Klipsch has a rich heritage of emotion, power, and efficiency. I still remember my first pair of Klipsch speakers. Up until that point, I had only ever owned low-fi Wal-Mart style boomboxes and never owned anything capable of “pissing off the neighbors”. I walked into the stereo store, and was immediately taken aback by the various floorstanding speakers, amplifiers, and televisions. After getting up to speed on the terminology, and having several listening sessions, my father and I decided on a pair of Klipsch SF-2’s and a Yamaha VX99 receiver. The 2-channel setup was loaded up into my dad’s pickup truck, and we took it home where I would enjoy many, many listening sessions over the following years. I was instantly hooked, and so as many Klipsch loyalists have experienced, the love affair with power, detail, and emotion began.
Over the years, I’ve broadened my taste in amplification and music, but I’ve still remained very loyal to the Klipsch brand. I drifted to other brands lines at times, thinking I was might be shortchanging myself by not expanding my horizons. Alas, whenever I would listen to other speakers, there was a certain visceral quality that I felt was missing. I always found myself returning to Klipsch.
As someone who has owned a wide spectrum of speakers from different Klipsch families of speakers, I am pleased to present you with what I feel is a comprehensive list of the best Klipsch speakers ever produced.
Most Klipsch faithful will tell you that if you haven’t heard anything from the Heritage line, then you haven’t truly listened to a Klipsch speaker. They may be right. Heritage speakers are still made right here in Hope, Arkansas at the Klipsch factory. Brand new Heritage speakers can be a little cost prohibitive, however.
The still retains the best parts of speakers from the Heritage line – they’re made with furniture grade wood and a dedicated midrange horn. They’re also the most affordable entry in the Heritage line. The only issue is they’re a little thin on the low end of the frequency range. With a subwoofer, it’s not longer a problem. You can find a new pair of Heresy III speakers available to both new and used.
Following the original RF-7, Klipsch produced what was heralded as the fire breathing dragons, the RF-83. The RF-83 was essentially a narrower, taller, perhaps more aesthetically pleasing flagship reference floorstander. Rather than having two 10-inch drivers, the RF-83 went with three 8-inch woofers.
The common experience with the RF-83 has been that it has a slightly more laid back sound that Klipsch faithful are used to. However, I have to disagree – the sound is still very much Klipsch. Listen to a pair of RF-83’s and you’ll get the dynamics and in-your-face sound that you’re accustomed to, but with a bit more thickness throughout the midrange. Unfortunately, sales on the RF-83 were lukewarm at best. Some pontificate it’s because of the warmer sound, but others believe it’s because the production of the RF-83’s coincided with the economic downturn of 2008. In either case, the RF-83’s were promptly replaced with a revised version of the RF-7, the .
I absolutely loved my ‘s. The dynamics produced by these behemoths is right on par with the high-end heritage speakers, but for far less cash. The 1.75″ compression driver could reproduce thunderclaps in a way that would make the hairs stand up on the listener’s neck. The two 10-inch woofers produced tight, clean bass in volumes. The RF-7’s were also extremely versatile, working well as the anchor of a home theater setup, but also being a great fit for a 2-channel music setup. They were also the only set of floorstanders in the second generation reference line produced with furniture grade wood right in Hope, Arkansas.
If I had one criticism of the RF-7 II’s, it would be that they could have benefitted from having a lower crossover point from the tweeter to the woofers. Additionally, if they had been produced as a 3-way speaker, they would have likely ranked much higher on this list. There is a certain thickness that seems to be lost in the midrange that could have been remedied with these two alterations. Nonetheless, the RF-7 II is a big face melting floorstander that most Klipsch fans will love. They are available to both new, or if you are looking for a good deal, .
7. Palldium P-39f (honorable mention for the P-38f and P-37f)
Back in 2006, Klipsch revealed that it had been working on a special project that was a very distinct break from tradition for the Arkansas speaker manufacturer. Klipsch had been secretly working on a line of super high-end speaker products that would allow it to compete with the likes of the more elitist brands such as Bowers & Wilkins, Focal, and Paradigm. While the Klipsch community was always aware of the virtues of Klipsch, this was an effort to pull in a new demographic of audiophiles that were looking for a higher-end product in the $10,000+ price range. The line was initially unveiled with the massive P-39F’s, and subsequently Klipsch followed up with its little brothers, the P-39f’s and P-37f’s.
The Klipsch Palladium line never ultimately became a speaker that would be cross-shopped with B&W or Martin Logan at the $10,000-$20,000 price point. For this reason, as fantastic as they were, the Palladium line was discontinued in 2016 along with Klipsch’s ambitions of entering the traditional audiophile market (who needs ’em anyway?), rendering the Palladiums a must-have collectors’ item for Klipsch lovers that have the space.
