STEREO GUIDE Verdict
+ Transparent, spatial and accurate to the pulse
+ size-related rich, punchy (upper) bass
+ App control with EQ
+ Very versatile feed modes
- Bass can be dominant
- outside the ideal listening zone matt
- App runs unstable
Sound: naturalness / transparency8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics8.6
Practice / Connectivity9.2
Price / Performance9
With real wood veneer and woven grille, Klipsch Heritage The Fives don’t look like retro speakers from afar, but almost like historic specimens from the 1940s. However, a look at the back and the user manual reveals that these are modern speakers. From Bluetooth and Hires digital playback to app control, they offer amazing diversity. Especially the operation via two dials for source selection and volume is simply superior to the usual buttons and remote controls of other all-in-one sets.
Despite the unassuming appearance of our matte-finished specimen, we’re looking at one of the best-equipped and most versatile all-in-one stereo sets on the market. This starts with an almost unbelievable range of playback options and does not end with the sophisticated app control, which can also replace the remote control in case of doubt.
Many possibilities, much technology
Bluetooth playback of the latest generation 5.0 is almost standard for active systems today. However, The Fives also offers an HDMI jack (ARC) for connection to and control by the TV. In addition, there is an optical Toslink for classic digital sources, and a USB-B that works like a sound card port on the computer.
The Heritage boxes do not have their own streamer function, but that can be done either by TV, computer or smartphone. Accordingly, depending on the input, high-quality streams are also playable, because the internal D/A conversion can process high-resolution audio signals up to 192kHz/24bit.
On the classic hi-fi level, Klipsch The Fives offer a 3.5 mm jack input and a stereo pair of RCAs. The latter can be converted into a phono (MM) input via a switch for direct connection of turntables without their own preamps. A proper grounding against hum is also available.
Fully active with power
The bass-midrange driver with an 11 cm diaphragm made of reinforced cardboard is rather small by compact speaker standards. But since the box only measures 16.5 centimeters in width overall, that sets natural limits for a sturdy wooden case. To ensure that sufficient bass power is still available, a rear bass reflex tube supports the movement of larger air masses.
Also dynamically relevant is the active technology used, where all 4 drivers of a stereo pair each have their own power amplifier. The entire electronics, including its four power amplifiers, is located in the so-called master box. Therefore, it is necessary to connect the so-called slave box with a special four-pole cable supplied. By the way, which box plays which channel can be switched, which is not the case with many “master/slave” combinations on the market.
All crossover and equalizer functions are also implemented digitally via DSP. This also includes the frequency division between woofer and tweeter as well as the subwoofer crossover, which can be switched on when an external bass module is connected to the corresponding output. This allows the level reserves to be significantly increased once again.
Proven technology with booster: The horn
Since 1946, Klipsch has stuck to horn technology to get maximum dynamics from little power in the tweeter. However, the Tractrix horn used on the Heritage The Fives is more for better impulse processing and control of dispersion, resulting in a more impulse-accurate and dry soundstage. Behind the horn works a titanium dome almost without a pressure chamber.
App control without network integration
Many active speakers now offer their own control app, especially in the mobile sector. However, the Klipsch Connect app goes well beyond what is usual here. The application, optimized for smartphones (iOS and Android), not only helps with setting up the boxes. Thanks to step-by-step instructions with practical sketches, the connection procedure is quickly done. At least this is true if the latest firmware is already installed on the boxes, otherwise you go through a complicated procedure that doesn’t always work right away.
The app itself offers redundant functions to the included remote control of the Klipsch Heritage The Fives, but also comes up with positive surprises. For example, an acoustic location adjustment: By means of logical sketches for placement variants, you can lower the bass in three stages when the speaker position “wall” or “corner” is selected.
An additional equalizer helps to adapt to the acoustic character of the room and is especially necessary if the treble sounds either too insistent or too dull. The presets don’t do much good here, though. Here you should rely on trial and error.
Unfortunately, the connection to the app broke down from time to time during the review. Then only a short wait or a restart helps. The additionally included IR remote control is then a good alternative. Really well thought-out: If you have connected an additional subwoofer, its level can be regulated with the remote control. This helps immensely with the leveling at the listening position!
This is what the Klipsch Heritage The Fives sound like
The Klipsch amazes with such a fat bass on the first few notes, as if there was an additional subwoofer at work, but turned up too loud. The solution: The “Dynamic Bass” was activated ex works and the location equalization in the app was set to “Other”, i.e. free-standing. Especially those who place the speakers on the shelf or close to the wall should definitely change this to “corner” and deactivate the bass emphasis. Otherwise, the inherently very driving and kicking low frequency simply covers everything.
Adjusted in such a way and further basses taken out in the equalizer and the trebles minimally emphasized, the Fives thrilled with a relaxed gait. The driving kick bass and a playful, yet never intrusive directness in the voices were their obvious strengths. In terms of treble resolution, they held back a bit in favor of a more homogeneous sound image, and therefore sometimes sounded a bit like playing a vintage speaker. Otherwise, she played forward, direct and accurate to the pulse without ever being sharp.
Stands for pop
Pop music, especially electronic or with those with voices, was performed by the Heritage Fives with tremendous nonchalance. But hi-fi qualities were not neglected either. Especially the plasticity of the spatial imaging and its sense of spatiality and distance are able to inspire even demanding listeners. However, only if the speakers were placed approximately at ear level, angled towards the listener and more or less in the stereo triangle. For complete background sound in a large room outside the sofa area, the Klipsch are not the first choice. Then it can sound rather musty and the spatial sound image collapses.
On the other hand, it works very well closer to the listening position without sounding too dry. Larger listening distances or less damped rooms also hardly pose any problems for The Fives in the listening test. The phono preamp worked smoothly and hum-free. However, it requires MM systems with high output voltage, otherwise it sounded rather tired and not very dynamic. You should also not expect miracles from the treble resolution.
Conclusion: Unique concept with app and Bluetooth?
The connection options from phono to HDMI and the rich app to a pure Bluetooth box are unique on the market. If this is important to you, you could opt for the Klipsch Heritage The Fives or prefer the considerably more expensive special edition The Fives McLaren in favor of more transparency, playfulness and treble resolution.
The combination of HDMI (ARC) and Bluetooth in a stereo active set is also available from attractive competitors: The Nubert nuPro SP-200 we tested has more bass and a finer resolution, but it is also bulkier and has neither an app nor a phono input. The Triangle AIO Twin, which is also immortalized in our STEREO GUIDE best list, does not have an HDMI connection, but in addition to phono input, it also has streaming via LAN and a somewhat stronger sound than the Heritage The Fives with a similar basic character.
Specifications Klipsch Heritage The Fives
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 800 euros
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 16.5 x 30.5 23.5 cm
- Weight: 5,4 kg
- Features: HDMI-ARC, Bluetooth 5.0, USB, phono/line and AUX input, optical digital input, sub-out, app control, location filter.
- More at: klipsch.com
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