Klipsch R-12SW Subwoofer Review
From a very early age, I was in tune with pop radio and most of the listening was done driving. Whenever we would drive around I would stick my head right against the speakers in the back and sing along with the music - Greg Graffin
Funnily enough, my earliest memories of listening to and being enchanted by music are a lot like Greg Graffins. I remember sitting in the back of the car, placing my ear against the speaker, and feeling the vibration that the music that came from it made.
Although I can’t be sure when it was, that was when I first fell in love, but I still can’t be sure whether it was music or speakers that I fell in love with.
Whichever it was, it doesn’t really matter as they both need and rely on, each other to thrive and as I grew older I began to understand and appreciate the way in which a great set of speakers could, and does, improve the way you hear, and appreciate music.
But the moment that forever altered the course of my musical odyssey, was the day that I discovered the power of subwoofers.
It was almost like hearing music for the first time all over again, the rich, deep powerful vibrant tones that were opened exposed me to a world that I never thought existed, In that instant, I heard everything and finally experienced music as the artist whose record I was listening to had intended.
It changed everything for me and began my lifelong quest to find the ultimate subwoofer, one that would allow me to fully immerse and lose myself in music at a price that I could afford, and that wouldn’t leave me at the unrelenting mercy of my bank manager.
While I’ve experienced more than my share of subwoofer highs and lows, I’ve yet to find my ideal unit, or more accurately I hadn’t found it until I crossed paths with the R-12SW, Klipsch’s beautiful, monstrous bass-heavy solution to my quest.
Who Are Klipsch?
Klipsch is an audiophile’s dream and for more than seventy years they have wholeheartedly dedicated their every endeavor to the production of audio equipment that lets music lovers experience their passion the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
In 1945 their founder Paul Klipsch received his first patent and effectively kick-started the HiFi revolution by inventing the Klipschorn speaker system. Three years later, he opened his first factory, and the rest as a much wiser man than I once said, is history.
Since their first factory opened its doors, Klipsch has filed more patents and pushed audio technology further than almost any other brand on the face of the planet and they have earned the respect and adoration of their global fanbase, a thousand times over.
Much to my chagrin and almost endless sense of burning shame, before I was pointed in the direction of the R-12SW by an astute colleague, I wasn’t familiar with Klipsch.
That’s a mistake that is destined to live in the past and haunt me forevermore, as now that I’ve had a taste of what their equipment can actually do, my audio future is going to be placed firmly in their more than capable hands.
Looks Aren’t Deceiving
While I was always taught never to judge a book by its cover, as far as the R-12SW was, and is concerned, as soon as I first saw it, I knew I was going to be transported to audio heaven.
The way that copper cone sits in the middle of the all-black surround, gives the Klipsch subwoofer a timeless charm and grace that allows it to pair, and fit in, with any system.
Looks may not be everything, but most music devotees will happily agree that a certain degree of aesthetic ambiance and parity is one of the unspoken and unmentioned requisites that they all seek when looking for an addition to their systems, and this gorgeous subwoofer could easily find a place in any of their homes.
Even though Klipsch includes a black cloth grille that’s designed to be placed in the front of the subwoofer I have no idea why anyone would want or choose to use it to hide one of the most magnificent frontages in the audio world.
Even though I’m no carpenter and far from being an expert on wood and the different types of it that can be used for what, I’m pretty sure that Klipsch has used MDF for the subwoofer, but that doesn’t matter. Very few things do when something looks as good as the R-12SW does.
Setting Up The R-12SW
If you’ve used subwoofers before, you’ll be more than familiar with how to connect the R-12SW to your system. There are the usual line in and line out connectors that’ll let you hook it up to your system and it has the same power requirements as just about every other subwoofer you’ve connected or will connect to your system. As soon as all the wires are in place, that’s when the real fun begins.
Any music fanatic will happily, and readily, tell you that the most important thing about getting a subwoofer to sound just right is placement.
Location is everything, and thanks to the R-12SW using a front-firing driver, you can place it wherever you want to in your chosen room. That sweet spot that you’ve already found, the one where everything sounds just right?
As long as your cables can reach it, the R-12SW can assume its rightful place there. Just slide it into position, power it up and you will be able to experience it in all of its incredible glory.
Kicking Out The Jams
The R-12SW uses a three control system (Level Control, Phase Control, and Low Pass Crossover) that you can play around with and tweak and adjust to your heart’s content in order to find your perfect sound.
It might seem like a devastatingly simple way to control the majestic bass-heavy sound that this subwoofer can generate but sometimes simplicity is the key to success and if you want to make the most of four hundred watts of low-frequency pleasure that it can generate, you’ll leave most of the work up to its built-in digital amplifier, which pushes the beautiful noise that this subwoofer and its twelve-inch copper cone can make to a whole new level of audio ecstasy.
I pushed it to the limit of what I could sonically tolerate and there was no distortion or break up, it just kept on going and definitely had, and has a lot more to give than I dared to sample. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to face the Klipsch’s full-throated roar, but that day hasn’t arrived. Yet.
It does, however, possess one party trick that you’ll only discover when you attach it to your own system. And that’s the power-saving mode.
If it’s powered up and connected and hasn’t been used for twenty-five minutes, the R-12SW will shut itself off, but as soon as it detects an audio signal it’ll power up again and get straight back to business.
It might not seem like much to most people, but for me, it was a game-changer and combined with Klipsch’s incredible looks and performance, completely sold me on it. I may as well just hand my pocketbook to Klipsch and just call them as and when I need audio equipment from now on.
The Last Word
There are some who’ll tell you that the R-12SW’s lack of functionality is a burden, but I think it’s a blessing. It makes it easy to use and master and opens the door to the world of audio excellence for anyone who wants to stride through, regardless of their level of technical knowledge.
The only minor drawback that could ever be seen as a hindrance is the same problem that plagues all subwoofers, and that’s its weight.
It is a cumbersome beast, there’s no denying that, and as it weighs somewhere in the region of thirty-three pounds, it isn’t the easiest piece of audio kit to move around a room.
But having said that, whatever subwoofer you choose to use you’ll run into exactly the same issue. They’re all heavier than a dwarf star and difficult to move. All of that low frequency and bass power comes at a premium and that price is their weight.
And while we’re on the subject of premiums and price, the R-12SW is a reassuringly inexpensive way to push your sound system to the next level and luxuriate in music as it was meant to be enjoyed.
Matching performance and price makes it a no-brainer, as the amount that you’ll end up paying for the Klipsch means that you’d be making entirely the wrong decision if you chose to ignore it in favor of another subwoofer.
Remember what I said about finding the ideal subwoofer? The one that I’ve spent my whole searching for? Well, I’ve finally found it. It’s the R-12SW.