Klipsch Dresses Up New Technology in a Classical Outfit
Among speaker manufacturers at CES 2019, Klipsch brought the most new products and product announcements. The spread of new products includes a host of wireless earbuds, portable blue tooth speakers, sound bars, and an assortment of other wireless speakers. There is a lot to cover here, so let’s get started with the earbuds!
Klipsch T5 Neckband (left), T5 True Wireless (right), T5 (lower right)
Klipsch’s new earbud line is called the T5 series. There are four products in the T5 series: The T5M, the T5, the T5 Neckband, and the T5 True Wireless. The T5M is a typical standard wired headphone but includes a remote and a microphone. The T5 is a wireless headphone where the earbuds connect to each other with a cable that has a mic and remote and carries a 10-hour battery life. The T5 Neckband connects the earbuds to a leather neckband that uses two mics for better voice capture, also uses a universal remote, and has a 15-hour battery life. The T5 True Wireless earbuds are not cabled to anything and have an 8-hour battery life. They also come in a case that resembles a classic lighter that gives them an additional 24 hours of charge. The wireless headphones all use Bluetooth 5 for a larger range and aptX HD along with many of the latest codecs, so users should be able to get a very high-quality sound over a wide variety of situations. These earbuds all use the same transducer platform so the sound character should be the same for all of them. The difference seems to rest largely with how much cable accessories that the user wants their head connected to. The T5 series should be available in the spring with pricing ranging from $59 for the wired T5M to $199 for the totally cable-free T5 True Wireless.
Klipsch ‘The Threes’ (left), ‘The Groove’ (right), ‘The Fours’ (lower right)
Klipsch has also expanded their Heritage Wireless line that gives a vintage aesthetic to sophisticated tabletop speakers. Klipsch is updating their ‘The Three’ and ‘The One’ to use Google Assistant along with updating touches such as better feet, and new options for finishes. They have also announced ‘The Mini’ which will be a smaller tabletop speaker then ‘The One’, and ‘The Groove’ which is a bit larger than ‘The Mini.’ These tabletop boxes all use Bluetooth connectivity and support aptX. Anyone looking for tabletop speakers will have a plethora of options to choose from within Klipsch’s Wireless Heritage series. Klipsch is also adding a new pair of bookshelf speakers to the Wireless Heritage series in ‘The Fours’ for those who want wireless stereo speakers in a smaller form factor than Klipsch’s existing wireless bookshelf speakers, ‘The Sixes.’ Like ‘The Sixes,’ ‘The Fours’ will have an integrated phono pre-amp, Bluetooth connectivity, analog and digital inputs, but unlike ‘The Sixes,’ it has HDMI ARC so that you can control it with your TV or universal remote. They also have a subwoofer output which is a welcome feature on a speaker set that only has 4” woofers to supply the bass. Pricing for the new Wireless Heritage speaker range from $149 for ‘The Mini’ to $499 for ‘The Fours.’
Klipsch Bar 54A
Klipsch also unveiled a new series of five soundbars which is quite a handful. All of these speakers are built to the standards of their speakers, meaning speaker level cabinetry and drivers. Let’s go over these soundbars in bullet points to look at them in an organized manner (the number is the name signifies their width in inches, so, for example, the Bar 40 is 40” across):
- Bar 40: 2.1 system, Bluetooth compatible, small subwoofer
- Bar 40G: like the Bar 40 but with Google Assistant capability
- Bar 48: 3.1 system, includes 8” subwoofer
- Bar 48W: like the Bar 48, but with universal wifi connectivity that allows it to work with a variety of services like Alexa and Google Assistant, includes 8” subwoofer
- Bar 54A: 5.1.4 system with Dolby Atmos/DTS:X compatibility and also with universal wifi, includes 10” subwoofer
With the Bar 54, Klipsch is gunning for a slice of the high-end soundbar market which has opened up with a lot of options in the last few years such as the Bluesound Pulse. The inclusion of universal Wifi capability, along with Dolby Atmos/DTS:X compatibility the Bar 54 might now have an important edge over its competitors. Pricing for Klipsch’s new soundbars ranges from $299 to $1599.
Klipsch has also brought a wireless surround sound system in the ‘Reference Wireless’ series. The ‘Reference Wireless’ line consists of the RW-51M bookshelf speaker, the RW-34C center speaker, and the RW-100SW subwoofer. These speakers are self-amplified, but they will still need a power outlet, so they are not completely without the need for cables. While spec sheers for these products have not been released, the naming scheme and photos seem to indicate that the RW-51M uses a 5” woofer along with the traditional Klipsch tractrix horn, and the RW-34C looks to be using four 3” woofers with the Klipsch horn. The RW-100SW subwoofer looks to be using a 10” cone. The ‘Reference Wireless’ series uses the WiSA platform for signal transmission that can transmit in 24bit depth/96kHz sampling rate audio with extremely low latency. It can also scale up in channel number from 2.0 to 7.2, so one could potentially end up with a fairly heavy-duty home theater system that completely bypasses the need for a receiver. That could be handy for surround speakers since they only need access to a power outlet, so the user doesn’t have to string speaker cable all the way around the room. This also helps get better sound quality in low frequencies, since the sub can be placed where ever it sounds best, and wouldn’t be limited by the length of the signal cable. Another advantage in such a system is that active crossovers are a lot more versatile than passive crossovers, so the electronics are much better able to be fine-tuned to the physical characteristics of the speaker than what is possible for a traditional passive crossover. Pricing for the ‘Reference Wireless’ speakers and subs range from $499 to $699, so those who want a wireless surround sound system do have to pay a bit of a premium that they have to weigh against the advantages that such a system carries.
It looks like Klipsch is unleashing a lot of cool vintage style stuff with a modern twist to appease the nostalgic but modern audiophile. Which product are you most interested in? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below.
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Read: Klipsch Goes Vintage with New Speaker Technologies