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Klipschorns - Upgrading from a flood


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This is long so please bear with me. I’m tackling a big project in salvaging my Klipschorns from top to bottom. I wrote two people that I have come to find out produce crossover upgrades. I will start with my email to them and follow with an answer from each.


What I’m looking for, is I have NO experience with either of these two shops and hope to run into those who have who can shed some light in which way to go.


I sent this to ALK Engineering and Critesspeakers.com. They were both nice enough to reply the following day.


Again, I know it’s long and really appreciate your help!





In searching out new crossovers for my Klipschorns I ran across your website. I bought my speakers in 1977 and have moved them around the country with me. In 1987 I updated the crossovers from Klipsch and have done nothing with them since. Five years ago I moved into a new home where there was no place to place them. I was going to build a room in an outbuilding but that has yet to materialize until now.


As you can see from the picture, everything is a mess. The storage garage they were in had a flood and while they were untouched by the water themselves, the humidity did a number on them. And there were rats. I love these speakers and they have served me well and when I put them in storage five years ago they, in my ears, were flawless.


Now, about me. I’ve been in radio / audio all my life. I do voiceover work and I deal with sound all day, every day. At 60+ years old, I don’t know how much of my hearing is diminished. I do know that I love audio, clear, clean audio and I get a great deal of enjoyment out of reproduction as close to the source as possible. With that being said, I am going to go through these speakers meticulously, wet sanding the walnut, cleaning out the insides and replacing what needs to be replaced. 


Some guys are audiophiles beyond what I think they can actually hear and I don’t want to go that route, but I do want to get the most accurate and homogenous sound that I am able to appreciate with these speakers. 


I know this is a long email. Short answers are fine. With what I’ve described both with what you see and my personal information, what would you recommend.



Rick Riley


Reply from ALK:


I am not sure what effect humidity has on a speaker, but it certainly isn't good! In any case, the crossover needs to be upgraded since all Klipsch crossover are poor designs to begin with! The AP12-AK3 and ES5800 is a good choice.

You might pop the woofer hatch to see the condition of the woofer driver cone. Humidity might not be so good for a paper cone. I doubt any serious damage to the K55 or K77 though.



Reply from Critespeakers.com:




The upgrade you did in 1987 actually created some future problems you would not have had without the upgrade.  The upgrade to the AK-3 also made the Khorn essentially non-user serviceable with all connections soldered and with part of the crossover inside the bass bin and the rest visible on the shelf.  Originally, the Khorn was made with consideration for easy service with a terminal strip on the crossover and easy to connect terminals on all the drivers.  


Some of the problems created in the upgrade are not really the fault of Klipsch.  They did not know the monster cable they used was poor quality and often after a few years you can see the wires turning green inside the clear insulation.   They also did not know that the supplier of the midrange drivers would go bankrupt and no longer supply the drivers or any spare parts like diaphragms to repair them.  When that bankruptcy happened, Klipsch went back to the exact same driver you replaced and still uses it even today in the new Khorns.  And the AA crossovers you replaced with the AK-3 are still considered by many the best crossovers Klipsch ever built.


My recommendations to you would be that you put them back to a condition where any future maintenance is easy again with the following parts.


Pair of CT120 tweeters.  These new tweeters go all the way to 20khz and are a lot smoother and cleaner sounding than the K-77.  The best if the K-77 tweeters can only go up to around 15khz.  


Pair of Type A crossovers.  The type A is a very simple crossover but many consider it the best sounding crossover. It has no tweeter protection and none is needed if you go to the CT120 tweeters.


You can read about them here:




Pair of A-55G midrange drivers.  These have only about half the distortion of the K-55 drivers and have a smoother frequency response.


You can read about this new midrange driver here:




You could continue to use the K-33E woofers you have if they are working well.  If you do want to change them, we have our CW1526C woofers. These have a nice heavy cast aluminum frame and that frame does not drain off any magnet power like the steel frame you have now does and the effect is slightly better performance at the lowest frequencies.


Prices would be:


Pair of CT120 tweeters $225.00


Pair of Type A crossovers $210.00


Pair of A-55G midrange drivers $350.00


Pair of midrange horn to driver gaskets $2.00


Pair of CW1526C woofers $295.00.


