Review: Klipsch Klipschorn Speaker

Category: Speakers

What can I say about my K-horns? As do many of us, I have spent most of my life searching for "perfect" speakers, moving up the pricing ladder and trying different technologies (planar, ribbon, dynamic) always looking to get the sound "right". Well I came to these Klipschorns by accident. An acquaintance was moving and could not manage to take them with him (they ARE huge!) For only $1,500 I grabbed'em and have never looked back! Way below the budget amount I thought I would have to spend for my "perfect" speakers, and certainly not falling into any of the technology categories I imagined such audio bliss would come from. These "horns", these megaphone-type speakers. How can they produce "right" sound? LOL! Well after a few short days of listening I knew I had found what I had been looking for all along. I thus have come to two conclusions as a result of my experience with the K-horns; 1. That listening tests are the only true way to pick components, forget specs and 2. That price and reviews are not reliable guides. I thought I knew what I was looking for, but that was the problem; looking instead of listening. I won't recommend the K-horns to you, but I will tell you this they give you a unique perspective on music, one that is coming back into vogue (look at the reviews of the Avantgarde speakers), one that is emotionally involving and one that, for me, gives me the most enjoyable window into my music. Let me tell you what the K-horns excel at; they have dynamics like no other speakers, dynamic contrasts virtually explode from them. their level of detail in the mids and highs are something like no other speaker I have heard, clarity, definition, speed. That is the third major strength, speed, they produce and release a note, a sound, faster than almost any other speaker I have heard. The closest "speedy" speaker I have heard were Magnapan units, but they could not produce the dynamics that a K-horn can. Do K-horns go down to 20hz? Forget the specs! No they don't but they produce strong, tight, bass down into the low 40s/upper 30s and that is quite enough for what I listen to. I have never heard a K-horn owner complain about lack of Bass. They probably don't go all the way up to 20mhz either but the cymbal, piano and bell sounds that emanate of them provide me with a level of realism I have never experienced before. Imaging? superb! great, wide soundstage with images well placed. One warning, you need extremely good upstream components with these speakers, since they are ultrasensitive (>100db) they reveal every nuance of the source, the preamplification or the power amps they are mated with. I suggested tubes, tubes, tubes. There is also a healthy tweaking community that can help the audio enthusiast get the last little bit of audio nirvana from their K-horns. Don't worry about getting them set up correctly, you have to place them in the room corners, no choice, they use the walls as the finishing touches on their bass horn enclosures. If you don't have the appropriate space forget these speakers (go for Belles) Do I read the audio magazines and pine after B&W 801s and Revel Studios? Well yes, but after walking into stores to listen I walk out with the realization that my speakers are truely unique and the differences in sound are just that...differences, neither better or worse than any other. What works best for you and your music? How do you put together a system that reproduces for you what you hear in your head? The only way to find out is to get out there and listen, I recommend that you audition a pair of Klipschorns, they just may be the speakers you have been waiting to hear. If you are ever in San Salvador, give me call and we'll listen together, but watch out! You may be bitten by the K-horn bug and shipping in Central America is Hellishly expensive!

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Magnaplanar MG-3, Paradigm reference 100s, JMLabs Electra,Polk.
I agree with Sunnysal about everything except that they don't have to go in the corner. I'll get back to this problem later. Being restricted to the corner is a misconception that has relegated K-horns into almost total oblivion. What a shame. What a waste. These speakers are arguably the best full-range speakers in the world, but nobody in the kingdom of high-end stereo sound ever talks about them any more. The problem with having these speakers in corners creates an incurable soundstage problem. Even with a Belle or LaSala in the center avoiding "holes" in the sound stage, the width of the soundstage is still too wide. These speakers must be 90 degrees apart in order to fully hear both corner speakers. However, two channel stereo is designed to be 60 degrees wide. This discrepancy creates a super wide image similar to watching a regular TV image on a wide screen TV. Even though the image is evenly spread out, it's just not right.

Now for the remedy. The K-horns must fit in A corner, but not necessarily in THE corners of the room. Four to six foot long V shaped baffles can be constructed from solid, rock-hard particle board (not medium density particle board, or plywood). Several boards will have to be glued and screwed together in order to get the nonresonance required. You will need four of these thick sections for two K-horns. Place two together to simulate a room corner, but angle them outward facing the sweet spot (listening position). The two K-horns can now be positioned 60 degrees apart for perfect sound staging. Plus this avoids the requirement of a third speaker, which does not solve the problem anyway.

