Review: Klipsch La Scala Speaker

Category: Speakers

My musical taste are drastic but I usually use ambient to jazz in order to test the sonics of my systems.I usually use Dead Can Dance to Enigma in order to test out or try to hear any flaws or dynamics.I have owned this system for about a year now.Seems to match pretty good,especially when I added the Audiocontrol c-101 processor.I think I am satisfied with my system except just wanting the next Mcintosh amp in line which is the 2105.I see no weeknesses except the powerfull mids which are really tamed with the eq.

Associated gear
Mcintosh 2505 amplifier unit
Mcintosh C 26 pre-amplifier unit
Technics 1200 turntable
Tascam 202 mk111 dual well tape deck
If you think your LaScala's sound good now, try switching to tube gear with those wonderful horns. It will bring the sound to a completely different level, and make those big boxes really sing for you! Regarding your EQ; Some folks like the aftermarket crossover made specifically for the LaScala's (and Klipschorns and Belles) by ALK Engineering. With the ALK crossovers you can vary the attenuation of the mid-range squawker in 11 distinct steps ranging from 2.6db up to 15.4db. The Klipsch stock AA crossovers are fixed at around 4.0 db. Many swear by the ALK's that it is a big improvement over stock. I'm trying out a set currently, but the jury's still out for me. They most certainly sound different than the stock crossovers, and impart a new voice to the LaScala's. They are extremely well made with high-end parts, such as Hovland Musicaps, and are very beautiful to look at (if you appreciate that kind of thing). At $500 a pair they are not cheap, but Al lists all the parts and even provides a schematic should you want to build a set yourself and save some money. Again, I'm not sure yet whether I prefer them over my stock AA's but I'm not prepared to comment at this time till I've done more swapping back and forth. The most immediate difference (and there is no doubt about this) is the detail and focus improvement with the ALK over the AA's. Whether those details will make for an overall improved sound/musicality for me is what I have yet to determine. I've tried a few different settings with the ALK's so far and have been hovering with my preferences just a bit more attenuated than Klipsch stock (currently liking about 4.6 db). You can check out the ALK's on his site here:

ALK Engineering Website

Regardless, I love my LaScala's. I'm using them with all-tubes, and only 8 watts of SET power. The sound is heavenly to my ears! They are keepers!
Thanx for your opinion,but at this moment it is hard to be convinced to change from SS amplification to tube cause of $$ like always and non-xpereience with tubes and their ridiculous prices.I understand that wattage is not a factor for these horns but they are as loud as can be now,but hard for me to know if I would like the sound of tubes since I have no way to test one out or (LEASE)jk!!Thanks for your opinion jax2 but I think that the factory x-over should be used cause its original with the enclosure.That is why processors were made for likewise with adjustable and attentuating networks.Thanks for your opinion and responses all these times.

I do have another question,the speaker enclosures have square magnet tweeters on them are those the second generation ones?
The tweeters in mine are K77's I believe. They are original and do have round magnet housings. Regarding the ALK crossover, it does improve some aspects of the sound, and dramatically so, but after two days of experimenting and listening I kept coming back to the stock AA crossover network. For my ears it sounds more natural and musical. The ALK's have a cleaner, pinpoint focus, and seem "tighter" for lack of a better term. Unfortunately, on my system, and to my ears they also seem more analytical, and some instruments did not sound real to me, while on the AA crossovers the music just flows beautifully, albeit not as crystaline as the ALK's. Small price to pay. I'll stick with the AA's and return my friends ALK's to him. If you ever do get a chance to 'borrow' some good tube gear I'd bet you would be astounded at the difference it can make with those speakers. Yep, just my opinion. You are most welcome. Enjoy your Klipsch!
I have Klipschorns, La Scalas, Heriesys, JBL L200 and Altec VOTT speakers. Once you have spent time listening to tubes on any of these speakers you will be hard pressed to listen to Solid State again. After you travel down the tube road you will even begin to prefer certian tubes and types of amps(PP, Single ended etc.) with so much to gain why not give it a try? It took me over twenty years to learn this lesson, what a silly young man I was.
Good for you Tubeking ,but apparently there is not always a necessety for a change.So please do not consider your self at the top of the world just cause of your amplifier design preference!
They don't call him the Tubeking for nothing! Words of wisdom from royalty regarding tubes and horns....once you had'em together you will never go back! Completely agree; all hail to the King! That array of speakers you have take up some major real estate in your kingdom Tubeking! You must be lucky enough to have married the Hornqueen! Cool beans - of all my audio gear my LaScala's are the most frequently and unfairly berated by my own beautiful Queen simply for their size ("...those things are bigger than our washing machine!!"). I own vintage Heresy's as well (in my work system, while the LaScala's are in the home system). What have you found your preferences with the Heresy's as far as tweaks and types of amps to drive them with? Or are you running them as center channels? My biggest improvements over stock with the LaScalas have been replacing the lamp-cord wiring harness with DH Lab silver wires (big sonic improvement). Mine also have Dynamat covered horns, but I got them that way so don't know the difference it made. They are the older metal horns with K55V and K77 drivers.
Purepwr - I don't think his Highness was being arrogant about his suggestions at all. He was offering up his personal observations/opinion based upon his experience. You posted your review and system here on a forum site and one would assume that you may want some personal feedback/response for that reason. If not, I'm not sure what the purpose of posting might be. I am not saying this simply because I happen to concur with his experience and opinion, I'm saying it because it occurs to me that your responses seem a bit defensive. I don't think there was anything about the way he stated it that would lead me to believe that he was judging you for your choice. I think he was just trying to share something and be helpful, as was I.