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Hey Rick


I agree with Bob...you should get the bass bin as close to original as possible.  Doing so leaves you with several crossover choices, including active bi-amping!


Did you have to cut an opening in the door to install the AK-3 low pass filter?  Take a picture of the door and we can help getting your K-horns ready for an upgrade.



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I think Bob (superb service and insight) has given excellent advice. First thing would be to clean the cabinet, open the bass section and check the woofer.


The A or AA crossovers from Bob are fine and not too costly.if you were interested in going beyond those I would lean toward Dean Wescott's @Deangcrossovers, more expensive but well worth the money.






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Your advice is being monitored and I really appreciate your input as I know the depth of knowledge in this forum is great.


Sanding out the water stains is a fine line between knowing when to stop vs making them disappear, and it's a little nerve wracking because I don’t want to through the veneer but I figure 320 grit will keep me safe.


Not knowing how the enclosures were put together also makes taking them apart a little dicey as I don’t want to reassemble them and have a box that rattles or buzzes, but I’m taking out what I can, repainting the braces and such and sanding all the wood for re-staining, and making everything that I can look new again. I have a nice shop, all the tools and am pretty good with my hands so with a little blues on my shop stereo, I'm enjoying the project.


As an aside, I’m going to use Watco Danish Oil to refinish unless there are better suggestions. And if I do use Watco, I presume it will be the ‘Natural Walnut' and not the ‘Dark Walnut’ stain I would use.


When I open the Bass section I’ll shoot a picture and share.


Again, thanks for ALL your help!!!

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Al is funny. There is nothing wrong with Klipsch crossovers. I'll just leave it at that. I do agree with him that your midrange and tweeter drivers are fine - but you should send them to Bob to be tested. If you have the money, yes, follow Bob's recommendations for the replacements. The woofers are undoubtedly shot. You won't know until you pull them.


Remove all of the components and wiring, and then focus on cleanup. Do not try to desolder any of the wiring, just cut with wire cutters. When you put things back together, you will use the second set of unused  terminals/connectors on each driver.


If you liked what you heard from the AK-3, those can be built on a single board (no split network or soldering required). The Type A works well with low powered tube gear, but can't fill a large room with live level output (loud) without making the speaker sound like it's under duress (distortion). It also doesn't image as well as the AA or AK-3. So, I would stay AA or AK-3.


You've got your work cut out for you!


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1 hour ago, Deang said:

Wow, you don't mess around!


When I was 21, I heard Khorns for the first time. When I was 26, I could afford them. For over 35 years they’ve given me more weekends and late nights than I can count. I figure I owe them and I’m going to do my best to pay them back. We’ll see how it goes. 😉

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Mr. Riley,


I'm closer to Dean on this.  Your Type AK-3 crossover is a good one.  The K-55-M squawker is also a good one, made by Electro-voice, who is very much still in business.  They do not make diaphragms for the driver they once custom made for Klipsch, however.  Until one fails, keep them. 


Surely you can remove the woofer access door and gain access to anything that needs cleaning.  I would not try to disassemble the bass horn further. 


As to the crossover networks, at most they might need to have the capacitors replaced due to their age.  Use a quality film and foil cap for better sound.  Looks like they need a good cleaning!  Crossover network schematics are available in this Forum Section to help.  If you feel incapable of rebuilding your networks, Dean or either of the 2 shops you contacted can do it.  Where are you located?  Perhaps a nearby Forum member will help. 


Remove and examine the woofers carefully.  Much discoloration or mold would make me consider replacement or reconing .  New woofers can be purchased from Klipsch or Mr. Crites for a reasonable price. 


There are MANY ways to upgrade your K-horns.  The forums are full of them.  But, first get your horns cleaned up and running.  After that, we can address any flaws you hear. 


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After de-nesting and de-webbing on the outside, the inside looked pretty good and very clean.


The cone is not deteriorated at all and the suspension still seems flexible when I press on it.


Again, I’m not sure but I may have replaced the woofer in 1987. Maybe those more experienced can tell by the pictures.


Considering it’s 30 years later… opinions?



Bass back.jpg

Bass front.jpg

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