The Klipsch Legend floorstanders were the last of the non-Heritage 3-way speaker designs produced and assembled in Hope, Arkansas. After the Legend series was discontinued, the dedicated midrange horn became a feature reserved for the Heritage and Palladium series. There were three floorstanding speakers in the Legend series: the KL10, the KL20, and the KL30. The KLF10 was a 2-way design, while the and were 3-way designs. In my opinion, the KLF20 was the sweet spot of the line.
Unlike the KLF10, the big horn was reserved for midrange frequencies, and a tweeter was added with an additional crossover point for the high frequencies. On the other hand, the KLF20’s featured 10-inch woofers, compared to the 12-inch woofers of the KLF30. It is my opinion that this resulted in tighter, more articulate bass. Hence, the KLF20 serves as the representative of the Legend series for this list. These speakers are now discontinued, but you can easily .
The Chorus speakers served as the big brothers to the Forte series of speakers. The fundamental design of the speaker, including the passive driver and 3-way front design are in tact, but all of the drivers are scaled up. Recently, the Forte was resurrected and been met with a great deal of enthusiasm and positive reviews from the Klipsch community. If the Chorus III is ever refreshed and its drivers are updated, we may very well have to move it up on this list (fingers crossed!). This is another model that has been discontinued, but you can easily .
One of the best selling Klipsch speakers of all time was the Forte II. The design was so celebrated, in fact, that it was recently refreshed and reintroduced as the . The design has remained largely unchanged in the resurrected classic, with one exception: the midrange horn was completely redesigned and made use of a new horn architecture, as well as a dimpled horn texture which dramatically increased the control over the midrange frequency band. The ambitious 15″ passive driver is still intact, and when listening to music in a pure 2-channel format, you would swear there’s a subwoofer hidden somewhere in the room. Klipsch truly hit it out of the part with this refresh, and in terms of pricing, the Forte fills the gap between the Heresy III and Cornwall II in the Heritage line. You can .
The is often known as a light. It features the same tweeter and midrange horn drivers as the Klipschorn, but with a different bass section that doesn’t require a corner in order to achieve an optimal sound. Just like the Klipschorn, expect a massive, detailed soundstage and high efficiency. The main place the LaScala falls short is in the low-end extension department. However, this is moot for two reasons. First off, it’s easy to compensate for this with a subwoofer – and in recent years some fantastic companies have become more mainstream with internet-direct pricing, such as SVS. Secondly, while the extension on the LaScalas isn’t super low, the folded horn design produce extremely clean bass down to 51hz that simply isn’t achievable with direct radiating woofers.
This is the type of speaker that is a true investment that you will enjoy for decades, and they are available to .
And if you’re interested in seeing one of the coolest theater applications of Heritage speakers I’ve ever seen, check out this trio of LaScala’s:
Perhaps the most iconic speaker Klipsch ever made is the . What made this speaker so special is that it was a corner horn design, and any Klipsch fanatic will know what this means. It means that when you purchase a house, one of the key attributes you’re looking for is a large room with a symmetrical shape that can accommodate these beasts. As I’ve just implied, two good corners are a must.
With the correct room, you will experience incredibly powerful bass and a massive soundstage. The bass, in particular is so powerful, that even the most powerful of subwoofers will often be drowned out by the sheer output of these behemoths. The best part of the Klipschorns? The 106 db sensitivity means you can achieve 104db output levels with just one watt of power, meaning that you don’t need to spend $10,000 on amplification to bring the house down. However, the Klipschorns still sound their best with a high-end amplifier.
Occasionally, even longtime owners of Klipsch speakers will scratch their heads when you reference the Jubilee. If you thought the Klipschorn was a big daddy floorstander, wait until you get your first face to face encounter with the Klipschorn’s big brother. The Jubilee is basically the Klipschorn on steroids.
Take everything that makes the Klipschorn great, and make it a whole lot bigger. That’s the Jubilee. The first thing that grabs a listener about the Jubilee is the absolutely massive soundstage. You’ll feel like you’re in front of a real live orchestra, and your brain will struggle to make sense of the discrepancy between what you’re seeing and what you’re hearing. If you have the room for them (and a couple of strong friends to help you get them into position), the Jubilee may very well be the final destination and ultimate expression of Klipsch heritage and enthusiasm. You can usually .
Whatever you end up choosing, eBay is always the best plays to buy home theater equipment in my opinion, so I recommend buying there.
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