Just Add Vinyl: Klipsch R-15PM Turntable Pack
- Reviewed by:
- Michael S. Palmer
- Review Date:1
- December 13th, 2016
-Excellent mid and high-frequency rendering
-Speakers sound larger than they are
-No receiver needed
-Easy to tip/disrupt the turntable
-IR Remote a little slow
-Could use a little more power
-Need a subwoofer for complete sound
I'm fascinated by vinyl's reemergence. In an era where the music industry is drowning in free downloads and low-pay subscription services, here's a premium analog format that actually pays artists and delivers a unique sonic experience alongside a heaping helping of nostalgia. However, if you've never owned a turntable or haven't owned one for several decades, it's a bit daunting figuring out where to start.
Enter the Klipsch R-15PM Turntable Pack.
With an $799 MSRP (current pricing at $599), this all-in-one starter kit isn't exactly entry-level. Yet, when you consider that it includes a belt-driven turntable as well as powered stereo bookshelf speakers with several other digital inputs, you've got the makings of an excellent starter system and/or a terrific secondary setup for many different kinds of media. As Klipsch boasts... just add vinyl.
The R-15PM Turntable Pack arrives with one Pro-Ject Primary Turntable (a special edition unit that says Klipsch) plus one pair of R-15PM bookshelf monitor speakers. For a full list of specifications, click HERE. Otherwise, here are some important features:
Pro-Ject Primary Turntable
-Low vibration synchronous AC motor
-8.6" aluminum tone-arm
-Low-distortion Ortofon OM 5e magnetic cartridge
-Silicon belt drive system
-RCA cable output
-Acrylic Dust Cover
-Dimensions: 4.4" H x 16.5" W x 13" D (8.8 lbs)
R-15PM Bookshelf Monitors
-1” (2.54cm) Aluminum diaphragm compression driver mated to 90° x 90° square Tractrix Horn
-5.25” (13.3cm), copper spun magnetically shielded IMG woofer
-includes IR remote
-1 pair of RCA phono level inputs with switch for Phono/Line input versatility (Phono Preamp with ground screw terminal)
-1 USB digital audio input (PC or Mac)
-1 digital optical input
-1 3.5mm mini jack line level
-1 digital optical input
-1 single RCA line level subwoofer output
-Dimensions (each): 12.5" H x 7" W x 8.11" D (10.3 lbs)
DESIGN & BUILD
After spending time with Klipsch's Reference Premiere speakers, I'm a big fan not only of the way Klipsch systems SOUND, but also of their eye-catching design. The R-15PM are the powered versions of their Reference series R-15M passive monitors. Well, to be specific, the right R-15PM speaker is powered, housing all the inputs and outputs, while the left channel is passive. The exterior finish is a brushed black polymer veneer with classically-Klipsch copper woofers. It may not pass as a high-end speaker, but Klipsch R-15PM monitors are attractive, stylish, and should work in a variety of decors.
The Pro-Ject Primary is a simple, yet elegant turntable that matches the R-15PM speakers well with its matte black-on-black design. The aluminum tone arm is light and well balanced, while the included felt pad creates a soft bed on which your records can spin. This belt-drive turntable uses a silicon belt that loops around the platter as well as a gear with two different diameter grooves -- one for 33 RPM, and one for 45 RPM. I dig the clean lines of the Pro-Ject Primary, but the materials seem a little cheap and it's a little too light for my tastes. I also wonder how long the silicon belt will last.
In the digital era, simple setups are typically guided by graphic user interfaces. Not so with the Klipsch R-15PM Turntable Pack. Yes, the speakers have modern digital inputs, but setting up this kit is like stepping back in time, and it takes less than five minutes.
Place the R-15PMs on a shelf or stands with the powered monitor on the RIGHT, connect the passive LEFT channel with the included (or your favorite) speaker wire, and plug in. Then place the Pro-Ject within reach of the R-15PMs, connect the two via the Pro-Ject's included Phono RCA stereo wire (with ground), attach the silicon belt around the gear and platter (top / smaller gear for 33 RPM; bottom / larger gear for 45 RPM), connect the clear cover over top (optional), and plug in. Finally, turn on the R-15PM via the remote, selecting Phono (the front LED turns purple), slide a record in place, hit the power button on the turntable's left side, and drop your needle.
