How to Build a Klipsch or Wharfedale System for a Smaller Room: The Audiophile System Builder

Written By: 
Ian White
Tags: 
Share:
  •  

Klipsch and Wharfedale speakers can work exceptionally well in smaller spaces with the right components.

Space. Not the final frontier but the amount of room that all of us have to play with in our homes. Klipsch and Wharfedale customers know all about that issue. Over the past 24 years, I’ve been fortunate to visit the listening rooms of about a dozen fellow reviewers in Canada and the United States – and almost all of them had one thing in common.

Not a single one was a completely dedicated listening room isolated from the rest of the house or apartment. Most of the listening rooms were typical dens, living rooms, or home office set-ups. None of the rooms were especially cavernous or horrible acoustic spaces. They were the types of rooms that most people actually share with spouses, children, pets, and stacks of books, records, and furniture. Real life.

How To Build a Home Stereo Sound System For Under $1000: What to Buy –  Rolling Stone

A few are lucky to have a dedicated space that has been treated with acoustic treatments and doesn’t interfere with the day-to-day operation of a house. That wouldn’t be me. For the most part, I listen in my den, living room, home office, and dining room (one of the best acoustic spaces in our home). People enjoy listening to music while they eat. Or sitting at the dining room table late at night working. Most people have to work with what they have. That reality heavily influences what they buy. 

Your room has a huge impact on the sound quality of your system. A smaller room can work really well if you make intelligent choices in regard to equipment and set-up.

Our Music Editor has put off improving her system for the past few years for that very reason. She recently purchased her first home and will be delving into this very topic this month. She is a vinyl-centric listener with a great ear and sizable collection. 

When we were discussing her first series of audio reviews, the issue of space and creating a great sounding system for smaller rooms became the topic of conversation. For those paying attention on social media platforms – it is a topic that comes up quite frequently.

Your room has a huge impact on the sound quality of your system. A smaller room can work really well if you make intelligent choices in regard to equipment and set-up. My den is 16′ x 13′ x 9′ and I listen with the speakers positioned along the long wall and 8′ from my sofa. If your room is smaller than that — you are listening in a smaller listening space. A 10′ x 10′ bedroom or dorm room is a smaller listening space.

How you listen also matters. 

System I: Klipsch Audio RP-600M

Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Speakers in Walnut
Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Speakers (Walnut)

Klipsch recently released the new Klipsch RP-600M MKII, but having already sampled them — I’m going to direct you back to the original model which I think is superior. Think Coke Classic versus “New” Coke. You should be able to find a pair of the original still online or from a dealer and you will be sorry if you think “newer” model means better.

We have seen the original RP-600M for sale on Amazon for under $380 USD and that’s a steal for these loudspeakers. The Klipsch Audio RP-600M loudspeakers are amazing for a small room though they do benefit from some space behind them and solid stands. They can work on a credenza, but I found them too large for any bookshelf. 

Klipsch RP-600M pairing Sansui is amazing! : r/audiophile

They are not very difficult to drive, but during their three-month visit in my den (16’ x 13’ x 9’) I discovered that their 96 dB (as quoted by Klipsch in its literature) sensitivity rating was being somewhat optimistic. 

They are also somewhat restrained sounding by Klipsch standards. The horn-loaded tweeter can be too much if your amplifier or sources are too forward sounding but can also be quite civilized in a smaller listening space. 

Before you look at their 6.5” Cerametallic™ cone woofers and begin to salivate over how much bone crunching bass they obviously create – lower your expectations. Their bass performance is on the more defined side and actually quite tight. Even in a smaller listening space, they need to be pulled away from the walls. Quality over quantity. What makes them so special at their affordable price point is the remarkable degree of presence that they deliver.

The choice of side dish will have an enormous impact on the sound quality. 

Schiit Audio Ragnarok 2 Integrated Amplifier
Schiit Audio Ragnarok 2 Integrated Amplifier
Heed Audio Elixir Integrated Amplifier
Heed Audio Elixir Integrated Amplifier

The Heed Elixir or Schiit Audio Ragnarok 2 integrated amplifiers work especially well with the Klipsch RP-600M. The Heed has a better phono stage but lacks the Ragnarok’s internal DAC and superior headphone amplifier. 

