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Stereophile and Klipsch Cornwall - A Strange Mix - in 1985!

mobile homeless

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NOTE: I had to revise this post as I mistakenly assumed this online letter and article below was in the latest Stereophile (Sadly enough, I have a copy here but had not opened it yet). Instead, it was an archive article from 1985! Still, I find it amusing and even MORE pertinent in 2001. Amusingly enough, we now have the added knowledge that ole J Gordon Holt NEVER did follow up on his K-Horn promise...

Ye olde Stereophile. Well, it surely is not as good as it once was in my opinion. It has been sold several times in the last decade and many of the better writers have come and gone. The esoteric feel of the 70s has been replaced by a strong sense of commercialism in the 90s and beyond. They have gone more mainstream in a decidedly aggressive manner. I will say that horns have been creeping in over the last few years finally. Although there have been reviews and comments on the Avantgardes, Lamhorns, Beauhorns, Lowthers, Oris, etc, there have been very little official press on Klipsch. Perhaps this is for good reason as the Klipsch name did sort of take a dive via their mass market sales drive.

Lately, however, we have seen Klipsch creep into the Letters sections. A few issues back, the Klipschorn was called forth. While searching the Stereophile archives, I found an interesting article on speaker design way back in 1985... and someone followed up with a letter lauding the now legendary Klipsch Cornwall. I decided to reproduce the letter below; see ole JGH's response, which is amusing in and of itself, though his conclusion is a bit disquieting for Khorn fans... Indeed.

Overlooked Accuracy

Editor: I agree completely that the issue of tonal accuracy has been overlooked by many speaker manufacturers. If tonal accuracy is not the basis of design in an audiophile loudspeaker, then what is? I have come to the conclusion, as have others, that most of the so-called high-end speaker manufacturers build and sell systems that deliver more spectacular Hi-Fi, rather than music. They put imaging, depth, width of soundstage, etc., ahead of all other considerations, and have trained their retailers to push these qualities on the consumer. The consumer buys the equipment, but soon tires of it because the Hi-Fi is spectacular, the music not.

KEF loudspeakers are perfect examples of this. They do all of those other things very nicely, but cannot deliver music that is tonally correct to any degree. That is why it took me more than a year of searching to find a speaker with a reasonable degree of tonal accuracy the Klipsch Cornwall! Paul Klipsch has always considered midrange accuracy to be of paramount importance in the design of his loudspeakers, and, although they're not perfect, they come as close as I have heard to the real thing: music.

I would like to suggest to Mr. Holt that he obtain a new pair of these "old squawkers" and hook them up to a first-class front end (I have Linn/Naim). He will find the "awfully strident and dirty high end" all but gone, and in its place a sound that will please his ears as much as it has pleased mine.

John Kimes, Kernersville, NC

All but gone"? Just how much "all but"? Okay we'll see what we can do about borrowing a pair of K-Horns for review; the requests have come from too many quarters. Don't be disappointed if they don't turn out to be our favorite speakers. J. Gordon Holt


This message has been edited by mobile homeless on 11-26-2001 at 08:13 AM

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It hardly seems worthwhile for J. Gordon Holt to risk giving himself a hernia wrestling a pair of Khorns about when he clearly has made up his mind about what his "review" is going to say.


It is meet to recall that the Great Green Heron rarely flies upside down in the moonlight - (Foo Ling ca. 1304 BCE)

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I have feeling Gordon is going to be a little upset when he hears a speaker that sounds like music instead of speakers.

When confronted with something that flies in the face of of effusive, inculcated dogma, people tend to get defensive and critical rather than being open minded and willing to admit that some of their carefully erected walls need to be torn down and rebuilt with better materials.

I would be amazed if he said something like "after hours and hours of listening, I must admit that these Klipschorn speakers sound more like music than any of the cone and dome speakers I've been heralding for so many years."

Well, we'll see.

Warm, happy regards to all,


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I have just auditioned a pair of Quad 988's. These are generally recognised to be the least flavoured, most accurate speakers in the marketplace.

I had these mated to the Quad 909 amplifier, designed to drive them.

As it happens I have decided not to purchase them. The reason surprised the hell out of me. Tonally they are so similar to my Heresy's they are simply not worth the investment.

Their Bass does extend slightly beyond the range of the Heresy's (a problem I can fix at any time with the addition of a sub), but other than that, they have an almost identical sonic signature, to my ears anyway.

I am fairly sure, however, that the amplifier selected makes a huge difference to this. In my case it is the Accuphase, rather than the tubes, that I would rate the closer, although there is not much in it and the colouring of the tubes is most pleasant with many forms of music (especially Jazz).

Were I still running the Yamaha amp I used to have this would not have been the case - with major distortion of the highs.

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I can not believe someone of Holt's stature would betray a bias and pre-judge a piece of equipment. I hope he tests them with good tube equipment, properly sealed into their corners. If he does and ideally uses a pair of Al's ALK crossovers (unlikely) I can not see how he can do anything but conclude that they are right up there with the very best!


Soundog's HT Systems

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Holt has listened to horns: many years ago was keen on the Altec A7 and recently he has owned Tannoy co-axials. He wouldn't be the first person who liked other maker's horns but not Khorns. Holt no doubt heard Khorns (he was in the business many years, going back to the late 50s at least) and didn't care for them and didn't expect newer ones to sound any better, not unreasonable on his part, especially given the time that some of the fellas here spend agonizing about horn damping and crossover mods. In any case I don't think Holt has been involved with Stereophile, a magazine he founded and was at one time the sole writer for, for quite some time.

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Well I've found Stereophile to be a bit arrogant and dismissive at times. I have been listening to my Cornwalls now for 4 weeks. At 50 or 60 hours a week that is around 200 or so hours. 10 hour listening days still make me miss them when I have to go home. No fatigue. They make great music sound totally engaging and lousy music sound totally unlistenable. This is exactly as it should be. I find I am able to fully hear the detail of all instruments present if they are recorded properly. Amazing for a speaker that can be found used for $1000 a pair or less. Passive crossovers and one amp per channel and they still pound out low end while singing clearly in the mids and shimmering in the highs. Astonishing.

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