How bad is KLH?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Lance.G, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. Lance.G

    Lance.G Extra

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    If I buy a decent center channel, like a JBL or Infinity...something arround the $100-$150 mark, could I go cheap on my front L and R and rear L and R by purchasing KLH? How aweful are these things? I dont live near a Best Buy (Yet. They are building one about 40 miles away but that will be a while) so I really cant listen to speakers before I buy them. I only want bookshelf speakers for the fronts and rears and I already have a sub that does a decent enough job. If not KLH, is there something else I could get that doesn't cost a lot? I'm thinking of a $300 budget.
     
  2. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    So your budget is $300 for fronts, rears, and a center? Do you already have a pair of speakers (in any condition) that could hook up to your receiver? My current setup consists of JBL E30s for fronts, EC35 for the center, and vintage speakers that my roommate bought for $10 at a garage sale (which are really crappy but are passable for surrounds). One set of JBL E30s goes for $139 and a JBL EC35 center goes for $150 at http://www.bhphotovideo.com/. Spend the remaining $11 at a garage sale. [​IMG]
     
  3. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Producer

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    Lance, KLH speakers sound very good for inexpensive speakers. I have a KLH center speaker, 2 fronts(911B) and 2 rear surround(911B). I listened to them first at Best Buy when they were on sale for $30 per pair, and I was really surprised how good they sounded.
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    FYI, the KLH name is one of the oldest and grandest in high fidelity, founded by the late Henry Kloss. The firm reached its aesthetic apogee with the electrostatic full-range KLH Model 9. The bookshelf unit, the Model 6, was, in the 1960s, a viable alternative to the Acoustic Research AR-3a.

    I don't know who now owns KLH, but the highly respected brand has never been classified as "awful." Anything but.
     
  5. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    KLH these days is thought of as "cheap crap" despite their storied history. IME they offer very good sound quality for the low prices they charge. Some of their products are innovative and important. I used to have their "soundbyte" speakers as in-ceiling rears in a 5.1 setup in my bedroom and they were exceptional for the role.

    For the budget you have proposed, take a look at the matched 5.1 speaker sets from www.fluance.com , people here on the Forum have had great luck with Fluance over the years in the lower price points.
     
  6. Rocky F

    Rocky F Second Unit

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    I bought a $20 pair of KLH bookshelf speakers from Best Buy a little over a year ago, and hooked them to an old Marantz stereo reciever I got at a yard sale for $3 and my 15 year old CD player, and put the system out in my shed/workshop. Not a great environment, and I'm no audiophile, but they sound great to me.
     
  7. DarrenAlan

    DarrenAlan Stunt Coordinator

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    Not to rain on anyone's parade, but my mom needed a decent pair of smallish bookshelf speakers and I didn't have a lot of do-re-mi to spend at the time, so I bought KLH Model 9B or something like that.

    Absolutely TERRIBLE! Highs were shrill, bass was nonexistent, and what midrange their was sounded artificial and shouty. Worse yet, one of the speaker leads come loose from the crossover which, while it was easy and free to repair, took me a few hours of wiggling, jiggling, removing drivers with a screwdriver to test, etc. before I finally diagnosed what was going on.

    I would avoid KLH and go instead with an Internet-direct brand, perhaps one you can find used. I've also had good luck with the JBL Northridge series.

    As always, YMMV.......
     
  8. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    At one point I had a system with all KLH speakers including 4 911B's as front and surrounds. Admittedly they are not audiophile quality but they aren't junk/crap speakers either. Unless you're expecting audiophile quality for pennies on the dollar.
     
  9. Lance.G

    Lance.G Extra

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    Thanks everyone. I get to go to a Best Buy this weekend (Friggen YAY!), it's about 100miles away, but I'll listen to the speakers there and check em out. I like those fluance speakers too. Nice price.
     
  10. Jon Carlson

    Jon Carlson Extra

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    Sounds like you have a tight budget.

    I used KLH speakers with my first dolby pro-logic receiver loooong ago, and they may be just the ticket for you now. But probably not. At the time I thought they were fine but after listening to lots of speakers since then, I'd recommend you stay away from KLH. When I upgraded my speakers it made a huge difference.

    For a $300 budget, a few options that would almost certainly sound better than KLH are
    -JBL and Fluance mentioned previously
    -a center and l/r pair of "level 2's" from www.htd.com
    -amazon.com has the Energy Take 5.2's (5 speakers, no sub) for $299 right now. A good choice if you aren't filling a big room.

    Look around this and other forums to see what people recommend at or around your pricepoint.

    A good place to make compromises at your pricepoint is the rears. Use anything you can get for the rears, such as the small KLH's you see on sale regularly for $9.99 at Best Buy.

    And whatever you get, enjoy!
     
  11. BillSuneson

    BillSuneson Stunt Coordinator

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    Lance,

    Check out ebay's selection of JBL and Infinity products direct from manufacturer (refurb) you can get some really great prices on some really great stuff.

    Bill
     
  12. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Lance: that's a GREAT first name. :wink:

    I also think for what they cost, today's KLHs can sound pretty decent, though there are a couple models that seem to be all highs and no bass-so these might have been purposely designed for use with a subwoofer.

