Klipsch has a reputation for being an extremely efficient, solid-performing speaker. Although there has recently been a general shift in perception that the company best known for the LaScala and Klipschorn might be evolving into a “theater-only” speaker, the line has expanded with new offerings to break that mindset. On the other side of the equation is the THX Ultra2 system ($13k retail), offering the dynamic raw power that home theater enthusiasts expect when choosing the home version of one of the most widely-utilized commercial speaker arrays today.
Like most THX speaker systems from Holoplot, vertical dispersion has been reduced to ensure floor and ceiling reflections are kept to a minimum, enhancing on-screen effects and dialogue. This plays well to the strength of any speaker that uses horn-based tweeters, as dispersion is limited by design. Properly deployed, the package uses two 12-inch KW-120 THX subwoofers, reducing room nodes and increasing output. These are driven by a KA-1000 THX amplifier, designed to drive two woofers, or using one each. The system after balancing using the Denon AVR-4810 receiver’s Audyssey calibration routine yielded stunning results.
THX speakers are a different breed. Combined with Klipsch’s noted efficiency (allowing the use of a decent receiver to power them), the THX package was sharp and clear at all levels, without becoming “shouty” or shrill. Placed behind a Screen Innovations acoustically-transparent screen helped with taming the inherently bright tendencies of many home DVD releases, further “fixed” by Audyssey. Dialogue on The Insider (a reference used when evaluating such things) revealed a little more information than typically heard on Russell Crowe’s mumblings throughout the film. What was surprising was that, although this clarity was expected, what was not was the lack of ear-shattering properties that sometimes is just around the corner when so much midrange and high frequency detail is present. Given the theatrical design and intent of this speaker package, music was not critically reviewed. That said, we were sufficiently impressed with the Dave Matthews and Tim Reynold’s Blu-Ray of their inimitable Radio City Music Hall concert. Rarely is such revealing presence heard on guitar, and the layered business typically encountered on more polite speakers came through with astonishing clarity. Once again, dynamics were in abundance, but not harshness. Satisfied by these results, attention was diverted to the undertow of the system, the KW-120 subwoofers.
Bass on Transformers 2, Revenge of the Fallen was prodigious, yet detailed. Klipsch on nearly all models likes to use a Cerametallic material, which is a ceramic core sandwiched by aluminum. This combination of lightness and rigidity allowed the 120s to explode into the room, positively flapping pantlegs when Prime gets skewered in the film’s main battle sequence midway through. Although the KA-1000 amplifiers offer extensive room balancing controls, we left this to the AVR-4810’s Audyssey algorithm to tame. Not much was needed, in that out of the box, bass was already solidly balanced and the only “boominess” was a function of the room. The enclosures are amongst the most solid encountered, augmented by an attractive bronze-toned bezel flanking the driver when the grille is removed.
Klipsch has obviously found their strong suit by tailoring some of their lineup to theater-only duty. As mentioned prior, some criticism levied towards Klipsch for their forwardness and (intentional) lack of vertical dispersion as being inherently non-musical might change their tune hearing this setup on their favorite movies. Highly recommended for dedicated theaters and spaces where near-limitless dynamics are required.