AudioQuest NightOwl

Klipsch

R-41PM & R-51PM Powered Speakers Review

R-41PM Powered Speaker


$399 

R-51PM Powered Speaker


$499 

Company & Product Overview

In 1946, Paul W. Klipsch had the goal to bring a live concert into the home. Working tirelessly in a tin shed, his ingenuity and craftsmanship created a speaker that exceeded every speaker of the day, the “Klipschorn”. Over 70 years later, the Klipschorn is still a highly regarded speaker and Klipsch’s company has grown to one of the largest audio companies in the world. One of Paul W. Klipsch’s favorite quotes was, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” and Paul himself has become that giant.

Their speaker principles have remained the same over all these years: High Efficiency, Low Distortion, Controlled Directivity, and Flat Frequency Response. The Klipsch legacy has since branched from the Klipschorn to nearly every category of speaker from headphones to floor speakers.

Recently, Klipsch has released 2 new bookshelf speakers, the R-41PM and R-51PM. These are powered bookshelf speakers, featuring a built-in amplifier, Bluetooth, and connectivity for all of your sources.

Design & Build Quality

The new R-41PM and R-51PM share a similar design philosophy to the models they are replacing, the R-14 and R-15. Klipsch kept the popular cabinet size for each of the models (R-41PM: 9.75" x 5.88" x 7.5" and R-51PM: 13.3" x 7" x 8.5"), however they did improve their overall performance.

Both of these models are designed to support virtually every type of audio source. With the R-51PM and R-41PM, you will not need a separate amp or receiver. With their built-in amplifier and tons of inputs, simply connect your sources or pair your phone via bluetooth and you’ll be listening to music in no time!

The R-51PM is a larger sized bookshelf speaker, standing at 13.3” tall, 7” wide and 9” deep. The right speaker has all of the connections and a built-in amplifier for both speakers. You simply connect one speaker wire between the two speakers and you are ready to play! Klipsch improved the tweeter on the new models, going from a ¾” dome to a 1” dome, allowing them to lower the crossover, while gaining some efficiency and ultimate power output... and talk about power, boy can the R-51PM rock! They couple the 1” dome with their famous Tractrix Horn which gives it great dispersion while also increasing efficiency. The bass driver appears to be identical to the one in the R-15, which is their copper spun 5 ¼” woofer. We think the R-51PM can be used on your desktop, on a bookshelf, or even on speaker stands as part of a great two channel audio system.

For a smaller room or desktop, the R-41PM is a great choice as it is under 10” tall, less than 6” wide, and only 7 ½” deep. The R-41PM also uses the new 1” dome tweeter with the Tractrix horn and their 4” copper spun woofer. Again, there is an increase in ultimate output over the R-14 with the R-41PM. With the new tweeter design and improved cabinet, Klipsch has been able to squeeze even more output from this new series

Both the R-51PM and R-41PM have a fairly large rear port so you will want to place them a little bit off the back wall for the best performance. The back panel of the right speaker is where all of your connections take place and there is no shortage of ports. Included is a high quality, solid 5 way binding post to attach your speaker wire (a 10’ piece comes with the speaker) to the other speaker.

In terms of build quality, everything is just what we have come to expect from a powered speaker in this category. The fit and finish is quite nice and the connectors are fairly high quality. The cabinets are a black vinyl wrap, which is our only complaint. When compared to some of the competition, these cabinets do not look as nice, however, they are wrapping a dense MDF actual cabinet, which provides a great foundation for the Klipsch drivers.

As a nice touch, each speaker also has a magnetic removable black grill. A lot of speakers in this category go naked, so it’s convenient to be able to cover up the drivers for a more discreet look. However, being audio geeks, we kind of like the look with the grill off. The big Tractrix horn and woofer with their copper-colored screws give these speakers the unique Klipsch look.

