Tag Archives: speakers

How to Break-in a Speaker

Many audio experts and speaker manufacturers say that loudspeakers benefit from a break-in process. Just like all thing mechanical, speakers have moving parts that move more freely with time and effort.

Two components that particularly benefit from a break-in period include the surround and the spider.

The surround (often times made of various types of rubber or foam) is what connects the edge of the cone to the speaker basket (see Fig. A). You can typically see this part of the speaker when the speaker grille is removed.

How to Break-in a Speaker - The Klipsch Joint

Fig. A – The Surround

The spider connects the basket and the center of the cone (see Fig. B). This speaker component is typically hidden inside the cabinet of a speaker.

How to Break-in a Speaker - The Klipsch Joint

Fig. B – The Spider

Both surrounds and spiders are flexible, allowing them to experience their full range of motion results in freer movement and better response. Think of it like stretching before you exercise.

There are several simple ways to break a speaker in. You could choose to buy costly gear to do so, but it really isn’t required.

The easiest and most enjoyable way is to simply play music with a wide dynamic range. Turn the speakers up a little louder than you normally would will help loosen up the material.

After about 100 hours of use, your speakers should be broken in.

How to Break-in a Speaker - The Klipsch Joint

The speaker surround and spider materials loosen up the more the speaker is used.

Not all speakers will sound dramatically different after break-in. Some improve only marginally, while others can change dramatically. Either way, it’s likely that you’ll notice an improvement.

What movies or music do you like to listen to when breaking-in a speaker? Let us know in the comments section below.

3 Video Games That Have Killer Sound

What sets video games apart from listening to recorded music and movies is the organic, three-dimensional experience – and no two gaming experiences are identical. Everything from the echo of the character’s footsteps in a hall to a grenade detonating off in the distance make the listening experience of video games unique and engaging.

A resounding problem that we have encountered and continue to hear from our customers is that the default speakers in computers, TVs and cheap gaming headsets are not capable of capturing the wide range of ear tingling sounds that today’s game developers are spending time and money to deliver. Gaming soundtracks have become (and are continuing to become) a transformative part of the addictive gaming experience.

We asked our biggest gamers at Klipsch HQ to outline three games that have the range, detail and quality of sound that are known to capture their audiences. If you know of others you like please let us know in the comments section.

So crank up your Reference home theater system, soundbar or KG-300 gaming headset and double tap into these games with kickass sound:

Mass Effect

By David Wilkes – Klipsch Acoustics & Electronics Engineer

The sound quality of Mass Effect evolved with each game making it one of the best video game soundscapes ever.

 

For most games, every single aspect plays an equal role in the game’s enjoyment factor. The sound quality of a video game is, in my opinion, the most important by far. Environmental sounds, weapon feedback, even nuances in voices can make or break a game experience.

With that criteria in mind, I feel only one game series has far surpassed the status quo in every regard: Mass Effect. Mass Effect 1 (ME1) started the trend with unbelievable environmental effects: you can sense that you’re in an enormous open courtyard, clinging for life in a blizzard, on a spaceship hurling through space or that you’re on an uncharted world with minimal atmosphere, which normally would give you very little feedback. In ME1, they’ve been able to create the sound of…absence.

However, ME2 and ME3 took a great thing and made it extraordinary. Both games use an updated sound engine compared to ME1, so the aural experience is now off the charts. The ambient effects in both games give every single “space” a distinct feel.  Each alien race in the game, particularly English speaking ones, has a specific trait which only high resolution systems can reproduce. Said nuances quickly become indicative of that race’s signature demeanor. One in particular sounds very soft with a pleasant reverb so you associate them with kindness. Another has a low frequency metallic undertone so immediately you learn they are business first, kindness never.

For the ultimate experience of what video game audio can be, the first chapter of the final mission of ME3 is your ticket. It’s worth playing through the entire series (yes, you read that right) just to see how far gaming has come.

Final Fantasy

By Greg “Doom” Niehaus – Klipsch Quality Analyst

Final Fantasy has one of the best cinematic soundtracks of any video game series.

