Review: Klipsch RF-3 Speaker

Category: Speakers

I first heard the RB-5's used as monitors and was completely taken off guard. I did not realize the sound that properly constructed horn speakers were capable of. I decided to purchase a pair of RF-3's for my home theater system, and found a used pair of RB-5 for the rears, and a used RC-3 for the center. This system retired my Magnapan speakers for good.

Maggies are fine speakers, and do many things very well. However, the Klipsch in my listening room are alive, and I sometimes have to remind myself that the performers are not in the same room with me.

Overall, I am very pleased with my purchase and the performance of the Klipsch paired with my equipment.

Associated gear
Marantz SR-19EX Receiver
Marantz MM 9000 Amp
Adcom GCD 700 CD
Klipsch RC-3 center, Klipsch RB-5 rears

Similar products
Monitor Audio Silver 5i
Magnepan MG-10
I have the RF-3 II's and like them quite a bit.They have a dynamic presentation and should be placed 8 to 12 feet apart and toed in. They have nice clear crisp highs and fast accurate bass. The midrange is covered on the high end by a horn tweeter and the low midrange is covered by the two 8 inch aluminum / ceramic anodized woofers.I listen to jazz, classical,pop,and rock.They sound good as they are but will probably sound even better when I upgrade to a tube amp.

Rotel RX 1050 receiver
Sony sacd/dvd/cd changer DVP-NC685v
Technics RS-TR232 tape deck
Kimber cable
I have these for over a year now.
Initially I did feel that they are too bright but once broken in and partnered with Warm equipment they play both Delicate and dynamic with equal aplomb. Although said to be more suited for Rock, I really enjoy a fair bit of Jazz and Classical as well as Vocals with them. Depending on the music they can really Rock you or move you emotionally

As with more speakers, system matching is important perhaps a bit more eg i tried plaaing Stravinsky with an Exposure Z140 Int amp on it and the highs were pretty sharp, but with Tube amps, Class A Amps the music is really smooth.

Their High sensitivity really makes them the "Made for each other" pair with any 10-30W class amps tubes or SS amps ...anything more would anyway Be too much
I partner them with a Sugden Class A amp, an NAD 421BEE cdp and goertz cables..
If you can, try to buy a RF-3II over the new RF-35. I've listened to them in a store next to each other and the old model seems to fill the room with sound. It made the RF-35 sound dull. Any salesman who sold both models would tell you the same thing. Seems like the old model has different drivers and is made in the USA. New model cost more and seems to be made in China. I've bought the older models recently. Have anyone had the same expereince?
All Klipsch speakers are made in Hope, Arkansas.
None are made in China!!!

All RF Klipsch models sound wonderful, amazing sound.
i think the speakers are made in the usa but assembled in china or the other way around
I just bought these speakers in MINT condition from someone who upgraded to Definitive Technology floor standers. When I was in the market for these, the speakers under consideration were the RF 3 11s, the Energy C9s, and the Axiom mt 60i. The RF 3 IIs amazed me the first time I heard them and I bought them. Now my wife loves them too. I connected them to my new SONY DA2000 ES receiver that pumps out 120 watts per channel. The highs are crystal clear and the bass is really deep.

SACD, DVD - Audio, CDs and cassettes sound exceptionally good.

Equipment :
Pioneer Elite DV45A
SONY receiver DA2000 ES
Monster Bi-wire M series speaker cable
Nakamichi ZX7
These speakers are pure USA product, not Chinese.
I bought a pair of Klipsch RF-3 off a craigslist ad, got a great deal. I have to say that they are very high quality for the little money I paid.

They have a "forward" sound, rather aggressive. I suppose you'd expect that from a Klipsch speaker. That might be the price one has to pay for very high efficiency from a relatively small system. They're advertised as 98dB efficient, but that's an 'in-room' measurement, so I suspect it's really more like 95dB/1w@1m anechoic. That's still a lot of sound out for a little bit of amp power in.

Dynamics from these speakers are great -- The piano on Bill Evans Trio "Waltz for Debby" SACD sounds very expressive. There's a big, wide gradation from soft to loud, with no 'mud.' Drums are expressive and dynamic too. Check out the way Paul Motian's drum solo builds and swells on Milestones. Very exciting, almost like real life.

The bass is really impressive. These speakers do go low. Low notes on a string bass are reproduced with nice authority, especially considering the relatively small enclosure. The two 8" woofers in the ported 'tower' enclosure do a very good job.

The RF-3's throw out a lot of midrange detail, lots of low-level nuances come through loud and clear. However, there is some harshness. There seems to be a peak or slight distortion in the upper mids. Strings can be a bit shrill. Human voice can be sibilant ("s" and "t" sounds seem exaggerated). There's an electronic edge to the mids and highs. It's not any worse than other mid-priced 2-ways I've heard, but it's there, and it's annoying to me. Maybe better quality capacitors in the crossover will fix that. I would not use the adjective "sweet" to describe the mid or high frequencies from this speaker.

Also, there's a bit of an "aaaaaaaeeeeehhhhhh" horn coloration that can get tiresome after a while. Not nearly as bad as the Klipsch Heresy speakers I heard a while ago, but it's there. I need to see if I can tame that by damping the driver baskets and cabinet walls.

My reference speakers (that I've been listening to for nearly twenty years) are Tannoy T185 Dorset, from about 1982. That's a 2-way horn speaker as well, but of an entirely different character. The T185 is more polite and 'laid-back,' while not as efficient (91dB/1w@1m). What the T185's do well is texture and palpability. Things can sound very natural and organic when driven by triodes. The RF-3's always sound a bit metallic by comparison, but low-level details are more apparent. I think it's ultimately a taste thing, but I find myself switching back to the T185's on a regular basis. On the other hand, I do love the excitement I get from the RF-3's, even when driven with my little push-pull 2A3 amp (6 watts per channel).

At some point I need to try the RF-3's with a good quality solid state amp, to see if that controls them better. But I don't own a SS amp at the moment. I may be able to try a Sansui TU-719. If I get to that, I'll report back, in the hope that someone might find all of this useful.

i've liked the newer better klipsch models when i've heard them and consider them a good value.