As the saying goes: you can now have your cake and eat it too!

Great system for the Klipsch horns. If vinyl and tube is your this, I agree these are a great speaker. Thanks for bring us the review.
Mr. PWK himself had his K-horns set up with false corners, as in the above example. While tubes are generaly recommended, I like *power*! 200 w/ch mosfet amps do a real fine job, but like Sal says, you must use quality equipment & cabling or these speakers will clearly show you everything that you don't like about your source.
I forgot to mention that I have experimented with false my living room I only had one true corner for the k-horns and...false corners work very well indeed! I have an old "dope from hope", the official klipsch newsletter, which shows how to build false corners to factory recommended specs...I built mine out of 3/4" plywood. The great thing about the false corners is that it frees up these terrific speakers to be used in almost any room. K-horns are worth the effort. warm regards, Tony
Sunnysal, hows it going, this is Jim Cornell from the Klipsch website, im glad to see you got Klipschorns, i did also, and i also am waiting on a conrad johnson tube amp to power the mighty Klipschorns!
Only i got my Klipschorns for $930.00?
I dam near spent that on the tube amp alone!

Since my Klipschorn purchase, i sold the home theater, to keep the room here, and invested into the 2 channel amp!

I still have 4 chorus, here as well, i still like them!

i dont hear a hole in the spectrum with my Klipschorns, but then again there in a room thats too small!
Excellent speaker, so far i have NOT listened to anything else!
This is my first time here on AudiogoN, man there is some audio here!
Oh No LOL!

If you dont have the space get cornwalls, or even Chorus!
Also, if you want to go with H/T you might want to go with the Klipschorns first, thatll be a cheaper way, a nice 2 channel! i could never match the speakers in my H/T, and just finally gave up!

All the money i invested into H/T, i could of bought a new car!
Warm Regards Jim Cornell

Into audio since 11yrs old 38 now and still going!
Klipschorns are my last speaker, i wont beat these!

My friend has had a pair of Klipschons for about 30 years now. I own some Sonus Faber cabinets as well as Mac ML-2 with tweeter arrays of 16 tweeters in each. The combination of these 2 high-end cabinets powered by 2 big Mac power amps sounds incrediably awesome.
In the last 10 years or so, I've become a audiophile, attending yearly shows and listening in a whole different manner than I did 10 years back. Now, back to my friend.
A few weeks ago I was at his home, listening to his Klipschons, and let me say this, "THEY ARE THE ABSOLUTE BEST SPEAKERS I'VE EVER HEARD!" With the exception of a Mac 2105 powering them, the rest of his system is pretty modest as far as componets go, AND THEY STILL SOUND UNBELIEVABLE!
I have about $40,000 invested in my rig. I own some very high end stuff, but his Klipsch's STILL blow my system away. They are to be believed.
for Jim and Sal,
These are the kind of speakers that make owners evangelists! Though I have not sold my HT setup I am sure that a k-horn based HT would be incredible! Like Sal mentioned, I have yet to hear any other system that can get as much quality bang for the buck as a k-horn based system. My system has modestly priced upstream vintage components and it blows the doors off all my friends high-end systems. they hate to come over to listen to something at my house because later on they all mention how dull and veiled their systems sound when they return home! Sal, if you can swing it, keep your electronics and trade the speaks for a pair of k-horns or many of us the k-horns will be your "last" speakers. warm regards, tony
What are the minimum room dimensions for the use of K-horns?
that is a topic of debate...I would say no smaller than 15X20X8 but visit the klipch forum and the members can give you their varied opinions...tony
By All means Buy Klipschorns! I just sold some Mcintosh XRT20's and they sounded really good. I sold my sixth pair of Klipschorns to buy the Mcintosh's. The first thing that I noticed was a really wide soundstage, clarity and deep bass. I thought that I finally something that beat Klipschorns! Then I started digging out older albums and Cd's that I was really familiar with. Duh! What happened to the sound I was used to hearing. It simply was not there!
True, I will never sell my Klipschorns again. I've had Magneplanars, Carver 60in. Ribbons (Sounded great), Listened to the Crown Ess 224 (Electrostatics, really sounded good) and countless other speakers throughout the years, but NOTHING beats the Klipschorns for overall realism of sound. Period! I use the older Yamaha V-fet power amps, the B-1 and B-2. They really mate good with the Klipschorns. Listen for yourself at about 2 watts. You will hear music, not specs, not someone's opinion or writeup. Judge for yourself. They are quite expensive now for a new pair, try to buy a used pair. It will be worth the search! I respect each and everyone's own personal opinion. I'm just saying what does the magic for me. I will never sell my Klipschorns again. It's like the SR-71 Blackbird-Performance made in America, Decades ago!
I once heard some Klipschorns produce the Telarc Digital cannon from the 1812 overture. They were mated to some Mcintosh 2205. It was the most awesome audio demo that I ever heard. It was like the cannons were there in the soundroom. No other speaker has ever been able to do this. I realize that this is not music, but it does show the operating parameters of this fine loudspeaker. Happy listening to all!