 

When I think about game audio that has had an impact on me, I tend to lean heavily toward the Final Fantasy series. While it is difficult to compare the overall game audio of the series to some of the more recent games we have seen, one element outshines even the most meticulously polished audio in any series: the music. Final Fantasy has long had a tradition of using its fantastic music to set the tone of the story. Even the magnitude of individual encounters will often be greatly enhanced by the background music used during battle.

The first memory I have of a truly cinematic experience in a video game was in Final Fantasy VII. Not because of the three dimensional graphics that were new to the series, but because of the score. Going back and listening to the original game music, I can still feel the same energy and emotions that I encountered when first playing through the game. Even now when I play the most recent Final Fantasy MMO (FFXIV), I have moments where the music immediately triggers a change in mood. Where in one instant I was calmly traversing the world, the music generated by an encounter ensures that I am prepared to either fight or flee in the next instant.

While some may view this as a fan being a fan, or perhaps simple nostalgia, a lot of the world seems to agree that it is not. Even disregarding critical praise, it is possible to find elements of the series influence in the physical world. Most gamers can instantly recognize the Final Fantasy “Victory Fanfare” (I also happen to use it as my ringtone). In a more surprising example, the 2004 Olympic Women’s Synchronized Duo Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova used music from Final Fantasy VIII for their routine (they won bronze).

The name Final Fantasy was chosen for the first in the series because the studio making it feared that it may be their last game. A couple decades later it is rightfully still one of the biggest franchises in existence. I would like to think that this is due at least in part, to the impact of its music on the players.

Bioshock

By Andrew Doerr – Klipsch Acoustics Engineer

Bioshock’s ability to give an immersive soundstage through it’s environment and charters is top-notch.

 

Of all the forms of entertainment available to the modern consumer, video games have a distinct advantage in one particular aspect: immersion. However, just because the gaming medium has this capability to immerse the player doesn’t mean all games excel at it.  Occasionally you will find a series of games that have mastered this ability – and Bioshock is one of those series.

Fully immersing a player in an artificial world demands perfection in all facets of video game design. The obvious elements are graphics, gameplay, storyline, level design and so on.  However, the one aspect that is occasionally overlooked is audio. And interestingly enough, it is the audio that can make or break that coveted immersive feeling. Bioshock’s sound design has been carefully crafted so that you are never pulled out of the experience. There are two key elements of immersive sound that Bioshock does well and each has an underlying theme.

First, the environment. The first two Bioshock games in the series are set in an underwater city – making for a difficult soundstage for the gaming developers to design. The creaking of buildings being strained by ocean currents, the dripping of water leaking in and somehow they even portrayed the immense weight of all that water above you in the eerie soundtracks and ambience. It’s not just cheesy water effects, it’s a well thought out sonic environment that never lets you forget you are underwater. And even though no such place exists, you believe that it does through the creative and accurate sounds.

Bioshock Infinite (the third Bioshock game) takes place in a city floating up in the sky and the same theory applies – constant wind and strange, open echoes of gunshots and slamming doors.  The game never lets you forget you are not on solid ground.  Again, no such place exists, but for a few hours you believe it and that’s the power of immersion.

Second, the characters. Many of Bioshock’s characters have magical powers and unrealistic feats of strength. And with a good sound design you believe that these creatures are real – and not only real but terrifying too.

The best example is Big Daddy from the first Bioshock game. Even though this beast resembles nothing human, the essence that this creature once were human is hidden in the sounds it makes. It’s chilling but effective, drawing from what we can relate to.

That’s not all, these enemies are extremely tough and the sound they make when moving and attacking is so haunting that you dread the moment you realize you have to fight one.

Big Daddy from Bioshock - another reason why it's in our top games with killer sound - The Klipsch Joint

Big Daddy from Bioshock – just another reason why it’s in our top video games with killer sound

So how does this make a difference? To me, with a detailed sound design, Bioshock has made the imaginary a reality because for the duration of the game you believe that an underwater city does exist, that these monsters are real and the world you are in is spiraling out of control.  And that is successful immersion.

Klipsch at CES 2015: Launch Day

Day 1 of the 2015 edition of the Consumer Electronics show was one to remember for us all.

We teased you repeatedly that 01.06.15 would be the day of our biggest launch in years and we believe full-heartedly that we delivered. Honestly, we can’t believe that we kept it all a secret this well. (Although, some of our cunning forum members managed to scoop us!)

