Review Price £429.00
Klipsch G-17 Air Soundbar - Performance
The Klipsch Gallery G-17 app could be better, the Libratone Live app doubled as a remote control, graphic equaliser and positional assistant, but Klipsch Air is merely for setup, tips, Klipsch news, the company's Twitter feed and some promotional marketing.
Hopefully functionality will improve in time. What could also be improved is the speed with which the G-17 enables AirPlay. Each time it is switched on it goes through a 25 second setup process where speaker's AirPlay symbol flashes, and you can only connect once this completes. Unless you plan to keep the speaker switched on all the time this is a frustrating delay for someone looking to quickly switch their output source. While this is common to all early AirPlay docks, it seems sluggish in 2012 now that we've experienced faster docks like the Logitech UE Air.
So can the G-17 punch above it weight? Raw specifications would suggest Klipsch has given it an uphill battle. Unlike most premium models (the ill-fated Loewe Soundbox and House of Marley Bag of Sound aside) the G-17 scraps the usual 2.1 or 2.2 speakers and bass arrangement in favour of a 2.0 setup.
Space is no doubt a factor here and as such bass-reflex (essentially vibration created inside the enclosure) is used instead. Unsurprisingly overall wattage isn't going to touch larger premium docks such as the Monitor Audio i-deck 200 (140W) or Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air (150W) either with the smaller G-17 mustering 60W via 2x 20W woofers and 2x 10W tweeters.
This makes for something of a David verses Goliath scenario and sadly there is no giant slaying here. Volume isn't really the primary issue, and the Klipsch Gallery G-17 does produce enough output to irritate the neighbours and sound integrity holds together even at maximum volume. Instead the issues are fundamentally related to design.
The first is bass reflex, usually the mainstay of cheaper docks, which requires significant volume to produce balanced bass vibration. As such at low volumes the Gallery G-17 is flat and bass virtually nonexistent and at full volume bass swamps the midrange and destroys detail. The sweet spot is narrow and, for our money, louder than you'd wish to have the G-17 on a daily basis. Ultimately we'd have preferred a little more size, given the reasonably large footprint, and a 2.1 setup.
Secondly, and even more baffling, is Klipsch's decision not to exploit the Gallery G-17's elongated shape to gain better sound separation. As the images show, the drivers in particular are squashed right on top of one another and something that is already an issue for all docks (arguably the Arcam rCube excluded) is greatly exacerbated. It would be no exaggeration to say the G-17 sounds like a mono speaker. This makes audio uniformly flat regardless of genre and that isn't good enough at this price point.