The power of kids (and a review of the Klipsch RP-8000F)

Looking back on before kids, I have to admit that I was far too optimistic. When my first kid was born, my wife turned to me and asked “What are you going to do about your speakers?”.

“What do you mean? He’ll learn to appreciate expensive things and not touch them.” Boy was I wrong. I think I failed to remember that children have no sense of cost or value. To them, the world is their domain. Sure, they can learn that something is off-limits. But doesn’t that just drive their curiosity even more? At the time of this writing, my son is about to turn 18 months. We have another on the way, so I’ll get to re-experience all of this again. It’s been an interesting ride.

Here come the Kids

That brings me to today’s topic, the “power of kids”. As my son has grown, so have I in my understanding of what it is to be a father. And part of that understanding is that he will, generally speaking, do whatever’s on his mind. Whether or not that mind includes thinking about consequences is up for debate. 

As he’s grown up, I’ve had to slowly move, replace, or protect my system. First, it started with the speakers – the Rega RS10’s. Do you know how much tweeter is to replace? Probably better not to ask. Instead of worrying about having to replace the speakers, I settled for cheaper speakers that I’m okay with getting beat-up.

Okay, so durability and relative cheapness to repair/replace have now become primary objectives. That left me with only a few brands – Polk…. and Klipsch. Is there anyone else even worth considering that makes at least half decent speakers? Well… I actually almost ended up getting the Q Acoustics Concept 40 in white. They’re great performers and they would have been a great match to our TV stand. But alas, they would be prime for crayons and markers and they didn’t win favor with the wife. So after much research, I ended up with the Klipsch RP-8000F’s.

I didn’t fully realize this at the time, but Klipsch speakers are not a good companion for the Rega Osiris. They’re far too sensitive. The Osiris likes speakers with sensitivities in the mid 80’s. That were it, in my opinion, performs best. So, into its box it went. 

This was the first time I had ever used the amplifier outputs on my Marantz receiver. Ever. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to reviewing the receiver – it’s quite old by today’s standards. In short, I would describe its performance as ‘adequate’. It’s fine for movies, but un-involving for music. 

Build Quality

I’ll make this short and sweet. These speakers have heft. Which is a good thing. It would be terrible to unpack a giant speaker only for it to give you doubts because of its weight. From afar, the build quality is excellent. The pho-wood finish looks great. Up close, it’s very obvious it’s not a real-wood finish, but I’m okay with that for the price. Performance is more important to me at this price. 

Okay, moving on.

The setup

To get a feel for the speakers, I instead hooked them up to a wonderful pair of EL84 monoblocks by Triode Lab. More on them to come in the future.

A quick note about the system:

  • Network transport – Raspberry pi running ropieee (highly recommended for Roon)
  • Topping D10 – usb output from network transport
  • Rega DAC – Coax output from D10 to Rega
  • Marantz NR1606 – Using the pre-outs
  • Triode Lab EL84M-FFX

Okay, I realize that the tube monoblocks far outclasses everything else when looking at price. But this is a review of the speakers, not the components that precede them.

How are the speakers setup? They are not toed-in at all. This was my preferred setup in this room. I  think if I were in a room with proper sound panels and such, they could do with ‘some’ toe-in to combat their off-axis performance.

What about the sound

These speakers are exceptionally efficient, to the point where only a few watts is needed to make them shine. I imagine that this is huge for those that plan to use receivers like Marantz or Denon or the like.

The very first thing that grasps you when you listen to these speakers is the bass oomph. The dual 8″ drivers on each tower allows them to dig plenty deep and even give the impression that “no, you don’t need subwoofer”. That low end dig is something to behold, and if you weren’t sure before getting this speaker, you’ll know after your first listen.

