Since a DVD's dialogue and much of its effects and music are channeled through the center speaker, home-theater fans can't take a chance on a subpar design. Enter Klipsch's RC-25, which features two 5.25-inch woofers and a titanium 1-inch horn tweeter. This center, listed at $199, is timbre-matched to its Reference-series siblings. We had a pair of Reference RF-15 towers on hand during this review.
The horn design accomplishes two feats: First, it so dramatically increases efficiency that the loudspeaker can produce more volume per watt than conventional direct-radiating tweeters. Second, the horn controls the tweeter's dispersion, minimizing floor and ceiling reflections to make imaging sharper and clearer.
That horn isn't the RC-25's only unusual feature. This center is a 2.5-way design, which means that the two woofers have different jobs. One covers just bass, while the other handles bass and midrange. Those copper-colored woofers are made of anodized aluminum, whose damping characteristics are superior to those of conventional metal drivers.
The RC-25's front-mounted ports increase bass response and let you install the speaker in a cabinet or under a television. A tilting mechanism accommodates a variety of placements; for example, the RC-25 can perch atop a TV and lean down toward listeners.
The RC-25's only available finish is black "wood grain" vinyl. This is a fairly large speaker, measuring 6.5 inches high and 20.5 inches wide, and it weighs a healthy 19 pounds. Also noteworthy is the grille, which attaches magnetically rather than with standard plastic pins. In addition, you get separate binding posts for the tweeter and the woofers; that design can slightly improve sound quality. Speaking of connections, Klipsch's engineers chose Monster cable for all of the RC-25's internal wiring.
Natural dialogue is the name of the game for center speakers. The RC-25's tonal balance is ever so slightly lightweight, but its lively dynamic presence puts this model ahead of most similarly priced competitors. Even during the mayhem of battle scenes, dialogue intelligibility never suffered. The speaker also eked out enough bass to handle multichannel SACDs and DVD-Audio discs. We have one caveat: Avoid mating a bright or even slightly harsh receiver with the RC-25, which will highlight that weakness. Our setup involved first-class electronics, and our reference discs sounded awfully good.