STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ very bass strong and dynamic
+ plays balanced and relaxed
+ very good in large/difficult spaces
+ Excellent connection/operating concept
- somewhat flat spatiality
- needs some EQ adjustment and placement effort
Sound: neutrality / transparency8.8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics9.7
Sound: spatial imaging9.1
Practice / Connectivity9.6
Price / Performance9.6
The vintage look should not deceive: The 2-way active speakers Klipsch The Nines are completely up to date. They combine Bluetooth connectivity, USB and many other inputs with HDMI. This makes the compact speakers high-end TV speakers for demanding stereo enthusiasts. Even a record player can be connected. The review reveals how all this works.
From the Klipsch Heritage Wireless series, we have already reviewed the small The Fives, The Fives McLaren Edition and the medium-sized The Sevens. The latter were particularly suitable as a stereo alternative to the soundbar on the TV. So why is the manufacturer now bringing an even bigger variant called The Nines?
Clearly: to make the concept palatable to those who demand the dynamics and bass power of a floorstanding speaker or whose is too big for Sevens. In any case, the look is quite retro: The XL compact boxes are optionally available in black ash or walnut real wood veneer. Both exude the charm of the “mid-century design” of the 1950s, but are well, if not really high-end, manufactured.
Those who have a wider lowboard will be very pleased with the visual integration into the room. At just 24 centimeters wide and covered in beige fabric, The Nines blend into the room quite pleasingly. Only the height of almost half a meter should be considered before placing it on a shelf or not so flat lowboard.
Think big with many possibilities
Nothing has changed in the operating and connection concept compared to the Sevens: signals flow in via Bluetooth, HDMI (ARC) and phono connection in addition to USB, analog and optical input. The control panel with two dials for source and volume is made of haptically high-quality metal and is inconspicuously practical, even if it is not integrated 100% accurately into the master box in our test sample.
The HDMI connection is a HDMI (ARC) so requires a TV as a feed player. Its remote control then also controls the volume. To switch to one of the other sources, you have to reach for the box,IR remote or app again.
Via 3.5 mm jack input or via RCA / RCA but classic sources on. The latter can be converted into a phono (MM) input. Turntables without their own preamplifier can be connected here in the proper manner, grounded, without any additional boxes.
A HiRes DAC is available for all three digital inputs. It handles resolutions up to 192 kHz/24 bit without any problems. Computers or servers are connected via USB-B input without drivers. Those who use older TVs, CD players of streaming bridges dock to the optical Toslink. The latter would also be an answer to the question why the Nines do not have a network connection and thus do not support Airplay or Google Chromecast. The manufacturer probably deliberately wanted to include hardware that would not become obsolete with the built-in network components. The manufacturer kindly includes the connection cables for HDMI and USB-A to USB-B in the scope of delivery.
Fully active with electronics on one side
The bass driver with a diaphragm measuring 21 centimeters almost completely fills the width of the cabinet of 24 centimeters. The material used is a composite, unlike the smaller models with hardened cellulose. The reason: the size of the diaphragm requires more rigidity than the smaller Heritage speakers in order not to break up into partial vibrations. According to Klipsch, this leads – intentionally – to the fact that the large Nines direct the sound a bit more than the Sevens.
The shape of the tweeter horn was adapted accordingly and does not correspond to the horn of the Sevens. Klipsch calls this shape Tractrix and specifies a sweet spot of 90 x 90 degrees of dispersion up to 15kHz. The even stronger bundling has been designed with a view to use in even larger, even less attenuated rooms or at even greater listening distances. A titanium dome tweeter drives the gigantic tweeter horn with 22 centimeters of horn mouth.
Together with a rather adult air volume of an estimated 24 liters, a rear rectangular reflex port provides more low bass. It also looks like a horn. However, this does not serve to bundle the sound (which would not be possible at such low frequencies anyway). Rather, it serves to deliver the vibrations to the outside air without compression or distortion.
As in all Klipsch fully active models, four power amplifier channels are installed in the master box. Two times 100 watts each for the basses, two 20-watt channels for the horn tweeters. The slave box must be connected with a special four-pole cable supplied. Which box plays which channel can be selected via a switch. The cable length between the two speakers can be brought from four meters to six meters with an extension, which should be enough even for larger shelf systems. Both cables are also included in the scope of delivery.