I realized that I had not fully answered your question about your tweeters. To give you some more information to that end, my LaScala's are vintage from 1977 and the drivers are the originals. So the K77 tweeter with the round magnet housing is on the earlier versions of that speaker. I'm sorry that I do not know the appearence of the tweeter used in the LaScala's in later years. I think they changed them in the mid-80's though. You can find out a lot of specific (to Klipsch) information on the "forum" section of their webiste here They have a search engine on the forums section but make sure you specify to search all the previous years. The Search engine is a bit of a pain, but there are many folks on that site are Klipsch fanatics and there are quite a few who've had significant experience with those speakers.

I do not mean to offend the tubeking but just corrrect and use my shoes for a while and realize what is my point.I understand his immense experience on hifi tube gear,but he has to understand from what view i am coming from since that is the way he started too.So he could not say that he was silly for not knowing the difference 20 years ago between the SS and tube design.That was the offensive part on his side.I do not want to make enemies just get feedback like you said but I am not mad it just sounded arrogant too,on his side for saying he was ignorant for using SS amplification.The steam blew off already thanks to both of you the tubeking and jax2!
Hi Purepwr
I think that you already know what you're doing, moreso than you know. I wouldn't fall for using those hot, inefficient, noisy, microphonic, unreliable, expensive, maintenance intensive tubes with horns - they just never worked well for me. I've already tried that & it was bad advice. Tubed preamps are another story, but we're not talking about that at the moment. Tube's high idle noise (tube rush) & microphonics are so easily perceived with sensitive horn transducers that I've found them unbearable. Others do prefer tubes & if that works for them then it's all good - for *them*. For me, the lack of deep bass extension + control, & the softened highs are also problems I've noted w\ tube power amplification.
I've been running a pair of vintage 1978 Belles (well over 20 years here too) with mosfet's - if you want to see the complete setup then just click on my username & scroll down below the bio to read all about it.
Mosfet based Luxman & Accuphase amps have provided the best results for me so far; 200 watts per channel is about right; when running at higher power levels 100 watts/ch seemes a bit underpowered during those power-demanding peaks. I like to have about 20dB of dynamic headroom, so at a 2watt/ch. listening level a 200 watt/ch amp is a good fit. Perreaux, Ayre, even McCormack Deluxe series amps also do a pretty good job, but generally I don't care for the sound of bipolars w\ horns. Mosfet amps w\ combined with MIT MH750-(xx) speaker cabling the synergy is very good.

Pure you had another question about possibly stuffing the top sections with polyfill; that just won't give you the needed midrange horn damping that a product like Dynamat will provide. Polyfill is a benefit up top, but not a huge one. Damping the (lower & upper) internal cabinet vibrations with other materials is a better use of time & material IMO. It's mandatory on the squawker.
Internal rewiring however is a must, & there are numerous wire alternatives available, but stick with a copper product because the horns are already so revealing that hyper-detailed silver wire isn't desirable.
The ALK crossovers: I'm undecided about them. I like some parts of them, & other parts of the AA crossover. I wish that I could combine them together somehow; I'm still experimenting with tweaks on them both. Al's onboard wire is not too good, so any noted issues may possibly be addressed right there.
I'm thinking that your use of full time Eq is indicative of a system setup issue which you're trying to mask via other means. If you're happy with that then that's cool, but there's probably a cleaner approach which would not require Eq on a full time basis, only needed occassionally for fixing those 'problem' recordings. That essentially removes the distortions of 2 pair of interconnect cables & an active filter device from your signal path, which should be a significant benefit.
I would approach the fine tuning issues by trying & applying some other tweaks instead.
Possibly a different amp (but only possibly) yours may synergise better when everything else is tweaked in.
Brass cones under your speakers.
Speaker cables.
Upgrade AC cords.
AC line conditioning.