Neither amplifier has a forward sounding treble which is what you want with these loudspeakers. They both share a warm tonal balance and excellent pacing. The Heed will create a larger sounding soundstage with the RP-600M.

Vocals will be presented forward of the front baffle of the loudspeaker. Horns should have excellent energy without ripping your ears off. Emotional engagement with your favorite music will be exceptionally high.

Soundsystem Builder


System II: Wharfedale Diamond 12.1

Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 Bookshelf Speakers
Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 Bookshelf Speakers

Wharfedale likes to keep its loudspeaker line-up fresh and there is plenty to like about the new Diamond 12.1 (reviewed here) two-way loudspeakers. A pair of Diamond 10.1s get daily use in my home office so it’s fair to say that I’m a fan after all of these years.

The Diamond 12.1 are not particularly large loudspeakers (12.2″ H x 7″ W x 10.9″ D) but they’re a great match for smaller spaces on their matching ST-3 24” stands.  They are also not especially hard to drive but they do sound better with between 35-50 watts. 

NAD C 316BEE V2 Stereo Integrated Amplifier Front View
NAD C 316BEE V2 Integrated Amplifier
Cambridge Audio AXA35 Integrated Amplifier
Cambridge Audio AXA35 Integrated Amplifier

Between the NAD C 316BEE and Cambridge Audio AXA35 integrated amplifiers, it’s hard to go wrong but I’m sticking with the AXA35 in this system because its tonal balance offsets the neutrality of the Diamond 12.1 better. 

I own both amplifiers and swap back and forth a lot so don’t think I’m dismissing the NAD in any way. The NAD has a slight bump in the midrange that works incredibly well with more restrained sounding loudspeakers like the Q Acoustics 3050i and 3030i

The 12.1 are not bass monsters but they do everything else so well for the price that it’s easy to forgive that crime of omission. Those about to move on because they can’t pulverize your room with bass – you’re making a rookie mistake. Quality not quantity. 

And to flesh out the bottom octaves, I suggest adding a subwoofer with these excellent loudspeakers. But not just any subwoofer. REL’s latest TZero MKIII is their smallest subwoofer but don’t be fooled by its size. REL has always been about quality over quantity and all of their subwoofers do more than just add extended bass response to your system. 

REL TZero MKIII Subwoofer
REL TZero MKIII Subwoofer

When you have it set-up properly, the REL will make the Diamond 12.1 sound larger, more transparent as you raise the volume, and expand the size and width of the soundstage. 

The AXA35 includes a very competent MM phono stage that works well with high-output Ortofon, Audio-Technica, and Nagaoka cartridges. 

Add the Andover Songbird/Schiit Audio Modi 3+ streamer/DAC combination and you’re done. 

Soundsystem Builder


More Recommendations

Audiophile System Builder: Part 1 (Magnepan, Q Acoustics, Acoustic Energy, …)

Audiophile System Builder: Part 2 (Zu Audio, Omega Speakers, …)

View list of all Audiophile System Builder articles.

