Review: Klipsch RSB-14

A lot of sound pressure, little else

Klipsch has the highest sound pressure in the test. But the soundbar disappoints on sound quality.

Klipsch RSB-14
Karakter
Klipsch RSB-14
We think
When it comes to sound pressure, Klipsch is in a separate class. The user-friendliness of the Play-Fi multi-room is very good.
The sound quality does not measure up.
Specifications

HDMI: 3 in/1 out (ARC)
Digital in: Optical
Network: Wi-Fi, ethernet
Wireless: DTS Play-Fi, Bluetooth (aptX)
Analogue in: 3.5 mm mini jack
Subwoofer: Wireless
W x H x D: 111.8 x 8.3 x 8.3 cm
Colour: Black

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The RSB-14 is a very comprehensive soundbar, with three HDMI inputs that support all of the video formats, including the latest copy protection on Ultra HD Blu-ray movies. The wireless subwoofer is in place and the soundbar can be connected in a wireless multi-room setup thanks to DTS Play-Fi. This can be used across brands and can be grouped with similar products from MartinLogan, McIntosh, Onkyo and Pioneer, among others. The only thing required is that they support Play-Fi. Thus, this is a kind of competitor to Google Cast.
The soundbar is connected to the network by downloading the app Klipsch Stream. The user-friendliness of Play-Fi is very good, it’s easy to group several speakers into networks, and the Tidal interface is also very good, almost like the original Tidal app.

Sound quality

The surround sound feature on film is quite good. Here one gets a good impression of surround sound. And this is the test’s most powerful soundbar. It can project very loudly!
But there are some important problems. First, there is an audible whizzing sound from the speakers. But more importantly, the sound quality is not particularly good. The overtone area is fairly constricted, dialogue sounds coloured, and the bass area is particularly bombastic and masks the lower vocal ranges in the dialogue. Deadpool already sounds like he is mumbling as he talks behind his mask. It gets even worse when it is rendered by the Klipsch soundbar.
For film, we still want to assert that the RSB-14 works in an emergency. The big problem arises when you want to play music. Here, the bass range takes over, and it doesn’t help to mute the subwoofer, as there is a hump in midrange that colours the sound a lot. Do we hear an electric bass or a double bass? An electric piano or a grand piano? It’s not so easy to hear. It lacks overtones. It sounds quite simply woolly. It becomes somewhat clearer with the Dialogue button enabled for clearer speech. But acoustic music sounds hard, dark and not very engaging.
The soundbar can play almost absurdly loud, but that doesn’t help much. We don’t feel like throwing a party with this. Disappointing. Especially when we know that Klipsch makes so many other good products.

Conclusion

The soundbar from Klipsch is easy to connect and use, and three HDMI inputs are more than what most can boast. It is also the most powerful of the test. You can play very loudly with Klipsch RSB-14, and Play-Fi is not brand-dependent to work in multi-room.
It unfortunately doesn’t help much, because the soundbar simply does not sound good enough. The dialogue in film lacks resolution and music in stereo works poorly. The sound is quite simply woolly.

Also in this test

Yamaha YSP-2700

Hissing sound

The biggest problem with this soundbar is a huge hole in the soundscape.

Many speaker drivers and advanced DSP allow one to get virtually true surround sound.
There is a large hole in the sound between the subwoofer and the soundbar. The soundbar gives us the consonants from vocals, while the subwoofer provides the vowels.

Bluesound Pulse Soundbar

The most accomplished

Bluesound’s soundbar costs a bit more, but pays off in the form of a much better experiences on both film and music.

Very powerful sound, even without a subwoofer, timbre balance is great and user-friendliness very good.
There could also be even more air at the top.

Sonos PlayBase

The TV's resting pad

Sonos’ new sound base PlayBase acts as a base for the TV. But did it arrive too late?

The sound is balanced, and the room correction fixes problems. Increased chassis volume accommodates subwoofers.
It lacks HDMI inputs, and the sound is not as engaging as the best sound bases.

Sony HT-NT5

Good compromise

This is designed to lie flat and point towards the ceiling, but nevertheless sounds good facing forward. It works pretty good.

The most successful flat soundbar we have heard. Sounds both natural and open, and has good usability.
The focus of the soundscape is better from the soundbar that play directly forward.

Samsung HW-MS660

Impressive balance

Samsung’s soundbar sounds just as well on music as it does for movies.

The sound is very clear and clean, Samsung is in the forefront when it comes to natural sound.
The bass can once in a while almost be too rich.

Yamaha YAS-306

Rather complete

If you are looking for an affordable option with multi-room, and do not want an extra bass crate, then this one is good.

A low price and good usability are a plus, and the soundbar provides a rich enough audio without a subwoofer.
Music in stereo lacks energy and life.

Philips HTL5160

Clear speech

The Philips soundbar does its job, with crystal clear dialogue and a fairly balanced sound.

The balance in the sound is fine, and the soundbar simulates surround sound quite well. Google Cast provides great usability for streaming.
We want more overtones, and the stereo perspective on the music should be wider.

Bose SoundTouch 300

Not good enough

Bose has banked on user-friendliness, but has unfortunately forgotten about the sound quality.

In typical Bose style, the soundbar is very user-friendly, and room correction can help in difficult environments.
The sound is too bad, and it lacks support for multiple streaming services.

Heos HomeCinema

User-friendly and tough

Heos has endowed this with user-friendliness, and here one also gets tough, rich sound for one’s money.

The usability is top notch, many streaming services are supported, and with subwoofer included, the price is very favourable.
It lacks some nuances in the overtones, especially for music in stereo.

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