Polk LSI15 vs. Klipsch KLF30

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Mark Russ, Aug 16, 2002.

  1. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    I was planning on getting a pair of Polk LSI 15s for 2 channel stereo music listening to go with an Adcom GFA5500 200 watt per channel power amp I bought recently used, along with an Adcom preamp. However, I've came across the chance to buy a used pair of Klipsch KLF 30s locally that are in great shape for a reasonable price ($1000 for both, and I could probably beat him down even further than that if I really tried). Price notwithstanding however, which would be a better speaker for hard rock/heavy metal music paired with that Adcom amp. I seem to vaguely remember a post recently about Adcom amps not being a good match for KLF 30s since KLF 30s are a very bright speaker (even for a Klipsch, which is really saying something). I already know that the Klipschs will obviously play a lot louder than the Polks, but would the KLF/Adcom combo be too bright to the point that its piercing and painful to the ears, and the LSIs would be a much better match? Or would the KLF 30s be ideal for that type of music with that amp (after all, they call it "the rock and roll speaker").
     
  2. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    I cannot speak about the Klipschs since I have not heard them. But I do know that my Adcom 5503 (the three-channel version of your 5500) was able to drive my Polk LSi-25s to insanely loud levels without effort (in a room about 13' x 20'). My ears gave out long before either the Adcom or Polks. Coupled with a Denon 8000 pre-pro, the sound quality was smooth, clean, and neutral to slightly warm. Overall, an excellent synergy.

    The Polks can really rock. Plus, they will provide you with first-class performance on any other type of music you toss their way--jazz, classical, you name it.

    I am presently trying out the Polks with a McIntosh MA-6500 integrated amp (200 watts at the Polk's 4-ohm impedance). Again, another excellent combination: refined, smooth, and clean, and will play louder than my ears can tolerate (in a 13' x 12' den). In fact, the Mac's power meters rarely go beyond about 50 watts output on very loud passages. They've yet to come near 200 watts.

    Have a nice weekend!
     
  3. Jason_Me

    Jason_Me Stunt Coordinator

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    You can get the LSi15's for $1050 at www.AcousticSoundDesign.com
    The KLF30's will play louder, with much more slam and authority, but the LSi15 is better overall.
     
  4. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    The KLF will play much louder and with much lower distortion too and less distortion at any level, loud or soft. The KLF will sound much more dynamic; loud peaks will be reproduced cleanly instead of compressing into a sodden mess. As to tonality, well that's a matter of taste and not objective performence, you have to suit yourself. However I think that much of the Klipsch reputation for brightness comes from their clarity, a clarity not generally heard and sometimes mistaken for brightness.
    www.chicagohornspeakerclub.org
     
  5. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    Tom:

    You've personally heard an LSi-15 fail to reproduce peaks cleanly and compress "into a sodden mess" as implied in your post? Or are you speaking generally about any non-Klipsch or non-horn products?

    And how much louder than deafening (i.e., painfully loud and still clean, non-distorted, and non-compressed) does one require?
     
  6. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    Alex---I've not heard the Polks in question but every direct-radiating home fullrange speaker I've heard, and I've heard many, compresses to a degree unacceptable to me. I don't see why these Polks would be different. Perhaps only when one lives with the free dynamics of big-dog horns can you appreciate the compression that DRs create even when attempting normal peaks. When listening to good horns one is often not aware of how loud they're playing until one attempts to talk, so compression and distortion free are they, so utterly effortless. On the other hand DRs when playing loud always sound "loud". The only DRs I ever heard that didn't compress were large arrays of 15" woofers and the "Wall of Sound" DR PA the Dead used about 30 years ago.

    By the way, while I consider the better Klipsch products good horns they are nowhere near the best ones. My opinion.
     
  7. Paul Seyfarth

    Paul Seyfarth Stunt Coordinator

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    I would go listen to the speakers, those are two very different speakers. If it was my choice I would get the LSi15's. I like the laid back, yet very detailed sould of the LSi series. I can listen to those speakers all day. By brother has a pair of Klipsch towers, not sure of the model. But they do sound good, but they didn't seem to have the over all feel that the LSi series did.

    You should really try and see if you can go somewhere and listen to the LSi series.
     
  8. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

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    I can't add much to Tom's excellent remarks. I will only say that, in case of doubt about the lack of compression and realistic clarity of Horns (instead of the opacity of other drivers), you have to listen to them, preferably after listening to live instruments.

    That should be a revealing experiment.
     
  9. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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    I will also *vouch* for the dynamics of horns. The ability to go from whispers to extreme output and back to whispers with less program compression is the key. Once you get use to that it is very tough to *not* notice the problem in many other non-horn speakers. The Klipsch sound certainly isn't for everyone though...so like the others I would recommend auditioning them(preferably in home)if possible. I have also heard the new reference speakers from Klipsch are leaps better than the KLF series...although it will be a while before I can justify the cost of that upgrade for myself.(I do own the KLF30s).

    TV
     
  10. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    Tom B:

    I am disappointed to learn that you attacked and disparaged a loudspeaker that you have never heard. To do so is misleading at best. To fabricate an opinion about a specific product is extreme and grossly unfair. One also cannot generalize about all non-horn speakers.

    I, too, am also quite familiar with horns. I spent probably hundreds of hours listening to music via a relative's Klipschorns, driven by top-end tube and solid-state components. He owned the huge corner horns for over a decade before switching to Magneplanars.