App fast, but with obstacles
The Klipsch Connect app for iOS or Android controls all functions of the Heritage The Nines. An established Bluetooth connection is used for this; the speakers do not need a network connection. In practice, the connection and setup via the app worked surprisingly smoothly with both Android devices and iPhones. Only during ongoing music operation via Bluetooth did the control app sometimes lose contact. So, if you want to use the app as a remote control for the Klipsch active speakers, you should always stop a running Bluetooth stream first.
However, the range of functions goes far beyond replacing the remote control. Many really practical settings are available exclusively via the app. For example, the bass level can be adjusted in 3 stages to the installation location: Free-standing, close to the wall or in the corner.
Bluetooth app with equalizer
An additional 3-band equalizer provides fine tuning. This is because the characteristic sound bundling of the treble horns may then require a slight lowering or – more often – raising of the treble. This is even more true for the great The Nines, with their stronger bundling, than for The Fives and The Sevens.
Other features include a bass boost (which, in our experience, often sounds too fat), a night mode with bass limiting and a 2.1 mode with a levelable subwoofer. By the way, this also works with the included remote control.
If both the remote control and smartphone are not at hand, you can simply go to the master box’s rotary control and adjust the volume and source selection manually. Visual feedback is provided via the LED row in both cases. The concept is literally child’s play to operate. That’s how simple we want every hi-fi component to be!
This is how Klipsch’s largest wireless speakers sound
Admittedly, our reviewer’s living room and the level tolerance of our neighbors already reached their limits with the somewhat more compact Klipsch The Sevens. What else should the Nines be able to put on top of that?
In operation at room volume, the differences are rather not to be found in the dynamic range. The Nines played as focused, loose, free and fast as their smaller brothers. They went one better in the low bass, which really reached the sovereignty and depth of a full-grown floorstanding speaker. The reproduction also sounded a bit more direct, which was expressed in a clearly improved clarity as soon as the listener sat further away. We were able to try it at about four meters and have to say: Here, the upgrade to the Nines is worth it just for the clarity and intelligibility you gain.
For this, however, you also have to align them a bit more precisely, and perhaps try the app’s own 3-band equalizer a bit. This is especially the case if the playback might sound a bit dull or too bassy. But we were amazed at how well it corrected, even when the big Nines had to sit in the corners of the room.
Bass full with pop and rock in the listening session
The audition was then continued at a time when all the neighbors had flown out. And, what can you say? The Nines deliver levels and dynamics beyond reason. Their low end on Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” always stayed a touch on the confident and fat side, but never seemed bloated or slow. On the contrary, it was a pure joy to listen to the XL speakers testing new limits. No matter how you listened, the sound never became annoying, but always remained clean, almost a touch warmer than you are used to from corresponding PA speakers.
They managed direct, impulse-oriented open listening just as effortlessly as casual lounge music, which sounded amazingly relaxed over the horns. At most, one could sometimes perceive a slight constriction in singing voices, but there we are really talking about subtleties that will at best be noticeable to fans of choral music or jazz singers.
Of course, we couldn’t deny ourselves a brief run-through with cinema films. Here, the Klipsch The Nines lacked a real surround feeling and fanned out the sound image more like a large widening of the flat-screen TV. In return, they delivered a downright terrifying low bass that never runs out of breath, even during fierce action scenes.
Conclusion and alternatives: Klipsch The Nines or better The Sevens?
The overall concept with app control, phono, Bluetooth and HDMI (ARC) is only available from Klipsch. Even beyond connectivity, large active speakers with horn tweeters equipped with 8-inch basses are practically not found elsewhere on the market. So if you want the bass power of a floorstanding speaker and a large, perhaps still little damped room to play, for the Klisch The Nines are practically without alternative.
Under normal circumstances, the in-house Bluetooth competition would be superior to the Klipsch The Sevens. It’s cheaper, sounds a bit smoother and more spacious, and it’s also much easier to set up and tends to drone less. In most cases, we would recommend the Sevens, but the Nines are the better choice in the following special cases: First, when maximum bass power is required, such as in action movies or electronic music. Second, if the room is more than 35 square meters or has very little attenuation, or third, if the listening distance is significantly more than 3 meters.
Technical data Klipsch Heritage The Nines
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 2000 euros
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 24 x 48.5 x 34 cm
- Weight: 12.8 kg (master box)
- Features: HDMI-ARC, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-B, phono/line and AUX input, optical digital input, sub-out, app control, location filter, connection cable 4 m + 2 m included.
- More at: klipsch.com