Here is what we introduced to the world:

Klipsch Reference Premiere (Available now)

Klipsch Reference On-Ear (End of January)

Klipsch Reference Premiere with Dolby® Atmos (Projected Q2)

Klipsch Reference Premiere Wireless (Projected Q3)

So much awesomeness.

Klipsch CES Demo Room

Time after time, we took people into our sound room and blew them away with our new Atmos and Wireless demos. We heard from several representatives that we were the only ones who are displaying audio correctly at CES.

We are genuinely proud of that. Hearing really is believing.

Klipsch Reference Premiere

Klipsch Reference Premiere speakers are not just a facelift. This is a whole new line of speakers that are redesigned from the ground-up

We couldn’t fit everything in the demo room, but we were able to showcase a ton of other speakers out on the floor. The Reference Premiere speakers drew people in with their big ol’ copper cones and BIG sound. The R-115SW was definitely “pissing off the neighbors.” (Our apologies to Ericsson and Toshiba!)

The noisy floor environment of CES did allow us to demonstrate the noise isolation capabilities of our in-ear headphones AND the new Reference On-Ear Headphones.

Time after time, people would try out the in-ears and be amazed at their noise isolation abilities. People are misinformed to believe that big cans deliver superior noise isolation. That’s not necessarily true and we were happy to prove it.

Klipsch Reference On-Ear

Klipsch Reference On-Ears are the best sounding and most comfortable on-ears we have ever made.

Comments regarding the Reference On-Ear largely stemmed from its ridiculous comfort level. The cushioning is outrageous and the sound quality is what you would expect from Klipsch. Oh, and people kept mentioning they were happy that they didn’t look like a teenager when they had them on their head unlike some other brands’ headphones – you know who you are.

Heritage Inspired Towers

These Heritage-inspired towers are conceptual (but functional!) speakers.

That’s not all. CES is often about producing concepts and gauging reaction from the audience. We designed Heritage-inspired wireless speakers that intrigued everyone who checked them out. We put them across from our Heritage lineup, which really got the message across that WE are the classic American speaker brand. We have great old stuff and we have great new stuff. These conceptual speakers offer a bridge between the past and the present. They are designed, engineered and built in the United States.

Hell, yah!

Bob Heil Runt La Scala

PWK made this runt La Scala for Bob Heil (pictured) to use with Jeff Beck.

Marky Ramone Colleen Murphy

Marky Ramone poses with Colleen Murphy in the WPWK Radio booth. Outside of products on display, we had Bob Heil and Marky Ramone drop by WPWK Radio to talk with Colleen Murphy of Classic Album Sundays about a whole smattering of topics. We can’t say enough good things about Bob and Marky. They are class acts that GENUINELY love Klipsch and we love them.

 

 

 

Tomorrow, Colleen will be talking with Steve Dobo from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame as well as Michael Burrato (Reference Premiere Product Manager) and Vlad Grodzinsky (Reference On-Ear Product Manager). You can check out the schedule here. Once again, we will be posting the interviews as podcasts after the completion of CES, so don’t worry if you’re not in Vegas!

Klipsch audio museum

The Klipsch audio museum has all sorts of PWK treasures.

One more thing…In this blogger’s humble opinion, the Klipsch audio museum that was oh-so-carefully curated by Klipsch historian Jim Hunter stole the show. 

CES is filled with sterile, white environments with flashy lights and obnoxious videos. The Klipsch audio museum was the opposite. It was authentic, honest-to-goodness fun.

People took their time strolling through the isle and snapping pictures of the collection. We even had a live demo of the 13th Klipschorn that was ever built – and it still sounds great! People were sampling a true piece of audio history.

Phew! That’s a lot of information to process, but we’ll have another blog post where we’ll dive into more detail about everything and about some of the stuff I missed.

There’s truly so much going on here with Klipsch at CES 2015. It’s genuinely a great time to be an employee here and we hope you guys love everything that we showed off here!

Klipsch at CES 2015: The Quiet Before the Storm

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world’s biggest and most important electronics show. Once a year, companies across the world descend on Las Vegas to show off their latest wares to customers, fans, media, etc.

Yes, there is a lot of “Bullsh*t” at CES. A LOT.