    Last year as part of my regular auditions of bargain basement audio gear*, me and an employee I know well at my local Best Buy listened to these large/oldskool KLH models (12" woofer, 5" midrange and 1" dome tweeter). We made sure the demo system's receiver: had all tone controls set to "flat", any loudness/superbass/etc features turned off and espeically, any DSP surround functions deactivated since this can make any price of speaker (when only the fronts are hooked up) sound strange. I used my own CD for music: 311's Transistor (sounds great, and so is the music!).

    We hit play and.......yuck. No bass and the highs were all messy for lack of a better term, which was particularly apparent when I moved my head from side to side slightly. But I've heard this "blurry" effect before, and we reversed the positive/negative leads on one speaker.

    We hit play again & this time they sounded much better, because previously they had been wired out-of-phase, a VERY common occurance in demo rooms. Anyway, I have to admit we were surprised at the sound. Despite the shallow enclosure's smallish internal volume, they had pretty good bass, and it wasn't boomy either. Highs were a bit bright but not irritatingly so. Mids sounded fine. And they had a decent stereo image (we pulled them out in front of the other speakers).

    So for a basic system where ultimate fidelity isn't needed, I think many KLH speakers will work fine.

    Next......

    I haven't had a chance to check these out yet, but you might want to look at this new line of Pioneer bookshelf speakers sold at Circuit City:

    2-way 5.25"
    2-way 6.5"
    3-way 8"
    and matching 2-way/3 driver center channel

    They are all on this page (the ones with the gold drivers).

    I own the predecessor to the 8" model (the SH253, still listed) & for now use them as my rear channels and they have worked out very well. These new ones look better too. Pioneer builds their own drivers (and for many other companies) so that helps to keep their price down. And "big" speakers like these aren't as popular anymore so that helps keep the price down too.

    Sony's line of similar speakers also sound pretty good for the price-I just wish they didn't have silver grills.

    * checking out cheaper gear is more interesting/fun for me because once you start moving up & hit a certain price point, most audio equipment then sounds very good and the rate of improvement really starts to level off (though there are definitely differences between each manufacturer as far as specific sonic personality is concerned). Because if you look long enough, you can always find some rough diamonds among all the cow poo.
     
  13. Kean-Hock Yeap

    Kean-Hock Yeap Stunt Coordinator

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    Here's another alternative, if you can live with silver color: Mission Cinema m70 Surround System (4 bookshelves + 1 center) for $250, available here:
    http://www.tsto.com/cgi-bin/TSTO.sto...duct/View/2229

    Mission is not as well-known in the States, but they are pretty popular in UK and Asia.
     
  14. darek

    darek Auditioning

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    KLH uses peizo tweeters. That pretty much tells you everything.
     
  15. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    They use them in all their speakers? I don't think so. Some people hate Klipch's horn tweeters.
     
  16. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    KLH is very cheap stuff, but that said it's solid value. IMO, the value is far superior with KLH compared to say Bose, but they're probably in the same bracket of performance which isn't too good. They're great if you want cheap but decent performance, great for apartments or dorms or places like that. If you're getting into audio or listen to music that you care about much, I think it's probably a smarter move long-term to spend more on better speakers that will please you long-term.

    But KLH is very cheap dollar-wise, and I think they have solid value. It's just that the value doesn't stretch too high because of the nature of them being so cheap, if you get my drift.
     
  17. Bob Marker

    Bob Marker Stunt Coordinator

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    Jack:
    Your comments on the history of KLH brought back fond memories. I bought a pair of used Model six speakers in the late 1960s to replace ElectroVoice EV-2s. Owned them for over 15 years until the drivers deteriorated and replacement parts were not readily available. Great speakers for their time. Sometimes I wish I still had em!

    Bob
     
  18. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    I don't recall any KLHs using piezos either, but now that they've been brought up (and along with the subject of vintage speakers) here's a neat DIY project over at PartsExpress that's vintage-oriented AND uses piezos:

    The Golden Boys

    The designer states they were designed basically for garage use (punchy bass/forward highs) & that they needed to be low-priced, but with some crossover tweaking the tweeter sounds pretty decent. I'm not surprised he said a lot of buddies thought they looked really nice-this design goes back to the days when most speakers were styled like furniture.....and with speakers this large, IMO they should look that way since they make such a statement in a room (though if they were used inside, a creme-colored grill would look better IMO).

    This KLH FAQ page has some informative material about them & especially speakers in general. It also states they are now privately & U.S. owned.
     
  19. darek

    darek Auditioning

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    In an earlier post I said that KLH used Piezo tweeters. I actually meant mylar domes.

    I'd also like to add that I recently got a chance to A/B a pair of JBL E20's against a pair of KLH 911B bookshelf speakers. I have to admit that the KLH's sound pretty good. They're probably 85% as good as the E20's. I actually think they sounded better when listening to FM rock . Not bad considering they can be had for aprox. $40.00 a pair including shiping on ebay.
     
  20. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    The fluance speakers linked to above would get my vote if you wanted larger speakers as they sound pretty decent for the money. That said since you have a subwoofer already those Energy Take 5's sound exceptional, reviewed very well and will have resale value when (not if) you upgrade. The only caveat with those is that if your room is on the large size they'll struggle to fill it but otherwise they're a very solid purchase
     

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