Experienced home theater enthusiasts understand that the role of a subwoofer in a multi-channel system is not simply to provide extra low frequency. A high-quality subwoofer can enhance the sense of energy, momentum, and scale of low-frequency sounds, which can completely transform the listening experience of the entire system.
The RP-1600SW, Klipsch’s new flagship subwoofer, can deliver such a performance, making the whole system more exciting and captivating and leaving the listener immersed in the audio-visual experience without even realizing it.
Klipsch is a brand that is closely associated with home theater multi-channel systems. The company has focused on developing horn-type speakers, the most commonly used in professional movie theaters, for many years. Therefore, for those who want to experience a movie theatre-like sound at home, Klipsch speakers are often recommended by seasoned audio enthusiasts.
Klipsch has been very active in this field, constantly launching products to satisfy home theater fans, including horn speakers, soundbars, and a critical speaker product: the active subwoofer.
Subwoofers have always been an integral part of Klipsch’s product line. The company has consistently put in a lot of effort to launch better and newer subwoofers, and with each product renovation, consumers experience better audio quality.
The subwoofer reviewed in this article belongs to the second generation of Klipsch’s top Reference Premiere series, making it the RP II flagship series. This latest series was launched by Klipsch in the latter half of 2022.
Klipsch’s RP II series of subwoofers includes four products, RP-1000SW, RP-1200SW, RP-1400SW, and RP-1600SW. These subwoofers are designed to cater to consumers with varying budgets and space requirements.
The model numbers indicate the size of the subwoofer, with 10-inch, 12-inch, 14-inch, and 16-inch options available. While the design principles remain the same across all models, the diaphragm size, amplifier power, sound pressure output, and low-frequency dive ability increase with each higher-end model.
The RP-1600SW is the most high-end product in the RP II series and is also the new flagship of Klipsch’s active subwoofers. It is a large subwoofer with dimensions of 597×594×503mm and packs a punch.
Despite its large size, the RP-1600SW has several thoughtful design elements. One detail that stands out is the terminal knob on the subwoofer’s back panel, which adjusts volume and crossover point settings.
Often, subwoofers are placed close to walls, making it challenging to access these knobs without moving the subwoofer. However, Klipsch has addressed this issue by designing the knob to be more oversized and white, making it easily visible on the black back panel. The scale is engraved on the knob rather than the back panel, making it easier to read.
Additionally, a transparent acrylic strip has been included on the upper end of the knob, which prominently displays the scale. This means users no longer need to struggle to find the knob and read the scale while squeezing behind the subwoofer. Its small yet thoughtful design shows Klipsch’s attention to detail and consideration for its customers’ needs.
Despite its size, the RP-1600SW subwoofer boasts excellent craftsmanship with rounded corners on the upper part of the cabinet and a textured black leather surface, giving it a polished look. Removing the grille exposes the impressive bronze-colored giant bass diaphragm, which adds to the decorative effect and reflects Klipsch’s signature color. I would not use the grill to showcase this impressive feature.
The 16-inch size of the diaphragm on the RP-1600SW subwoofer should be considered. Many subwoofers on the market have a maximum size of only 15 inches, making the RP-1600SW stand out in its category. The larger the size of the diaphragm, the more air it can push, resulting in more low-frequency energy generation.
Klipsch can make the diaphragm of RP-1600SW 16 inches due to the unique design of its diaphragm material. The diaphragm is made of a ceramic material called Cerametallic, which has high hardness and is resistant to deformation and color staining even during high-speed movement. Despite its hardness, the Cerametallic diaphragm is still lightweight, allowing for fast movements.
The diaphragm is also surrounded by a thick, convex overhang that gives it long-stroke capability and a wide range of motion.
To drive such a large diaphragm, the RP-1600SW has a rigid metal frame, a prominent voice coil, and three layers of magnets, which provide substantial control over the diaphragm. The RP-1600SW has a high-efficiency Class D amplifier with an output power of 800 watts RMS and a maximum instantaneous power of 1600 watts.
Other subwoofers in the RP II series also have robust amplifiers, with RMS output power ranging from 300 to 500 watts. The back of the RP-1600SW is equipped with a heat sink due to the high power output of its amplifier.
The RP-1600SW has a unique internal compartment design that secures the single magnet with a partition. Its cabinet follows a “bass reflex” design, with a flat, front-facing Aerofoil slot port that functions as a precisely calculated reflection hole. This structure not only improves low-frequency extension but also reduces turbulence and noise. Unlike rear-facing ports, a front-facing port allows for more flexibility in speaker placement without the risk of wall blockage.
The reflection hole is a complex opening, as a partition inside the cabinet creates a channel or reflection tube. This allows for the discharge of the “back wave energy” produced by the woofer diaphragm’s movement through the front via the reflection tube. When appropriately designed, this energy can combine with the front of the monomer to enhance the subwoofer’s energy sense and low-frequency extension capability.
The RP-1600SW’s design results in outstanding performance. According to Klipsch’s official information, it can reach a maximum sound pressure of 126dB and has an incredibly low-frequency dive ability of 15Hz (+-3dB), which is rare in the market. The 14-inch, 12-inch, and 10-inch models also have excellent low-frequency dive capabilities of 16Hz, 17Hz, and 19Hz (+-3dB), respectively.
