Some horn-loaded speakers exhibit obvious, megaphone-like colorations that impose a nasal, “honking” sound, but the Klipschs did not. Their horn-loaded tweeters sounded quite natural, and integrated smoothly with the midbass drivers. The only drawback is that the tweeters do tend to expose any roughness or stridency present in music or soundtracks. When this happens, they produce a sharp, biting sound that tugs at your ears and disrupts imaging and soundstaging. But this is an acceptable tradeoff given the terrific detail and nuance these horn tweeters bring to the party.
The RW-10d subwoofer was a strong performer, particularly when placed—as Klipsch suggests—near a reinforcing back wall. The sub played lower than most in its class and delivered serious dynamic grunt, though it was no doubt helped by the RF-52 mains, which kick out plenty of bass on their own. Interestingly, the RW-10d features an easy-to-use, top-mounted control panel (complete with multiple EQ presets)—a clever and welcome touch I wish more subwoofers provided.
At the end of the day, the Klipsch RF-52 ensemble is easily one of the two or three best sub-$2k surround speaker systems I’ve heard, and for many listeners it may mark the happy conclusion of a quest for great sound. Few affordable systems offer a more compelling blend of detail, finesse, and dynamic clout plus an almost magically vibrant quality that brings music and movies alive. Bravo, Klipsch.