STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ very full-bodied, bass-rich reproduction
+ sounds natural and warm
+ many connection options, good phono pre
+ trouble-free operation even with an app
- could deliver more fine dynamics and details
- Very limited spatial representation
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency8.1
Sound: Bass / Dynamoics8.4
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9.2
Klipsch has been making Bluetooth all-in-one speakers for the home for several years now. However, the manufacturer still enjoys a good reputation for its large passive speakers and active stereo systems. The new Klipsch The Three Plus could extend this. Not only does it look a little less “mid-century design” and has a great finish, it also offers an amazing variety of connections.
In order to stand out from the abundant competition in the home sector, the Americans not only integrate a phono preamplifier for the direct connection of record players with MM systems. The Klipsch The Three Plus also has a USB-C and an optical input to digitally transfer sound signals from the TV. This means that it also works with many streaming bridges, as it does not have its own built-in network streamer.
Connectivity is king
With the four sources, the Three Plus is already pretty well equipped as a small complete system. The analog input can be assigned either as a line input or as a phono input. If you want to use both options, you have to switch and reconnect.
The USB-C is used three times. Connected to a computer, smartphone or tablet, it registers the Klipsch Three Plus as a sound card without a driver. However, you can also insert a USB stick and play music directly from the memory. However, it is necessary to switch once in this case. Finally, the USB-C is also a powerful voltage supplier. The manufacturer even explicitly recommends that small streaming bridges such as the WiiM Mini should also be supplied by The Three Plus, which means that the wide world of streaming services is also open to this system.
The optical input is even open for Hi-Res streaming, as it accepts digital signals up to 96 kHz and 24 bit from a corresponding streaming bridge.
It supports Bluetooth according to the latest 5.3 standard. This is particularly good news for a stable connection. The data sheet does not promise higher resolution codecs.
Stereo in a box with powerful steam
However, this is not absolutely necessary with a one-box system. The acoustic concept follows the 2.1 principle: two 6-centimeter diameter full-range speakers sit on the left and right of the front baffle. A powerful 16-centimeter bass speaker acts as a kind of central subwoofer. On the left and right side of the cabinet there are two passive diaphragms, which replace the bass reflex tubes in the lowest frequency range. The manufacturer promises a bass response of 45 Hz.
The operating concept on the device is simple: input selection button with different colored LED as feedback, volume control, done! Bluetooth standby mode is activated by pressing and holding the button.
However, when connecting and setting up for the first time, our smartphone demanded the app, even though the Three Plus basically works without it. In the practical test, the Klipsch Three Plus made an outstandingly intuitive impression despite its variety of sources. The only thing we had to get used to was the fact that you sometimes have to re-initiate the Bluetooth connection in the corresponding menu of the source device after it has been interrupted.
USB connectivity from iPhone, Windows laptop, MacBook and finally Android phone was just as easy. All of them immediately recognized the Klipsch as an audio output medium, as long as a full USB-C cable was connected between the two.
App instead of remote control and more
The Klipsch Connect app for iOS or Android contributed significantly to the good user experience: it controls the more in-depth functions of the Klipsch Three Plus. There is no additional infrared remote control. An established Bluetooth connection is used for app control; the speakers do not require a network connection.
The connection and setup via the app worked smoothly with both Android devices and iPhones. However, some smartphones wanted to have the Bluetooth connection to the Klipsch The Three Plus confirmed again until the device also appeared as a sound output in the corresponding apps.
The app’s range of functions is very good. There is no bass equalization as with the great The Sevens and The Nines. However, the built-in 3-band equalizer is sufficient for regulating the bass level. A slight lowering or – more often – raising of the treble in overdamped rooms is thus just as easily possible as a reduction of the low frequencies when placed close to a wall or even in a corner or on a shelf.
This is how the Klipsch The Three Plus sound
In the listening test, the elegant retro bar impressed above all with its sonorous bass foundation and opulent dynamics. The coarse dynamics that come out of the compact Klipsch alone are a credit to many compact stereo systems or even sub/sat sets.
No matter what style of music with bass we played, the Three Plus mobilized an extremely rich, powerful and voluminous foundation. The bass was – in contrast to many a sub/sat arrangement – excellently integrated into the music in terms of timing, but sometimes played a little in the foreground. And although the Klipsch Three Plus itself doesn’t tend to boom, its sheer bass power in smaller rooms or when placed on a shelf does pose a certain risk of the bass sound fraying here. This can usually be corrected with the tone control in the app, but not always.
Otherwise, the compact Klipsch was unobtrusive to balanced. He preferred a warm, homogeneous playing style with astonishingly natural-sounding, sometimes almost audiophile-like melting voices in the mid-range. Everything was present in the treble range, but the Bluetooth speaker held back with excessive resolution and treble details without sounding dark. This means that its sound also matches the look perfectly, even if it perhaps gently conceals the last bit of treble pepper.
Vinyl sounds right
This was just right, especially for phono playback: connected to a record player with an MM cartridge, you could immediately understand why some audiophiles are still attached to the sound of the old, black disk. Perfect homogeneity, a lot of joy in playing, driving dynamics and a consistently clean reproduction spoke for the quality of the built-in phono amplifier.
The fact that the Klipsch Three Plus was ultimately unable to replace a stereo system was more due to its imaging. Although it sounded beautifully clear and direct, it was noticeably restrained in terms of a real spatial representation. Indeed, at times we even had to doubt that a real, rather wide stereo system was playing here, the room seemed so restricted.
Conclusion: The Three Plus vs Marshall & Co?
A one-box system with a built-in, highly recommended phono amplifier, USB sound card function and optical input is pretty much unrivaled on the market. If you want to connect a record player, computer and TV or streamer in this way, you can use the Klipsch without hesitation and be happy. Unless he expects a particularly impressive surround sound.
If the focus is only on playback via Bluetooth or analog input, the competition is significantly greater. A tough competitor is the Marshall Stanmore III, which has a similar vintage vibe and much more versatile operation on the device. In terms of bass and dynamics, both are at the top of their size class. The Marshall’s sound is a little more agile and punchy with a larger implied space, while the Klipsch is warmer and more natural with very compact imaging.
In a direct sound comparison of the Tree Plus with the cheaper Klipsch One Plus (the review will also be published shortly on STEREO GUIDE), the latter does not necessarily perform worse. Although it sounds less confident and lush in terms of dynamics, in small rooms it is even more playful and direct.
Technical data Klipsch The Three Plus
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 400 euros
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 35.5 x 21.5 x 18 cm
- Weight: 4.8 kg
- Special features: Bluetooth 5.3, USB-C (smartphone, computer), USB-C (flash memory), optical digital input, switchable phono/line input, app control with EQ
- More at: klipsch.com