After some more testing I have decided to stick with the Cores. My simple advice is also that anyone considering speakers under $300 to buy these while you can at $75, since you can always return them. On the whole, what is to follow is not the most scientific nor the most comprehensive test; I wouldn’t take anything conclusively, and neither should you. In many ways, one may reasonably wonder if there is any competition at all: the Klipsch should (and does) win on almost all accounts. This brief write up may therefore seem unnecessary… well you can decide for yourself.
The Klipsch wins here hands down. From all the way from the packaging to the cabinet to the grills, the Klipsch appears to be of much higher quality. The cabinet is much heavier then the Cores, the magnetic grills are easy to take one and off and they are without any worry of vibrations, the terminals are solid, and the woofers appear to be just as well built as they are sexy.
The Cores build quality are undeniably impressive for the price however, and as Ziegl mentioned, something like their build quality really should be compared at their original $200 price point. By all means, I think Sony has built a quality product, and they’ve historically (regardless of speakers) produced high quality products anyways. Like I said earlier, the woofers are very thin and soft, something I suspect limits it’s composure at the highest volumes.
Disclaimers: All db references are not with an SPL meter, they are simply what the receiver displayed. The individual channel level trim also varied a few db below 0 between different speakers. I listened at around -10db with all the EQ settings set to OFF with my Denon 1612. And I also listened at -20db with the standard Audyssey EQ enabled, Dynamic EQ off (Dynamic volume off) too. The -20 EQ was slightly louder sounding then the -10 "off". I’m not too concerned with the differences, and I won’t be getting into the finest details of describing the sound. I sat roughly 10 feet away. The center core was vertical- the RP-250c was horizontal. My past experience is not particularly “high end”: I have owned polk speakers, bose acoustimass speakers, some ancient Wharfedale 8” bookshelfs (valdus 300). Throughout this test, other than keeping in mind my past speakers, I primarily used a pair of Sony MDR-7506 to also compare (they are said to be very neutral headphones). On that note: both speakers, for the most part, provide faithful and enjoyable reproduction of the content I fed through. Also, for the most part, they were crossed over at 80hz to an Emotiva Basx 12- except for when I make any remarks about the bass, for that's when I turned it off specifically.
Moby - Extreme ways
Roy Hargrove Quintet - Strasbourg st denis
Soundgarden - Burden in my hand
Calvin Harris - Flashback
R.E.M - Losing my Religion
David Byrne and St Vincent - The Forest Awakes
Bjork - Venus as a boy
My general impressions:
-There are songs where the Rp-160m’s really make the music “come to life”, and I suspect it’s the slightly brighter tuning that accounts for this. For example, in the Moby, Soundgarden, and R.E.M, the electric guitars just seem just the ever so slightest bit more “electric” and alive. The crash and ride cymbals in Soundgarden were very clear and natural from both the Klipsch and the Cores. Both have good resolution in that regard.
- On the other hand, there are some songs that the Klipsch kind of seems lifeless too, or almost unenjoyable. Jazz music like Strasbourg st denis particularly sounded better with the Cores, at the most “crowded” moments, the Cores just maintained that bit of character whereas the RP-160m’s were almost too transparent and slightly harsh. Similar principle went for the Calvin Harris where the RP-160m was nice and loud and electric sounding (which was good), but it kind of got tiresome by the end of the song, whereas the Cores were consistent throughout.
- Finally, for Bjork’s song, I felt like the RP-160m’s didn’t particularly match the subtleness of the song, and some of the bell/jingle notes sounded more balanced on the Cores.
- As for bass, the RP-160m did a much better job with David Byrne w/ St Vincent. There’s a part in the song that gets pretty low, and it pretty much requires a subwoofer to get it right (so neither of the 2 speakers actually pulled it off), but the RP-160m just had a slight edge to the Cores. I suspect the 6.5” woofers account for this.
- The RP-160m also had a slight edge in the above song in terms of soundstage or overall largeness of sound. Both speakers did a good job of pulling off that “rising/flooding in the music” effect- again, there’s a part in the song towards the end that particularly shows this. But the RP-160m had the edge.
Movies (my primary usage, and this is also where the RP-250c comes into play):
The Dark Knight
Overall, the differences here were minute. A few key observations though
- The vocal clarity of the RP-250c may just be the slightest bit clearer in terms of sheer dialogue intelligibility. Cloud atlas is one of the best tests for this, as the voices can be very unclear at times, particularly in the post apocalyptic segments. But I believe this comes at a cost. See, one of my complaints with the RP-250c is how voices can border on tinny or boxed in, it’s hard to explain. The RP-250c also doesn’t dig anywhere as deep as a Core bookshelf. So in short: the Cores actually present a much more natural (deeper in tone, as well as just sense of “depth”) voice then the RP-250c- while still being plenty clear for dialogue intelligibility. I suspect the RP-450c is worth it over the RP-250c as it should solve this complaint.
- On the other hand, the RP-250c also just seems the ever so slightest bit “larger” in it’s output, and almost “taller”. I suspect this is because of perhaps a wider vertical dispersion from the horn giving a slightly larger sound. But I must stress that this is a super small difference, it took me a while to notice this.
- Other than that, the Klipsch probably had the edge in some of the most demanding scenes played at the highest of volumes. What comes to mind is the truck chase in the Dark Knight and mombasa in Inception, these are particularly “busy” scenes, and the Klipsch has all the dynamicness for them (and then some). This isn’t to say the Cores didn’t do well. In fact, I was amazed at how little difference I could tell, and they still sound amazing too. The Klipsch nonetheless take the cake, if I was forced to choose.
- Finally, as the center channel carries more than just dialogue (with music and effects also being fed through it), I just can’t help but think the Cores provide a more satisfying sound for all that other stuff then the RP-250c.
To sum up:
Despite the Klipsch setup probably being better in absolute terms: I am keeping the Cores, and selling the Klipsch. At $150 for a front 3, with a spare speaker too, that provide exactly what I need and get so close to the Klipsch, I just can’t see how it’s reasonable to return the Cores. In my eyes, this may be considered a “downgrade” but only in so far as returning a lamborghini aventador and getting a huracan would be a “downgrade”. Both are excellent, but when price is taken into account, there really is only one winner.. And dare I say it: no contest. Having said that, at the retail price of $150, to spend $300 on this front 3, hmm, I may have kept the Klipsch.. I’m not too sure. I must disclaim I probably don’t listen as loud as many of the folks on this forum do. If you are in a small room (which I was not), or if you plan on sitting within 10ft of the speakers, or if reference level is just obscenely loud to your ears (as it is with mine), I really can’t see why anybody would buy the Klipsch setup over the Cores. Even if I were to listen at very loud volumes a couple of times a year, I’m just not sure if the extra money is really worth it for that capability. I pretty much shrug my shoulders at this thought.. And I pretty much shrugged my shoulders at all of the small differences I found between the Cores and Klipsch; you really had to listen for them.
Thanks for reading! My hope is that this can at least add a smudge to the melting pot of ideas.. I don’t want to assert any more authority on the subject then that. Hopefully my impressions can at least help a few people looking back on this thread.
Last edited by gygess; 11-24-2017 at 03:14 PM.