Every now and then I get e-mails from readers who like to listen loud -- really loud. One recent one asked, "Can you recommend a nice pair of tower or bookshelf speakers capable of keeping the party going?" Well, there's loud, really loud, and there comes a point where it's so loud your neighbors call the police.
The guy's budget was limited to around $600 for a pair of speakers, so I immediately thought of Klipsch; its larger bookshelf and tower speakers can play really loud, and sound good while raising the roof.
I rang up Mark Casavant, Klipsch's senior VP of global product development to discuss some of his company's more high-volume-capable models. He said that any of his speakers with 6.5-inch or larger woofers can do the job. He specifically recommended the RB-61 II ($550/pair) or RB-81 II ($850/pair) bookshelf speakers as good starting points, and if high-impact bass is also required, he recommended adding the SW-112 subwoofer ($600). Casavant felt that in small rooms, say under 300 square feet, the RB-81 IIs or RF-62 II towers ($1,000/pair) won't need any assistance from a sub. Though you could be building a party system with an AV receiver, feel free to stick with a stereo receiver or amplifier with any of these recommended systems. The receiver or amp doesn't need to have a dedicated subwoofer output jack or bass management options. You can hook up the Klipsch sub or any sub that has "speaker-level" inputs to a stereo system, no problem. Put the sub in the corner of the room to maximize its bass output capabilities.
The main reason Klipsch speakers came to mind for this blog was they are all unusually sensitive, the RF-62 II has a 97 dB @ 2.83 volts rating, that's way up there in sensitivity specs, compared with for example Polk RTiA7 tower speakers ($1,000/a pair) that have a 89 dB sensitivity spec. That's a big difference, so when you're really cranking the volume way up the RF-62 II will be using a small fraction of the power the RTiA7 would. Sure, your receiver might be rated at 100 watts per channel, but that might not be enough with the RTiA7s, I'm just sayin'. You're much less likely to get into trouble with the RF-62 II played just as loud, or louder than the RTiA7. The Klipsches are more likely to sound great pumped way up to maximum party levels. They are, for practical purposes, blow up proof.
Then again, if you're lucky enough to have a really big, over-1,000-square-foot room, go ahead and shoot for a pair of RF-7 II towers ($3,200/pair). These bad boys sport dual 10-inch woofers, and a 1.75-inch horn-loaded titanium tweeter. At 48.5 inches tall it's big, but not huge, and RF-7 IIs can play stupid loud without becoming unglued.
I'm not suggesting that Klipsch speakers are the only ones that can play really loud, just that they have more going for them in that department than other, similarly priced and sized speakers. Putting aside loudness, I've been pleased by Klipsch's sound with pretty much every one of its larger speakers I've ever tested. Their high sensitivity also pays dividends in terms of maximizing dynamics and impact, compared with less sensitive designs. Klipsch speakers also sound great in home theaters.
If you have a set of speakers that sound great pumped to the max, tell us about them in the Comments section.