Hey guys, I installed the Klipsch RF-83s and RC-64 into my 7.1 home theater setup, and I have to say I am awfully impressed. The great Klipsch dynamics are still there, but with a much smoother, less forward highend presentation. Also, the bass output of the new floorstanders is incredible, especially the midbass. Below is a modified version of the review I put up on the Klipsch site, I thought some of you thinking about upgrading your home theater might be interested:
Appearances and first impresions:
I got the new speakers in cherry, to match my existing setup. The wood veneer is very nice, in line with what you'd expect from a flagship speaker. DOn't get me wrong, they don't looks as nice as the Wharfedale Evo line, but they are handsome in my theater room. The "knife-edge" back does look fancier than the older Refrence line, but since it's on the side I don't normally see, it doesn't matter much to me (it may help with WAF, but luckily my significant other cares more about sound reproduction). More important to me, the binding posts are much nicer than previous Klipsch Reference speakers. The RC-64 is very heavy for a center channel (I have it on the floor in front of my TV until I can get a new support shelf that will safely hold it), and some may pass on it because of its size, but IMHO that would be a mistake.
The new horns are an absolute pleasure to listen to. The highs are much better on the RF-83s than they were on the previous Klipsch Reference line; less coloration, less forward presentation, no listening fatigue. Perhaps the best way I can sum it up is that previously I never turned up the volume past 55 (and normally had it around 50 for treble-heavy music). I popped in big band music and had it up to 62 before I knew it. It was simply a more inviting listening experience, where I wanted to pay more attention to the music that was playing. The smoothed out sound did not come at the expense of the dynamics Klipsch is known for, and I am currently in the process of listening to my music collection again.
The bass output is also improved; there is no longer a hole in the midrange, and the RF-83s have prodigous amounts of mid-bass. The sound is fuller, and dramatically imrpoves almost all music, whether orchestral, rap, or alternative. I have a subwoofer in my system, but you really don't need one for music. The heaping gobs of mid bass simply don't run out.
I was play most of my music with surround matrix processing (NEO6 mostly), so I have no real opinion on the stereo imaging of the speakers. I can say that even with surround matrixing there is an improvment in imaging (this becomes important below).
Home Theater: I love my movie sound, and these speakers really, really come through in this department. In Revenge of the Sith you could hear the separation of the fighters long after they'd flown forward and were only being played on the front speakers. The extra bass extension is important (when the glass ball breaks in the THX storm demo, I literally felt the impact). But even more important here is once agian the mid-bass; since there is more bass coming from each speaker, you get much, much better localization with surround effects (not that the REF IIIs were slackers).
This is also where the RC-64 gets to shine. The RC-64 gets rid of the issue of "off-axis" dialogue intelligability altogether. It also brings new movie details to life. In The Incredibles, when Mrs. Incredible picks rubble off of hubby and drops it before chewing him out, you distincly hear the rock fall onto the floor and bounce.
The best way I can sum up the new center channel is there is an ease with which it does it's job (some described it as "natural" sounding). It was almost disconcerting initially; it seemed like it wasn't working hard ebnough compared to my RC-7. But I found it instantly drawing me into movies, as the speaker disappears and the dialogue simply comes from the actors on screen. And at the moment my RC-64 is sitting on the floor, much further from the screen than it will be in a week.
I had a friend come over and demo the opening space battle of RotS, after which we watched the new directors cut of Kingdom of Heaven. He's not an audiophile, but plays music and has a good ear, and he noticed similar improvements.
I give two enthusiastic thumbs up to the RF-83s and RC-64. IMHO, anyone looking to upgrade their home theater owes it to themselves to go listen to the new REF IVs. My girlfriend, who cares less about movies than music, is just as impressed with the new speakers, so the emphasis on home theater improvements is simply my bias. Tastes differ from person to person, so trust your ears, but I've demoed a lot of speakers, and these are the best I've heard anywhere near this price range.