Category Archives: Purchasing

On-Ear vs. In-Ear Headphones

The debate has waged on for years concerning which style of headphone is superior. If you’re in the market for a new set of headphones and having trouble deciding between in-ear headphones and on-ear headphones, you’ll want to think about how you plan to use them. Both styles are built to serve different purposes and lifestyles. So the answer is really up to the individual. Here are some things to consider.

In-Ear Headphones

If you’re someone who’s on-the-go and prefers carrying as little as possible, in-ear headphones might be the best choice for you. Their compact size makes them small enough to fit in your pocket. Additionally, their lightweight design means you barely feel them – making them the perfect headphone for runners, bikers, weight lifters and almost all other fitness nuts.

Upon their inception, many years ago, in-ear headphones lacked the quality sound and bass that on-ear headphones provided. Today, in-ear headphones offer some of the best audio technologies and sound quality you can get. (Check out the Klipsch X11i in-ear headphones.)

One common complaint users have with in-ear headphones is their comfort and ability to stay in place. Some folks just don’t like the feeling of something stuck in their ear. Perhaps too many wet willie’s as a kid?

However, Klipsch’s patented oval ear tips combat the discomfort of round ear tips. They also provide a great seal for better noise isolation and deeper bass response. Watch the video below to learn how Klipsch did it:

Klipsch Oval Ear Tips for Headphones

On-Ear Headphones

If you prefer ultimate comfort, deep bass and tend to be seated when listening to your music or movies – on-ear headphones are up your alley.

On-ear headphones are almost as their in-ear counterparts. Not only are they comfortable, but their larger size provides more style to those who desire it.

Though they are not as compact as in-ear headphones, they can easily be transported. Many designs come with a carrying case and often times fold up, like the Klipsch STATUS. But where they lack in portability, they make up for in sound and style.

The truth is, there is no right or wrong – only what suits your preferences. Just make sure you’re not listening to crap audio whichever route you take.

Tell us in the comment section below which headphone style you prefer.

Best Home Theater Speaker Systems: 4 Things to Know

If you’re wanting better sound quality from your entertainment system, chances are you need to add a home theater system. The truth is that even the best high-def TVs are seriously lacking when it comes to speaker capability since they’ve become so slim over time. At the end of the day, they simply can’t deliver the clarity of voice in the softest whisper, or those deep, explosive lows that’ll bring your favorite action movies to life. The same goes for the full-range sound effects that only surround sound speakers can deliver.

Before deciding on which home theater speaker system is right for you, here are four things to consider:

1. The Perks of All-In-One Setups

Some of the best home theater speaker systems are considered “in the box” setups. All this means is that the manufacturer has taken the time to pre-package the essential equipment you really need. A good system will include a pair of floorstanding speakers or bookshelf speakers, a center channel speaker, two rear surround sound speakers and a subwoofer. This system set up is also known as a 5.1 system (five speakers and one subwoofer). As you’d expect, higher quality systems typically include two additional speakers for superior surround effects (making it a 7.1 system). Perhaps the biggest benefit of an all-in-one setup is convenience – simply make one purchase and you’re done. Going the pre-packaged route is also easier to install and usually more cost effective than buying pieces individually. The good news is that many of the best in the box setups are crafted with furniture aesthetics in mind, so your system won’t be an eyesore. If you need help choosing speakers, check out the Klipsch Reference Speaker Selector.

2. Building Your Own System

While a pre-packaged setup is ideal for some, others may prefer to build their own system from the ground up. (We’re looking at you, audiophiles.) It may be a bit more involved, but taking a do-it-yourself approach comes with some perks. For starters, you can tailor your system to meet your individual needs. One hardcore movie buff may be more choosy about their center channel speaker, for example. But another music lover might just be looking to customize their entertainment center with a pair of killer floorstanding speakers. Building your own system a la carte gives you the freedom to mix and match products as you see fit.

3. Understand the System Layout

Klipsch Home Theater Systems

Center speaker should be place directly under the TV screen and facing listeners. However, you can get creative with your subwoofer placement.

Before choosing your home theater speaker system, take a minute to assess your living room. In order to optimize your new system’s sound quality, it’s important to understand how to physically lay it all out. The center channel speaker should be placed right below or above your TV screen and positioned to face listeners. If you choose to position it on a stand, rest the speaker’s edge on the end of the stand. This will help prevent dialogue from sounding wonky. The floorstanding/bookshelf speakers should then be positioned on either side of the TV (at least six feet apart). Just be sure to keep them at an equal distance from the screen for the best sound delivery. As for the surround speakers, place these guys slightly above and behind the viewing position – about three feet above the listeners’ heads should do it. They should also be placed equally on each side. Things are a little more flexible when it comes to the subwoofer. While corners make for a good location, feel free to give it a try along a wall or next to a front speaker. If you haven’t already, check out our Klipsch WA-2 Kit that makes your subwoofer wireless, allowing more flexibility to find the perfect spot for your subwoofer.

