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Klipsch R-41M Bookshelf Speaker Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Klipsch R-41M bookshelf speaker. I bought a pair from Amazon for US $149. The retail cost is US $229 but I suspect no one pays that.

I always say speaker business is 80% marketing and Klipsch nails that with look and branding of this series of speakers:

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Audio Review.jpg

You go into evaluation wanting it to sound good. After all, it even says it is "reference" quality speaker. Definitely a genius at work here.

The back panel sports nice (for the price) speaker terminals:

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Back Panel Connectors Audio Review.jpg

Hopefully the side panels are thicker than they look and the back panel is inset into them.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections. It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room. All measurements are reference to tweeter axis with the grill removed.

Over 1000 points around the speaker were measured (from 20 to 20 kHz) which resulted in well under 1% error in identification of the sound field emanating from the speaker up to about 18 kHz. Above that the error increases slightly. Final database of measurements and data is 1.4 Gigabytes in size.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker can be used. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 Audio Measurements.png


Boy, oh boy! Where to start. Let's start with that peak at 1 kHz. What on earth is that? It reminds me of Pinocchio's nose! I know Klipsch is known for bright highs but must we also throw in all those resonances as indicated by peaks that show up in all four upper graphs?

Since we fed the speaker 2.83 volts for measurements, the frequency response also becomes the sensitivity graph. We see that during much of the low spectrum were most of the music energy is, sensitivity is at 85 dB. It only gets to 90 dB during those terrible highs. So don't make the mistake of thinking this is an efficient speaker, it is not.

Direcitivty index graph needs to be smooth to allow us to fix the frequency response anomalies we see above but it is not:

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 Directivity Index Audio Measurements.png


Predicted in-room response fortunately is not as bad as on-axis:

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 estimated In-room response Audio Measurements.png


The hotness of the tweeter wears off when not listened to on-axis, improving the response some. Still nothing to write home about unless you want this type of EQ applied to every piece of music you play. The people who incorrectly think everyone's taste in speakers is different can perhaps explain why some people may want every note around 1 kHz in their music to be exaggerated.

So we are done with how this speaker is going to "sound." It is going to sound very bright and uneven on-axis (speaker pointed at your ears). Toed out it will sound better but the measurements say avoid this speaker.

Basic Speaker Measurements
Impedance measurements show that the Klipsch spec of 8 ohms is a fantasy:

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Impedance and Phase Audio Measurements.png


Response dips dangerously close to a short at 300 Hz or so. You better have a lot of amplification power there especially since sensitivity is low there as well.

There are a lot of kinks and such that indicate issues which I am not bothering to outline. They are also (potentially) visible in the waterfall measurements:
Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker 1 CSD Waterfall Audio Measurements.png


Then again we saw them so clearly in frequency response measurements including that 1 kHz peak.

Step function shows a kink as the tweet to woofer transition showing poor crossover design:

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Step Function lAudio Measurements.png


Continuing our low quality measurements we get to distortion:

Fundamental + Harmonic distortion components.png


Harmonic distortion (relative).png


Advanced Speaker Measurements

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 Early Reflections Audio Measurements.png


Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 horizontal reflections Audio Measurements.png


Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 Vertical reflections Audio Measurements.png


Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 Full horizontal reflections Audio Measureme...png


Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Spinorama CEA-2034 Full Vertical reflections Audio Measurements.png


Eye-candy Speaker Measurements

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Horizontal Directivity Audio Measurements.png


Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker Vertical Directivity Audio Measurements.png


I went up to 18 kHz where only the tweeter is playing and got this wonderful confirmation of how well our instrumentation is working:

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker 18 kHz Directivity Audio Measurements.png


You can easily see the shape of the rectangular "horn."

Dropping down to 1 kHz where we had that peak shows some ugliness:

Klipsch R-41M Booksehlf Speaker 1 kHz Directivity Audio Measurements.png


This is a side view. Can't figure out if this is some mixing of driver and its port of the sides singing along.

This is the kind of analysis that Klipsch should be doing, not us!