Related Articles

Sort By
12th Isle
2 Tone
2020
2022
2023
33rpm
45rpm
4AD
5 Selects
7"
99 Records
A&M
Abbey Lincoln
Aboriginal
Abstract
Ace Tone
Acid
Acid Archives
Acid Folk
Acid House
Acid Punk
Acid rock
Acoustic
Adrian Sherwood
Africa
African
Afro
Afro-Cuban
Afrobeat
Alan Ginsberg
Alan Greenberg
Alan Thicke
Albert Ayler
Album Cover
Alex Patterson
Alice Coltrane
All Genre
Altec
Amazon Music
Ambient
Ambient Jazz
ambient techno
American Primitive
Amoeba Music
Amplifier
Analog
Anatolian Rock
Andrew Weatherall
Andy Warhol
Anenon
Animal
Animation
Anna Butterss
AOR
Aphex Twin
Aquarium Drunkard
Archie Shepp
Archival
Armenia
Art
Art & Design
Art Dudley
Art Film
Art Pop
Art Rock
Artform Radio
Arthur Russell
Article
Arvo Part
Ash Ra Temple
Asian Underground
Audiogon
Audiophile
Audiovisual
Australia
Autechre
avant
Avant-Garde
Avant-pop
Avant-Rock
Avent-Garde
Balearic
Bali
Ballad
Bargain Bin
Baroque
Baroque Pop
Basquiat
Bass
Bauhaus
Bayou Funk
BBC
BBC Radiophonic
Beats
Beats in Space
Bebop
Belgium
Bennie Maupin
Berlin-school
Best of 2020
Beverly Glenn​-​Copeland
Bhutan Stamps
Big Band
Bill Laswell
Black Ark Studios
Black Jazz
Blaxsploitation
Blue Note
Blues
Blues Rock
Bob Marley
Bola Sete
Bollywood
Boogie
Book
books
Boredoms
Bossa
Bossa Nova
Brazil
Brazilian Folk
Breakbeat
Breezy
Brian Eno
Bruce Weber
Bruton Music
Buddhism
Budget Audiophiler
Cabaret
Calypso
Cambridge Audio
CAN
Candombe
Canterbury
Cape Jazz
Cape Verde
Caribbean
Carla Bley
Cartridges
Casio
Cassette
Cats
CD
Celluloid
Chamber Jazz
Chamber Music
Chan Marshall
Channel One Studios
Chanson
Charles Lloyd
Charles Mingus
Chee Shimizu
Chet Baker
Chicago
Chillout
Choral
Christmas
City Pop
Classic Album Sundays
Classical
Classics
Clothing
Club
Cocteau Twins
Coctueau Twins
Coffee
Coldwave
Colorfield
Comedy
Commercial
Community
Compass
Compass Point
Compilation
Concept Album
Condesa Electronics
Conlon Nancarrow
Conny Plank
Contemporary Jazz
Cool Jazz
Cornelius
Cosmic
Cosmic Disco
Cosmic Folk
cosmic jazz
Country
Country Pop
Country-Rock
Covers
Cult Classic
Cumbia
DAC
Dacne
Daft Punk
Dance
Dance Music
Dancehall
Dark
Dark Entries
David Behrman
David Bowie
David Byrne
Davida
Dedicated listening session
Deep Dive
Deep House
Deep Listen
Deep Listening
Delia Derbyshire
Demo
Dennis Bovell
Denon
Detroit
Devotional
Diasporic Disco
Dick Verdult
Diggin in the Mags
Disco
Discogs
DIY
DIY / Amateur
DJ
DJ Shadow
Documentary
Dogs
Don Buchla
Don Cherry
Donald Byrd
Doom Metal
Downtempo
Dowtempo
Dr. John
Dream House
Dream Pop
Dreamy
Drone
Drum Break
Drum Machine
Drum n Bass
Drums
Dual
Dub
Dub Poetry
Dub Techno
dublab
Dubwise
Durutti Column
Düsseldorf School
Eames
Earl King
Early Electronic
East African
Easy Listening
EBM
ECM
ecoustic
ecoustics
Electric Lady
Electro
Electronic
Electronic Jazz
Electronica
Elegant Pop
Elvin Jones
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam
Enossified
Environmental Music
EOY
Eric Dolphy
ESG
Esoteric
ESP Institute
Essential Listen
Essential Listening
Essential Listenning
Ethereal
Ethiopian Jazz
Ethnic
Event
Events
Exotica