4. A Killer Soundbar Might Be All You Need

A soundbar, while not as powerful as a full-out surround sound system, still represents a step up from your TV’s default speakers. For the electronically challenged, a soundbar’s super simple installation is enough of a draw. What’s more is that they actually do produce pretty killer sound in a compact, single-speaker device (which is perfect for small spaces, by the way). For one thing, the right soundbar can deliver strong virtual sound. What’s that, you ask? It basically simulates surround sound. A benefit to this system is that it’s sleek, not bulky and comes with minimal wires. If you snag one with Bluetooth connectivity, it’ll also seamlessly play your favorite music right from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Despite it’s crowd-pleasing features, some may prefer to add a subwoofer to their soundbar to add low bass frequencies. Plus, a soundbar’s easy plug and play function does not limit the system to your living room’s home theater setup. You can easily move it to the bedroom, kitchen or covered porch. Check out our Klipsch R-10B and R-20B models.

Tell us how you plan to or have set up your home theater speaker system in the comments section below. We’d love to see some pics too!

You Can Do This, Ladies

14 years ago if you had asked me what a woofer is, I probably would have answered along the lines of a basset hound. Now that I’m a seasoned pro, I can speak titanium compression drivers and Tractrix Horns with the best of them…except my female friends and family members look at me like I’m speaking Vulcan. This tells me I was not alone in my original naivety. It’s no surprise, however, since the corporate as well as hobbyist world of audio has been male-dominated since, well, ever.

Unfortunately, most women seem to be happy with this status quo. “Boys and their toys,” and all that. Which is too bad because what they are actually doing is depriving themselves of the way music and movies should sound. And that’s simply not acceptable.

Do not typecast audio as a man-thing.

Whether you’re single or hooked up with the rare male species who doesn’t care about audio, don’t be intimidated when you set out to purchase. Follow these tips to dazzle any salesperson you run across.

Know your environment and survey the room. How well your system performs depends on your room’s setup. For example, too many bare surfaces can cause reflections that add harshness to the sound or muddy the dialog. Furniture placement also plays a major role in your room’s acoustics, so be prepared to do some testing and rearranging.

Determine what you want this system to do. Music, movies and TV, play video games, all of the above? If music-only is your thing, a 2.1 system (two speakers and a subwoofer) will suffice. Adding movies and TV into the mix, consider a 5.1 home theater surround sound system (3 speakers positioned in front, 2 surround speakers at the sides and 1 subwoofer placed in the front corner for the low sounds). If limited space is a factor, a soundbar may be a good solution.

Tip: if 5.1 is your thing, don’t skimp on the center channel. This speaker, placed front and center, is the most important and often overlooked component of a surround system. If it doesn’t keep up, you’ll find yourself constantly turning up the volume to hear what people are saying and down when the special effects kick in. I hate that.

Figure a price range. To get an idea of cost, read audio pubs like Sound and Vision and Stereophile, or simply hit up Google. Be sure you are browsing established, authoritative websites. These should give you plenty of fair brand information, pricing expectations and product reviews.

When you’re ready to buy, decide where. Options include mass retail, specialty audio/video store or a custom installer. Disclaimer: No matter which you choose, be sure they are authorized by the manufacturer to carry the products. Here’s why.

        • At mass retail, you will find good products that target the average consumer. Because these stores operate on a large scale, you typically receive limited consultation services and have to set the system up yourself. The bonus is that the prices are generally lower.
        • A specialty retailer is a boutique-style setting catering to the audio enthusiast. They tend to be more knowledgeable and willing to spend the time with you, and are experienced in the art of the demo. Prices may be higher, but the products are usually a step above the mass retailers, and they often deliver and set up for you.
        • The more expensive custom installer route takes you further down the primrose path. The contractor comes to your house and designs your home theater system for you – not much different than hiring an interior designer. A good way to find a reputable custom installer is by contacting the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA).

Take your favorite movie and CD with you if a demo is an option, and a diagram and the dimensions of the room to allow the salesperson to determine what speakers will work for your area. Be detailed with your needs and present your budget up front, but be willing to understand you may have unrealistic expectations.

After weeding out the speakers that are too expensive or don’t complement your décor, start actively listening. You don’t need a trained ear, it’s simply whatever sounds good to you. However, pay attention to things like:

        • Can you understand what is going on?
        • Is the dialogue crystal clear?
        • Are the speakers dynamic (going from a quiet passage to a loud passage quickly without sounding muddy or strained)?