I would someday really like to hear a tube rig that's setup right for PWK's horns. Maybe it can be done & maybe it's even heavenly. I dunno, but so far tubes have just not fulfilled my preferences in so many areas.
I don't know if your shoes would fit on my feet Purepwr, but I get why you thought his statement sounded arrogant. I think he was actually making fun of himself, but you took it to be making fun of you at the same time. Sometimes humor is completely lost on the Internet with only pixels to represent people. I have that happen a lot on my posts and realize only after someone gets offended that folks who don't know me, and can't see or hear me saying some of this stuff don't realize I'm just having fun sometimes and like to laugh with people, and sometimes even at myself. Thanks for clarifying your viewpoint, and glad you are not mad the steam has beem released!
Hey Bob, wait'll you hear those horns with the Close-N'-Play about heaven!!

IMO, Bob's advice regarding the LaScala's themselves is excellent by the way. Obviously we have very different opinions on amplification. I can't say I've heard that many examples of SS + horns, but every one I've heard (at least half a dozen different combinations) sounded harsh and unlistenable to my ears. The only one I tried that was a mosfet solution was a B&K with Forte II's which was awful! The B&K sounded great with Spica's, and the Forte's with tubes, but together they were horrible. No air, no atmosphere, just loud, brash noise. Perhaps I need to hear Bob's setup, as the rest of his advice I'd agree with completely. Or we could just have completely different preferences. Obviously I have no such problems with dealing with tubes/tube-issues or I wouldn't use them either, but Bob's biased observations regarding tubes when combined with 104db efficiency horns are not completely out of line, and offer a counterpoint to my own preferences. Bob, I also wanted to combine the musicality of my AA's with the pinpoint imaging of Al's crossover somehow. I'm thinking that perhaps an upgrade to the AA's caps might go in that direction. After all my A/B testing I sure don't want to butcher my AA's. On my system, to my ears, they just sound much more musical than Al's. I definitely would not want to live with the ALK's as they sound in my rig. Pretty amazing to look at the two as I would NEVER have guessed that, nor by reading the many rave reviews for Al's product on the Klipsch forum site. They must work well for some folks. Al's are like works of art in more ways than one. Ultimately I'd rather look at them than listen to them. Have you tried putting better wires in there yet? I'd be curious to hear about whatever experiences you have had with tweaking either.
I am always amaized how often this forum seems to go negative, perhaps it is the male nature to be thus. I do not often contribute but I do read this forum everyday. I have learned much and only contribute when I have some personal experence to share with others. I don't care to pass on something I have just read or heard thru the grapevine. This really is about the music, not the equipment. I am a baby boomer and have learned the hard way over time that some of the best advice and help I have recieved along the way often went to waste. Looking back I have to laugh at myself quite often. If I ever offend anyone it is unintensional as I do beleve everyone is entitled to there way of life and personal preferences.
My personal qualifications to contribute aside from my love of music, HiFi and old man time are thus: Certified Speaker Tech by JBL,Former Speaker Tech for Westlake Audio along with many projects over the years.



