Arguably, no speaker brand is more polarizing than Klipsch. People either love them or hate them, and I should make it clear up front that I belong to the former group. Having lived with a pair of Heresys for over 40 years now, I am hooked on the high efficiency, the detail, and the unmatched ability to recreate a live performance that you can only get with horn speakers. Although I realize the shortcomings of my Heresys, I feel that their strengths outweigh them.
The RP-280F delivers a lot of that Klipsch sound with a remarkably small footprint. These towers place the center of the high frequency driver about 39 inches above the floor, which is a tad low for them to be on axis with the ears of a seated listener. However, the speaker base cleverly cants the towers back about 2 degrees, thereby aiming those directional highs right at the listener. Nice! The MDF cabinets feel solid and well made, and in a darkened room, the cherry-finished cabinets look quite handsome. Unfortunately, in an effort to bring the speakers to market at an affordable price point, Klipsch opted to finish the cabinets with "polymer wood grain veneer," that is, plastic, and in the light of day the speakers just look cheap. I understand the decision, but I was very disappointed by the speakers' finish.
The sound is a somewhat more refined version of what I have come to expect from Klipsch. The speakers are high efficiency and can get quite loud with minimal strain on your amplifier. The highs and mids are clear and bright, and I was immediately taken by how clearly I could hear each individual instrument and component of the music without really trying. Everything is just -- well -- there. With the RP series, Klipsch has obviously taken to heart complaints from the audio community that their speakers are overbearing and fatiguing. The brightness and detail are still there, but the highs and midrange sound more subdued without ever being mushy. Quick changes in dynamics are handled with characteristic aplomb, resulting is startlingly quick attacks that are sharp but never exaggerated.
I'm going to predict that most people who buy these speakers will want a subwoofer. While the bottom end is adequate, you will never be satisfied with it once you hear what a sub can add. I should qualify my analysis of the bass by saying that I didn't have much flexibility in speaker placement, and the RP's probably would have benefited from a bit more distance from the back wall. Either way, a weak lower end is a fairly easy problem to fix, but you should factor the cost and positioning of a subwoofer into your thinking if you are planning on getting the RP-280F's. (Perhaps some day Klipsch will follow Goldenears' example and offer tower speakers with built-in powered subwoofers. Such a speaker would have little or no competition.)
In an A-B comparison test, I thought that my Heresys would be a clear winner over the RP's, but surprisingly that wasn't the case. Listening to both speakers with the subwoofer turned off, their similarities were more striking than their differences. The RP's seemed to have slightly better bass and were a little less harsh-sounding, while the Heresys were a bit fuller and more detailed. When the subwoofer was turned on, there was remarkably little difference between the two speakers. The Heresy III's are considerably more expensive than the RP's, but remember that a lot of that difference is attributable to the cheaper finish on the RP's. That is, by making some compromises in appearance, Klipsch is able to offer a speaker that performs very well for its price.
If you prefer the sound of conventional speakers, I doubt that the RP-280F's will convert you over to horns. If you already have a pair of Klipsch speakers, then you will probably consider these to be a step down in quality from what you currently own. However, it you are just getting into audio and are putting together your first system, the RP-280F's are an excellent place to start, assuming that you can live with the fake wood finish. You will find that these speakers are compatible even with relatively low-powered amplifiers and that the RP-280F offers a lot of great sound for the price.