Home Theater Systems Buying Guide
Home Theater Receivers Buying Guide
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At long last, Klipsch fans will get a clear answer when they ask which sub pairs with their Reference Premiere speakers. The Klipsch Reference Premiere subwoofer lineup has arrived to replace the SPL subs, and it boasts improvements across the board. Those classic copper woofers have been redesigned from the ground up, placed in a streamlined cabinet, and packed with more power than ever before. Measuring better than its predecessors and beating out some key competition, the Klipsch Reference Premiere subs are sure to impress.
According to Klipsch themselves, quite favorably! On the aesthetics side, Klipsch has rounded the corners of the cabinet – it’s both a modern look and practical for anyone concerned about sharp edges. Perhaps the most notable improvement is in the driver: When comparing subs with the same diameter, the new Reference Premiere subs feature anywhere from 6 – 43% more depth. That space is dedicated more motor, magnet, and excursion for the woofer.
Also new: Shock absorbing feet, presumably to help decouple the Reference Premiere sub from the room. Klipsch has also redesigned the front slot port. The idea is flexible placement (you can place the back of this sub close to the wall) and avoiding the “whistling” sound that some subwoofers produce around the 20-25Hz range.
The Reference Premiere subwoofers will accept more than one input at the same time, meaning you can leave it connected to more than one system and use each without a hitch. Don’t lament leaving the new Klipsch subs in standby mode, either – they’re using half a watt of power in Standby Mode.
When they do play, be prepared for booming, accurate bass. For example, both the 14” and 16” offerings from the Reference Premiere sub line measured with more output between 10-20Hz compared to the 15” SPL150. Overall that shouldn’t be a huge surprise, since Klipsch put better amplification under the hood, increasing peak RMS.
As we get into more detail, let’s meet the new Klipsch Reference Premiere subwoofer family…
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The new 10” offering in the Reference Premiere sub line comes in at $749, or about $90 more than the regular price of its predecessor, the Klipsch SPL100. Dimensions are similar on its face, but the RP1000SW has some junk in the trunk – seven and a half inches of depth, for a total of 24.96”. This shouldn’t be an issue for most rooms, especially if tower speakers are already being granted the breathing room they desperately need, but it’s worth noting.
Aside from accommodating the larger, deeper woofer itself, the extra space is housing 300W RMS power, supporting a 800W peak. All that power needs a heat sink, giving Klipsch another good reason to build in the space. Finally, the extra depth allows the Reference Premiere 1000SW to match the cabinet volume of the SPL120, Klipsch's previous 12" sub!
With the increased cabinet size and better power, the RP1000SW is actually able to slightly exceed the output of the SPL120 (119dB compared to 118dB). It reaches below the 20Hz threshold of human hearing to 19Hz, around the same as a similarly-priced SVS SB2000. Impressive for something with a smaller woofer diameter and smaller visual footprint in the room.
RP-1000SW Reference Premiere 10" Subwoofer
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At the popular 12” woofer size, the Klipsch RP1200SW weighs in at $999. With the increased depth – an inch more than the RP1000SW in fact – its cabinet is nearly 30% larger than the SPL120. Again, this is a smaller front face with a depth increase, helping to make up cabinet volume and pack in all the tech.
Compared to the Klipsch SPL120, the Reference Premiere 1200 features a 33% increase in RMS power, translating to a 25% improvement at peaks. As a result, RP1200SW plays louder than the SPL120 (121dB compared to 118dB) and it also punches lower (17Hz versus 24Hz).
If the price point didn’t already give it away, those specs should: Klipsch is setting up the 12” RP1200SW to compete against the award-winning 13” SVS SB3000. Curiously, Klipsch didn’t chart out any direct comparison, here, but at a minimum, the Klipsch should be worth a look if you’re pairing your sub with Klipsch speakers.
RP-1200SW Reference Premiere 12" Subwoofer
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Here’s where things get interesting, as Klipsch takes aim at other affordable behemoth subs. The 14” Reference Premiere 1400SW arrives at $1,399. It occupies a massive 120L of space with its cabinet volume, good for 20% more than an SPL150, which has a 15” driver. The dimensions are again being led by depth (25.67”), but there’s actually slightly less depth than the RP1200, and the RP1400’s width (20.00”) and height (21.34”) bring it back in line with the cube-like subwoofers we’re accustomed to.
As with the smaller entries in the Reference Premiere subwoofer line, Klipsch has tried to outdo itself, loading the RP1400 with 500w RMS (25% more than the old SPL150) for a 1000W peak (the SPL150 peaked at 800w). You might expect what comes next: The new RP1400 hammers down to 16Hz, eclipsing the 18Hz low point from the SPL150, and it plays slightly louder (123dB compared to 122dB).
Klipsch measures the SPL150 as having a bit more output around the 10-15Hz range, but as you cross 16Hz and beyond, the RP1400SW has a more robust output at all frequencies all the way up through 50Hz. That’s ultimately a subwoofer’s bread and butter. Beating out a bigger subwoofer in that frequency range is a huge win for Klipsch, and if nothing else the RP1400SW is a fantastic replacement for the SPL150.
The Reference Premiere 1400 is also in a unique position in the marketplace – it undercuts the popular SVS SB4000 in price, but it’s not quite as powerful. At the same time, it seems to have a clear technical edge over the smaller SB3000.
RP-1400SW Reference Premiere 14" Subwoofer
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Atop the Klipsch Reference Premiere subwoofer line is the 16” RP1600SW at $1,799. The flagship sub occupies 168L of space (40% more than the RP1400), supported by 27.35” of depth. Extra size and 800W RMS (1600W peak) help the RP1600SW deliver 126dB of output and plummet to 15Hz, both the best Klipsch offers with this line.
In terms of output at lower frequencies, the RP1600 plays louder than the RP1400 when you get below about 18Hz – it’s a subwoofer in the truest sense, delivering visceral bass that you feel, not hear. The RP1400 maintains a tiny edge in output between about 18Hz and 50Hz, but it’s not enough to dissuade a bass-head from wanting the better performance at the very bottom.
Klipsch is taking aim at SVS’s SB16 Ultra, with the stats to back it up. The RP1600SW just barely reaches lower, and it comes in $500 below the price of the SVS. Granted, the Klipsch is a ported sub, and even considering the SB16 Ultra’s grille, the Klipsch has more depth.
RP-1600SW Reference Premiere 16" Subwoofer
Fans of the Klipsch Reference Premiere speaker line finally have new subwoofers to get excited about. If you have the available depth at the front of your setup – and most people with tower speakers should – Klipsch is offering impressive performance, thanks to a redesigned cabinet and improved amplification. The pricing makes sense and should put Klipsch in a position to compete with some of the most popular subs on the market. The Klipsch Reference Premiere subs are available for pre-order now, and make sure to check them out in one of our showrooms once they’ve arrived.
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