Klipsch R-15PM Powered Bookshelf Speakers Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 42 Old 03-14-2016, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Klipsch R-15PM Powered Bookshelf Speakers Review

In a world awash with mediocre "lifestyle audio" products, it's nice to see a performance-first powered-speaker system such as Klipsch's R-15PM powered monitors. These compact 2-way bookshelf-style loudspeakers offer flexible connectivity options that—when combined with the included remote—allow them to serve as a standalone stereo system. You won't need a receiver to take full advantage of the R-15PMs—even if you listen to vinyl records.

I had a chance to preview these speakers during a visit to Klipsch's design facilities in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a result, I already knew they have the potential to sound great. However, nothing beats hands-on time auditioning gear in your own listening room, so I requested a pair for review. In this video, you'll see how the R-15PMs performed in my studio:


Features

Sporting five inputs—USB, Bluetooth, optical digital, RCA analog stereo (with phono), and 3.5mm analog stereo—Klipsch's monitors interface with almost any source out there. You can use them with a TV, a phone, a Chromecast Audio, a laptop, and a turntable—all hooked up concurrently and selectable with either the included remote or a rear-mounted rotary volume/source selection control.

The speakers feature a 2-way design with a 5.25" woofer and a 1" aluminum compression-driver horn-loaded tweeter. These are powered speakers, but they use a passive crossover at 1800 Hz. Frequency response is specified from 62 Hz to 24 kHz (+/-3 dB), and each speaker gets 50 watts of amplification to work with. A subwoofer output with adjustable gain makes it easy to extend the system's bass response by adding a sub. One thing these speakers do not feature is EQ or any sort of tone control.

An included credit card-sized IR remote offers complete control of the system, from source selection to volume adjustment to tweaking the subwoofer level.

Setup

I treated the R-15PM system like any pair of quality bookshelf speakers, placing them on stands six feet apart, and four feet ahead of the front wall in my 2-channel listening room. The main difference was I did not have to connect these speakers to an AVR or separates-based system.

Setup was super simple; all I had to do was connect the passive (left) speaker to the active (right) one using a provided cable. It literally took seconds to plug in the system, turn it on, connect a source, and play music.

The R-15PM system offers the option to add a subwoofer, but there's no bass management. Therefore, you have to use a sub's built-in lowpass control to integrate it. I used a Klipsch R-115SW and an ELAC Debut S12EQ in my listening; both are great subs. Since the R-15PMs don't offer any sort of EQ, I appreciated the way the S12EQ blended in thanks to its highly effective Auto-EQ function. However, I also enjoyed the depths the Klipsch sub plumbed—it can dig down to 16 Hz. What's important is that when you add a sub, it transforms the R-15PM rig into truly powerful full-range system.

Performance

Regardless of whether I used the R-15PMs to listen to my music collection, catch a movie, play video games, or simply to watch a TV show, they delivered clear, dynamic, and completely non-fatiguing sound.

When it came to the speakers' performance, I was particularly impressed with the robustness of the drivers and amplification. It was essentially impossible to get the speakers to misbehave, aside from driving the woofer to its physical limits. One of the benefits of active (versus passive) speakers is that they offer designers an opportunity to create a holistic system where every part is optimized for its task, and Klipsch succeeded beautifully with the R-15PM.

A common concern about horn-loaded tweeters is that they are harsher than open domes and ribbons. As accurate as the R-15PMs are, that clarity did not come at the cost of listenability. Klipschophobia–the fear of fatiguing tweeters–is unjustified. You can listen to these speakers non-stop without tiring of the sweet sounds they make.

Ultimately, what you get from Klipsch for $500 are high-quality compact monitors that do not try to break the laws of physics when it comes to deep bass reproduction. Instead, they offer rock-solid performance within their specified frequency range, and they make a fantastic foundation for a simple sub/satellite rig. If you buy a decent subwoofer to go with the R-15PMs, you'll be rewarded with truly high-fidelity audio reproduction that's hard to beat for the price.

The performance and value offered by the R-15PM powered monitors make them easy to recommend to anyone who seeks high fidelity and ease of use in a compact standalone stereo speaker system.