Not from us. We don’t try to insult your intelligence with technology that doesn’t make a difference and isn’t ever going to happen. We aim to create the best-sounding speakers and headphones dollar-for-dollar on the planet.

Preparations began months in advance for 2015’s show. Well, in all honesty, they pretty much started the moment the 2014 show was over.

In addition to bringing product worth thousands upon thousands of dollars, we brought priceless artifacts that Klipsch historian Jim Hunter has very carefully curated. It was a monumental effort to get these items to Vegas in one piece – a nerve-wracking process to say the least.

Colleen Murphy of Classic Album Sundays will be hosting WPWK Radio throughout CES 2015. Broadcasts will be live for anyone who visits our booth and guests include the likes of Eddie Kramer, Marky Ramone, Bob Heil and Steve Dobo from the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Fans who are not in Las Vegas will be able to download podcasts of the show after CES’s completion.

Of course, the products, museum pieces and radio stations have to come off as approachable and cool in order to draw people into our booth. It is incredible to start with an empty space and then see it fill up into a quasi storefront, full of the best Klipsch speakers and headphones.

With all the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into CES 2015, we couldn’t be more excited about this year’s show. As we have been teasing, this is our biggest product launch in years.

You’re going to love it.

So, here’s what you need to do to keep track of all of our new product announcements:

BOOKMARK CES.KLIPSCH.COM

Everything and anything you’ll need to know about Klipsch at CES 2015 is at CES.Klipsch.com

FOLLOW @KLIPSCHAUDIO ON TWITTER

For the most frequent updates and info, follow Klipsch (@KlipschAudio) on Twitter. We will be posting almost non-stop, giving customers/fans unique insight into what is happening at CES and the awesome new things we are showing off.

FOLLOW @KLIPSCHAUDIO ON INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK

While the updates won’t be as frequent as on Twitter, we will be posting our big announcements on the Klipsch Instagram and Facebook accounts.

We truly hope you enjoy everything we have to offer at CES 2015. Rock on!

A Product of Divorce: Reference Speakers

Divorce is a terrible thing…unless it ends up with someone getting the best Klipsch Reference Speakers in the world at a bargain price.

Michael Stevens shared his story on the Klipsch Forum (where he is a moderator) and agreed to share his story on The Klipsch Joint. Read his tale below…


Recently, I met a lady with the intent to purchase a pair of original Klipsch Reference RB-81‘s for $208 (for me) and an original RC-64 for $433 (for my friend Wake Junkie). She also had a pair of RS-62 II but I wasn’t really interested in them. Before going, she told me what she would accept for the three speakers and what she would take for all five speakers. I brought enough cash to purchase all five but only planned on buying the RB-81’s and RC-64.

When I arrived, to my surprise, I quickly realized these aren’t the original versions….they are Reference II speakers! She explained that she was recently divorced and she just wanted her ex-husband’s speakers gone from her garage. Before gladly handing her the money – and still in disbelief – I confirmed the amount she said she would take and that I would be receiving the RB-81 II, RC-64 II and the RS-62 II speakers. When I mentioned the RS-62 IIs, she said “No, those aren’t included in the price I gave you. Those were expensive. I was talking about the big speakers”.

I didn’t know she even had “big speakers” for sale.

She walked over to the big speakers and I asked what model they were and she said, “They say RF-7 on the sticker”.

I was about to flip out!

So, I walk over to examine the condition of these Reference speakers and I discover that they are not RF-7 speakers but instead, RF-7 II speakers! I about hit the floor. Not only did she have one pair of RF-7 II, she had two and instead of one pair of RS-62 II, she had two pair!

Michael Stevens Craigslist Post

The original posting on Craiglist for the speakers.

As we were wrapping up, I noticed an Onkyo NR-808 receiver and asked if it was for sale. She said “yes.” I’m guessing it too is just “taking up space.” so I figured, “what the heck.” So, I asked “If I pay your asking price, would you be willing to throw in the Onkyo Receiver?” Without hesitation, she replied, “It was expensive but yes, you can have it”.

At that moment, I was beside myself.

I paid her the money and was loading up my Ford Expedition when I picked up the Onkyo box and it was empty. She realized that the Onkyo is at her mother’s house and fetched her to get it. I only had a few minutes before I absolutely had to go (my wife didn’t even know I was buying speakers).

