Throw at tube amplifier at the Klipsch's and watch your smile grow further -- they crave tubes.
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I have owned my Klipsch Chorus for almost twenty years.
Recently, I have obtained both tube amplification, and then a tube output front-end. Both of these changes made a significant change in sound quality. In my opinion, the sound became warmer and more liquid without loss of detail.
My spouse has a similar opinion, all positive, of the changes. Saxophone and trumpet solos became "live".
I've been listening to AK-4 speakers for the last 9 years. In design they are very similar to Klipsch Cornwall. I love how they sound connected to McIntosh. I had a huge improvement in bass when I placed them on brass cones (which you can pick up at PARTS EXPRESS for approx. $20 for a sat of 4). The bass became tighter and they became even smoother and more musical than before.
Enjoy your speakers and happy holiday.
Plato, I am glad to hear you love the results. I don't want to limit myself unnecessarily, but I doubt I'll ever use anything other than horns in a primary system. It is doubtful that that I would ever accept anything other than horn loaded bass in any case.
My Köchel horns never seem to be a limiting factor. Every upgrade or tweak upstream just seems to come through without limitation. The performance continues to amaze me after a year and half of use.
The recent addition of Machina Dynamica Promethean isolation platforms under my equipment caused system performance to soar yet again.
There are many people who may look down on Klipsch (and many other) speakers and I cannot understand why. I have a pair of Cornwalls, circa late 70's, with a Jolida 102b (20 watt tube integrated) upgraded with NOS Mullard and Telefunken tubes and the sound is phenomenal, exhibiting all the same characteristics you described. Let me say this, I am currently running systems in every room of two homes using the Klipsch Cornwalls, Carver Amazing Loudspeakers, Dunlavy SC-1's, Reference 3A's and Paradigm Studio 20's. Some people would either love or hate some or all of these speakers but it is an undeniable fact that each sounds completely different from the others and I am pleased with all of them for different reasons, despite what others might say. Now, isn't that why we all have this audio addiction in the first place? Enjoy your system...if you still hear the critics, you can always turn up the volume.
Thanks guys for your comments and words of encouragement. Having owned and auditioned so many different kinds of speakers I have an appreciation for the merits of all types and would never limit myself to only one type of design. I'm just happy that I happened to take a chance on the Klipsch because I'm really surprised by their potential. Even the imaging, which everyone seems to think is their shortfall, is in reality quite good (at least in my room with the Chorus).
Dweller, I don't think the Chorus has the protection circuit that you spoke of but I could be wrong. I don't see why they'd need to put a protection circuit in speaker that is 101 dB/W efficient and can handle 100 watts rms and 1000 watt peaks. What? What? :)
Flemke, I had 4 turntables but I sold one of my two Michells recently, so now I'm down to 3. I even have a vintage Dual that is set up to play 78s, exclusively. How many should I have?
BTW, if you don't have a reel-to-reel tape machine you really should get one and see what you're missing. I have 4 of those too, would you like to buy one? :)
Plato, I am curious, what are the differences between the Klipsch system and the Audio Physic system with regards to soundstage scale?
What were your impressions of the bass quality, assuming the Chorus has horn loaded bass?
Also, I noticed I ended my previous post somewhat awkwardly. My point regarding the Machina Dynamica platforms related to my comment in the previous paragraph regarding tweaks and upgrades. With the horns, I find that system changes are much more dramatic than when I was using dynamic driver loudspeakers. It helps to finish one's thought. :)
I'll add my own comments, as I'm curious if people disagree as well.
I have had speakers similar to the Audio Physic -- I see the AP having more precise, yet for lack of a better word, static images. I don't mean lack of 3-D images, and want to be careful with the word static. I see the Klipsch's as having not as pinpoint images, though still good enough, but with more character, more aliveness -- I think of it somewhat as projection, like an instrument would in real life, vs. a perfect 'image'. From my experience, the Klipsch's have a more forward sound -- not in the negative sense that people use the word and with much larger images. Again, personal preference vs. right and wrong.