REVIEW SYSTEM

Sources

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8 (Bluetooth)
Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 Windows 10 PC (USB)
Google Chromecast Audio (3.5mm analog)
Dual 606 turntable with Stanton 681EEE stylus (RCA analog)
Samsung PN64F8500 plasma TV (optical digital)

Subwoofers

ELAC Debut S12EQ
Klipsch R-115SW

Mark Henninger, Senior Editor at AVS Forum

Last edited by imagic; 03-14-2016 at 07:35 PM.
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post #2 of 42 Old 03-14-2016, 07:41 PM
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Awesome review!
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post #3 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 08:58 AM
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Thanks, Mark! Love the video review!

Even though the ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 speakers aren't powered, I'd be interested in a comparison after you've gotten hold of a pair for review.

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post #4 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 09:29 AM
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I wonder how these compares to emotiva's airmotiv 6s? the same MSRP.

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post #5 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 09:41 AM
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Haha, classic line:
Quote:
Klipschophobia–the fear of fatiguing tweeters–is unjustified. You can listen to these speakers non-stop without tiring of the sweet sounds they make.
Very true around here....
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post #6 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 10:46 AM
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I wonder if these use the same drivers as the RP series, previous R series, or Best Buy R series. It's clear that they do not use the RP horn design.

It would have been cool if they had added a high pass filter (bass management) switch to cut-off bass and increase headroom for use with a sub.

Mark, did you try them near-field? I can see these on a desktop for a PC system.

Also, did you get a max spl in your room?
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post #7 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 10:52 AM
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The built in DAC is nice. Do you have any reference how these compare to a Yamaha HS5? I know the HS5 is more a professional monitor and doesn't have all the consumer friendly features like a built in DAC, Bluetooth and such, but they are kind of the baseline reference for cheap monitors... at least in my opinion.
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post #8 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 11:35 AM
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So Im curious, on powered speakers, do they strip out the additional power sent from the receiver? or are these designed only for balanced connections and/or analog audio out plugs?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Chaves View Post
So Im curious, on powered speakers, do they strip out the additional power sent from the receiver? or are these designed only for balanced connections and/or analog audio out plugs?
The R-15PM is primarily designed to be used without a receiver. But, if you do use a receiver, they can only be hooked up via RCA to the the receiver's "pre-out", not the receiver's speaker outputs. Some cheaper receivers don't offer pre-out on the main zone, but I can see these definitely will come in handy for receivers that offer an RCA pre-out for a zone 2 (most receivers)
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post #10 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echtogammut View Post
The built in DAC is nice. Do you have any reference how these compare to a Yamaha HS5? I know the HS5 is more a professional monitor and doesn't have all the consumer friendly features like a built in DAC, Bluetooth and such, but they are kind of the baseline reference for cheap monitors... at least in my opinion.
Ya, that would be a good comparison.
BTW Yamaha does make a consumer version of the HS5. It has USB DAC, Bluetooth, MusicCast Wi-Fi, etc. It is bought in pairs, model NX-N500. That would be a more comparable... comparison
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post #11 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 12:28 PM
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I was excited until I saw the price. Out of my range. I was looking for some speakers for my PC. Can't see spending more than $300.00 I would probably want to add a sub as well.


That being said, you get what you pay for. So maybe I just need to save up a little and quit whining.

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post #12 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 01:12 PM
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Interesting that they use an aluminum compression driver in the old style horn. None of the other reference series use a compression driver other than the RF7/RC64.

The others use a titanium linear suspension or something design. Maybe the nice flat response and non-fatiguing nature is do the the use of the compression driver. Maybe Klipsch should use this tweet in all of its reference models.

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post #13 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 01:57 PM
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These almost seem tailor-made for WHA when you add a Chromecast Audio.
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post #14 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kini62 View Post
Interesting that they use an aluminum compression driver in the old style horn. None of the other reference series use a compression driver other than the RF7/RC64.

