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Speaker clarity of Klipsch vs some High End Audio Speakers


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One person's "sweet spot" is another person's ball and chain. Some would argue that properly set up Klipschorns have too narrow a sweet spot, if that's defined as the point where straight lines drawn from the centers of the speakers intersect out in the room. On the other hand, the "sweet spot" of properly set up omni-directional speakers, e.g., Bose 901 or Ohm/Walsh, is huge. IMO, the sweet spot of such speakers, although large, is not as sweet.

To me, the great dynamics and low distortion of excellent horn loaded speakers can't be beaten. The sensation of live music, even when coming from the next room, is uncanny.

As to recordings to test a system, anything from Sheffield Labs, especially Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker, I've Got The Music . . . is good vinyl. The CD I use is Dave Brubeck's Take Five fromTime Out.

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On another thread I listed my speakers in order of my preference. I don't necessarily rate them by ability to go loud as much as overall sound quality, clarity, and ease of getting set up in different rooms:

1. Thiel CS1.6. These are my favorites which I can drive with either a Cambridge Audio Azure integrated amp or a rebuilt Scottkit LK48. They are very tolerant of the room and setup and although it's not a speaker that can play at earthshaking levels, it has an amazingly full range punch and an astonishingly good sound stage.

2. JBL Summit L300's. These are my audio system in the family room and are driven by an ADCOM 5500 amp and Linn preamp. While similar in configuration to my Klipsch Cornwall 1's, they trump them in every way and are just as easy to setup and forgiving of room characteristics.

3. Klipsch Cornwall 1's. Mine have Crites-rebuilt crossovers and are otherwise stock. Clean, punchy and easy to set up, but the tweeters IMO are no match for the JBL tweeters. Ironically, I also used the LK48 with these speakers and found it couldn't produce enough power at higher levels.

4. Klipsch Horns. Mine are 1980's vintage with crites a/4500 crossover and tweeters. I found the low frequency crossover circuit on the crites crossover to be too sloppy and ruined the high bass, so I reverted them to the original Klipsch 2nd order low pass filters that came in the speakers. (Crites tweeters and mid/hf crossovers are great though, and made a big improvement. These speakers were originally in the room where the thiels are now. They honestly never sounded good there, trying several different corner combinations and furniture arrangements. Then they were tried in the family room, where the JBL Summits are. They worked a bit better there, but still nowhere near the overall performance of the Summits. Now they are out in my garage, where they seem to be the happiest. Sorry to say it, but they are so sensitive to the room they are placed in it can become difficult to get them to sound good no matter what you do. Frankly, if I'd owned the Thiels before I bought the Khorns, I would never have bought the Khorns. That's not to say that if you have the right room for them, they don't sound awsome. But in the wrong room, they are rubbish.

5. Klipsch Heresy 1's. Can's say enough good things about this speaker. It's easy to set up. sounds good (although anemic in the bass) and can take a lot of amplifier. However, I think Klipsch would have been smarter to make a ported version of it to improve the bass output. I suspect they didn't because they didn't want to compete their own Cornwall model.

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However, I think Klipsch would have been smarter to make a ported version of it to improve the bass output. I suspect they didn't because they didn't want to compete their own Cornwall model.

The Industrial ported owuld be the Heresy with ports. I don't think it improved the bass much.

A Heresy II with ports and a little more cabinet is great! But then it becomes a Tangent 400. Plenty of bass, exact same parts as HII.

I think all the Heresy speakers are very much underrated.

The L300s would be a favorite of mine if I owned them, too. Also rated before/above the Heresy...


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  • 1 year later...

Generally it is said that Klipsch speakers reproduce accurately the "inner voices" of recordings In some cases that is the "grunge" or flaws. But in historic recordings,they may be also revealing that information which is in or below the grunge.


I agree with the above.

I also agree with PWK that frequency response smoothness may be one of the least important aspects of music reproduction (within limits). For example, our Klipschorns have great dynamics, clarity, inner detail, a sense of "thereness," but many other speakers are smoother. The smoother ones (above about 60 Hz) include the Heresy IIs we use for surrounds

-- but the less smooth Klipschorns sound a great deal better.

J. Gordon Holt (founder of Stereophile magazine) speculated that musicians liked Klipschorns because they could trigger their musical gestalt.

I haven't been to the salons lately, but I must say that, so far, I've never heard speakers I'd trade my Klipschorns for. I realize that the Klipsch Jubilee might sound better, but I haven't heard one yet.

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I hadn't heard them before either. I bought my first set of LS II's blindly from craigslist since they were close by (~100 miles). If you're ever in SC, drop me a line if you want to listen. All I can say about the LS II is WOW! I've heard the RF-7ii and had a full 7.2 system of RF-83/RC-64/RS-62/RF-82's. The four LS II's have those 7 speakers beat (I don't even have my center channel enabled). I can't wait to move and buy a house with a bigger room to fit more LS II's.