P.S. SEAN is way cool!
Hey Tubeking- Someone with your experience is a valued asset to a forum like this, so I hope that trend doesn't discourage you from contributing further. I think it is a general trend with Internet forums/mailing lists. As I said in my earlier post, pixels on a screen seldom are a good substitute for a similar conversation with flesh and blood. It is true, some of the things people say here are probably not the same things they would say if they were standing around a room having a similar conversation. I have been guilty of that myself on some threads where my hackles go up and I let my personal need to be right blind me to common courtesy. It's much easier to disrespect someone when they are not standing in front of you and you don't witness first hand how your words affect them in real time and space. I've been on BMW motorcycle forums where the same thing occurs on a regular basis. So much so that I quit subscribing to them. Happily the amount of bandwidth that trend takes up in these forums seems to be less, so I keep reading and contributing when I have time and am familiar with the subject. I also have a tendency to want to liven up the conversation with some humor and some folks don't know what to make of it, or worse, get offended that I may not be taking the subject at hand seriously enough. Oh well, that's just who I am and I'll keep contributing in that tone when it suits me and hope in entertains more folks than it offends! I agree with your sentiments and have posted the same in several threads here: It is ultimately about the music....the gear is just the tools to deliver it to our ears, but without the music all our gear is a pile of parts worth far less than the exhorbinant prices we pay for it. I am thankful for these forums in that I don't have many opportunities to stand around and converse with a bunch of folks who have similar passions for this stuff (I only have one or two Audiophile friends who I rarely see), much less those with a range of knowledge and experience that is reflected by a group as we are here (as well as on AudioAsylum). I'm getting long-winded here, but bottom line is; thanks for your input and hope to read more from you in the future. I'd be curious to hear what your experience and recommendations have been with your Klipsch horn speakers as far as tweaking and improvements go.
It depends how anyone would think,not everyone is always carefull about how they respond to a question.But as for me,I would say in person my thoughts directly,likewise wanting to hear and understand someone elses explanations in person too.
All I wanted was not to argue but for people to give feedback.How I might have responded might of been offensive too.
Jax to answer your ? regarding the AA's: I find that changing the onboard wiring to a better grade of copper (I have Kimber TCX for LF & mid's - TCSS for HF's) & adding 0.01uF nonpolar Kimbercaps paralleled to the existing oilcaps has helped to smooth things a bit, enhance transient response a bit, & doesn't introduce sonic degradations. The oilcaps are prety good as-is so I wouldn't change those. I also changed the spade lugs to Audioquest 1010S soft copper silver plated lugs & used Wondersolder onboard. That small inductor with a steel screw fastening it to the board: I pulled out the steel & used a fastening cement instead.

Above I haven't said anything that I would not say to anyone face-to-face. I don't mean to sound hypercritical (although my anti-tube prejudices are admittedly revealed) but again I don't have a problem with tube preamps, only power amps have not done the job for me. Of course I haven't tried everything available & perhaps my (optimized for solid state) cabling was not compatible with what I did try. So of course I would be interested to hear from Tubeking regarding his tubes setups that are successful & so indicated that previously.
Pure doesn't really seem interested in glassware himself & so I offer a contrary opinion based upon my successful endeavors with solid state. Yes I'm an engineering type (hardware oriented) so that shows through moreso than my knowledge of music, which admittedly isn't very extensive. I am not meaning to argue, nor to offend, nor to dismiss out-of-hand the valuable experiences of obviously knowledable contributors. Not at all. Tubeking's experiences with speaker design fascinate me, & I wish that he would further share that information & in relation to his aforementioned positive glassware experiences. In fact I even stated that thought initially, although perhaps not plainly enough, so I repeat.
Once you have spent time listening to tubes on any of these speakers you will be hard pressed to listen to Solid State again.
I've heard this before - several times in fact. Please elaborate - I'd like to figure out what I did wrong, & what I'm possibly missing? My apologies for running on at such length & for any offense that might have been mistakenly interpreted; this was not my intent.
Hey Bob- Many thanks for your input on the AA's. Were you talking about the AA's or the ALK's? When you refer to "smooth things out a bit" I wondered if you might have switched them since that is what I'd want to do to the ALK's? I found the AA's "smoother" on my system, while the ALK's seemed to stress laser imaging overall. It is also likely that my SET amplification has an entirely different effect than your SS, not to mention the rest of the differences in our systems. I'm probably on another part of the audiophile spectrum than you and have only a fundamental understanding of the hardware, as well as lacking in ways to describe how it sounds to my ears (not hip to all the lingo, but I sure do know what I like). I doubt anyone took offense to your post Bob...I sure didn't. I think you brought some balance to the discussion, and didn't mean to point any fingers whatsoever. I only meant to make a generalized observation, which is most certainly not a rule. As I said, overall I find folks on this forum to be pretty courteous in general, much more so than some others I've participated on.

I can't answer for Tubeking, but since I have a similar opinions about tubess+horns I can comment on what made me a convert. You will have to forgive my lack of audio-vocabulary to give creadence and color to my statements. The qualities that make tube amplification worth what little extra effort and $ it may take (though I don't know it's been a whole lot in my experience) are about air, atmosphere, soundstage and musicality. While SS has punch and dynamics in spades, bringing those quailities closer to a live performance in the way great SS can just knock the breath out of you sometimes....I do like that aspect of SS. What it lacks though, that the best of tubes, and even some really inexpensive tube rigs can impart, is a depth and atmosphere that I've yet to hear SS give to music. There is a holography to the music with great tube amplification that I've never heard with SS. SS had the width, but lacks the depth in my experience (though I must say I was impressed with the Pass Labs Aleph 5 that I had for a short while in that it did have some sense of depth. I've also owned a tube rig that came close to having the 'slam' of SS (a Mesa Baron) but it was certainly at the expense of the atmosphere I get from my 300B SET amps. Ultimately I like the atmosphere over the amazing detail and slam. I was impressed at the detail listening to a good friends Levenson system. Around $50K+, wired well, in an outstanding room with NHT 3.3's (tight bass to write home about). We were listening to a cut on a Beethoven piano concerto disc I'd brought and was familiar with. By god I could hear the pianist feet on the peddles as he played. That was truly amazing. Yet still, bringing that same disk home to the SET amps, though it lacks that kind of crystaline detail (though the ALK's may bring much of that out), I just love the holography that is simply lacking on his rig. Another friend has a $100K Krell setup that raised the hairs on the back of my neck, but the novelty wore off as time went on and the listening session somehow grew tiresome. I never get tired of listening to my SET's and the sound remains engaging to me throughout, though poorly recorder music does become wearing almost immediately. I hope someone else may comment who knows more how to embellish their experience with all the fancy vernacular, or can add a different perspective on it.

