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Stereophile review of Klipschorn

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The September 2019 edition of Stereophile has a long-awaited review of the AK6 Klipschorn.

 

The only word that comes to my mind after reading both the Measurements section and the review by Art Dudley is----disappointment.

 

First the measurements: Once again, a Klipsch loudspeaker does not meet  its sensitivity specification. That's odd for a Klipschorn as I would assume its sensitivity was measured in the trihedral corner of the Hope anechoic chamber (see grainy image). You'd think there would be less of the "room gain fudge-factor" Klipsch uses than the 3.9 dB sensitivity shortfall John Atkinson measured. 

 

For logistical reasons, the AK6 was measured out of doors sitting on a driveway. The AK6 frequency response specification is 33 Hz--20kHz + or - 4 dB. For a premium-priced loudspeaker, that spec should be + or - 3 dB or better.

 

Atkinson measured the AK6 frequency response using nearfield (bass horn) and farfield (squawker/tweeter) measurement techniques. The AK6 frequency response measured: 33 Hz -20kHz +8 dB minus 15 dB (my interpretation of the FR curves). The +8 dB peak at 10kHz is as disappointing as the overall tweeter level which appears to be 3 dB too hot relative to the midrange. I won't comment on the bass horn measurements only to say that even though the back is enclosed, corner placement is, IMHO,  the only location to measure the bass response of a Klipschorn. 

 

Second, the listening test: It wasn't clear from  Dudley's review how the Klipschorns were located in his 17' x 12' x 8' listening room. Were they on the long wall or short wall?

 

Dudley writes, I began with the backs of the Klipschorn AK6s a short distance from the front wall--their front surfaces, measured at the centers of the cabinets, were a little more than 3' from that wall, and a little more than 8' apart from each other--and with the the speakers slightly toed-in toward the center listening seat.  

 

Really? Where's my horsewhip? Who in their right mind would listen to Klipschorns eight feet apart and three feet away from a wall? 

 

In 2006 Klipsch turned down Dudley's request to review the 60th anniversary Klipschorn because his (Dudley's) listening room at the time couldn't accommodate corner placement. Did the current Klipsch marketing department considered asking for dimensions and images of Dudley's current listening room? 

 

His current listening room would IMHO be marginal even locating the AK6s on the 17' wall.  My listening room was designed around my Klipschorns/Belle and is 24' wide, with 11' high side walls and a 23' vaulted ceiling. The sound quality and imaging is magnificent and is a system not tolerant of poorly recorded pablum. 

 

Unfortunately, I cannot scan the AK6 review and post it----my trusty Epson scanner is refusing to power up. Stereophile will post it soon enough on their web site. Gosh, you'd think Klipsch would have posted the past two Stereophile Klipsch loudspeaker reviews on the web site by now.

 

 

 

Lee

 

 

PWK chamber.jpg

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The September 2019 edition of Stereophile has a long-awaited review of the AK6 Klipschorn.
 
The only word that comes to my mind after reading both the Measurements section and the review by Art Dudley is----disappointment.
 
First the measurements: Once again, a Klipsch loudspeaker does not meet  its sensitivity specification. That's odd for a Klipschorn as I would assume its sensitivity was measured in the trihedral corner of the Hope anechoic chamber (see grainy image). You'd think there would be less of the "room gain fudge-factor" Klipsch uses than the 3.9 dB sensitivity shortfall John Atkinson measured. 
 
For logistical reasons, the AK6 was measured out of doors sitting on a driveway. The AK6 frequency response specification is 33 Hz--20kHz + or - 4 dB. For a premium-priced loudspeaker, that spec should be + or - 3 dB or better.
 
Atkinson measured the AK6 frequency response using nearfield (bass horn) and farfield (squawker/tweeter) measurement techniques. The AK6 frequency response measured: 33 Hz -20kHz +8 dB minus 15 dB (my interpretation of the FR curves). The +8 dB peak at 10kHz is as disappointing as the overall tweeter level which appears to be 3 dB too hot relative to the midrange. I won't comment on the bass horn measurements only to say that even though the back is enclosed, corner placement is, IMHO,  the only location to measure the bass response of a Klipschorn. 
 
