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New findings, Klipsch R-12SWi subwoofer vs Klipsch R-120SW (1 Viewer)

Mike Up

Supporting Actor
Dec 16, 2002
While some may think I'm nuts going back and forth on subwoofers, I'm after the biggest bang for my buck. I have a 10" woofer Velodyne CT-100 that all of sudden got a major loud hum in it. It's 24 years old so probably some caps that dried up. When I get time, I'll pull the amp and see was components I can replace. Didn't want to replace plate amp without a DSP as I'm not sure if Velodyne added boost at certain frequencies in their amp to get it more accurate. However a plate amp with a DSP costs as much as the Klipsch 12" subwoofer, and it's still going on a 24 year old driver. That's why I think I'll just see what I can repair myself later as a project.

Getting back to these Klipsch subwoofers, the order was R-12SW/R-12SWi, then the replacement R-120SW, then the replacement that just came out is the R-121SW. The cost of these subwoofers has gone up hundreds for some reason, which makes them a poor buy IMO.

I paid $279 for the R-12SWi from Costco. I paid $350 for the R-120Sw from Amazon. Crutchfield has the R-120SW on sale for $350 also but tomorrow goes up to $600 being off sale. Crutchfield has the R-121SW also for $600. Here's the catch, Amazon has the SPL-120 for $500 which is a great buy. However it's to big for my space, too deep. Amazon also has the SPL-100 for $400.

Anyhow before I opened the box for my newer R-120SW, I called another retailer and talked about benefits of a SPL-100 over the R-120SW, and they honestly have came across this before and knew the answer right off the bat. They said they are very very similar in most regards and they couldn't recommend the SPL-100 over the R-120SW. If they would had, I'd likely would had bought the SPL-100 from them but I appreciate their honesty.

Well getting back to the main topic, R-12SWi/R-12SW vs R-120SW. I hate the R-12SW finish. It's a very cheap laminate that is slick and scratches very easily, almost just from looking at it. Black shoe polished helped but why should I have to do this?? This is a sub I had less than a week and if it can't last a week without scratching, how will it last as long as my other speakers without looking like garbage? I see that after these earlier speakers with this laminate, the R-10SW, R-12SW, R-110SW, and the R-112SW, that Klipsch upgraded the laminate to a wood grain texture that they claim is scratch resistant. That laminate now comes on the R-100SW, R-120SW, SPL-100, and SPL-120 which are all replacements for the earlier subs.

The new laminate was worth $70 extra to me since I wouldn't use the wireless function of the R-12SWi. Other than Laminate and prettier copper screws, I thought the subs were pretty much the same. THEY ARE NOT!

First, the R-120SW uses a completely different type of woofer than the R-12SWi. The R-120SW woofer is darker and has circular ridges on it's surface. The R-12SWi has a completely smooth woofer and it's lighter in color.

Also my favorite topic sensitivity. The R-120SW is less sensitive than the R-12SWi. Both at a setting of 3 out of 10 on the subwoofer, the R-120SW needed the Receiver's output volume at -4db, the R-12SWi needed the receiver's output volume at -7 db. The R-12SWi is 3db more sensitive. The R-120SW sensitivity is the same at the Velodyne CT-100 which was set on 3/10 on subwoofer and -3db on the receiver's output.

Of course I switched out the subs in and out of the same spot behind my right front main speaker.

So 3 large differences showing these are not the same subwoofers, different laminate, different woofer, and different sensitivity.

As far as sound quality, the R-120SW sounds better significantly. It seems to reach even further into the lower frequencies than the R-12SWi by a noticeable amount and likely much lower than even the Velodyne CT-100. The other noticable improvement over the R-12SW is that the R-120SW is definitely tighter sounding sounding much better than the R-12SWi or even the Velodyne when it was working good. Another thing, is that the R-120SW sounds more accurate in the upper bass by having a bit less output. The R-12SW was never boomy sounding but the R-120SW just sounds flatter in my listening area.

So I had the wrong idea initially when I thought the R-120SW was just another R-12SW with a different laminate. No, it sounds significantly better and maybe that's why the retail rep said it's on a equal playing field with the SPL-100. Now I know why the R-120SW is selling from $100 to $150 more than the R-12SW on Amazon.

I know this is a lower end subwoofer but those who have tight budgets may find this interesting.
Last edited:

Mike Up

Supporting Actor
Dec 16, 2002
I just seen a frequency response test graph for the R-120SW and it did pretty good at 28Hz to 120Hz @ +/-3 db or 26Hz @ -3db referenced to the 80Hz level. The R-12SW was more peaky in the upper high frequencies from another tester, but this is the difference I heard between the 2. The R-120SW from the 2 frequency response graphs was flatter and more accurate but granted they were from 2 different testers.

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