So with only 10 minutes to get everything loaded, I loaded the last speaker and her mom was not back yet. I had already explained that I was on a tight schedule and MUST leave NO later than 3 PM to give me enough time to get back to meet my wife. At 2:59 PM, I knew I had to go and mom was nowhere in sight so I asked her if I could have one of the pair of RS-62 II speakers instead of the Onkyo receiver and she said “Sure, that’s fine.”

I was seriously ready to faint.

Before I left, she said she had another person coming to buy the rest of the speakers. I texted her several times that night to see if he had come and got no reply. I knew her neighborhood was having a huge community yard sale, so I couldn’t help but wonder if I would be able to purchase the rest of her RF-7 II speaker system.

I went to bed about 30 minutes past midnight but tossed and turned for another 30 minutes. After sleeping on-and-off for a few hours, I decided to just get ready to leave at 6 AM, so I could be at the yard sale when it opened up.

The drive was about one and a half hours away, so I texted her on the way asking how much she would take for the RF-7 II and RS-62 II speakers as well as the RW-10D subwoofer that she also had. I brought the same amount of cash that I had the day before. It seemed like she looked up the value of the speakers again and realized she sold them for much less than she could have because she replied with twice as much as what I paid for the seven speakers the day before.

Ouch!

I didn’t have enough to buy them at that price, but I asked how much for just the RF-7 II and RS-62 II speakers and it turned out to be only a few hundred less. It was still above my budget, but how much for just the RF-7 II speakers? Still about $500 less than what I had.

At this point, I was still in the car and I told her that I was 10 minutes away and I would be willing to offer what I had with me for the RF-7 II and the RS-62 II speakers. She said sorry, but she had a better offer.

I told her I would be in the community until 8 AM since “the other guy” was supposed to come at 7:30 AM to buy the speakers. At 8 AM, I showed up and the guy supposedly came by and wanted to buy them and was going to the bank but that was 1 hour ago. I guessed either he wasn’t coming back or he never existed. She did not want to sell them for my asking price, so I thanked her for considering my offer, wished her well on her yard sale and drove back home. It was worth the risk even if I had driven three hours round-trip for nothing.

Later that night, I could not get it out of my head. Did she sell the speakers to “the other guy”?

The yard sale was over and my guess was she has no prospects to buy the speakers. I texted her back and said, “If they are still available, I would be willing to make one final trip and offered her another $100 from my original offer.”

To my surprise, she texted me the next afternoon saying that she would accept my offer!

After my wife called 911 and the paramedics got a pulse back, I quickly went by the ATM and began my third three-hour round-trip to pick up the remaining speakers. When I arrived, I chatted with the seller and her daughter. They were simply grateful that they finally had garage space once again. They wished me well with my new speakers and hoped I had a safe drive home.

Wakejunkie Reference RF-7 II Speakers

Michael Stevens got his second pair of RF-7 II into the hands of fellow Klipsch forums member “Wakejunkie” whose setup you can see here.

I share my story as an encouragement to all that there still are some AMAZING deals to be had if you are patient and have some cash on hand set aside for those deals.

At no point did I try and manipulate or mislead her. I had a certain amount of cash available that I was willing to spend and made an offer. She had speakers that were of no value to her and was willing to exchange that for the cash I had to offer.

Sometimes they accept your offer, sometimes they don’t. I definitely did not “need” any more Klipsch speakers but the price was right and I was glad to purchase them all from her.


Great story, right?

Michael told us one of his “audio goals is to have owned every (or close to every) Reference and Heritage speaker Klipsch has made.” So, it’s safe to say that he is always on the prowl for Klipsch speakers.

Michael Stevens Speaker List

Michael Stevens took a screenshot on his computer of a list of all the photo albums he has for his collection of speakers.

Next on Michael’s list? The Cornwall, Klipschorn and ever-elusive Belle.

Maybe a few more people just need to get divorced. Not that we would ever wish that!

