The Klipsch RP-600M Reference Premiere Bookshelf Speaker is a loudspeaker that has achieved cult status amongst audiophiles (especially value-minded ones).
Just a cursory glance at the clean, contoured baffle and gleaming copper woofer gives you some sense as to why. It is a product with a striking profile. The clean aesthetic is continued on through the trim which covers all the fasteners, and the lack of post holes on the scratch-resistant baffle. The magnetic grilles add an additional touch of class.
But besides that, it possesses some other desirable qualities, those being an attractive price point and an electrifying performance that complements today’s high-energy music.
So much has been said about this speaker over the last year or so that I initially didn’t feel the need to weigh in. But after hearing them in the Under $5000 “Entry-Level” system at RMAF (w/ Cambridge Audio electronics) I was so intrigued that I requested a pair to hear at home.
The RP-600M comes in three finishes. You can choose between ebony and walnut vinyl, or a rich piano black like on the review samples I received. I really love the piano black, because they look super classy.
The pair I have were sent out to me by Klipsch in exchange for a thorough review, and that is what follows.
Klipsch’s RP-600M is the largest (and they are pretty big with an H/W/D of 15.69” x 7.95” x 11.85”) and most expensive bookshelf speaker in their “Reference Premiere” line, which is more refined than the “Reference” line you will see in mass-market retailers like Best Buy.
The Reference Premiere speakers are sold primarily by specialty Hi-Fi dealers, which cater to a clientele looking for high-fidelity music reproduction. To that end, the RP-600M has a bunch of features that aim to satisfy the demands of audiophiles.
For starters, the two-way RP-600M has a 1” Titanium Vented Tweeter as opposed to the more common aluminum type, which strives to provide the sweetness of a silk tweeter along with the detail of a metal tweeter.
The Titanium unit installed in the RP-600M (with its clear phase plug) is ensconced in Klipsch’s 90 x 90 Hybrid Tractrix Horn, which uses a silicon face to smooth out the frequency response further. The silicon face also serves to remove troublesome horn resonance (or honkiness) that many complain about when listening to horn-loaded speakers.
This horn and tweeter combo are matched with Klipsch’s iconic 6.5″ Spun Copper Cerametallic Woofer, a cone material known for being rigid yet light. Both of these attributes are highly desirable in a midbass/bass driver, and also what I believe to be the secret behind this speaker’s impressive dynamics.
Being a Bass-Reflex speaker, the RP-600M is, of course, ported. But the port, in this case, is no ordinary port. The large, rectangular rear-firing Tractrix port is another Klipsch creation that looks to create maximum airflow with minimal port noise. I say it works since I wasn’t distracted by chuffing, something that bothers me when listening to a speaker.
In the rear, along with the Tractrix port, are dual binding posts for bi-wiring or bi-amping. I’m not sure how many will try that with a speaker at this price level, but it’s cool that they give the option.
A quick rap on the side on the cabinet provides evidence of its sturdiness. There’s no hollow sound, just a brief “thunk.” That’s good because there’s nothing worse than hearing the cabinet along with your music.
Listening to the RP-600M Reference Premiere Bookshelf
When I first heard them at RMAF, the RP-600M was matched with a Cambridge Audio CXA60 integrated from the original CX Series, a Cambridge CXC CD Player, the CXN v2 streamer, and a Pro-Ject Essential III turntable.
With Klipsch’s dynamic, rock n’ roll reputation in mind, I figured I needed to pair these speakers with some neutral electronics to get the best out of them. Boy, was I wrong.
I started by pairing them with my beloved Audiolab components (the $999 6000A amp and $599 6000N Play streamer), assuming their flat characteristics would allow the RP-600M to supply the excitement. To my surprise, the Klipsch speakers were remarkably balanced, which made the paring a little staid.
Because of that, I jumped to my other reference, the $1299 Cambridge Audio CXA81 integrated from CX Series 2. It’s a warmer amp with smooth highs, mids, and excellent bass control. Wow…it truly brought the RP-600M to life.
As far as room placement was concerned, I found their sound to be very dependent on the positioning. Of course, with such a large port in the back, they need some room to breathe, and I placed them about 24 inches from the front wall to keep them from interacting with it.
I also started with them firing straight ahead. They sounded ok, but in the end, I found they needed slight toe-in to get the right balance of focus and soundstage width.
Once I had the placement dialed in, I was able to play a bunch of stuff from TIDAL via the 6000N Play streamer, and I was quite impressed at the overall composure of the RP-600M. It’s easy to drive speaker that not only plays loud but keeps the music together at high volumes.
Those who have preconceived notions of what an affordable Klipsch speaker sounds like need to throw those out when approaching this bookshelf. I’ve heard so many talking about how they are bassy or bright, but the RP-600 is neither.
Like I said before, it’s a satisfyingly balanced speaker. They don’t color the music a lot like some low-cost speakers tend to do. Like I said with the Triangle BOREA BR03, our pick for 2019 Product Of The Year, they allow the amp and source to shine. The treble is smooth, mids are sweet, and the bass is nice and tight.
One album I’ve been playing a lot lately is “Jesus Is Born” by Kanye West’s Sunday Service choir. If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out. The recording of the choir is nothing short of amazing. With a good system, you feel like you have a choir in your room.
In the song “Father Stretch,” you have so many elements that provide a fantastic test for any speaker. There’s the choir singing all their various parts, the kick drum, the bass drum, and the horns, which all blend in glorious harmony.
The RP-600M did an excellent job of projecting the choir across a wide soundstage. The imaging was relatively focused, sitting right behind the speakers, but not entirely as focused as what I heard from the BOREA BR03 mentioned above or my reference Kef LS50s.
That being said I was still able to pick out the choir director’s call-outs, the various sections of the choir, all the instruments, and their placements. They just didn’t have some of the fine detail coming from the other speakers. However, the other two speakers were nowhere near as dynamic and didn’t dig as deep as the Klipsch.
The RP-600M is a beautiful sounding speaker that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It may not be the most revealing, but it has all the good audiophile stuff like remarkable soundstage and credible imaging. It also can play just about any song in a fun, engaging fashion.
I would recommend this speaker to anyone who plays a lot of modern music like EDM or pop and is looking for an upgrade to the under $500 speakers. They will provide a big increase in sound quality and will scale up nicely with better electronics.
I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.