Second, the listening test: It wasn't clear from  Dudley's review how the Klipschorns were located in his 17' x 12' x 8' listening room. Were they on the long wall or short wall?
 
Dudley writes, I began with the backs of the Klipschorn AK6s a short distance from the front wall--their front surfaces, measured at the centers of the cabinets, were a little more than 3' from that wall, and a little more than 8' apart from each other--and with the the speakers slightly toed-in toward the center listening seat.  
 
Really? Where's my horsewhip? Who in their right mind would listen to Klipschorns eight feet apart and three feet away from a wall? 
 
In 2006 Klipsch turned down Dudley's request to review the 60th anniversary Klipschorn because his (Dudley's) listening room at the time couldn't accommodate corner placement. Did the current Klipsch marketing department considered asking for dimensions and images of Dudley's current listening room? 
 
His current listening room would IMHO be marginal even locating the AK6s on the 17' wall.  My listening room was designed around my Klipschorns/Belle and is 24' wide, with 11' high side walls and a 23' vaulted ceiling. The sound quality and imaging is magnificent and is a system not tolerant of poorly recorded pablum. 
 
Unfortunately, I cannot scan the AK6 review and post it----my trusty Epson scanner is refusing to power up. Stereophile will post it soon enough on their web site. Gosh, you'd think Klipsch would have posted the past two Stereophile Klipsch loudspeaker reviews on the web site by now.
 
 
 
Lee
 
 
151608104_PWKchamber.thumb.jpg.b49241e08f153126ab3c821ad71e186a.jpg

Screw that rag and the writer. Ain't got time for their money grubbing drivel. And stay off my lawn.


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Yeah In my younger days I used to subscribe to that magazine, but got tired of every review claiming improved “pacing”, “tempo”, “enhanced soundstage”, “better transparency”, and on and on...

Sure, there ARE improvements you can make, but it seemed that every single one was night and day. You’d think that if you applied all of them it’d blow your mind.

I gave up one day when a digital interconnect resulted in better tempo. My bet is that the bitstream was the same before and after, but for the hundreds of dollars this thing cost, it just had to be better.

I did not renew.

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=== one has to wonder if the KHorns were provided by KGI and reviewed with their blessings or obtained from a dealer ? It’s doubtful Mother Klipsch would approve of the testing technique(s) as described. When (we) read a review of such a speaker the proper room, setup, etc. is to be expected and we look forward to real world results. This is no different than anticipating a Motor Trend review of the Mercedes Formula 1 car only to find the road test consisted of a half-mile trip to the grocery store with three stop lights and a 15 mph roundabout. “While beautiful to look at and oh what a sound, we found the car was difficult to get in/out, ran extremely hot and lacked cargo capacity”. 

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Here you go, Mr. Reviewer, from page 3 of the manual, under the heading "Placement":

 

"The Klipschorn (AK6) has a fully enclosed low frequency horn and no longer has to be flush to the corner in order to operate properly.  The Klipschorn can now be toed in or out to obtain the best imaging.  The corner still serves as an extension of the low frequency horn, improving low frequency performance.  For best results, Klipsch highly recommends the Klipschorn be placed in the proximity of a corner."

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Edit

 

(with big drums)

 

Yel LOW But TON

Yel LOW But TON

Yel LOW But TON

Yel LOW But TON

Yel LOW But TON

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9 hours ago, glens said:

Here you go, Mr. Reviewer, from page 3 of the manual, under the heading "Placement":

 

"...For best results, Klipsch highly recommends the Klipschorn be placed in the proximity of a corner."

 

That's poorly worded. The corner is necessary, not optional.

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12 hours ago, codewritinfool said:

better tempo

 

Reminds me of an office I worked in where POS Tempos were company cars. The only other car guy and I chose little Ford Escort (Mazda 323) wagons instead, much better than Tempos.  We had shirts that read:

 

”I upped my Tempo, up yours.”

