Important Specs Overview and Comparison Table
|Speaker Type||passive, 2 way, ported||(<--same)|
|Continuous Power Handling||50 W||85 W|
|Peak Power Handling||200 W||340 W|
|Response Range||64 – 24k Hz||62 – 24k Hz|
|Woofer Size||4 in||5.25 in|
|Unit Dimensions (w x d x h)||6 x 8 x 10 in||7 x 8 x 12 in|
|Unit Weight||7 lbs||10 lbs|
Review and Discussion
When it comes to the loudest speakers available at a given price, Klipsch is often the winner, and their popular reference speakers are no exception – these are some of the most powerful and efficient bookshelf speakers that we’ve seen go for under $200. A lot of this is due to the fact that they’ve started to get significantly discounted because they’ve been officially discontinued and replaced with newer generation Reference versions (reviews forthcoming). But the R-14Ms and R-15Ms are still available, for the time being at least, from authorized secondary dealers such as Amazon, and we’re not surprised that despite being ~5 years old they remain one of the best selling and most popular bookshelf speakers on the market.
The baseline specs you get are outstanding for the money – neither is all that big, but they’ll surely be sufficient to fill all but the largest of rooms, especially so the larger R-15M. The two versions, other than being slightly smaller/bigger than the other, have a few aesthetic differences, but otherwise have the same build and design. They’re two way speakers with a built in horn tweeter and a woofer made out of the same proprietary metallic blend.
The response floors at around 60 Hz while remaining within a 3 dB variance, which is honestly pretty darn good for a two way bookshelf speaker as small as these are, but, it will probably leave the bass somewhat lacking. It’s the common concession made with budget-speakers, mainly because any such speaker such as these can easily be paired with a subwoofer to fill that gap, and we’d definitely recommend that as an option since there’s money to be saved with these anyhow. You can check out our favorite budget subwoofers here by the way.
The design looks great too, par for the course with Klipsch’s signature black and copper look. The sheen horn and driver bezel has a nice contrast with the vinyl cabinet and copper woofer, or you can choose to just put on the removable cover. Klipsch offers a 5 year warranty on its passive speakers which is pretty top of the line, especially so at this low of a price-tier.
Our Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition
As we’ve said many times, its hard to go wrong with a Klipsch loudspeaker, and if you’re looking for powerful bookshelf speakers that are compact and inexpensive, the R-15Ms seem to be about as good a deal as it gets, and they won’t be available forever. We have to recommend them over the smaller 4 inch version merely because you get so much more power for not all that much more money.
If you’re looking for desktop speakers that are easy to set up, do note that the R-15Ms are passive and will require an amp or receiver, and they’re more aligned for a traditional home theater set up. You might consider powered bookshelf speakers as an alternative if you’re looking to just plug them right into your computer for example. See the links below for some such recommendations.
Our current picks for the overall best budget bookshelf speakers