Features and Technology

The R-41PM and R-51PM have every input you should need to play your music. First, they have the convenience of Bluetooth so you can easily stream your music from your phone or devices. Set up is a snap and should take less than a couple of minutes. The rear panel has a set of RCA plugs with a small little switch that will engage the phono stage, allowing you to play a moving magnet turntable without a phono preamp, and a solid ground connection will ensure no hum. Right next to this connection is a stereo mini plug input, which is useful if you use the RCAs for your turntable, because you still have an analog input for an old CD player or the output from an iPod. Should you want to add a subwoofer, there is a subwoofer output as well.

On the digital input side, you’ll find both a toslink and USB-B input. The toslink is great for connecting the digital out of a TV and the USB works perfectly with your laptop.

The speakers also come with a remote control and for those of you adding a sub, it’s got a great feature for bass control. Many powered speakers have a subwoofer out, but to adjust the bass level, you need to do that at the subwoofer. Normally the control is on the back of the sub, which makes the whole set up slightly inconvenient, but, Klipsch gives you the option of adjusting the level of the subwoofer on the remote! This way you can quickly fine tune the bass to your liking and it even has a reset button to take things quickly back to zero for easy readjustment.

The remote also gives you quick access to the various inputs and even gives you track control if you are in Bluetooth mode.

The rear of the speaker has the master volume control. This means that your phone’s remote volume (while using Bluetooth) will get no louder than where you have the master volume set, which is typical for all Bluetooth speakers, but is still handy. However, when you use the handheld remote, it does bypass the rear control and adjust the master volume.

Another new feature is what Klipsch calls Dynamic Bass Eq. This is similar to a loudness button on a vintage stereo receiver. Our ears do not hear the bass frequencies as well at a low volume level. This system boosts the bass at low levels then backs off when you turn up the volume. This will add a fullness to the sound at low listening levels and is especially handy if you do not have a subwoofer. If you prefer to listen flat, it’s simple to disengage this feature by simply holding down the subwoofer reset button on the remote for 3 seconds. You can re-engage the same way.

All powered speakers have the advantage of the designer knowing exactly how to build the amplifier. They do not need to worry about the amp being connected up to anything but that exact speaker, so they can fine tune the amp perfectly for the speaker drivers. The design team at Klipsch did a great job here as these speakers pack a ton of punch!

Overall, these new powered speakers give us all the inputs you would ever need with a combination of amps and drivers that can produce some seriously powerful sound!

 

Performance

Klipsch speakers are known for packing in a lot of punch with great dynamics and the new R series follows this path. We’ve actually never had a pair of powered speakers that could produce as much SPL as these guys do, which is very impressive for the money and their very small size.

We used our standard speaker testing tracks for these and have to say, their bass impact, size of the soundstage, and pure dynamics is incredible. They do, however, have a very much “in your face” sound. The highs are very upfront and can sound edgy to the listener who prefers a warmer sound. We wish Klipsch had put some kind of tonal control on these for that type of listening preference.

Their power enables especially the R-51PM to fill up a large room and provide enough sound for a serious party. The room we tested them in was about 21’ by 24’ with a 10’ ceiling, which is pretty big. When we really pushed them, they never sounded distorted as they covered the entire area with big, full sound. The Tractrix Horn tweeter has great horizontal and vertical dispersion as there is very little high-frequency roll off, even totally off to the side or above and below them.

Overall Recommendation

If you like to be able to play your music at higher levels or have a big space to fill up, these speakers do that better than anything we’ve heard. Their great input choices mean they can be the heart of your system even with a turntable. You just need to be the type of listener who prefers a more forward, punchy sound, and if you are, then you’ll love them!

HIGH NOTES UNPACKED

R-51PM inputs

Multitude of Input Options

With Bluetooth, Toslink, USB, and and analog input that can also be a phono input, you can connect up just about anything.

Rock the House

These speakers have a power that is hard to imagine for their small size. You’ll have no problems getting 20+ people up and dancing with these.

Huge Soundfield

The special Tractrix Horn has a very wide dispersion pattern which means even the farthest corners of your room will still get their crisp sound.

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