Hello Fellow Klipschsters!
Wow! It's been a while since I posted in this thread. It's nice to be back! Hopefully I will gain some clarity after this inquiry.
I recently acquired pair of Klipsch Icon WF-35 Towers in Espresso NIB.
I know, so yesterday!
When Klipsch launched the Icon series, the expectations where high due to the new design. But in many respects, the WF's failed in 3 categories:
1) Failed to win over the Klipsch faithful,
2) Capture the attention of speaker owners of different brands and
3) Which in my opinion hurt the most because this is what they where made for, capture the attention of customers looking for high WAF, but also provide excellent performance. (subjective of course).
Unfortunately, the WF-35's good looks wasn't strong enough to overcome it's weaknesses: moderate, bordering on anemic low end response and the price to performance ratio. There's a a lot of competition out there that provide balanced performance at the same price point. Sadly, the Icon WF line has become clearance merchandise at NewEgg.com! That's a shame too because it's a beautiful speaker with (under the right circumstances) admirable performance. At the current price, if any are left, it's without question, the best deal on speakers with a furniture grade finish you can find! The speakers also came with gloves for handling and two sets of feet (spikes and rounded rubber feet).
I've had them for about a week now and currently, they are standing along side my 8 yr old RF-35 towers while they go thru a burn/break in period. At the same time, I'm also comparing the two vastly different concepts. My initial plan was to break in the WF's and then relocate them to the familyroom, replacing the Polk Audio RTi70's that are currently in place.WF-35 vs. RF-35
To say that visibly, the WF's and the RF's are remarkably different speakers is stating the obvious, but to hear them one after the other was eye opening.
The WF's in the Espresso finish are beautiful! The real wood veneer (Berlinia) makes the RF's look antique, dated, blasé, so 1990's! The triple fiberglass driver's, although somewhat small at 5.25" in diameter, are also very attractive. Overall, one of the nicest looking speakers in it's price range. (orig. msrp $749 ea.)
The WF-35's clarity was astounding! I really thought my RF-35's were clear, but the Icons are on another level. Airy would be a proper description. Where the WF's started to loose momentum was is in the lower ranges. Now with particular recordings, the WF's performed admirably throughout the upper, mid and lower ranges. Those recordings where usually the best recordings I have in my collection (HDCD, Tel Arc, Hi-Res FLAC files). With standard CD's 44.1 KHz, ALAC files and FLAC lossless tracks, even at the higher volume levels, on many of the tracks, the WF's were lacking in the low end. In comparison, the RF-35's showed their robust nature regardless of the recording's bandwidth/frequency range. They performed at a broader range and definitely produced stronger low end, almost effortless regardless of the type of track. It was truly evident in with older recordings. A good example was when I played Dianne Reeve's "Never Too Far". The WF's again where superior in the upper end. Dianne Reeves sounded like she was right in front of me. The transparency and clarity was amazing. But the overall performance goes to the RF-35's. The highs and upper mids where very clear. Not to the level of the WF's, but the vocals where clean and crisp. Understanding that the WF's do not set the bar for being the perfect speaker, it did make me appreciate how good and balanced the RF-35's really are. If the WF-35's had the RF-35's low end performance, to me, they would be nearly perfect, (for me, anyway) and I really think, would have resulted in more sales for Klipsch.
Understand, I've been contemplating replacing the RF-35's for quite some time now. The models that have been considered are the RF-63's or stepping away from Klipsch altogether and going with either ML-ESL's (uncanny clarity, but too dependent on listening position) or maybe the ML Motion 40's, Monitor Audio RX6's/8's or the B&W 683's and CM9's (Pre-owned).
AFter 8 years with the RF-35's, I felt it was time to upgrade. I had become too familiar with the 35's sound which was rapidly turning into boredom. After auditioning the other speakers, I was discovering that in many ways, replacing the RF-35's with any of the models I listed would be more or so a lateral move than a true upgrade. Now I qualify that, with knowing that in general, most showrooms are not the best when it comes to providing the proper listening environments. Namely, bad speaker positioning, mediocre source devices and insufficient amplification and when it comes to room acoustics/treatments, most are either overdone with too much dampening or none at all. But I'm not devoid of recognizing the differences either. I do realize that the aforementioned speakers are for the most part, nicer speakers especially when considering the aesthetics, but IMO when it comes to the overall performance, the premium required isn't justified.
The Icon's IMHO are designed to accommodate the high to upper mid-range frequencies and leave anything under 80Hz to the subwoofer, PERIOD! Can they go lower? Of course, but it's definitely predicated on the recording. If the recording is a little weak in the lower frequency, the WF's will act like the low end wasn't even on the recording! Listen to the same recording using the RF-35's, the low end no matter how faint, will be revealed. A much fuller sound but, with all that said, I still like the WF's because of the potential. The highs and upper mid range is that good. With the addition of a well mannered subwoofer and you may just have a package that is a force to be reckoned with.
So with all that said, here's where I'm at: I'm considering (only considering) going with the Icon WF-35's to replace the RF-35 package. Why? Because it's new to me!
Center, rears, surrounds and replacing my dual RSW-10's with dual SVS SB12-NSD's. Now, if I were to act on this contemplation, my biggest issue would be the Icon WC-24 center channel. I do understand that it too, has excellent clarity, but no guts! Like it's tower mate, lacking in mid to low range. So I've been looking at possible replacements for it. Preferably, a center using a horn design, but also having attractive aesthetics similar to the Icon W.
That eliminates anything in the Reference line.
However, I did come across a manufacturer that employs a horn design in their speakers.HSU Research HC-1MK2
Not the Tractrix horn, per'se, but it is in fact a horn design, so I'm assuming that theoretically the timbre between the WF and the HC-1MK should not be that far removed. The HC-1MK is surely a more substantial speaker when compared to the WC-24 (it's so small).
I'm accustomed to the presence and size of the RC-35 on my TV stand.
I am curious of whether or not it would be an acceptable match to the Icons XT Tractrix horn.
So I ask of the Klipschsters out there........ Should I stay with the current Reference package, incorporate some tweaks like adding panels (which I'm doing anyway) and employ a few isolation measures like installing outriggers? And continue on my quest and eventually upgrade to what I really want?
Take a walk on the wild side and see if i can make the Icon package work by adding bigger/better subs and be resigned to the fact that when listening to music, the subs on many occasions (a lot of occasions), will have to be engaged to get the full range? I'm not too concerned with movie viewing because there's not going to be that big a difference between the WF's and RF's in overall performance will listening to movie soundtracks. There's less responsibility for each speaker in those formats.
After listening to the WF's, I do realize that the RF's are good speakers and my urge to replace them is due primarily to upgradeitis and wanting something new. Having the WF's in house, regardless of it's lack of low end performance, is currently satisfying the "wanting something new" craving. Whether or not that will be enough is the question. If I do go with plan "B", and I'm not satisfied, I can always move the whole package to the family room. But I would definitely keep the new subs with the main system!Edited by ldgibson76 - 3/8/13 at 5:14pm