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Are the Klipsch RP-600M Overrated or Did I Get it Right?

The Klipsch RP-600M offer an outstanding level of performance for only $629 and can work with a wide range of solid state and tube amplifiers.

Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Loudspeakers in walnut without grille pair

A lot of ink has been spilt about the Klipsch RP-600M; I rather enjoyed my time with them but I also have firsthand experience with them driven by a lot of amplifiers and have been exposed to their limitations and warts over a much longer period of time.

Most consumers will order them online without even an audition and that’s often a recipe for disappointment if the rest of the system isn’t a good match.

I had the chance to listen to them again recently with another batch of amplifiers and I still stand by my original review; you learn something new every time you switch out an amplifier or source.

Over the past year, I’ve watched a number of YouTube videos where reviewers and even manufacturers of other loudspeakers have taken these loudspeakers apart to explain their limitations and also point out areas where they can be improved.

I don’t have an issue with the DIY crowd making “improvements” to their samples but let’s be honest — 99% of the people buying these speakers are not taking them apart and I’m pretty sure that most would screw them up somehow if they tried.

Unless you know what you are doing — don’t take apart your loudspeakers and get upset when they don’t sound any different (or worse) based on what someone told you in a video.

Back to Klipsch.

Klipsch have been in business more than 70 years but the past 5 years must feel like some serious vindication for them. I’m not going to burst that balloon because they deserve their current success; and all of the bootlicking coming from the high-end press.

Take a bow Klipsch Audio RP-600M.

Bootlicking? An endless supply and it must feel rather sweet going down – like some of that fine Kentucky Bourbon.

The RP-600M are not even part of their vaunted “Heritage” Series but I’m 100% certain that Klipsch would sell out of a Heritage RP-600M model if it were ever introduced. I would buy the first pair. 

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For years, the high-end press told audiophiles that Klipsch were for home theater customers; that no serious music listener should consider them.

Two of our columnists use vintage Klipsch loudspeakers at home and I trust their ability to discern excellent sound quality. Klipsch never stopped making great loudspeakers. The audiophile press just found other brands to promote. 

Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Loudspeaker in walnut with grille

The Klipsch RP-600M loudspeakers ($769.00/pair) benefit from some trickle down technology borrowed from its more expensive siblings in the Heritage line-up, and it’s ironic that audiophiles who swore for the past few decades that they would never be caught dead with a pair of Klipsch are lining up to buy them now. Apparently, there is something to the Klipsch sound that people really like. 

At their asking price, the RP-600M are not without some level of compromise; using the wrong amplifier and not paying attention to set-up affects their performance just enough to make them an exciting listen at first, but not very fulfilling over the long haul. Getting things right with the Klipsch RP-600M from the very beginning will change how you perceive your music collection for many years to come. 

Music has a presence that few loudspeakers priced below $1,000 can really match; competing products from Quad, Wharfedale, Polk Audio, PSB, KEF, and Paradigm all do a very fine job with all kinds of music, and offer a well-rounded presentation – but they don’t have the swagger of the RP-600M. Some might find the RP-600M to be too much of a good thing, but they are probably using the wrong amplifier if that’s the case. 

Klipsch loudspeakers have a reputation for being forward/bright sounding, and while there is certainly a lot of top end energy and detail emanating out of the RP-600M’s 1-inch titanium-dome tweeter with hybrid cross-section Tractrix horn, the loudspeaker never really crosses that line. If anything, the RP-600M are the most laid-back sounding pair of Klipsch loudspeakers that I have heard over the past 25 years.

Horns, in particular, have a healthy degree of bite and tone making them a vibrant listen with great jazz recordings like Hank Mobley’s Workout (Tidal/MQA) and Donald’s Byrd A New Perspective (Tidal/16-bit/44.1 kHz). Byrd’s signature track “Cristo Redentor” had me a little nervous leading up to the moment where his trumpet enters, but the combination of the RP-600M along with a number of warmer sounding amplifiers from Schiit Audio, Heed, Cambridge Audio, and AmpsandSound retained all of the magic without a loss of detail. 