Klipsch has released a frequency response chart to help consumers understand the performance of the RP-1600SW subwoofer compared to its competitors. When looking at competitor 1 (blue), although it has a strong sense of energy, its frequency response is not flat, and it can cause energy flooding or roaring in the low-frequency band. Meanwhile, RP-1600SW has a flat frequency response.
Compared to competitor 2 (orange), although it has a relatively flat frequency response, its low-frequency extension ability could be better than RP-1600SW. In contrast, RP-1600SW (yellow) has a flat frequency response and is excellent in extremely low-frequency extension. Due to this extension ability, it can emit very low bass, and the extremely low frequency can shake the skin. Klipsch even added “Sweet Spot” to describe this extension ability.
Due to its solid cabinet, giant magnets, and diaphragms, the RP-1600SW subwoofer weighs 50.3 kg. When it operates, it emits many vibrations, contaminating the sound transmitted to other walls. To prevent this, Klipsch has designed special rubber foot pads that support the subwoofer’s weight and absorb vibrations. This attention to detail ensures that the RP-1600SW delivers excellent sound quality without distortion.
Moreover, the RP-1600SW has the potential to become a wireless subwoofer. It features a unique interface labeled “WA-2 PORT” on its back panel that can be paired with the Klipsch WA-2 wireless signal transceiver module.
By purchasing the WA-2 separately, you can connect the wireless signal transmitter to the surround amplifier’s subwoofer front output and then connect the wireless signal receiver to the RP-1600SW’s back panel interface.
This setup allows the subwoofer to receive the signal wirelessly, eliminating the need for signal cables. You can place the subwoofer anywhere in the room without worrying about cables and find the position that delivers the best low-frequency response for optimal performance.
Let’s discuss the actual listening experience of the RP-1600SW. When faced with a flagship 16-inch subwoofer like this, it is necessary to use a low-frequency test track to evaluate it. I started by listening in a 2.1 setup with the crossover point set to 80Hz and played Zheng Mingxun conducting the second piece of the Bastille Orchestra.
This piece has a very low-range organ background that tests the subwoofer’s ability to handle extremely low frequencies and output continuously and stably.
The performance of the RP-1600SW truly lives up to its flagship status. When the pipe organ kicks in, you can feel the energy disturbance in the highly low-frequency range, and your feet can feel a slight vibration. This energy output is stable and continuous, and you can clearly hear the changes in the bass scale.
Thanks to the solid low-frequency support of the RP-1600SW, the entire track feels more magnificent and adds to the solemnity of the performance.
Regarding response speed, it’s important to note that a 16-inch subwoofer cannot exhibit the same response speed as an 8-inch subwoofer, but the RP-1600SW’s response speed met my expectations. The separation between the drums and bass was clear, with no muddling of the sound.
Even when the bass drum was hit quickly, the RP-1600SW could display the varying intensity of each drumbeat, demonstrating its ability to maintain detail and depth in bass output, even during rapid and continuous output. This is quite rare and proves the high performance of the RP-1600SW, especially when compared to a 12-inch subwoofer that failed to maintain transparent layering.
Switching to multi-channel movies, the RP-1600SW truly shines. I paired it with Denon’s new super flagship AVR-A1H and the company’s reference speakers. The effect was genuinely shocking when I played a Dolby Atmos demonstration video. During the Amaze segment, when the thunder was loudest, the subwoofer’s power and energy filled the entire room, demonstrating the RP-1600SW’s ability to excel in multi-channel movie soundtracks.
My system is still set to maintain a flat frequency response, and I have not intentionally increased the proportion of extremely low frequencies. The sound pressure of the subwoofer is theoretically similar to that of the other speakers. However, the RP-1600SW is energetic, and its low frequency can extend very low. Sound waves can even be felt on the skin when it reaches the highly low-frequency band.
The system’s energy and dynamic performance are tested when playing the “Blue Man Group” Blu-ray disc. The result is yet another surprise. The Blue Man Group employs a variety of percussion elements in their performances, including bass drums, snare drums, jazz drums, plastic pipes, and more. The RP-1600SW presents the energy of each percussion moment and provides different sound expressions for each percussion effect.
Due to the constant percussion throughout the performance, the audio-visual room is always filled with low-frequency energy, creating a more immersive surround sound experience. The sound field range also feels wider, and because the electronic drums in the background music are more giant and rhythmic, the audience can’t help but want to sway along with the music.
The RP-1600SW also performs very well in movie playback. For instance, when watching the Netflix movie “All Quiet on the Western Front”, there is a scene where the main character and his comrades are being shelled and take cover in a bomb shelter.
This particular scene has excellent sound effects. With the support of the RP-1600SW, the explosion caused by the distant shells becomes more terrifying, as it has a more extensive range and stronger force. When the protagonist and his group hide in the air-raid shelter, the audience can hear the wooden boards and stones on the ceiling rattling from the shelling.
This scene also has better low-frequency effects, making the explosions above more powerful, while the squeezing sounds on the ceiling are more weighty and oppressive, creating a more immersive and terrifying atmosphere of war.
In conclusion, the RP-1600SW is a powerful subwoofer that delivers a strong sense of energy and can dive down to extremely low frequencies. It was discovered through actual measurements and testing that this subwoofer dramatically enhances the overall sound effect of multi-channel audio, making the sound field more magnificent and the sound objects larger and fuller.
The RP-1600SW is not simply a tool for filling in low frequencies but can change a system’s overall sound effect. If you have a high budget and ample space and are looking for a subwoofer to deliver complete and powerful low-frequency sound, then the RP-1600SW is highly recommended.