The others use a titanium linear suspension or something design. Maybe the nice flat response and non-fatiguing nature is do the the use of the compression driver. Maybe Klipsch should use this tweet in all of its reference models.
No fatigue issues with their titanium tweeter either...
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post #15 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 05:51 PM
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No fatigue issues with their titanium tweeter either...
I agree (mostly) but I don't believe the current titanium tweeter measures as flat and it's not a compression design which seems to make a pretty big difference based on reports from owners of RF7/RC64s and classic Klipsch speakers.

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post #16 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 07:28 PM
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Great review,

Seems it would be great for college students, dorms, bedrooms, apartment life, computer desks and a better option than a sound bar. Always good to start with a decent system then add subwoofer(s) if/when needed.

With all those features, hard to fault the price and performance.
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post #17 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by hockeynut View Post
I was excited until I saw the price. Out of my range. I was looking for some speakers for my PC. Can't see spending more than $300.00 I would probably want to add a sub as well.
I'd look at the JBL LSR305. It has subwoofer pre-outs I think.
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post #18 of 42 Old 03-15-2016, 08:20 PM
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If these were made using the RP line, I'd be more likely to pay the price as I was considering a new computer speaker setup these last few weeks and liked that there was a sub out. I ended up with a Dayton DTA-120 amp and reused a set of RB-51's I had while using a sub I built many years ago using high level inputs.
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post #19 of 42 Old 03-16-2016, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitti View Post
Ya, that would be a good comparison.
BTW Yamaha does make a consumer version of the HS5. It has USB DAC, Bluetooth, MusicCast Wi-Fi, etc. It is bought in pairs, model NX-N500. That would be a more comparable... comparison
I was actually kind of excited, when I read that and I had my credit card in hand ready to order one, then I saw the price...$700. That is a pretty hefty markup from the HS5 which can be found for $200 or less. The Klipsch is going for $500, so I don't think you will find too many cross shoppers. Maybe I will order another pair of HS5's and see if I can mod them to integrate a DAC with bluetooth and wifi using one of 10 billion duino boards I have laying around.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echtogammut View Post
I was actually kind of excited, when I read that and I had my credit card in hand ready to order one, then I saw the price...$700. That is a pretty hefty markup from the HS5 which can be found for $200 or less. The Klipsch is going for $500, so I don't think you will find too many cross shoppers. Maybe I will order another pair of HS5's and see if I can mod them to integrate a DAC with bluetooth and wifi using one of 10 billion duino boards I have laying around.
Ya the price on those Yamaha is steep; $700 vs. $400 for a pair of normal monitors. But they do have MusicCast, which if you are in the Yamaha ecosystem, can do a lot of things that a DAC, BT, and Wi-Fi alone can't do (unless you've reverse engineered their protocol haha)
This Klipsch hits middle price point for the pair, and the combination of builtin phono preamp stage, BT, USB DAC, etc. will certainly appeal to a wide range of listeners. I still think the price seems a little high considering the speakers appear to just be an aluminum tweeter version of the R-15M (249/pr) with 2x 50W amps added. The simple, builtin amp/DAC/BT costs $250 more? Steep!
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post #21 of 42 Old 03-16-2016, 03:30 PM
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Very good review Mark, glad to see some self powered speaker review comments .
I recently bought 4 used 1998 design TANNOY Active speakers, to convert my office 2.1 system using these same TANNOY models to a 5.1 system, for listening to DVD-A and DTS-CD material. The result has been absolutely great.
I use my OPPO 105 RCA line outputs directly to the speaker inputs, controlling the volume via the 105's remote volume control. The quality of these old TANNOY's is very good and in my small office space, I enjoy very good surround sound... especially material remastered to 5.1 surround by Elliot Scheiner on Steely Dan, Eagles and other great albums.

TANNOY's are still around in very good shape for $200-$300 a pair plus shipping. I bought mine off of eBay and bought two more to replace my front left & right speakers in the house 5.1 surround TV system, also using an OPPO 103. They will replace lessor quality non-powered 6-inch speakers.

