Klipsch Reference Theatre Pack/R-8SW Speaker System Page 2

With surround mixes, this attacking nature means high-energy sequences sound nicely aggressive. The catacomb shootout in John Wick: Chapter 2 (4K Blu-ray) demands plenty of mid-range/high-frequency shock and awe, and snappy effects placement, and the Reference Theatre Pack is up to the task. Bullets rip into the walls causing stone chips to fly, the soundtrack hammers along in the background, and my listening position is peppered with the sounds of various guns discharging.

There's a focused feel to the performance, but a trade-off in total wraparound immersion. More direct than diffuse, these cabinets will favour smaller environments where viewers are sat in the sweet spot.

LF extension, unsurprisingly given the subwoofer's entry-level spec, is more trouser tickling than flapping. When German planes unleash their payload on the beach in Dunkirk (4K Blu-ray), the R-8SW conveys the effect without fully finding the low-level reach of this exemplary 5.1 track. But there's a tightness to its delivery that's commendable, and as the sound designers place bass impacts further up the frequency range, the sub's presence is more keenly felt.

It's a system that gets other key aspects right. Its forthright nature extends to dialogue reproduction, and the dual midbass arrangement of the centre channel brings a heft to voices. Day-glo animation Angry Birds (Sky Cinema) features Sean Penn in a non-speaking but growling role, and the Klipsch array ensures this gets the laughs it deserves, while the intonations of the rest of the voice cast are well-defined. The film's cartoonish Foley effects pack a punch, too.

More nuanced content, and general daytime TV viewing, is less this system's bread-and-butter. The considered soundscapes of A Quiet Place, for example, can sound quite sparse thanks to the aforementioned lack of depth and dispersion. Detailing is good, even the film's minutest sound flourishes, but it lacks that evocative feel.


Welcome Aboard
The sub/sat speaker market isn't as buoyant as it once was, with many companies choosing to maintain long-running product lines rather than try to reinvent the wheel, and the proliferation of soundbars dampening buyer enthusiasm somewhat. So new arrivals, in any form, are always welcome.

Klipsch's package falls into the deliberately compact category, and the size of these cabinets should not be considered an irrelevance. Two systems under £1,000 that I've loved – Wharfedale's Diamond 11 HCP and Q Acoustics' 3010i (not the more recent, and more expensive, Plus iteration) – are really sub/sat imposters, utilising larger speakers that bring an expected increase in scale over these more diminutive models. Put simply, you can get a bigger sound for the same or less money than you'll find here, but you'll have a bigger system to accommodate too.

Comparing apples to apples leads to packages like Cabasse's Eole 4 or Monitor Audio's MASS II, and this Klipsch array more than holds its own. Sure, the speakers aren't as wide in their dispersion as the coaxial Cabasse spheres, or as downright stylish as Monitor Audio's cutesy Mass models, but the sound is tight, focused and refreshingly energetic. And the asking price is right too.

HCC Verdict

Klipsch Reference Theatre Pack/R-8SW

Price: £700

We say: Klipsch's smallscale cabinets and 8in subwoofer combine to create attacking, snappy surround sound with a solid bass foundation.

Overall: 4/5


Reference Theatre Pack satellite
Drive units: 1 x 0.75in Linear Travel Suspension tweeter with Tractrix horn;
1 x 3.5in Injection Molded Graphite midbass Enclosure: Ported Frequency response (claimed): 110kHz-23kHz Sensitivity (CLAIMED): 91dB Power handling (claimed): 50W-200W Dimensions: 197(h) x 111(w) x 137(d)mm
Weight: 1.4kg

Reference Theatre Pack centre
Drive units: 1 x 0.75in Linear Travel Suspension tweeter with Tractrix horn;
2 x 3.5in Injection Molded Graphite midbass Enclosure: Ported Frequency response (claimed): 110Hz-23kHz Sensitivity (CLAIMED): 95dB Power handling (claimed): 75W-300W Dimensions: 111(h) x 273(w) x 137(d)mm Weight: 2.3kg

R-8SW (subwoofer)
Drive units: 1 x 8in Injection Molded Graphite woofer Enclosure: Down-firing, down-ported Frequency response (CLAIMED): 38Hz-120Hz Onboard power (CLAIMED): 150W Class D Remote control: No Dimensions: 336(w) x 298(h) x 298(d)mm Weight: 6.8kg Features: LFE input; stereo phono input; gain, low-pass frequency and phase controls; auto on/off