Sorry to not included Klipsch Heritage speakers as part of my comparison. I have never heard any speakers from that line[ :)].

Edited by etc6849
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I've not heard the Jubilee, either.

Looks like the Klipschorn has deeper Bass.

Although the Jubilee often is listed as going down to 45 Hz (+/-3 dB), and the Klipschorn as reaching 35 (+/-3 dB), I don't think that gives a very complete picture of the bass of each. Somewhere on the forum there is a paper by Paul Klipsch and Roy Delgado that shows that the Jubilee has more bass than the Khorn in some areas, and about the same in other frequency regions.

My Klipschorns, in my room, cross the 0 line (the line that goes through the curve at 1K) at about 32 Hz, but have a hump at about 45 Hz. They have response (attenuated) down into the mid '20s. They sound much cleaner than my sub, for what it's worth.

From the reports of most people I know of who have heard them, the Jubilees have "better" bass.

There is a thread on the forum from about 2010 in which I ask people about the subjective differences between three of Klipsch's better speakers. I think it's called Paladium v. Klipschorn v Jub. Many people answered, although most had not heard the Paladium.

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Thiel tower also were very detailed and nice sounding.

You need to hear some Jubilees in a good room with good electronics playing good recordings. As you move up the Klipsch lines, the sound gets better and better. The top-level gear is really amazing.

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There is a thread on the forum from about 2010 in which I ask people about the subjective differences between three of Klipsch's better speakers. I think it's called Paladium v. Klipschorn v Jub. Many people answered, although most had not heard the Paladium.

You need to hear some Jubilees in a good room with good electronics playing good recordings. As you move up the Klipsch lines, the sound gets better and better. The top-level gear is really amazing.

I owned 4 Khorns for 30+ years in different rooms, Lots of LaScalas, Cornwalls, Heresys, Fortes, Chorus I, Chorus II, RF's, B2, B3, etc. direct radiator subs, horn subs. I spent a LOT of time in the Palladium room at Klipsch Headquarters listening to lots of favorite music. I have made a few trips to Hope and spent time in the lab/test room AND PWK's home as his guest in 1985. I worked on a Jubilee Drone engineering project for a Pro Klipsch Dealer (Two K-31, Eminence, and 3 passives in the horn, etc., lots of measurements and listening, but I digress..................

The Palladiums were designed to compete with the B&W 802 type of speakers at $20,000 a pair. They are gorgeous and are THE best sounding bass reflex speaker I have ever heard. They are absolutely beautiful and if you have the cash, they are a showcase speaker that anyone should be proud of, no question. they are handmade in Hope, Arkansas, just like the Heritage speakers. They have custom drivers and horns that are unavailable anywhere else but Klipsch. They use all of the latest technologies and have a very refined balancing network. I have spent time with the engineer that designed it.

That being said, I still think that the two best bass sections that Klipsch makes are the MWM and the Jubilee, period. Why? Because they are horns and both outperform the Khorn bass section. But they need active Xover networks to sound their best. After having horn subs, I'm not convinced that ALL speakers need subs to operate below the 40-60 Hz. range to minimize distortion and extend the bandwidth down to match the capabilities of the ruler flat response to 4 hz. from digital media we have had for over 30 years. The idea of a high pass filter at 30 hz. for energy robbing, high distortion turntable rumble on himalayan recycled production vinyl from crappy US record plants has been gone for a long time.

Klipsch's best horn is the K402, which took me 4 years to find on the used market. I have also owned all the EV and JBL offerings with 2" throats. Yes, I have heard the K510 and it's amazing for it's size. I have even heard the PWK's own single Jubilee at his widow's home (not a very good test), which had an 800 Hz. custom horn on it. I was even at the CES show in 1999 and saw the Jube with the Mahogany horn on top, of which, there are only two in the world.

Conclusion? If space and looks are not a problem, then the very best Klipsch has to offer is the KPT-MCM-II 4-way in various configurations, (look up the Pro Cinema section on Klipsch.com). The next best is the 3-way

KPT-Jubilee/535-B (My speakers are basically a home made hybrid of those two)

Both are available thought the Pro dealers, and both need Active Xovers AND Subwoofers, which now Klipsch makes a horn loaded Sub that weights 300 lbs. Both of these options sound better AND are CHEAPER than the Palladiums. You pay a lot of moolah for the looks, but it's still cheaper than a lot of, so called, "high end" speakers that cost tens of thousands of dollars more.