 

You’d like to think the reviewer would know enough to, at least, follow the instructions regarding proper placement.  Instead, he broadcasts his ignorance.

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Hard to take this review seriously with so many obvious mistakes it’s really worthless and actually misleading. Just another good example why people should take magazine reviews and reviewers with a grain of salt. 

 

I believe all so called professional reviews and reviewers of these magazines should be required to show pictures of the room and setup since it is as important as the speakers under review to understand why they get the results they often report about.

 

If this is the room/setup the KHorns were reviewed in then no wonder it went the way it did.

 

 

miketn

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After watching the video, I had no idea.......goofball, that video should cause them to lose some subscriptions.

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  • It is my understanding that Khorns are measured in Hope in 1/8 space, which would be in a trihedral corner, wouldn't it?  Since the AK5 is rated at the same 105 dB @ 2.83v @1M, as the AK6 with the new tweeter and closed backs, I'm guessing they were both measured in a corner.
  • I wonder if Klipsch wrote anything in the Manufacturer's Comments section of Stereophile (conveinently buried toward the back of the magazine instead right with the component tested)?  I'm curious to know what Roy Delgado would say about this review.   Roy?  @Chief bonehead.  Perhaps he would contest some of their findings, or talk about important qualities they didn't mention.
  • I hope they measured distortion, including modulation distortion at a given SPL.  As I remember, the Khorn had about 1/3 of the total modulation distortion as the direct radiator Cornwall, at a lower SPL (maybe 10 dB below, IIRC -- brain slowly going).
  • Strictly FWIW, here are some old more conventionally measured distortion figures.  Once again IIRC, some measures came from Audio magazine about 1986, and some came from reviews by Keele, Jr some years later, all at 105 dB, which is approx. reference level for peaks in the film industry.  Klipschorn 1.75% IM, 0.25% Harmonic;  AR 98RS (4 way) 2.7% IM (Audible), ~3% Harmonic (Audible);  Fried Studio 4 10% IM (Audible and Annoying), 4% Harmonic (Audible); Platinum Studio 2  7% IM (Audible & Annoying), 1.9% Harmonic (Audible).

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This is a very live/reflective room and room modes causing overhang at several regions in the approximately 30hz to 300hz region is very likely. 

 

Another potential issue IMO is from the reviewers descriptions of the loudspeaker locations it sounds like they were on the short wall (12ft) which with the Klipschorns having such a small spread means audible constructive and destructive interference from the small spacing between the loudspeakers starts at a much higher frequency which leads to more tonal colorations that wider spacing reduces considerably when the spread is more in the 16ft to 25ft range based on my own experiences with the Klipschorns and the many rooms I have used them in.

 

miketn

 

AFE31170-3AA7-42EF-95C0-558304E2573E.thumb.jpeg.46ee7c8d6d05b491e8d4868b589d21ea.jpeg

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30 minutes ago, garyrc said:

I wonder if Klipsch wrote anything in the Manufacturer's Comments section of Stereophile (conveinently buried toward the back of the magazine instead right with the component tested)?  I'm curious to know what Roy Delgado would say about this review.   Roy?  @Chief bonehead.  Perhaps he would contest some of their findings, or talk about important qualities they didn't mention.

 

Yes Roy made a very reasoned response to the review highlighting PWKs and his principles of sound reproduction to obtain live music reproduction.

 

miketn

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Interesting update on the new Klipshorn and i’ll look forward to seeing the curves. For now, I’ll only say this, the Klipschorn is perhaps the most difficult speaker to measure and after having done extensive Klipschorn testing in the past, I’m not worried in the least. 😉