Experimental
Factory Records
Faye Wong
Fela Kuti
Festival
Field recording
Films
Fingertracks
Fingetracks
Fishing with John
Fleetwood Sound Company
Floating
Floating Points
Folk
Folk Funk
Folk-Rock
Fonts
Footwork
Fourth World
France
Free Improvisation
Free Jazz
Friends of ISC
Frippertronics
Fundraiser
Funk
Fusion
G-Funk
G.S. Schray
Gal Costa
Gamelan
Garage Rock
Garrard
Gems from the Dollar Bin
George Martin
George Oban
German techno
Gifts
Gilberto Gil
Glam Rock
Glitch
Gogo
Gospel
Grado
Graphic Novel
Grateful Dead
Group Sounds
Guide
Guitar
Gwo Ka
Gypsy
Habitat Ensemble
halloween
Hard Bop
Hard Rock
Harold Budd
Harp
Harry Nilsson
Haruomi Hosono
headphones
Heavy Metal
Henry Lewy
Herbie Hancock
hi-fi
hi-NRG
Hidden Gem
Highlife
Hip Hop
Hip-Hop
Hiroshi Yoshimura
history
Holger Czukay
Holiday
Hollywood
Holy Grail
Home Listening
House
Hypnotic
Iasos
Ibiza
IDM
Illbient
Illustration
Improvisation
Impulse!
In Conversation
In Stock
India
Indian
Indian Classical
Indie
Indie Rock
Industrial
Ingmar Bergman
Installation
Instrumental
International
Interview
ISC Classic
ISC Collection
isc guide
ISC NYC
ISC Record Store
ISC Selects
Island Records
Isolation
Italo Disco
Italo House
Italy
Jackie McLean
Jah Shaka
Jamaica
James Baldwin
Japan
Japananese
Japanese
Jazz
jazz funk
jazz kissa
Jazz-funk
Jazz-rock
JBL
John Coltrane
John Fahey
John Martyn
Jon Hassell
Joni Mitchell
Judee Sill
Jungle
K-pop
K. Leimer
Kankyo Ongaku
Keiji Haino
Keith Haring
Keith Jarrett
Kid-Friendly
Kitty Records
Klaus Schulze
Klipsch
Kompakt
Kosmiche
Kosmische
KPM
Kraftwerk
Kranky
Krautrock
Kruatrock
kwaito
L.Shankar
La Monte Young
Labels We Love
Lafawndah
Lagniappe Sessions
Laraaji
Larry Levan
Last Resort
Laswell
Latin
Latin Jazz
Laurel Canyon
Laurie Spiegel
Leaving Records
Lebanese
Lee Scratch Perry
Left-field
Leftfield
Lena Horne
Les Baxter
Lester Bowie
Library
Library Music
Liquid Liquid
Listening
Listening bar
Listening Party
Listening Session
Live Performance
Live Recording
Loose Ends
Loren Mazzacane Connors
Los Angeles
Lost & Sound
lost and sound
Louisiana Blues
Lounge
Lounge Lizards
Love Songs
Lovefingers
Lovely Music Ltd.
Lovers Rock
Luaka Bop
Mad Professor
Magazine
Mandopop
Marantz
Marcel Duchamp
Marcella Cytrynowicz
Marcos Valle
Mark E. Smith
mbaqanga
McCoy Tyner
McIntosh
Meditation
Meditative
Melancholic
Mellow
Melody As Truth
Meredith Monk
Metal
Mexico
Miami
Michael Franks
Microhouse
Mid-Century
Miles Davis
Milford Graves
Mills College
Minako Yoshida
Minimal
Minimal Techno
Minimal Wave
Minneapolis Sound
Mixes
Mixtape
Mizell Brothers
mo wax
Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs
Modal
Modern Classical
Modern Soul
Modular Synthesis
Moki Cherry
Mono
Mort Garson
Motown
MPB
MTV
Munich
Music Blog
Music from Memory
Music Interior
Music Therapy
Music Video
Musique Concrète
Mwandishi
Narrative
Neneh Cherry
Neo Soul
Neptunes
New Age
New Jack Swing
New Music
New Orleans
New Wave
New York
News
Nico
Nightmares on Wax
Nina Simone
No Wave
Noise
Non-Profit
Northern Soul
Now Sound
NTS
Nubian Pop
Nubian Soul
Numero Group
NYC
OBI
Obscure
