Some thoughts on Kpisch RF7ii with personal experience
It was interesting reading this thread from the beginning and seeing how the conversation turned into what is "hi-end" discussion. Certainly our culture is such that it tends to dictate that anything more expensive must be better. It is true to some extent. However, when we talk about speakers it is important to define hi-end. Is it the workmanship of the woodwork and the fit and finish or is it the performance? Sure there are products like the Focal Grand Utopia at 150K that do boast the best of both of these worlds. In most case, however, when talking about $3-20K speakers, I find that fit and finish correlate better with price than performance. You have to ask yourself which one you want or need. most of us would want both, but we do not have the coin needed to do get to the above-mentioned Focal Grand Utopia level.
Here comes Klpisch RF7ii. The fit and finish I have to say are at best mediocre or worse. Quality of individual parts like woofers: impressive. Implementation: mediocre to poor. Out of the box sound: mediocore to poor. However, I have to say that I have ended up with these speakers after many years of being an audio enthusiasts and a hobbyist. Why? With small tweaks and additions, I have transformed my Klipsch speakers into what I think are giant killers. I regularly visit the Magnolia in my neighborhood, and not because I am interested in what they have. The main reason I am there is to have listening sessions to their B&W 802D and Sonus Faber speakers to appreciate on how much better these Klpisch are in my system. I know these are not apples to apples, but still, we are talking about 16K pair of speakers driven by Mcintosh sources and amps costing at least another 20K.
Now back to what the good and bad is in Klipsch. Please observe original klpisch's frequency response curve. It does not look good, especially in high frequencies. This is because the horn driver normally is good to about 7-9KHz levels (my measurements with crossovers out, not shown). The way Klipsch was able change this is within the crossover circuit. Hence everything sounds unnatural and harsh in high frequencies. Why has Klipsch done this? I think cost (compare this to Palladium series where cost is up and extra tweeter is added).
Now my modifications are relatively simple: rip out the crossover circuit and replace it with an active analog crossover, add Fostex super-tweeters to handle the region above 8Khz and make the overall system tri-amplified.
Finally I have painted the horns to increase the visual appeal.
Of course, these mods add more money to the Klpisch's modest $3200 price tag. Specifically, Fostex tweeters alone are $1000 (these beasts are amazing though), and the extra cost of the amplifiers (from me it was 4K with W4S ST500 and consonance tube monoblocks). that brings the total extra cost to around $8300. This may sound a lot, but on the other hand, now I can have an ICE amp driving the woofers with >2000 damping factor, while using tube amps to drive mids and highs to get the sweet tube sound. If you want another 5-10% improvement, you can replace the compression drivers too, which I have done (Klpisch drivers are great in their own right though). In the end, my Klipsch speakers sound buttery, which many would say is an oxymoron when talking about Klipsch. The most important differences compared to say B&W802Ds are the wider soundstage, increased detail and dynamics. These guys can now play at 100db levels with ease, and at no time you feel the top octaves are hot or fatiguing. Now I think I do have a hi-end performing speakers, albeit the aesthetics are sub par to B&W and many others. Please check out some measurements after the mods.
Room response at listener position-about 4 meters.Edited by gago1101 - 8/11/13 at 2:45pm