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8 hours ago, garyrc said:
  • It is my understanding that Khorns are measured in Hope in 1/8 space, which would be in a trihedral corner, wouldn't it?  Since the AK5 is rated at the same 105 dB @ 2.83v @1M, as the AK6 with the new tweeter and closed backs, I'm guessing they were both measured in a corner.
  • I wonder if Klipsch wrote anything in the Manufacturer's Comments section of Stereophile (conveinently buried toward the back of the magazine instead right with the component tested)?  I'm curious to know what Roy Delgado would say about this review.   Roy?  @Chief bonehead.  Perhaps he would contest some of their findings, or talk about important qualities they didn't mention.
  • I hope they measured distortion, including modulation distortion at a given SPL.  As I remember, the Khorn had about 1/3 of the total modulation distortion as the direct radiator Cornwall, at a lower SPL (maybe 10 dB below, IIRC -- brain slowly going).
  • Strictly FWIW, here are some old more conventionally measured distortion figures.  Once again IIRC, some measures came from Audio magazine about 1986, and some came from reviews by Keele, Jr some years later, all at 105 dB, which is approx. reference level for peaks in the film industry.  Klipschorn 1.75% IM, 0.25% Harmonic;  AR 98RS (4 way) 2.7% IM (Audible), ~3% Harmonic (Audible);  Fried Studio 4 10% IM (Audible and Annoying), 4% Harmonic (Audible); Platinum Studio 2  7% IM (Audible & Annoying), 1.9% Harmonic (Audible).

Not defending Stereophile though I thought the article wasn't too bad. 
My take away was you have to do proper matching of the k-horns to an amp to get the best results.  That is true as in all set ups as I have said many times before, system synergy is key.  The reviewer liked the k-horns very much once the right amp was used with them.  Add to that they said the sound was very natural and very low distortion... How many people here have replaced their mid-range horn?  The bass overhang didn't appear as a big complaint but I can believe there is bass overhang in particular rooms as the k-horn will load the room as many other speakers won't which means it will excite the sheetrock and room framing.  Nothing new.

 

On the sensitivity, that one is questionable though different measurement techniques will yield different results.

 

The only thing I didn't like was the the tweeter measurements.  A little messy.

 

As John A stated when he measured them, he wonders what a set would do properly dsp optimized.  Seems any big multi-way horn system would need this optimization if you want to eek the last bit of performance out of it, as many have done.  Time alignment and some smoothing would make worlds of change to k-horns.

 

Bottom line was at almost $15k, they were a steal.

 

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I'm having a hard time believing that Roy didn't shoot for flatest response possibe. I'm inclined the blame the testing methodology.

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Deang wrote, I'm having a hard time believing that Roy didn't shoot for flatest response possibe. I'm inclined the blame the testing methodology.

 

You have to give John Atkinson credit for making consistent, in-depth loudspeaker reviews. The measurement gear is reliable and gives repeatable results. He's made well over 1000  loudspeaker reviews and his in-depth methodology can be found within the Stereophile archives. Yeah, I'd like to see some I.M.D. tests as well as polars but while those tests would be welcome to fellow Klipsch forum members, I doubt they would be appreciated by most Stereophile readers. 

 

garyrc wrote, I wonder if Klipsch wrote anything in the Manufacturer's Comments section of Stereophile (conveinently buried toward the back of the magazine instead right with the component tested)?  I'm curious to know what Roy Delgado would say about this review.   Roy?  @Chief bonehead.  Perhaps he would contest some of their findings, or talk about important qualities they didn't mention.

 

I would assume Roy was privy to Dudley's review and Atkinson's test data before he responded. His response did not address the review or test results directly but was a curious reiteration of PWK's "four sound principles in order of importance:

High efficiency

Low distortion

Controlled directivity

Controlled frequency response

 

PWK actually had published his 1961 "Eight Cardinal Points in Loudspeakers for Sound Reproduction" which Gil posted back in 2004. 

 

https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/46835-article-eight-cardinal-points-by-pwk/

 

There is a huge disconnect between Roy's praise of the AK6's tweeter and the actual measurement results. I see Chris A posted the review link and an ugly on-axis frequency response.

Maybe Roy would like to post some Klipschorn "dirty pictures" for us to see.

 

Maybe it's time to rethink the politics of the inflated sensitivity specs, eight-foot bass horn BS and the Heritage "re-styling" decisions.

 

Lee

 

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