The RP-600M’s 6.5-inch Cerametallic cone woofer does an admirable job with vocals but nobody will ever confuse it for a paper or polypropylene driver; there was a slight hardness on some recordings like Sam Cooke’s Night Beat (Tidal/16-bit/44.1 kHz) that I have never heard when playing tracks like “Lost and Lookin’” though the Quad S-2, PSB Alpha P5, or Wharfedale Diamond 10.1s. 

Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Loudspeaker in walnut rear

Switching over to my vinyl copy of the aforementioned album, there was less of an edge in the upper midrange compared to the same tracks when streaming via Tidal, but it’s clear that the Klipsch sacrifice some midrange warmth for a sharper edge, and more immediate sounding presentation. It’s not a bad thing if you can balance it out with an amplifier or sources that dial back the RP-600M’s exuberance – but it’s clearly there. 

If you’re looking for a bass heavy two-way loudspeaker, the Klipsch RP-600M get you part of the way there – but not completely. Having spent time recently with the Forte III, and La Scala II, I’ve noticed a bit of a trend with Klipsch loudspeakers and bass response. If you’re looking for subterranean bass response that will rattle your walls, the RP-600M are going to leave you hanging somewhat; what you get instead is quick, tuneful bass that is somewhat on the lean side depending on your choice of amplifier. 

Listening to Aphex Twin’s “To Cure a Weakling Child” (Tidal, 16-bit/44.1 kHz) made it pretty clear that the RP-600M are very adept with electronica; the track energized my 16 x 13 x 9 den with relatively tight bass that was fairly extended, but there is no question that it could have benefitted from a subwoofer. 

If you can pull them 2-3’ from the front wall, they do a reasonable job recreating the space between you and the musicians, but there is trade-off in tonal balance and bass response. Because they are rear ported, I left them 26” from the wall and that proved to be a good compromise in my listening space; the RP-600M sounded fuller to my ears pointed straight ahead and 72” apart. 

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Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Loudspeaker in walnut on stand
Klipsch RP-600M in piano black on stand beside SPL-150 Subwoofer ($1,149)

Another positive was their overall appearance, which earned a lot of positive comments from both family and friends who walked past them during the review process. Most people didn’t believe the price and were not turned off by their size (15.7” H by 8″ W by 11.9″ D). The magnetically attached grill covers reduce the overall output by 1dB and there is no question that they impart a tiny veil over the sound. The RP-600M do require robust loudspeaker stands if you really want to pull every last bit of performance out of them. 

Trust, but verify… 

The RP-600M are efficient, high-sensitivity loudspeakers but Klipsch’s claim of 96dB/W/m is not something that I was able to verify. Every amplifier will make the RP-600M sound different; low-powered tube amplifiers carved out the best sound, but 25-50 watts from the right amplifier will be more than you ever need. 

The RP-600 are above average in the imaging department, but don’t expect them to reproduce a palpable, three-dimensional soundstage in your room. 

There is a slight level of hardness in the upper midrange that may bother some people with vocals depending on your amplifier. If you stick with warmer sounding amplifiers or sources, the issue will probably never rear its ugly head; and you’ll think they have unbelievable presence. 

Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Loudspeakers in ebony

Final Thoughts:

At $769, the Klipsch RP-600M are capable of over-achieving with the right electronics. Drive them with a cheap receiver, or even expensive analytical sounding amplifier and you will find very little joy with them.

Connecting them to something like the Schiit Audio Aegir or Ragnarok 2, Heed Elixir, or any robust sounding EL34/EL84 tube amplifier will be a match in sonic heaven and end the argument that inexpensive loudspeakers can’t move you emotionally. A future classic.