If you plan to use this system for other devices, feel free to connect them here. For Bluetooth, hold down the Bluetooth button until the LED on the right R-15PM flashes blue rapidly. For analog sources, there's a 3.5mm stereo jack OR the Phono input can be set as a line in (there's a toggle switch above the RCA inputs). Lastly, use the RCA subwoofer output to connect your sub of choice; there's a subwoofer level adjustment on the remote for dialing in as much or as little LFE as you want.
PRO-JECT PRIMARY TURNTABLE
Several years ago, I picked up a dozen original Sabbath, Ozzy, and Metallica records at flea markets for less than the price of a single new 2016 printing... And thanks to the this Klipsch Turntable Pack, I've finally been able to listen to them, including one B-side I'd never heard before.
It's been a grand and charming experiment overall. As the saying goes, vinyl has a certain warmth, for better or worse, not present in other formats. With your cleanest and freshest records, the experience evokes the sensation of being in the studio with a band, tubed amps cranked to eleven. On the flip-side, my cooler-toned digital albums suffer from no crackles or scratches, nor do they ever skip if their players are bumped.
The Pro-Ject Primary is simplicity incarnate. The tone arm is manual. There's only a power switch. The RCA cable is built-in. And to change speeds, you have to slip the silicone belt to another gear. In my two weeks with the player, this whisper-quiet turntable produced vivid and accurate sound while performing flawlessly save for some user error.
Along those lines, the player is so light it's remarkably easy to bump or tip the whole thing when reaching to raise or lower the clear cover. It's also too easy to snag the silicone drive-belt while removing records from the platter. If the Primary was a wee bit more on the hefty side -- which I gather is a feature on pricier models -- it would be perfect.
Overall, though, I see the appeal of owning a record player -- in a world where we're often media renters, here's a tangible connection not only to the music, but to your specific record.
KLIPSCH R-15PM MONITORS
I adore Klipsch speakers; they offer a smart combination of affordable pricing, high design elements, and -- most importantly -- robust performance across a broad range of frequencies. The clarity of their higher frequencies, in particular, are perfect for creating convincing stereo or surround-sound imaging.
The R-15PM speakers sound much larger than they appear. Add a subwoofer and they transform into entry-level towers. Without the sub, the sound is clear, but lacks weight and dynamic range. For casual listening at low to mid volumes, even the sub-less setup is enough.
In terms of tonal quality, these are very transparent -- vinyl records are warmer than their digital counterparts. If anything's dusty, or low resolution, you'll hear it. However, spin a fresh record or stream a lossless track and you get that sensation of being in the recording studio. I also enjoyed the convenience of the multiple digital inputs where I could swap from analog to Bluetooth at the flick of a button.
I do wish they were a little more powerful; pushed towards reference level volumes (especially when listening to lesser recordings like bootleg concerts) they start to strain, which can lead to ear fatigue. I also found the remote to be functional, but not always quick to change inputs; perhaps the next version will be Bluetooth.
Overall, I would call the R-15PM monitors very good (just shy of great). They are transparent and accurate and sound big (especially with a sub), but lack a little power that would lead to more refinement at higher volumes.
Just add vinyl... and a subwoofer.
The Klipsch R-15PM Turntable Pack is a simple and elegant way to drop into the lush tones of vinyl. Literally plug and play. Yes, the Pro-Ject Primary Turntable is a little too easy to tip or bump, and I would recommend a subwoofer for more a robust experience, but the R-15PM monitors deliver HUGE sound and a lot of versatility for their size and price...
If you're looking to get into vinyl for the first time, or need to rescue an old record collection gathering dust... the Klipsch R-15PM Turntable Pack is perfect for a secondary listening space like a den, home office, or a bedroom setting -- especially when you consider the speakers' Bluetooth and other digital source capabilities. Add in a Smart TV and a sub, and you've got any awesome little system for music and movies and TV. I liked this kit so much I'm considering buying one myself. Highly Recommended.
If you already own a turntable but are looking for a versatile pair of powered monitors that you can use for vinyl and digital content, check out the Klipsch R-15PMs HERE on Amazon.com.
If you're set on the speaker department and are looking for a ultra-quiet and easy-to-use turntable, pick up the Pro-Ject Primary Turntable HERE on Amazon.com (there's also a USB model). It won't say Klipsch, but you'll get a same error-free sound; just remember you need a receiver or speakers with a "Phono" input as this turntable doesn't have its own pre-amp.
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