To trump a Palladium's 3rd position, one could keep the Khorn's bass unit, PEQ it up a bit, and use the KPT-Jubilee/535 B's treble section. But it would not be a "Klipschorn" anymore although it would still be "pure Klipsch."

So there you have it, all top 4 shoices, all need subs to get to 20 hz and below. All Klipsch speakers are a bargain. New or used.

Edited by ClaudeJ1
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my opinion on this is that klipsch & the heritage speakers are very good sounding & hard to beat for rock & jazz etc, but the reason for this can be deceiving to the average listener due to their high efficiency. i have a pair of fortes that i had side by side with some definitive technology bp7006 powered sub speakers, they were both hooked to the same gear & on A & B channels. onkyo 90wpc receiver & cd player. i did the A-B comparison for a couple friends & instantly they all said "i like the klipsch way better." the reason, to them, was simply because they were "louder" at the same given volume level. to the average person it sounds as if the klipsch is "better" because its louder/clearer. what they missed was that if i turned up the volume for the def techs to match the db or spl of the klipsch, the def techs then sounded almost as good. & that issue is commonly overlooked when auditioning speakers in the store, they have the speaker selector that lets you switch to multiple speakers while the volume is usually left the same.

my first system as a teenager was older onkyo receivers with MTX brand speakers, the AAL series with 2 12" woofers a cheap mid & peizio tweeter, they were awsome to a kid in the 80's & do have bass slam because of the woofer displacement. i then stepped up to a pair of kg 5.5 & was blown away at the better sounding mids & tweets & again by the efficiency that i didnt really understand at the time. but cheap MTX compared to klipsch was apples to oranges.

then i got into home theater as 5.1 became popular & i could afford better gear, the kg's did front channel duty for awhile & i loved them, very under rated speaker IMO & the MTX would be hooked to a seperate amp for 4 channel music only. i eventually thought i'd try a different brand speaker mainly for movies & bought some def tech bp30 bi-polar speakers. after listening for hours in the store & realizing the volume had to be turned up a bit to compensate for the efficiency difference, i was very impressed with the def techs. there is no sweet spot with these or if there is its 10x better than any direct radiating speaker, & while not as dynamic or in your face as the klipschs, they have a warmth & "smoothness" that is pretty amazing, & such an open soundstage that makes you think they are bigger or more speakers than just the 2 you are hearing. the bp30's have 2 6.5" woofers & 1" dome tweeter on front & the same arrangement on the backs. with good power they are a very high quality speaker & for movies they really cant be beat.

fast forward to recent years & i came across some good deals on the newer line of def techs with the built in subs, the first 2 generations weren't that good, (bp-2000's) but the recent bp 7000 & 8000 series are very nice speakers for music & movies. i own the bigger bp 7002's & they are excellent speakers for music & almost unbeatable for movies in their price range. the built in subs have very tight & fast bass & the sound stage is again, amazing. bi-polar speakers are a different type of sound but once you give it a try & realize its just "different" than direct radiating, they really do give a unique & pleasant listening experience.

i also did a comparison to my "new to me" 1995 k-horns i bought about a month ago, & granted the k-horns cant be beat for sheer volume & dynamics, but turning up the def techs to match the DB of the k-horns (which requires about double the position of the volume knob) i can honestly say the def techs hold their own & even excell in certain areas... no harshness of the mids & the highs are crystal clear & smooth. the imaging & seperation is much better in my smaller room, the bass is different, not as punchy in the mid-bass area, but the lows are as good or better for the very low bass like in movies or modern bass heavy music. i have heard some higher end speakers like the B&W & paradigm & they just didnt do it for me compared to the klipsch fortes, cornerhorns or my def techs. for the money & depending on your listening needs, klipsch are excellent for music & even movies, but for movies & some music you just cant beat the bi-polar sound of the def techs, they make your room seem bigger than it is & give a very spacious theater like sound quality.

dont get me wrong, im sure the super high end speakers are good too but i have never heard a $20K+ pair of speakers & dont plan to buy any in my lifetime. once i can get the k-horns into a bigger/better room im sure they will be more than enough for my dedictaed 2 ch music system & the def techs will stay as my theater set up with occasional music useage. sorry for the long post, the moral of this story is klipsch are excellent speakers & offer the best bang for the buck IMO but just realize much of that is due to the high effiency so dont let an A-B comparison fool you. when SPL's are equal, many speakers have their own strong points, it all comes down to what your ears like in your particular environment.

Edited by klipschfancf4
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Klipsch's best horn is the K402, which took me 4 years to find on the used market.
Is a price of approximately $1000 for a pair of (NOS) K402's (painted) seem about right today?

I'll take it if you can find it...

I found a place in Canada (thanks to a fellow forum member) that carries both painted and unpainted. It is odd to me that the unpainted horn's cost $200 more than the painted.

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