Mike you've found the magic combination too: classic Klipsch's driven by fet's are the only way to fly.
I have an audio salesman / friend who has the XRT20's, but when he really wants to sell someone who's "on the fence" he'll bring them not over to his house, but to mine. These vintage classics are now 25 years old, but they can sure still captivate with their dynamic realism. We break out the Telarc's & the newbie customer just HAS to buy something - funny that it typically doesn't even resemble the rig that they just heard, but now they know just what hifi in the home can sound like & they're in love.
If you've even given consideration to tweaking your Klipsch's to an even better performance level then drop me an email - that goes for anyone too.
Hello Bob and Thanks. Looks like people go into a "feeding
frenzy" of hearing music after they have heard Klipschorns that were set up properly. Despite the bad rap that they have received from many audio dealers and the Brett Butterworth's of the world, They still are the best. I suppose people play them too loud with equipment that does not do them justice. Don't get me wrong, I'm strictly not a "High end" type of guy. I've heard Klipschorns sound very good with The Carver Receiver, Mcintosh 1900 receiver, and even a very cheap Kenwood integrated amplifier. It's how you set everything up and tune to the room. The Yamaha Vertical Field Effect Trannies sound so sweet. Just listen to "Fire On The Mountain" by the Marshall Tucker Band on vinyl with a good Moving coil cartridge. Talk about heaven!
I hope that when a person goes shopping for audio and has
a little money in his pocket, hopefully, he will at least hear some Klipschorns. Happy Listening to you!
Bob I would love to hear your advice about tweaking K-horns! Regards, Tony
Mike thanks for your email. Let's compare our notes! I'll respond privately to you both with a rather long-ish writeup. But not tonight; we have a big crash project going on here at the satellite uplink station that has me rather tied up for the next several days. I will get back to y'all though.
Am I the only one here who finds their midrange to be dreadfully colored, and to sound like a PA-system?

Oh well, to each his own.
No - I would agree. Horns honk. I cannot listen to them. I don't care what horns we are talking about, Klipsch or Avant Garde or whatever other exotic horn design you want to bring up. The midrange is closed down, and horribly colored. The highs tend to be shrill and yet somehow at the same time rolled off. And I have never, ever, ever heard a hybrid horn speaker where the bass integrates properly with the mids and highs. The Avant Gardes have dreadfully poor bass integration which is inexcusible for such an expensive speaker. It's the same reason that hybrid electrostats don't sound good. But don't get me started on that either. I'm sure I've already upset the apple cart enough.
As the saying goes: trash in... trash out! Of course
K-Horns can sound bad if you have inferior equipment driving the speakers. K-Horns are probably the most honest speakers on the market. On the other hand, reference equipment, a well tuned room, and proper acoustical treatments can allow these gems to show off their true colors.
I would agree that k-horns ARE revealing, so you do have to be careful about component selection. One hears that same comment time and time again about the best audio components, that they are niot tolerant of inferior or porrly matched ancillary units. K-horns are finicky as well, for someone who takes the time to build a system around them, the rewards are tremendous! warm regards and thanks for contributing to the review, tony