It becomes a matter of taste -- a word on the AP's and a lot of dynamic speakers like it might be 'refined'. But with the Klipsch's, you get this aliveness, something fun, something a little less 'tame', but which reflects reality more than reproduction.
I do agree that with most horns, decent horns, whether you're talking Klipsch's or extremely expensive well done horns, system changes are much, much more noticable -- give them the bad, and you'll get the bad. Give them to good, and you'll be amazed, but just be careful on knowing what your speakers and components can do, as its easy to place blame in the wrong places if you're not careful.
Everyone has different preferences, and most of the time they are very valid. Giant boxy speakers are usually equated with head banging, or with clubs, and not with refinement. That and I'm guessing that a lot of Klipsch's heyday was also around when solid state, and bad solid state, was being shoved down people's throats. The combination wouldn't be pretty, and I have to wonder if these two situations are part of why certain people have assumptions about Klipsch...from some time past, with some horrible system combination. Yes, they've been around forever, yes some models were designed and tested around a 2A3, but I'm talking about most of the public's perception, and not in audiophile land. Not the now referred to heritage line, but you will find Klipsch as a brand that an average consumer might be familiar with, and I have to assume that because they are so widespread, that a lot of people who have heard great reproduction, have also been exposed to some horrible, and horribly cheap combinations with Klipsch, and thus form a perception of the speaker itself. Granted there are people that don't like them period though.
Curious to hear people's thoughts, opinions, and experiences regarding -- they intrigue me because they have that ability to bring things to life, and yes, sometimes at the expense of other qualities we are used to being better in other speakers. Everything (or almost everything) has some sort of trade off. You can have something very 3-D, something very precise, but something that doesn't project like music and instruments do, and so it doesn't feel real. You can have something that is very exact, but projects little tiny images that don't equate with reality. For me, a lot of this preference also equates to the 'you are there' vs 'they are here' preference, what sort of music you listen to, and what type of recording you listen to primarily (studio vs. soundboard vs. live at a distance) You can also have something that has that 'life' but not all the buttoned up perfections -- it may help you to stop caring about, and focussing on the details, and help you relax and listen to the music.
Again, talking about frequency ranges, and detail is a lot easier than describing preference and music and what does it for you, so take all of the above as opinion and nothing more.
Allow me to add my 2 cents: I currently own several speakers, including the newest revision of the venerable Klipschorns. The Magnepans, Martin Logans, Thiels, Piegas, Soundlabs, etc. that have graced my room in the past couple of years have impressed me with the detail, accuracy, staging abilities and all other "hi fi" attributes; however, none has provided as much enjoyment as the Khorns. I know, empirically, that these speakers do not better some of the aforementioned designs in any individual category, yet, taken on the whole, they simply reproduce music in a way that sounds and, more importantly, feels right. This is a difficult concept to describe; one just has to experience them. I am not familiar with some of Klipsch's lesser offerings, but I can tell you that the Klipschorns are still among the finest speakers on the planet. And feed them with low-noise tube amps, but not the flea-powered SET jobs that some people swear by. The bass doesn't come alive until some real power is intoduced, despite what the 104db efficiency will suggest.
Wellfed, to answer your question on an imaging comparison between the Virgos and the Klipsch Chorus, to me, the Klipsch's images have a bit more body and a bit better dynamic contrast (not night and day by any means). The Virgos are a little more pinpoint and lay everything out on a nice coherent soundstage that is both wide and deep. Looking at Cjr888's assessment, I have to say that what I hear coincides with his findings. The Klipsch present a little larger scale than the Virgos, and I find it "lifelike" in that it's more akin to what I hear live than it is akin to artifacts of the recording process. That said, I find that the Virgos also do a very credible job of presenting dynamic contrasts, especially when fed with enough clean power. And realize that my impressions are from listening to the Virgos and Klipsch in two different rooms. The Klipsch are in a much larger room and that has to impact the differences I hear as much as the respective differences between the two designs. To their credit, the Virgos sound quite "large" in a much smaller acoustic environment.