Speaker Listening Tests
Even though this is not a near-field monitor, I tested it that way. So shoot me! :)

On my right I had the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR and on the left the Klipsch R-41M. With levels matched and playing one channel at a time, the R-41M had no bass. It was all mid to highs. And boy, are those some highs. If you have not shaved, they are sharp enough to do that for you. I can see without a reference an inexperienced listener would instantly like them as "more clear, more detail, better imaging, etc." Switch to Pioneer though and you hear such a balance in tonality. Bass is there and overall sound is warm and pleasant. Not so with R-41M

Folks, I suffer with bad sound so you don't have to. Please avoid the Klipsch R-41M unless you just want a speaker as an ornament.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Finally having a few dry days so have to run out to fix our green house which got torn up with the winter storms. :( Have someone helping me which is good. Not so good is that I have to pay him at the end of the day. Would be good to have you all help with my other hobbies so please donate what you can using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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Prana Ferox

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#5
Someone mentioned in another thread that we should define the 'desired sound curve' by the FRs of the most popular speakers, figuring that sales would show what people most want. I couldn't help thinking that if you went for 'most popular' you'd end up with a Klipsch HTIAB, with these really bright horns.
 

Purité Audio

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#6
Are all Klipsch speakers really poor, their Scalas hve some of the worst measurements I have ever seen.
Keith
 

MZKM

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#7
The FR of their flagship bookshelf isn’t much better, but the directivity is golden, so it’ll respond well to EQ/DSP. From what I have seen, all their waveguides are optimized for the 6“ models, so the smaller bookshelves and towers with 8” woofers will suffer; sucks that they can’t economically have a different waveguide for every woofer pairing.

I got 86dB for sensitivity (rounding up), and +/-6.4dB in their stated +/-3dB range, I really wanna know their parameters for these specs.

Preference Rating
SCORE: 2.8
SCORE w/ ideal subwoofer: 5.7
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Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 3.13.48 PM.png
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Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 3.14.10 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 3.14.18 PM.png
 
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Absolute

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#9
The only thing that surprises me is that this looks alot like the response I measure from my Klipsch RP160m. Looks like they aim for that particular horrendous tuning in their speakers. Perhaps someone important at Klipsch have a hearing disability?

Tuning is one thing, but the impedance and crossover behaviour is not particularly comforting. Let's be honest, these speakers are utterly shite and there's nothing that can save them from that fact.
 

gvl

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#10
Sigh. I have a slightly bigger and older cousin of these and can relate to the results and impressions, they have been demoted to garage music duties. That said I'm mostly pleased by the sound I get from the vintage Fortes in a large room with tall ceilings. Hopefully you can test some samples from the Heritage lineup.
 
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#11
Are all Klipsch speakers really poor, their Scalas hve some of the worst measurements I have ever seen.
Keith
La Scalas were originally designed to be PA speakers; every time I hear that someone wants one for home use because it is Klipsch and, therefore, believes that it is high-fidelity & appropriate for a quiet 15 ft by 15 ft room, I cringe.
 

napilopez

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#13
Thanks! The measurements certainly look... klipschy.

I wouldn't buy or recommend this speaker, but to play devil's advocate, that PIR isn't as bad as I expected, and 1K peak should be fairly easy to EQ and wouldn't be the worst thing in the world as it is is fairly high Q. The elevated 2.5k peak, 3.5k dip, and shelfed up treble beyond are definitely the worst issues to my eyes.

Also it's worth noting that the labeled 'resonances' in the treble are present in all the klippel measurements so far. I still think these are inherent to the rig; they are always small bumps present around 5K, 7K, and 9K, with matching small dips around 6K and 8K.

If I got one of these for free or already owned a pair, my course of action would be:

1: Listen well off axis and/or use tone controls to tilt treble down.
2: Keep the speaker near the rear wall for extra bass. Horns are quite directive so that minimizes rear wall interference in the highs too.

That should go a fair way towards balancing out the sound. Considering how directive the horns are, so your choice of on-axis angle is going to have a big impact. Granted, there's only so far you can go. 30 degrees off axis is about as far as is realisitic in a typical home setup. Though you could try extreme toe in too.

(I've never heard a Klipsch so who knows, this is all conjecture based on the measurements).
 

Haint

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#16
The entire new model line above these (RP-XXXXM) have a 5+dB gulf between 1kHz and 2kHz from the poor crossover.
 
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#17
The hotness of the tweeter wears off when not listened to on-axis, improving the response some.
Not that it matters for these singing sides speakers but I've heard about this specific quirk before. The reasoning being that these speakers aren't bought by audiophiles. They're supposed to sound their best when they're not toed in and placed close to a wall.
 

tuga

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#20
Someone mentioned in another thread that we should define the 'desired sound curve' by the FRs of the most popular speakers, figuring that sales would show what people most want. I couldn't help thinking that if you went for 'most popular' you'd end up with a Klipsch HTIAB, with these really bright horns.
Defining the "neutral curve" based on what the majority prefers makes absolutely no sense at all (unless you are a speaker manufacturer that is).
Just look at the singles charts for an example of majority preference...

I'd rather stick with the Brüel & Kjær target in-room curve.
 
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