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Hands-on Gear Review
Klipsch R-20B Review
Price: $800 List
Pros: Great bass, good overall sound, nice design
Cons: Expensive if not on sale, Bluetooth connection is sensitive to other nearby wireless networks
Bottom line: A great speaker for those that love bass, especially if you can find it on sale
If booming bass is what you're after, the Klipsch R-20B is the soundbar for you. It's external subwoofer produced the deepest, most resonant bass we heard in our testing. It also produced good treble. Its overall sound wasn't quite as good as the top scoring Sonos Playbar, but it was close. Combine that with a nice design and good user interface, and you've got an excellent soundbar for those that tend to judge sound quality based on the low end. So let your bassophile flag fly and get blown away by the power of the Klipsch R-20B.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Klipsch R-20B had far and away the best bass of any of the models we tested. Its large subwoofer delivers the kind of power and punch you'd expect from a much larger sound system. If you're looking for a soundbar that really brings the bass, this is the one for you.
While the Klipsch R-20B delivered top quality sound in our testing, it fell slightly behind in the ease of use and sound customization metrics. This resulted in an overall score that was around average.
The sections below further detail how the Klipsch R-20B performed in all of our individual tests, so you can decide if those slight shortcomings in ease of use and sound customization are worth the extra bass power.
The Klipsch R-20B produced great sound in our testing, similar to that of the Bose SoundTouch 300 and a bit less immersive than that of the top scoring Sonos Playbar.
What really sets the Klipsch R-20B apart is the bass produced by its external subwoofer. It was far and away the most powerful bass we experienced in our testing. Despite that power, the bass always sounded crisp and well defined. In explosive action movie scenes where the bass of other models turned into a muddled mess of low humming, the Klipsch R-20B kept every explosion and crashing car sounding clear sounding and hair-raising. The upper registers weren't quite as clear, but still plenty crisp enough to create an overall rich and full bodied sound. The Klipsch R-20B sound is certainly a bit bottom heavy. We felt that that while the Sonos Playbar lacked some of the R-20B's bass power, it had a bit more clarity and was able to create an overarching sound that had a bit more depth and felt more immersive. However, the Klipsch R-20B's overall sound is still great, and may even sound better to you if you're the type of person who cranks the bass to full bore on every speaker you own.
Ease of Use
The Klipsch R-20B's overall design is easy to use, but we did have some slight issues with it in our testing, which bumped its score down a bit. You can see how it performed relative to the other models we tested in the graph below.
The Klipsch R-20B provides a full set of controls on the soundbar itself, something not all soundbars do. We like this feature for those times when you just can't find the remote. Speaking of the remote, we weren't huge fans of it. It is quite small and easy to lose, making those on bar control all the more important. Also, Klipsch does not provide an app for use in conjunction with the soundbar, so everything must be done via the remote or on bar controls.
Setup of the Klipsch R-20B was fairly easy. Pairing the external subwoofer took a little bit of extra time, and it is the heaviest soundbar we tested, but we still had it up and running in about 10 minutes.
The one thing that really annoyed us about the Klipsch R-20B was its wireless connectivity. Pairing mobile devices via Bluetooth often took multiple attempts, and that connection tended to go in and out if we had any other Bluetooth devices in the room. If we made sure there were no other soundbars turned on in close vicinity the connection remained solid, but it made us feel that the Klipsch R-20B would be more sensitive to other nearby wireless networks. It also took a few attempts to wirelessly pair the subwoofer with the soundbar, and that connection was initially finicky as well. Once we found a slightly closer position that the subwoofer and bar liked that connection remained rock solid throughout the rest of our testing.
The Klipsch R-20B was the worst scorer in our sound customization test. It offers very few sound adjustments and largely trusts that you'll like the standard Klipsch sound settings, or that you can adjust the sound setting on whatever device you're connecting to the soundbar.
The only real customization the the Klipsch R-20B offers is the level of the subwoofer. Plus, the only way to control that level is with a knob on the actual subwoofer, so you're going ot have to get off the couch if the bass isn't at your desired level. Again, this isn't a huge deal, as you'll likely be able to adjust some EQ settings on whatever device you're connecting to the Klipsch R-20B, but we would have preferred having some more adjustability within the soundbar itself.
Klipsch has a fairly distinctive style of speakers with black bodies and gold speaker cones. However, it eschewed that style with its soundbar and opted for an all black design, a choice we can definitely get behind. It was one of the highests scoring models in our design/style testing.
We really liked the clean lines and monochrome design of the Klipsch R-20B. We also felt that choosing slightly transparent speaker cover that allows you to see the speaker cones added a nice design flair without being too flashy.
With a list price of $800 the Klipsch R-20B is the most expensive soundbar we tested. If you really want the best bass around it is worth paying that much, but otherwise we would recommend the slightly cheaper Sonos Playbar in this price range. However, the Klipsch R-20B can often be found at online retailers for up to half off the retail price. If you are able to find a deal like this you should snatch it up, as you won't be disappointed.
The Klipsch R-20B is the best soundbar around for bass loving audiophiles. If you don't mind sacrificing a little bass the Sonos Playbar provides better overall sound in the same price range.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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