 

4 Things to Know Before Buying a Soundbar

It’s no secret that the built-in speakers in most flat-panel TVs are less than stellar. But while installing a surround sound system can transform your living room into a mini home theater, some may be reluctant to pull the trigger. Enter the soundbar – the perfect upgrade to your TV’s default speakers. If chosen wisely, they can pack a big punch. In fact, this compact piece of equipment can majorly improve dialogue clarity while providing more vibrant, full-range sound. The kicker is that they take up minimal space and are designed to flow with modern décor.

With all the available options out there, shopping for a soundbar can be slightly overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve done your homework for you. Check out the way we’ve sized up the most important things to know before purchasing a soundbar. (You’ll thank us later.)

1. Get clear about what you want

Soundbars come in all different shapes and sizes. Some can be mounted directly onto the wall, while others are made to sit beneath your TV or rest right on top of your entertainment stand. Part of choosing the best soundbar for your needs involves taking measurements of your space. Nothing’s worse than unpacking an awesome piece of equipment only to find that it doesn’t suit with your TV and stand. Our advice? Measure the length, width and depth of your flat-panel TV and stand before shopping for a soundbar. Then use this info to help guide your search.

2. Understand the difference between active vs. passive soundbars

Soundbars are broken down as being either active or passive. Each one comes with its own unique set of perks. Active soundbars tout an all-in-one setup. This means that the speakers, amplifiers and the bits that process killer surround sound are all housed in one sleek bar. This lends itself to a more streamlined, compact look. Setup is also a cinch for active soundbars, which allow for super simple plug-and-play connectivity. If it’s clean installation and great sound quality you’re after, an active system might be the better fit for you.

Passive soundbars are different because they do not come equipped with built-in power amps. As a result, they require a separate amplifier or receiver and will need speaker wires running to either. An upside is that this provides ultra-crisp sound. The setup may be a bit more involved, but the end result also gives you more control to play around with different crossover settings and the ability to connect to more sources.

Here’s an example of how easy our R-10B  active soundbar is to setup:

Klipsch Educational Films: R-10B Setup and Enjoyment

 

3. Look for Bluetooth connectivity

When shopping around, check to see if the soundbars you’re deciding between come with Bluetooth connectivity. Is it a deal breaker? Not necessarily, but having the ease of playing your favorite tunes straight off your smartphone or tablet is pretty sweet. It also allows you to stream music straight from your computer, a particularly attractive perk for get-togethers and dinner parties. The best part is that pairing your soundbar with your audio devices is a relatively simple process.

4. Does a subwoofer make a difference?

Take measurments of the height, width and depth where your soundbar will go.  - The Klipsch Joint

It’s important to ake measurements of the height, width and depth where your soundbar will go.

If you want your sound system to vibrate with deep, intense hums, and get the full effect from your movie explosion scenes, a subwoofer can make all the difference. It’s an external device, but the cool thing is that the newer ones are sleek, discreet and not ginormous. Some soundbars come packaged with a subwoofer in the box.

There are also a lot of wireless subwoofer options out there to make the setup process less cumbersome. (Check out the Klipsch R-10B and R-20B soundbars with wireless subwoofers included.) At the end of the day, a subwoofer won’t make or break a soundbar system. But you’re favorite action films will sound a hell of a lot cooler with that added bass.

And if you need help placing a subwoofer? Read, “Where to Put a Subwoofer: 3 Tips,” or if you’re simply deciding between a soundbar and a full theater system, read “Soundbar vs. Surround Sound” to get an overview of the two.

What soundbar or sound system do you have in your home or hope to have in the future?

Bookshelf Speakers: What You Need to Know

Bookshelf speakers are meant to rest on a shelf, table or other elevated surface – anywhere but the floor. They’re specifically designed to maximize sound in small to medium-sized spaces. Like anything else, doing your homework before making a decision will definitely pay off. For instance, some are geared specifically for movie buffs, while others are tailored take your music listening experience to the next level.

When you’re ready to pull the trigger on bookshelf speakers, we’ve got you covered with the basics every consumer needs to know.

What you need to know about bookshelf speakers - Klipsch

Just because they’re named “bookshelf speaker” does not mean they have to go on a bookshelf. Think outside the box and get creative where you place them.

Keep the Big Picture in Mind

You can purchase bookshelf speakers as stand-alone additions to your living room, or as part of a larger home theater system. If you’re serious about upping your audio game, there are tons of great all-in-one options out there. (We’re talking about in-the-box home theater setups, many of which include bookshelf speakers.)