Obscure Sound
Occult
On Screen
On-U Sound
online radio
Opera
Organ
Organic
Organic Music
Ornette Coleman
Ortofon
Oswalds Mill Audio
Outsider Pop
Overtone Singing
Painting
Painting with John
Pandit Pran Nath
Paradise Garage
Pastoral
Patrick Cowley
Paul Horn
Paul McCartney
Pauline Oliveros
PBS
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Pensive
Percussion
Pharoah Sanders
Phillip Glass
Philly Soul
Piano
Pioneer
Plantasia
Plants
Player Piano
playlist
Playlists
Plinth
Podcast
Poetry
Political
Polygonia
Pop
Pop Art
Pop not Slop
Pop Rock
Popp
Popul Vuh
Post Bop
Post Rock
Post-Punk
Post-Rock
Power Pop
Premiere
Prince
Private Press
Producer
Productions
Professor Longhair
Prog Rock
Progressive
Progressive Rock
Prophet-5
Proto-techno
Psych-folk
Psychedelic
Psychedelic Rock
Psychic Hotline
Psyhedelic
Punk
Qobuz
Quadraphonic
QUARK
Quiet Storm
R&B
Radio
Raga
Rare Groove
rca victor
Receivers
Record Fair
Record Label
Record Store
Record Stores
Record Stories
Reggae
Reggaeton
Reissue
Reissues
Releases
Religious
Remix
Retrospective
Rock
Rocksteady
Roland
Roland Kirk
Roller Skate
Room Recordings
Room Treatment
Roots Reggae
Rotary Mixers
Rough Trade
Rudy Van Gelder
Russia
Ryuichi Sakamoto
Ryuichi Sakmoto
Sacred
Sade
Sam Gendel
Samba
Sample
Samples
San Francisco
Saxophone
Sci-fi
Séance Centre
Seefeel
Sensual
Shamisen
share
Shibuya-kei
Shoegaze
Singer-Songwriter
Sisters with Transistors
Ska
Sly & Robbie
Smooth Jazz
Soft Rock
Solid State
Songwriting
Sonia Pottinger
Sonny Sharrock
Soul
Soul-jazz
Sound Art
Sound Collage
Sound Installation
Soundsystems
Soundtrack
South Africa
South African
South America
Southern Soul
Space Rock
Spain
Speaker
speakers
Spiritual
Spiritual Jazz
Spoken Word
Squama Records
Staff Picks
Steely Dan
Stereolab
Stereophile
Steven Halpern
Stevie Wonder
Stoner Rock
stores we love
Stories
Streaming
Street Soul
Studio One
Substack
Sun Ra
Sunn O)))
Supergroup
Surround Sound
Susumu Yokota
Suzanne Cianni
Suzanne Kraft
Suzanne Langille
Swamp Rock
SYNG
Synth
Synth Pop
Synth-pop
Synthesizer
Synthwave
Taarab
Tadanori Yokoo
Takoma Records
Tangerine Dream
Tape
Tapes
TD-160
Technics
Techno
Techno Pop
Tel Aviv
Television
Terry Callier
Terry Riley
The Beatles
The Broad
The Fall
The Loft
The Meters
The Mizell Brothers
The Music Center
The Orb
The World Stage
Theater
Thelonious Monk
Third Side Music
Third Stream
This Mortal Coil
Thomas Fehlman
Thorens
Tim Sweeney
Too Pure Records
Total Luxury Spa
Traditional
Tribal
Trip-hop
Tropical
Tropicalia
Tuareg
Tube
Turntable
Turntable Lab
TV
UK
UK Jazz
Ultramarine
Underrated
Val Wilmer
Vandersteen
Vanity Fair
Velvet Underground
Vice
Video
Video Art
Vince Guaraldi
Vintage
Vintage Audio
Vintage Gear
vinyl
Virginia Astley
Visible Cloaks
Visual Art
Vocal
Vocal Jazz
Vocoder
Wackies
Wah Wah Watson
Walearic
Wally Badarou
Warp
Water
Website
Werner Herzog
West Africa
West African
Windham Hill
wiring
World
Wrecking Crew
Yacht Rock
Yamaha
Yann Tomita
Yasuaki Shimizu
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Yma Sumac
YouTube
Yukihiro Takahashi
Zamrock
Zither