Also, the Virgos seem more extended and linear in the bass than the Klipsch. The Klipsch seem to have a little bump in the midbass around 70 Hz and start to roll severely below 45 to 50 Hz. The Virgos seem better controlled in the bass. But if I understand correctly, the Chorus 15" bass driver is a ported and not a horn-loaded design. So depending upon the recording this can make a significant preceived difference in character.
This brings me to Jmslaw's comments and the assertion that the Klipsch need a bit of power to perform at their best in the bass despite their high efficiency. My question is: what do you consider "adequate power"? I ask, because I am considering buying a tube amp rated at only 10 watts/channel. If you think I need more than that for the Klipsch to really strut their stuff, please chime in. Would amps in the 30 to 40 watt range make more sense???
Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving to All!!!
I have used the follwing amps on my 2002 Klipschorns:
CJ Premier 8A(275 wpc);
Wavelength Cardinals (8 wpc);
Welborne Laurels (7wpc);
VAIC VV52b (30wpc).
I found the lower wattage amps provided the quietest background and, particularly the Cardinals, created a very smooth and palpable sound. The bass does doesn't have that ooomph as with the CJ and VAIC amps. My room is 21x18x11. I would hardly say the bottom end was anemic, but in contrast to the deep growling of the large CJ amps, the SETs just didn't have the same bite. The tradeoff is the somewhat noisier background, since the Khorns magnify any noise exponentially.
Thanks JM, I appreciate the benefit of your experience regarding the amplifier question. One final thought I'm having about the Klipsch, and probably what surprised me the most, is their incredible speed and clarity. I expected the great, virtually unbridled dynamics, but did not realize the transient speed that the horns provide. Fast fretwork on acoustic guitar, nuances of the voilin's rapid undulations are sharp, crisp, and natural -- not blurred or smeared as they are by so many other speakers.
Regarding the power item -- I've used Cornwalls, which are less sensitive than the KHorns with an 3.5w 2a3 amplifier on both 4 and 8 ohm taps, using a passive preamplifier (Audio Consulting Silver Rock), in a 24x14 room firing down the length of the room.
In most cases you don't need more power, and regarding flea powered amplifiers and Klipsch's -- I understand what was stated regarding the bass -- this to me is more of a reflection of the amplifier itself regardless of the speaker. I listed to just about every kind of music out there, and regarding SETs specifically, it becomes more of a you like it or you don't. Sure you aren't going full range, but that's the thing -- the beauty of the amplifier makes you forget whether there's more bass or less bass -- your seduced basically. Again, this is amplifier specific and there are ones that can to an extent, do it all.
Definitely browse through the forums at www.klipsch.com, part to see people's comments and comparisons, and part to see what people use -- you'll find everything from people using 1-2w 45 tube amplifiers, to 30w PP tube amplifiers, to a couple hundred watt solid state amplifiers.
Everything varies, but one combination a lot of people have found heavenly is push pull 2A3 amplifiers, as well as a lot of the vintage amplifiers -- the Scott's, the Fischers, etc. A lot of 8-15w PP amplifiers and receivers.
Anyways -- you mentioned you have another system, and you mentioned that you're having fun with the Klipsch's -- browse the forums, find yourself a good deal on a vintage receiver for a couple hundred bucks, and then you don't have to get rid of the other system, and you can greatly increase your fun for a very minimum budget.
Cjr, I've been hearing about the 2A3 amps and it seems like a lot of folks like amps that use this tube. I may look for an affordable one to try.
Meanwhile, I have an old Van Alstine modified Dyna 70 that I just replaced the input jacks on, and it seems to work great on my Stax headphones, so I will probably see what it can do for the Klipsch.
The Klipch that really blows my...er...horn...is the Corner Horn. I remember a friend playing the 1812 overature on them. When it got to the cannon part I actually saw the shock-wave ripple down the wall! Wild!!
The didn't sound bad on music either. We did change a few things; like going to the better EV drivers and tweeters and some minor x-over changes (caps and such). In his room (always the caveat) they were awesome, clear, sweet and dynamic.
I recall that he was using one of the Mac tube amps, don't rememer which one.
Did I mention dynamic?