See if Klipsch will loan you two more R-15PM's and see what their use in a 5.1 configuration sounds like. My old model TANNOY's sure surprised my ears, functioning as my new inexpensive 5.1 surround system.
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post #22 of 42 Old 03-16-2016, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kini62 View Post
Interesting that they use an aluminum compression driver in the old style horn. None of the other reference series use a compression driver other than the RF7/RC64.

The others use a titanium linear suspension or something design. Maybe the nice flat response and non-fatiguing nature is do the the use of the compression driver. Maybe Klipsch should use this tweet in all of its reference models.
These look like a powered version of the R-15M, so would have an aluminum tweeter, not a compression driver. Klipsch's tweeter descriptions are sometimes inconsistent.

The RP series has a titanium tweeter.
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post #23 of 42 Old 03-18-2016, 11:09 AM
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Thanks for the review. I have Klipsch in my living room HT as well as a pair of Heresey 3's in the bedroom. I love the sound of Klipsch. Now if I only had the $$$ need and room for these.

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post #24 of 42 Old 03-19-2016, 09:07 AM
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nice review!

"As accurate as the R-15PMs are, that clarity did not come at the cost of listenability. Klipschophobia–the fear of fatiguing tweeters–is unjustified. You can listen to these speakers non-stop without tiring of the sweet sounds they make."

Well, Klipschophobia is relative to every ones hearing I guess. I had a full reference 2 setup before, and I've indeed found them fatiguing. Well, fatiguing maybe isn't the right word. What was bothering me is more the lack of midrange detail... The high frequencies detail and bass extension were awesome, but it was distracting to me. I could indeed listen to them for long periods, but didn't enjoy them.

Are these speakers more balanced than say, older models? I've always found Klipsch middle tier offerings a little bit extreme... You had me curious with these little speakers, might give them a listen.

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post #25 of 42 Old 03-27-2016, 02:02 PM
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Bickering removed. Stick to the topic, please.
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post #26 of 42 Old 03-27-2016, 09:39 PM
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The klipsch R-15M is the passive verson of the R-15PM. The R-15M goes on sale at bestbuy on black friday for $125. I own a pair of the r-15m, by looking at the photos of the r-15pm they are the same. It looks like the second speaker of the r-15pm is passive. Klipsch is charging big bucks for the DAC, TT preamp, and blutooth functions.
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post #27 of 42 Old 03-29-2016, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by nbp_civic View Post
The klipsch R-15M is the passive verson of the R-15PM. The R-15M goes on sale at bestbuy on black friday for $125. I own a pair of the r-15m, by looking at the photos of the r-15pm they are the same. It looks like the second speaker of the r-15pm is passive. Klipsch is charging big bucks for the DAC, TT preamp, and blutooth functions.
Put the Klipsch powered monitors up against a 2-channel amp and the R-15M's... and you won't be able to compare the two sonically.
The R-15PM's smoke their passive siblings.
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post #28 of 42 Old 03-29-2016, 06:53 AM
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Put the Klipsch powered monitors up against a 2-channel amp and the R-15M's... and you won't be able to compare the two sonically.
The R-15PM's smoke their passive siblings.
Why would this be the case?

Do the powered monitors use DSP to change/improve the frequency response?
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Why would this be the case?

Do the powered monitors use DSP to change/improve the frequency response?
The only real difference I see is the horn guide on the r-15pm is different. The mid/woofer driver is the same, plus it's still using the same tweeter. Does the PM com with active crossovers? I'm sure they used DSP to alter the sound signature from it's passive brother.

I'm sure both spairs of speakers will sound different because the PM's price is 4x more. I wonder if bestbuy carries it, i would like to have a listen.
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post #30 of 42 Old 03-29-2016, 12:33 PM
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Why would this be the case?

Do the powered monitors use DSP to change/improve the frequency response?
It should especially since it has a built in DAC, but based on the video the amp responding to a single cycle sine wave, which is a complete waste of energy in this case since the speakers are designed for several octave above that as low end cut off.
Ideally this would have a completely digital active crossover with a built in highpass filter on the amp itself, and with a companion low pass filter on the SUB out, so one wouldn't have to use the connected sub's filters at all. Of course the price would be higher, but so would be the performance too.

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