I can remember seeing my first pair of Klipschorns many years ago, and being entranced by their majesty, their size, their build quality, and most importantly their sound. A sound which seemed to be calling across oceans of time from an era when immediacy, speed, and tone were heralded as the gods of high fidelity, and seven watts of 300B amplification would get you wherever you wanted to go.
Fast forward to this past weekend at the Vancouver Audio Festival here in Vancouver which was hosted by Hi-Fi Centre, and there, once again, I found myself facing a pair of Klipsch loudspeakers, albeit in the form of a pair of Heresy IIIs being fed from a McIntosh Labs MA 252 integrated hybrid vacuum-tube preamplifier/solid-state power amplifier with 100 watts/8 Ohms. Streaming high-res files from a Sonos, and getting fed analog signal from a Pro-Ject Classic turntable, this was a simple, rich-sounding system with a low box count. Perfect for a home, or condo in the city where space is often at a premium, but offering a gorgeous, vintage-vibe look with modern digital conveniences.
Having owned a pair of Heresy IIs many years ago (which even though in their version III guise, are still built by hand in Hope, Arkansas), paired with an old NAD 3020, and a Rega Planar turntable, I was no stranger with their sonic signature which is a familial one if you’ve heard anything like the aforementioned Klipschorn, or the company’s La Scala, or Cornwall loudspeakers. High-fidelity pioneer Paul Klipsch’s folded-horn loudspeaker designs are all about lifelike reproduction from source, and when paired with appropriate electronics have the ability to transport the listener to the original recorded event in a unique, and rather addictive manner.
While I’ve read, and talked with many Klipsch owners who love to modify their speaker’s crossovers, I’ve always heard original versions, and never had an issue with what I’ve experienced from these timeless designs. Yes, the sonics have a vintage flavour to them, no they don’t do the lowest bass, or the most open top end, but what between those two is real, honest, organic, blazingly fast on leading edges of notes, and as I said, when paired with curated electronics, and a musical source, has the ability to bring the performance into the room with the listener.
Check back again for more coverage from the Vancouver Audio Festival.