Specifications:

  • Type: Two-way, rear-ported, stand-mounted loudspeaker
  • Drivers: 1″ (25mm) titanium-dome tweeter with hybrid cross-section Tractrix horn; 6.5″ (165mm) Cerametallic-cone woofer
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz–25kHz, ±3dB
  • Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 96dB/W/m
  • Dimensions: 15.7″ (400mm) H by 8″ (200mm) W by 11.9″ (300mm) D
  • Finishes: Walnut, Ebony or Piano Black
  • MSRP: $769

Where to Buy:

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. MadMex

    May 31, 2021 at 4:19 pm

    I’ve held on to my Klipsch KG4s since 1990, 31 years. I find audio hardware I like and I stick with it. I’m not looking for the next big thing every other year in home audio. I’ll go cuckoo. Go broke. I’d rather stare at the wall. But what do I know?

    • Ian White

      May 31, 2021 at 6:09 pm

      More and more people agree with you.

      If you find a pair of speakers you really like — why change?

      Ian White

    • DG

      March 15, 2022 at 5:58 pm

      Same here. Exactly
      I have the Heresy IVs and they are here till I’m gone, along with a few other brands.

  2. Norman

    February 23, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    These speakers with a first watt f5.what do you think?

  3. Richard

    March 15, 2022 at 12:17 pm

    Modifications aren’t for everyone as the article says, but I’ve had a lot of fun modifying my Klipsch RP-600Ms. You can fix the upper midrange hardness by upgrading the capacitor and resistor in the treble section of the crossover. I added a Duelund (!) bypass cap across the bass crossover cap, and replaced the internal wiring with Duelund DCA20GA, and then upgraded the binding posts with KLE ones. I also damped the bass horn with Dynamat. I’ve ended up with a much more refined speaker with all the strengths of the original, such as the dynamics and ‘fun’ factor.

    • Ian White

      March 15, 2022 at 10:31 pm

      Very interesting.

      What are you driving them with?

      And how much were the modifications.

      My RP-600M are glaring at me.

      Ian White

      • Richard

        March 16, 2022 at 1:49 am

        I’m driving them with a 5 watt per channel Glow Amp One single ended EL84 amp, which shouldn’t really be enough but works fine in practice and sounds great. I spent about 700 euros on the speakers including shipping and about 350 euros on the mods, and so about 50% of the speaker cost on mods. Nearly half of that was two sets of four the KLE Classic Harmony binding posts which are pricey.

        I described what I did here:

        https://www.hifiwigwam.com/forum/threads/modifying-the-klipsch-rp-600m.94059/

  4. ORT

    March 29, 2022 at 4:43 pm

    I recently gave a pair of KEF Q150s to my son and he likes them very much. I almost bought the Q950s but they were out of white and to be honest, they would be too big for the room…And I do NOT want to have to pay extra for grill covers. Sheeeeeesh!

    I may look at these RP-600Ms as from what you say, they seem nice. I recently bought a pair of Klipsch with built in Atmos on the top and they (UPS) screwed up the delivery so they did not make it. I may try again when I retire so that I can be here. UPS kept changing the time, dammit! 😉

    In the interim, I do like Klipsch and I do like the walnut color and I do like the efficiency and so I may risk it. I really want some LRS but my dealer does not behave as a dealer and Magnepan LRS seem to STILL have a waiting list. Also I would commit heresy and power them with a *GASP!* receiver. 86db sensitivity on the LRS means, per poopular lore, I must have a brazillion watts and I ain’t gonna do that unless I do as my younger brother does and just get a DJ amp for a lot less money with a lot more headroom. And still I do not think I need the power. They worked fine with my olde Onkyo TX-NR818 a couple of years ago at the dealer when they behaved as a dealer (I still had to wait a few months to get any thing).

    So mayhaps these will suffice? What say ye? I am uncertain but that is typical of me. I am listening to “The Best of The Seekers”. Not the
    “Gnu Seekers”, the real ones.

    ORT

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