American Klipsch has been around for over 70 years, and is a well-known brand for those who love bass, pressure and fresh sound levels. In conjunction with the launch of the new Reference Premiere series, Klipsch also released three new subwoofers: a sensible 10-inch, a just-right 12-inch, and a wild 15-inch. You can guess which one we chose!
Klipsch is by far the biggest sub in the test, and is difficult to hide. The large cabinet and the characteristic copper-colored 15 ”Cerametallic bass give a real rocking impression. The cabinet is of the bass reflex principle, but uses a slit-shaped instead of the traditional round bass reflex port. The finish is made of fairly simple vinyl, with a brushed surface structure.
It’s not often we see 15-inch subwoofers in this price range anymore: Large bass elements almost seem to be an endangered breed, on a par with large petrol engines. But there is no substitute for cubic!
None of the other subs in the test manage to create as much life and stir as the R-115SW. The bass reproduction is powerful and hard-hitting, with plenty of dynamic surplus. The deep synth bass on the intro to Mad Max goes through marrow and bones, and the subwoofer still has a lot to go on! The 15-inch does not have to have as large a diaphragm rash as a 12-inch for a given sound pressure, and can thus keep the boil long after the smaller subs have thrown in the towel.
We were excited in advance whether this would be a typical “party bass” without sufficient depth or precision, but Klipsch shames our prejudices. It keeps up well with even the fastest of drum beats, and hits both hard and precisely. The bass guitar is reproduced with a juicy pressure that vibrates in the diaphragm!
The R-115SW has an impressively wide frequency range. While the other subwoofers roll off gradually from about 30 hertz and down, Klipsch maintains a really juicy sound pressure all the way down to 20 Hz. It also survived our torture test without kneeling: The only minus we note are some tendencies to gate noise. According to Klipsch, the slit shape is designed precisely to minimize door noise, but we notice some blowing sounds at extra high volume at low frequencies. But then the Klipsch sub is already in the process of tearing down the house!
The potent bass brings with it some challenges. Precisely because the sub plays so powerfully and deeply, it will make any problems with the acoustics in the room more prominent. We would have liked to see Klipsch include a built-in DSP with EQ capability, as Elac has done with its app. Without this, one depends on an external device such as DSPeaker Antimode, or a surround receiver with a parametric equalizer to compensate for problem frequencies in the room.
The R-115SW is physically larger and more space consuming than the other subwoofers in the test, but also kicks harder. The powerful 15-inch is able to move so much air that the bass becomes a physical experience: You can literally feel the pressure on your body. At the same time, the bass is precise and fast enough to play convincingly on both music and film. For those who have space and want a proper raw bass, we can safely recommend the Klipsch R-115SW. Just remember to peel off all the hatches, send out a neighbor alert and screw on all the movables before you press play!