Tag Archives: speakers

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.