But if making that type of commitment isn’t in your budget, opting for a pair of high-quality bookshelf speakers can certainly add some bang to your music or movies. Even still, when buying these kinds of speakers a la carte, it isn’t a bad idea to look for ones that will ultimately fit well into a larger home theater system. Keeping the big picture in mind will save you from having to buy another pair of speakers later down the road.

Understand the Specs

If you aren’t exactly an audio junkie, all the technical jargon attached to bookshelf speakers might as well be in Greek. But you’d be doing yourself a favor to at least understand what the basic lingo means. Here’s what you actually need to know when shopping for bookshelf speakers.

● Hertz: The lower the number, the heavier the bass is going to be.
● Watts: This is relevant when it comes to matching your bookshelf speakers to an appropriate amplifier.
● Decibels: This tells you the kind of volume you can expect from your speakers.
● Drivers: Basic bookshelf speakers have two – woofers (which generate bass) and tweeters (which produce high-frequency sounds). Buying a speaker set with a third mid-range driver will lend itself to better full-range sound.

Know Your Accessories

What good is a bookshelf speaker if it doesn’t have a shelf to sit on? The truth is that you’ll need a piece of furniture to place these speakers on. While an actual bookshelf is certainly an option, many prefer to use a speaker stand. These are great because their height is designed to bring the speakers to ear level when the listener is seated. (Keeping bookshelf speakers at ear level is crucial when it comes to achieving tonal balance. Otherwise, the sound will be out of whack.) If you don’t really have the space for freestanding speaker stands, or if you have young kids who run the risk of knocking over your new equipment, wall mounts will also do the trick.

Another accessory to consider? Listeners who crave deeper bass may want to invest in a powered subwoofer.

Garage Sale Gems: Heresy

We’re not gonna lie. Even though the Klipsch Heresy is the most affordable of the Heritage Series of vintage speakers, it’s not for penny-pinchers.

No wonder. Each one is hand-crafted to order in Hope, Arkansas with the finest materials and thus requires a little bit more from the ol’ paycheck.

But they’re worth it.

Noted audiophile and professional reviewer Steven Guttenberg calls the Heresy III a “a rock’n’roller’s dream speaker” in a Stereophile editorial. He lavished even more praise on the Heresy in his CNET.com post: “The sound in my listening room was closer to a live rock concert sound system than I’ve heard from a lot of much more expensive and bigger speakers. That’s what the Heresy IIIs do so well, and once you experience that sort of sound at home, a set of Sonos wireless speakers won’t cut it anymore.”

Nice.

That being said, like any other speaker, you can find used Heresy speakers on Craigslist, eBay, the Klipsch forums, or even local garage sales.

Exhibit A: Klipsch forum member Chris Setlock came across a garage sale on Craigslist with about a dozen or so photos and spotted some nice Sansui components for $25 a pop.

Being a “die hard bargainer,” Chris headed over to the house to negotiate the price of the components. The reply was, “My husband will be down in a minute, he is bringing the speakers.”

Sure enough, said husband comes back with the first speaker in tow and wouldn’t you know what it was…

“I could barely contain myself when the owner appeared with the first speaker,” Chris said.

Chris: How much?

Owner: Eh, $20 each, they’re Klipsch.

Chris: Oh, really?

Owner: Yeah, and they’re heavy.

Chris: You don’t say…

Twenty dollars. For butt-kicking-made-in-the-USA speakers designed by the one and only Paul W. Klipsch.

Throw in $50 worth of Sanui components and Chris walked out with a complete system, and a huge grin on his face, for a mere $90. Of course, he is a bonafide “Klipschster” with 20 pairs of Klipsch speakers at home, including a pair of Heresys, even before this amazing find.

Bottom line: the cliché about garage sales is true: “You never know what you’re going to get.” Or is that a box of chocolates?

Tell us about your amazing finds in the comments below.


WARNING: Purchases of used or new Klipsch speakers or headphones at garage sales, Craigslist, eBay or any other unauthorized dealers void the warranty of the product. Warranties are non-transferrable. To learn more, go to http://www.klipsch.com/policies 

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.