Regarding that tractrix horn loaded tweeter. To be honest, I was very surprised upon first listen. I’ve not been a fan of klipsch speakers in the past, often saying that the treble in them is ear-piercing and “makes my ears bleed”. Nope, the symbols and air within the music I listened to was quite wonderful. I still don’t know if I could be right in front of the speaker, they may still be a little hot-blooded for me. But off axis just 10 degrees or so was great.

How do voices sound? It’s a bit of a mixed bag. It may be my room, but female voices seem to be elevated in volume compared to males. Taking a look at the measured response of the speakers from other sites indicates that that may indeed be true. Now, don’t take this as the male voices being terrible. On the contrary, music was still wonderful to listen to. I’m just merely noting that females seemed to be elevated in comparison.

Soundstage? This is where the klipsch speakers really started to fall apart for me. Try as I might, I could not get a soundstage that was well defined. Instruments and voices were always hard to pinpoint their location – instead it was like looking through a foggy window. I could definitely tell that the singer was walking across the stage, but my eyesight was blurry and I couldn’t tell you exactly where they were.

Let’s talk about movies. This is a completely different ballgame. You’re not required to use just your hearing, you have your eyes to assist and enhance what you’re hearing. This really makes all the difference and, if I’m being honest, is where the speakers start to shine. The big woofers really start to show what they’re made of in movies, really enforcing that “you are here” sensation like when you go to the movie theaters. To put it in perspective, I prefer these Klipsch speakers to my Rega RS10’s when it comes to video content. For the price, I’m sold – these have been the best speakers I’ve auditioned for TV/Movies bar none.

To sum it all up

Klipsch has produced an overall winner. It’s not without its flaws though. I can comfortably say that there are much better options out there if your primary goal with these speakers is to listen to music.

For movies though, they really turn the tables. I remember a decade ago just being disgusted with the idea of using Klipsch speakers. That treble was really that bad. Now though, I think this RP-8000F is one of the best home theater speakers you can get at its price point, especially if you pick it up on sale. I’d be interested to see what they come up with next.

I’ve had the speakers for a few months now and they’ve held up quite well to the kiddo. He’s hit them, colored on them, ran into them, and they’re still standing as if nothing ever happened.

Alrighty fellas, until next time.

5 thoughts on “The power of kids (and a review of the Klipsch RP-8000F)”

  1. Not sure if you have happened upon a review at audioholics or not but, in this review a team of two tech engineering types responsible for measuring speaker tolerances suggested after measuring the RP8000f suggested that they perform best with serious toe in. Not simply aimed at a particular sweet spot but, to the opposite corners/ends of the room. FORMING AN x or interacting well before the intended target. So the intersect well before the listener. Not sure what this phenomenon is called but, after following instructions WoW.
    Thought I would share will not go back to any other cofiguration

    1. Matthew Philpot

      Hey Anthony,

      I have seen this before with other boutique speaker manufacturers, like Pi Speakers. I too am not sure what the term is called, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did help. That said, I no longer have the speakers to review and even if I did, I’m positive that my wife wouldn’t have any of it 🙂

      Either way, I’m glad it’s working for you! Cheers

  2. You said there are other speakers at this price point that would be far better for listening to music. Can you name some? I’m in the market, and I’ve so far come down to these and the upcoming Chane Model 753. Would be grateful for a (short?) list of others you’d recommend. Thanks in advance!

  3. I’m a little wary now, since I primarily listen to music, but I have a certain suspicion that there isn’t some special thing that can cause “imaging” in a speaker, save the actual recording itself.
    Of course, I don’t know nothin’ about nothin’, so I aint gonna be pontificate, it’s just that a lot of stuff in high-end audio seems a bit like phooey.

    1. These days I’m a firm believer that “imaging” can be obtained using any pair of speakers and is entirely reliant on the speaker’s interaction with the room and your listening position. The thing that trips people up is speaker placement – no two speakers will be the same in regards to placement within the room, toe-in, etc. Treating the room can go a long way towards this goal, but I realize that’s not feasible for everyone. It’s certainly not for me, my wife won’t allow it in the living room.

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