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Klipsch WF-34 5.1-Channel Speaker System review

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Klipsch WF-34 5.1-Channel Speaker System

Summary

Our Score

9/10

Review Price free/subscription

As our test of its HD Theater 500 system demonstrated, Klipsch can squeeze quite a performance out of its more affordable speaker systems. But now we have the chance to assess how the company fares at the opposite end of the price spectrum, as our lug-holes get to grips with the WF-34 package.

Whereas the HD Theater 500 was aimed at first-timers and budget buyers, this is a system for discerning home cinema fans with a bit more cash to splash, and as such it features impeccable build quality and some of Klipsch’s finest speaker tech.

The system is part of Klipsch’s Icon W series (the W stands for wood) and comprises two WF-34 floor-standing front speakers, a WC-24 centre, a pair of WS-24 surround speakers and a XW-300d subwoofer. Our hands-on inspection begins with the slim front floor-standers, which measure 101.6cm tall and offer the sort of tough, robust construction you’d for this sort of money. They’re the little brother of Klipsch’s WF-35 and bought separately would set you back £529 each.

On the outside, they boast a ‘furniture grade’ wood veneer cabinet – ours came in the charmingly named Espresso finish but they’re also available in Cabernet. They’re not designed to dazzle – the look is understated, maybe even a little drab, but they do have a timeless style that should complement any room décor. Each one comes with a removable magnetic grille and sits on a thick, securely bolted base. All of the speakers are fitted with a pair of binding posts, but because the WF-34s can be bi-wired they boast an extra pair.

Internally, the highlight is Klipsch’s all-new Tractrix Horn-loaded tweeter with XT (X-Tractrix) technology, which helps deliver a high output, low distortion sound by equalising the speed of the sound waves, thereby smoothing out the dispersion pattern.

It’s joined by three 4.5in fibreglass cone woofers with ceramic motor structures, which allows them to deliver bass frequencies down to 50Hz. Power handling is quoted at 125W at 8 ohms.

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Hans Gruber

March 5, 2010, 6:49 am

Well, you can't put those in your ears!

PGrGr

March 5, 2010, 6:42 pm

Once again, please can you run a tutorial on home cinema surround sound? Whilst I enjoyed reading the review, as an uninitiated, I was left wondering:








1. What does "tonal match" mean?


2. What do those "frequency response" figures mean? Are they good? Should we know?


3. Why is "no brightness" a good thing? I would have thought "bright" to be a good quality to have. It says to me "easily seen" or "giving out a lot of light". What does "brightness" even mean in this context?


4. What does "taut bass" mean? Again, what do you mean by this in the context? Does this mean that it's easy to pick out the bass notes against more mid frequency sound? Or does it mean there's no excess reverb on the bass? Or something else that I haven't thought of?

asanka

March 5, 2010, 7:31 pm

@ Bluepork - second


p.s. please revamp your login system so it is not so laborious to leave a comment

Orinj

March 5, 2010, 7:31 pm

I don't know whose living room is pictured on page 3 but a sound system like this should have a large TV or projector to match. Putting a TV that high up is almost as big a sin as mounting it above an even larger fireplace!





@bluepork > I'm sure TR will put together some sort of guide one day but until there are numerous websites including the notorious dolby.com that have guides to cinema sound. My limited understanding is:





Tonal Match - all speakers (especially the front three) come from the same manufacturer/range so that sounds sweeping across the soundstage blend naturally and don't sound different across each speaker.





Frequency response - range of frequencies each speaker can emit. The wider the better but obviously subs only need to go up to around 120Hz or often much less.





Brightness - Think of it like excessive dynamic mode on TV screens. Sure its vibrant and colourful but more likely excessively harsh and blinding to the eyes or in this case, ears. Some speakers just emphasise the treble at the expense of even mid to high frequencies.





Taut Bass - The can be very subjective but essentially means a punchy and tight low frequency sound. If it booms and all you hear is the rattling of the speaker then it isn't taut. Movies may not always tell you this so listen to some music with a good beat (house / trance etc.) and each beat should come in and out quickly and distinctly, not mushing into each other.





TR... over to you to fill in the gaps and clarify.

speedyuk

March 5, 2010, 9:29 pm

@bluepork, as per @orinj's comments - TR is a 'Reviews' site, not a tech education site. You will find lot's of other sites on the net that will fill you in on the intricacy's of Home Cinema, just have a search.

Pbryanw

March 5, 2010, 11:08 pm

@Orinj - If there was a way to leave thanks for comments, I would leave them for yours above. Thanks for the clear explanations.

dev

March 6, 2010, 6:35 pm

Maybe as a community we can put a guide together...there are PLENTY of people who post on TR that know shed loads about this kind of thing!





If you want to test your own, try playing your favourite action movie (my preferences are Batman Begins, LOTR, Saving Private Ryan), some of your favourite music (I use Hip Hop for bass, Jazz for overall balance) and playing games if you're into that sort of thin (I tried with COD to pick where footsteps/bullet noises etc were in relation to me by ear). This also works well when you're trying to get the sound balance like you want it, just have a play around with the settings until you reach the one that makes you enjoy your favourite movie/album/game the most. After all, there is no point having an amazing system if you don't enjoy the sound yourself...no matter how well balanced it may seem to the reviewer!

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