Klipch Synergy Quintet Home Theater Loudspeaker System

      Date posted: July 24, 1999

Klipsch Synergy Quintet Home Theater Loudspeaker System

Sugg. Retail: $832 (CAN)
Klipsch KSW-10 Subwoofer
Sugg. Retail: $623 (CAN)
Size: 13 1/2″ W&D x 15 1/2″H
Distributor: Klipsch Consumer Group,
8900 Keystone Crossing,
Ste. 1220, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46240 U.S.A.
(800) Klipsch (317) 574-3866 FAX 574-3870

(Reprinted from the Summer 1999 Audio Ideas Guide)

      The company doesn’t advertise it as such, but this new Klipsch system could be called home-theatre-in-a-box, actually two boxes including the subwoofer. The Quintet consists of 4 identical satellite speakers that are tiny, with integral mini-stands that allow angling up or down, and a slightly larger d’Appolito-style centre channel. All use a “.75- inch (19mm) K-104-KV neodymium magnet compression driver with a 90 degree x 40 degree Tractrix Horn” as tweeter, and a “3.5-inch (8.9cm) K-1069-KV magnetically shielded woofer.” The centre channel employs two of the latter.

      The KSW-10 uses a 10″ driver in a surprisingly compact enclosure that is ported. The crossover settings range from 40 to 120 Hz, and phase is also adjustable through 180o, as is level. Inputs are a pair of RCAs and speaker terminals. There are no high-pass speaker throughputs.

      The satellite and centre speakers have enclosures made from “Stone Mineral Compound (SMC) [which] is a tri-composite polymer consisting of polypropylene (permeability), mica (strength/rigidity) and naturally occurring mineral particles (density). SMC is a reference for compact stage monitors in the professional sound reinforcement industry as it embodies ideal acoustic qualities, extreme ruggedness and impact resistance.” The cabinets are shaped to minimize internal standing waves, and are rear ported, though, as the measurements show, these little drivers roll off quickly below 200 Hz, necessitating a wide open crossover setting on the sub, something I’ll say more about below.

Quinted Frequency Response

      A virtue of small systems like this with close-together drivers is point source imaging, and horn loading the tweeter in typical Klipsch fashion evens and controls dispersion. The latter characteristic is seen in the measurements, the satellite at top, the centre channel below. The very top curves are the satellite’s overlaid Pink Noise Sweep (PNS) and Summed Axial Response (SAR). The PNS one shows a broad dip in the midrange, which is probably a good thing in the small rooms where this system will be employed, but is about +/-2 1/2 dB from 200 to beyond 15,000 Hz, not bad for a system this small and inexpensive. The SAR shows another 2 dB or so of dip, but that’s because of the controlled dispersion and the rolloff is seen in the axial measurements below at 30o off axis. From 0 to beyond 15o response is very uniform.

      The curves for the Quintet centre channel are quite similar, with a bit more dip in the midrange and treble, with a little extra energy around 100 Hz for dialogue intelligibility. The axial measurements do show some lobing from the trio of drivers, resulting in a quite large dip around 2 kHz at 30o off axis. I didn’t find this a real problem acoustically. As noted above the rolloff below 200 Hz is steep, both speakers down 11 or 12 dB by 100 Hz. Calling these 3 1/2″ drivers “woofers” as the company does in its literature is something of misnomer.

      However, the subwoofer pretty much fills in at 150 Hz, as the curves show, and it’s also a good sub at the bottom of its range, +/-3 dB from 30 to 150 Hz. For a compact, relatively inexpensive subwoofer, the KSW-10 packs a punch, and is surprisingly potent in the lowest octaves. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s the biggest-selling subwoofer in history for Klipsch.

      Before going on to listening impressions, look for a moment at the bottom sub curve with the crossover set to 40 Hz. This shows astonishing linearity between 25 and 70 Hz for a budget sub. The KSW-10 will provide true frequency extension for full range speakers that need help below 50 Hz. In other words, this sub is well worth recommending on its own for audio use, as well as with this home theatre system. And if I were going to live with this relatively modestly priced system in the HT room, I’d double up on subs, putting them midway on the side walls for even bass distribution for front and rear.

      However, we settled for sub placement about 1/3 of the way into the room, the satellites sitting on floorstanding speakers at ear height, and the centre atop the Pioneer 5103 RPTV. The Quintet system definitely had Synergy, its imaging excellent, as you’d expect from virtual point sources in cabinets with no diffraction or internal resonances. The soundstaging at front, sides, and rear with Dolby Digital and DTS was vivid and quick, without ever being strident, while the bass was solid and deep. I wouldn’t dare play this system at the levels my Newform ribbons can manage, but the Quintet will do its thing well up to about 90 dB, above which level I probably wouldn’t listen, anyway.

      But I was watching Lost In Space on DTS laserdisc last night at a volume which was higher than usual, and the Quintet/KSW-10 were just doing fine, thank you very much, and seemed to enjoy being driven by the excellent amplifiers in the Arcam Alpha 10 system (see the review elsewhere).

      It also responded well to the power from the NAD T770 A/V receiver, as chronicled in the previous review. I was also quite taken by how good this compact system sounded with music. It measured pretty well, as you can see, but it also was quite neutral in sound quality, and when the subwoofer was placed to properly load the room, the bass was surprisingly full and clean, as well as extended. As I noted above, this is a very good small, inexpensive subwoofer, and it really carries the weight in this system. And this speaker system’s sonic performance will make most of the other over-hyped small HT systems (Think of the “B” brand) sound like squawk-boxes when compared with this one from Klipsch.

      If you’ve defined your home theatre speaker budget as being in the under-$1500 range, you really should have a serious listen to the Klipsch Synergy Quintet/KSW-10 system. You won’t regret it.

Andrew Marshall

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