Tip: If you are building a home theater system, it is NOT a good idea to mix and match between the brands because speaker companies typically design their products to work together to produce sounds at the same levels and tones.

Once you have fallen in love, determine what external equipment is needed to drive it all. This part can get tricky, but don’t panic.

        • If the speakers are passive (no amplifier built-in), a receiver is necessary. This is the box with a tuner, preamplifier and amplifier all packed into one. Check the power rating of the speakers to match up with the power of the amplifier. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help – a lot of guys are clueless in this area.
        • Most speakers do not come with speaker wire – don’t forget to buy enough to position the speakers where you want them in your room.
        • Do you need stands? Mounting brackets? Double check what’s included to make sure you have everything you need.

You see? Nothing to it. If you’re nervous about installing, and of course have chosen Klipsch, feel free to call our helpful support team for assistance. We can’t wait for you to start enjoying your music and movies how they were meant to be enjoyed.


Have additional buying tips? Questions? Ask in the comments section.

Soundbar vs Surround Sound

Trying to decide between using a soundbar or a home theater system for your home? We’ve listened to your requests and put together this overview to ease your mind and open your ears to the difference in set up and sound quality.

As you know, soundbars are all the rage with their sleek design, easy installation process, wireless set up, and ability to produce a form of surround sound. Does this mean you’ve found a replacement for a separate-piece surround sound system with front, rear, and center speakers? For some of you – heck yes! For others, no way. It all comes down to what in-room experience you looking for.

Let’s break down the pros and cons of each so you can decide what’s best for you.

Soundbar Overview

Pros:

  • Easy installation and connectivity
  • Minimal wires
  • Modern design
  • Great for small-medium living spaces
  • Excellent virtual sound, which simulates the surround sound experience

Cons:

  • May need to buy separate subwoofer (although many Klipsch systems include a sub, such as our HD Theater SB 3, R-10B Soundbar and R-20B Soundbar)
  • The placement of the soundbar creates specific “sweet spots” in your listening experience
  • Does not produce complete surround sound, especially in larger living environments

Surround Sound System Overview

Pros:

  • Full range surround sound
  • Able to place speakers in multiple stations for optimal acoustics
  • Maximum bass
  • Audiophile theater system presentation

Cons:

  • Most quality systems require running wires from the receiver to each individual speaker
  • Takes up more space
  • More involved installation process
  • More expensive

Q: Does Bigger = Better?

Big speakers may provide the look of a major sound producing machine, but remember, looks can be deceiving. While it is true large speakers have the ability to produce eardrum pounding sound and are an excellent choice for a large room, soundbars and smaller speaker systems are more than capable of producing quality sound. Make an informed decision and learn how to ensure a quality set up by reviewing the following section.

How Do I Compare a Soundbar to a Surround Sound System?

As with any audio product, there are varying levels of quality and associated performance depending on the device. The best soundbars will overpower and outperform the run-of-the-mill surround sound system. So, the question is, what performance standards do you look for? We’ll make this part easy on you. Just refer to the below list on how to understand the specs to find the quality speaker system you desire.

  • Sensitivity

The speakers’ effectiveness of converting power (watts) into volume (decibels). The higher the sensitivity, the less power the speaker needs to deliver the effective sound. To put it quite simply – a higher sensitivity rating = loud, clear, high quality sound.

Speaker

Sensitivity Rating

Power Needed To Produce High Volume

Speaker A

85 dB

100 Watts

Speaker B

89 dB

50 Watts

Speaker C

92 dB

25 Watts

*less power to produce higher volume is key for speaker longevity

  • Frequency Response

The range of frequencies that are audible to humans lies between 20 and 20,000 Hert (Hz). Some of the lowest frequencies (below 35 Hz) are more felt than heard (like an earthquake in an action movie), and are produced by the subwoofer. Review the frequency response range to understand what kind of listening experience you will gain with the associated highs and lows that the speaker produces.

  • Power Handling

How much power, in watts, a speaker can handle before it is damaged. Simply put, the higher the power handling, the more likely you are to piss off the neighbors.

  • Impedance

How much electrical resistance is presented against the current flowing from your outputs. Impedance will fluctuate since the speaker will produce sounds at varying frequencies, but all manufacturers will publish a nominal impedance figure. 8 ohms is the norm, though some speakers can handle a 4ohm load (just make sure your receiver matches this load).

SUMMARY

Hopefully this helps to answer some of your questions on how to choose the right speaker system. Remember, much of it comes down to personal preference, but be sure to do your homework when it comes to reviewing the specs and associated performance standards of each sound system. We’re sure that either choice will amplify your current set up and make PWK proud.