That said, I very much doubt you did anything WRONG Bob. And, in fact, there may be nothing you are missing. Even if you listened to the two side by side you may still prefer the sound of SS over tubes. My bias is obviously strongly in the other direction, but I'm always open to hearing a system that will change my mind! I don't think it is a matter of either/or, but I sure love the combination of tubes&horns. For my tastes, I haven't heard better to this day.

Jax is one of my dogs names and part of my email address, as well as being my ID here. The name suits my dog pretty well, but doesn't really fit me as well! Y'all can call me Marco as I feel pretty silly answering to my dog's name. I'll just start signing my posts.

Best to all,

Jax2, right on! I couldn't have said it better. I think that people listen in so many different ways. I am the type that sits in the sweet spot and even sometimes lowers the lighting to add to the atmospheir and just sink into the music in my lazyboy chair, (very appropriatlly named). I think I will read you last post again, you said it so well.

One thing Tubeking brings to mind in his response that I've been meaning to ask here: Just one more way I like tubes+horns......sitting there in the sweet spot you do get the full holographic effect and enjoyment of what they can bring to musical reproduction. But I also listen to my stereo at times when I'm not sitting in "the spot" (heresy!) and I've never read any posts on this. Perhaps no one wants to fess up....or do you all immediately shut down your system as soon as you leave "the chair"?! With my system obviously the holographic effect is lost once you leave the room. But one of the things I do like most about tubes+horns is that when I leave the room and go cook in the kitchen, or pound away at the keyboard in the office, it still sounds more to me like someone were down in my living room playing the guitar and singing (at best). The SS rigs I've owned and heard in others homes always seem to sound to my ears like there is a stereo playing in the other room once you leave that sweet spot and go off to another spot in the house. I think this can only be a generalization at best for me as my experiences are limited. It could also have a whole lot to do with the structure of the specific home and how the sound travels within that structure(?). But as a generalization it is certainly something I really enjoy about tubes+horns as well, and seems to be consistent in the limited experiences I've had. Can anyone else comment on that?

In an attempt to suggest a clue to the answer to my own question, .....and it may sound like I'm talking out of the side of my mouth here as I fully admit that I'm no sound engineer and the highly scientific and technical aspects of why this stuff works the way it does is as foreign to me as Chinese algebra. I had the pleasure once of visiting and speaking with George Wright of Wright Sound. When I asked him why tubes sound distinctive from SS, the explanation he offered had something to do with exactly how the two reproduced a signal. If you run a signal through a SS amp to an ocilliscope the graph will read as a stair-step hard straight line, rising and falling off like a cliff. Run the same signal through a tube amp and it reads as a curve, rising and falling off more gently. This reminds me of the difference between digital and analog reproduction where the digital represention of the curve of analog becomes a very fine stairstep that represents that curve. The other distinction that I've heard made is that tubes impart certain orders of harmonic distortion that our ears/minds equate more directly with music (or perhaps just as 'pleasing'). To further the description of what I like about tube+horn reproduction of sound that may relate to this: there is something about the way it lets the music just linger in the air and fade off that is very appealing and natural to my ears. SS tends to sound more abrupt and does not have the same sense of "lingering". OK, so enough of my butchering away at scientific (mis)information. Someone who is far more versed in this stuff needs to step in here and set me straight!

tubes are for some but not for others,
its a matter of personal taste , I am not a big fan of tubes or their sound. but that doesn't make anyone who likes them either right or wrong. but as for klipsch. I am tired of some audiophiles putting them down, especially at audio stores what a load of crap. and I know everyone here agrees with that! la scala is a great speaker! the entire klipsch line is excellent even today. you either like horn sounds or you don't!