Klipsch Reference Bookshelf RB-51 II, RB-61 II Speakers Review

Last updated on: 2-15-19
Bottom Line: legacy models within Klipsch’s longstanding Reference lineup. Still very solid speakers that can now be acquired at a great discounted price, though availability will be limited. The larger 61s are probably the loudest bookshelf speakers available at their current price point

Important Specs Overview

ModelRB 51 IIRB 61 II
Speaker Typepassive, 2-way, back portedpassive, 2-way, front ported
Continuous Power Handling75 W100 W
Peak Power Handling300 W400 W
Impedance8 ohms(<-- same)
Response Range ( +/- 3dB)50 – 24k Hz45 – 24k Hz
Sensitivity (db/W/m)9295
Woofer Size5.256.5
Unit Dimensions (w x d x h)6.5 x 11 x 11.5 in8.5 x 12.5 x 15.5 in
Unit Weight10.5 lbs17.5 lbs
Warranty5 years(<-- same)

Review And Discussion

Klipsch’s RB-51 and 61 II are now legacy bookshelf speakers in their longstanding Reference lineup, which sees updates and product turnover quite frequently. The older speakers are still available and possibly manufactured “offline” for authorized dealers that are still able to sell enough of them, which is something that speaker companies will do sometimes.

While older legacy speakers have limited availability, you can often get a great deal on them if you can find them, and they’re often still perfectly decent speakers despite being older – good audio products have long lifespans in contrast to most other consumer electronics. As of the time of the latest update of this review we’ve seen them sell at very competitive prices on Amazon.

The 51 and 61 have slightly different specs and driver sizes, but, other than the port being on the front on the larger 61s, have the same fundamental design, hence our joint review of them herein.

The cabinet is fairly standard MDF with a separate plastic baffle fastened on the front bezel, which houses the woofer and tweeter. The tweeter is the same of each of these speakers, a 1 inch metallic titanium dome loaded into Klipsch’s signature horn. The woofer is also the same on these speakers, though the 51 and 61 have a smaller and larger 5.25 and 6.25 inch cone respectively. It’s a similarly metallic polymer with Klipsch’s signature copper color.

the smaller 5 inch RB-51

What distinguishes these speakers, and Klipsch speakers in general, are the massive specs you get for the price. The larger 61s have a whopping 100/400 W of continuous/peak power handling with an industry leading 95 dB efficiency rating. Ultimately meaning: these speakers can get very loud and forward with the horn loaded tweeter.

The response range is also excellent on both of them for a two way bookshelf speaker. The higher than average response ceiling of the metallic tweeter also gives it more range on the bottom, which allows the speakers to have a relatively low crossover point, which thereby allows the woofers to focus down and go lower themselves. The response floor that these speakers have while maintaining a less than 3 dB differential is about as good as it gets for budget bookshelf speakers. The larger 61s in particular might be able to suffice without a subwoofer, though the bass of two way bookshelf speakers will always be limited.

We’re not sure why Klipsch opted to move the port to the front on the larger 61s. It looks a little odd, if you keep them uncovered at least, but one practical advantage of a front firing port is that you don’t have to worry about them breathing in the back like you would with the smaller 51s.

The larger 6 inch RB-61, with front firing port

These are pretty big and heavy for passive two way bookshelf speakers, but that tends to be the case with older speakers. They might be cumbersome at close range on a desktop, not to mention total overkill with the massive power specs. They do have keyhole mounts if you want to elevate them that way, but care will obviously need to be taken there.

The speakers comes in two color, a black ash and a mock wood. Klipsch offers a 5 year warranty on its passive speakers which is pretty top of the line coverage, especially for budget-tier speakers. Just be sure the warranty applies if you get them indirectly, or buy at your own risk

Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition

It’s hard to ever go wrong with a Klipsch loudspeaker – if you’re looking for high power and volume at a great value then Klipsch is usually the winner. Coupled with the legacy status of these speakers, they’re probably the most powerful speakers for the price as long as they’re available. They’re a bit dated, but the driver design is almost the same as newer models.

Get the legacy Klipsch Reference bookshelf speakers on Amazon

See our current picks for the overall best budget bookshelf speakers