‘made’ in China. They are then shipped to the US, either unassembled or partly assembled to Arkansas. They are then finally all put together as speakers.

We don’t happen to think there is anything wrong with that, although it would have been nice of Klipsch informed us of these things. There are quality operatives in China that are as good as anyone else in the world. We can see that by just how much high-end product is produced there.

A little justification…

Further, if these speakers were totally manufactured in the US from start to finish, then they would be so expensive that no one would buy them. There is, therefore, some justification for the way things are arranged.

There are people in many countries that try and insist on buying home-produced goods. America does not have a monopoly on that idea. But in today’s’ world, it is very unlikely that option exists in its purest terms. Does it matter? We don’t think so. It is about the quality of the product produced.

Klipsch RB-61 II

Need a reference?

The RB-61 speaker system is part of their ‘Reference’ speaker range. In fact, of the four models in the range, it sits at number 2, just behind the RB-81. The Reference range is what you might term very slightly high-end speakers.

As a speaker system, they will give you options for use. They will sit easily as your front-line speakers for music, but also fit nicely into a home cinema system.

Not everyone likes the Klipsch sound; it has to be said. The trademark Tractrix horn is prominent in the design. It produces a quite sharp and crisp performance even at low volume. However, we think that is a refreshing change. Some companies can go a bit ‘bass-crazy’ at times.

Let’s move on and take a closer look at the build of the RB-61…

The Build

If you want good sounding speakers, then the design of the cabinets and the materials is important. And the quality of the build is vital. It is also a nice idea to have a design that is attractive. They will be forming a focal point in your home, after all.

Klipsch delivers both aspects…

They are well-made with a good design, and some would say they are attractive to look at. They are certainly different from the Tractrix horn. And the copper spun woofer, and bass port are very prominent with the speaker grille removed. It is not too much, though, and the design in many ways is quite simple.

They have used a reinforced MDF for the construction. This is common these days, rather than having the expense of real wood. This has positives and negatives. It is a cheaper option, and it is a very dense fiberboard. It is suitable for making products like speaker cabinets.

But there’s a catch…

The downside is that it will not take screws very well. Also, the construction has to be good to ensure moisture is excluded, or it could swell up. It is in common use now even by high-end manufacturers. Most people have accepted its use, though there are still some companies that manufacture from ‘real’ wood. Some just prefer it.

The cabinets are put together well with internal bracing. They are finished off with a pleasant wood grain vinyl coverings. The grille at the front is magnetic. It is easy to remove and doesn’t leave fixing holes in the baffle to look at if you prefer the internals on view.

They measure 12.3 by 8.5 by 15.4 inches and weigh in at 35 pounds for the pair. This is a significant weight for a best bookshelf speaker.


The Performance

You often hear the expression ‘sound stage.’ Let’s try to clarify exactly what that means. It is difficult to explain, but try to imagine. You are sitting in a space with the instruments and musicians in 3D around you. A good soundstage will allow you to hear the approximate location of the instruments in a piece of music.

Having a good sound stage is what Klipsch speakers are all about. They incorporate their patented Tractrix technology into the cabinets. This gives them a performance that is accurate and virtually distortion-free.

Everything in this speaker is front-facing. They can be placed on bookshelves close to walls without interfering with the sound quality.

Crisp highs and a deep low end…

The horn has a one-inch titanium tweeter. It delivers crisp highs, and the horn design allows the spread of the sound across the ‘soundstage.’ There is a 6,5-inch high-performance copper spun woofer. This will give you the low frequencies to give a deep and resonant bottom end.

The cerametallic cones of these woofers are an interesting design. Given an aluminum treating, they are quite stiff but also lightweight. This allows them to work hard with a reduced risk of distortion.

Klipsch has included a new crossover system. It separates the three main areas of your sound stage, low, mid, and high. This ensures a good clear separation and definition. This impressive definition of sound carries a flat frequency response. That gives a controlled, accurate sound. This is what you might expect to find in speakers, or the best studio monitors in recording studios, at a much higher price.

Impressive and detailed…

The performance of the speakers is, therefore, impressive with the constituent parts providing a detailed sound. Not having a rear-firing bass port is an advantage. We have already mentioned that as a bookshelf speaker, it means they can be placed quite close to a wall with no negative acoustics.

The Sound

All fine so far, but really we buy our speakers because of the sound they produce. That’s the main reason. We have already referred to the soundstage produced by these speakers. It is wide and expansive and fills the room.

One point to make about that, though, is the speakers do need to be positioned upright rather than lying on their side. This does have an impact on the sound dispersion. If the horn tweeter is not in the position it was designed to be in, it will affect the sound.

Real clarity…

They will produce an impressive 100w RMS, and this provides the basis for the powerful and articulate sound. The Tractrix horn tweeter design gives the highs a real clarity but without being too sharp to the ear. The horn boosts the sound of the tweeter and ensures the high frequencies are not lost anywhere.

Down at the bottom end, the woofer and bass port do their job. They provide a powerful bass that is not overpowering but quite defined and not impinging over the mids.

Excellent mids…

The mids, which are often overlooked in some speaker designs, are one of the highlights of the sound of the RB-61. With the frequency response being very flat, they allow them to take center stage, and vocals especially shine through.

But even with classical music, the sound is excellent. They give precise instrument reproduction without attaching too much importance to the top or bottom end, The crossover, therefore, doing its job and separating the frequencies.

The sound produced will certainly be enough for a medium-sized location and give an excellent reproduction, making the sound of the RB-61 very impressive.


Conclusion

By now, you will have realized that we are quite impressed with these speakers. That isn’t to say it is all good from our viewpoint. For the sake of balance, let’s look at a few negatives.

We would prefer a real wood speaker, but that is just our preference. There aren’t many of those around these days, so we can run with a good quality MDF fiberboard. It would also have probably doubled the price, of course, to have wood.

We do think a better finish could have been applied. Rather than a vinyl, a real veneer would have been an excellent choice. But again, this could be a cost issue.

Grills off…

With Klipsch speakers, not just these ones, we are never convinced about the design with the grilles off. They are interesting, but they always seem a little aggressive somehow with sharp lines.

Finally, they are quite heavy. If they are going on a shelf, it needs to be quite secure. If you were thinking about wall brackets, the weight must also be a consideration. MDF does not take screws particularly well, so ‘L’ shaped brackets will be required.

But…

Apart from those rather trivial issues, there is nothing else that would stop us from recommending these speakers. And they are easily one of the best bookshelf speakers for under 500 dollars available today.

They are well-made and put together. The sound generated by them is powerful and accurate, and we like the flat frequency response. They are powerful enough to fill any medium-sized room. And finally, the sound stage, as mentioned, is excellent.

At the price point these are offered at, they are great value. An excellent sound that you could reasonably expect to pay much more for.

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