    Agreed, horns do have their attributes. They also have their negatives as well. Personally, I am always bothered by the infamous, inherent "honk" that horns possess. It ranged from subtle to obvious in every horn-loaded speaker I have heard over the years. It drives me nuts.

    Do horns have great dynamic abilities? Absolutely. But superb dynamics are no longer exclusive to horns, although horns certainly excel in this area. And there is a lot more to quality reproduction than simply dynamic capability. Nor is low distortion exclusive to horns. I want a loudspeaker that does everything well. If I had found a horn loudspeaker that did everything well enough overall to please me, I would have purchased it.

    I do hope to hear one of the Avantgarde horn speakers, which, according to Robert Deutsch in Stereophile and Avantgarde itself, have greatly reduced horn colorations. Sounds promising.

    Could I have lived with any of the many Klipsch models that I have auditioned over the years? No. They were too in my face, too forward and aggressive, contained a disagreeable hardness in the upper midrange and treble, and eventually fatigued my ears and drove me from the room. It is just not my type of reproduction. Does this apply to the KLF-30 that Mark asked about? I do not know since I haven't heard that specific model. But if the KLF-30 sounds very similar to the other Klipschs I've heard, they could not be more opposite the character of the Polk LSi series. Totally an apples and oranges comparison. Polar opposites.

    Are horns the be-all and end-all of loudspeakers? Far, far from it. At this stage of the loudspeaker art, the vast majority of high-end audiophiles the world over prefer typical moving-coil designs, not to mention electrostatics and Magneplanars. Owners of Wilsons, Dunlavys, Dynaudios, Sonus-Fabers, Josephs, Vandersteens, Viennas, Martin-Logans, etc., are not suffering because they didn't purchase horns.

    I do not have a preference for any single loudspeaker technology. When I go shopping for new speakers I buy what sounds best to my ears. It would be my loss to avoid any particular speaker type due to a preconceived notion.

    No speaker is perfect--you pick your own poison.
     
  11. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    Alex---I don't need to hear the Polks to know that a speaker with a 10" woofer and dual 5" midbasses will have poor dynamics, I've heard this kinda stuff often enough to know. Nowhere did I venture an opinion on the speaker's other attributes; tonality and such. But dynamics are an objective fact and can be quantified.

    Now when you get into listening preferences that's different, one man's preference is as good as another's. If you can tolerate poor dynamics because a speaker has other virtues that's aces with me, there are many tradeoffs.

    If a guy in Stereophile likes Avante-Gardes I'd say that's a strike against them. Besides, they're made in Germany, everybody hep knows that the best horns come from Southern California or Japan. If I'm looking for a good torpedo or machine-gun I'll buy German though. :)
     
  12. Dan Hine

    Dan Hine Screenwriter

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    I've been a long time fan of Polk's (well, in relation to my short audio years) and have no real stance on Klipsch. Let me also state that I don't know much about the theory behind horn speakers. Therefore, Tom Brennan, I have a question about this statement:


     
  13. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    Tom B:

    I do not tolerate poor dynamics. I also find it difficult to tolerate inaccurate statements and prejudices as well.
     
  14. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    Dan---Yes, many of the current Klipsch speakers are only horn-loaded in the highs, from around 2200hz on up. However the KLF-30s this thread was originally about are horn-loaded from about 700hz on up and use 2-12" woofers. Such a driver combination will have better dynamics than a single 10 and 2-5s. Several older Klipsch loudspeakers are entirely horn-loaded.
    In a nutshell horn-loading reduces the disphragm excursion needed for a given output; this results in higher efficiency, higher output and lower distortion. The air column in the horn also acts as a brake on the diaphragm giving horns excellent damping. This combination of virtues is what gives horns their excellent dynamics and clarity.
    Are there problems with horns? Sure. Some horns reflect sound back down from the mouth towards the throat causing low-level time-domain problems. Horns have a narrower bandwidth then direct-radiators (no free lunch, what's given in efficiency is taken in bandwidth) and even very large horn bass cabinets don't go as low in bass as much smaller direct-radiators will. The highs also roll-off sooner and one must use multi-way systems or with 2-ways use EQ or horns that compensate for falling high-frequency output with narrowing dispersion, such a horn acts as an automatic EQ on axis. And horns come in many directivity patterns and this effects the sound greatly, hear a horn with a narrow pattern and it's like twisting a wire in your ear. IMO this is the trouble with several of the Klipsch models including the KlipschHorn, too narrow a directivity pattern in the upper midrange.
    Many speakers are fully horn loaded or horn-loaded over most of the range. My own Altec VOTs are horn-loaded from 100hz up, below 100hz I use 6-15" woofs, such an array will keep driver excursion very low and match the dynamics and low distortion of the horn-loaded range above 100hz.
    Several of the rigs shown on my Chicago Horn Club website are fully horn-loaded. I suggest you browse the site and investigate the many horn speaker links if interested in this horn thing.
    www.chicagohornspeakerclub.org
     
  15. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    Alex---Sure you tolerate poor dynamics, otherwise you wouldn't like your Polks. The thing speaks for itself. What did I say that was inaccurate? Or do you maintain that a total of 2 10" woofers give excellent dynamics?!!? Try playing electric bass through a pair of 10s and see what happens. Then try an Acoustic 370 with it's basshorn or a big old Sunn with dual 15" JBL D-140s. 8-10s can sound very dynamic though, Ampeg uses 8-10s to good effect. But not 2.

    You know the guy that started Sunn was the bassplayer in The Kingsmen and he was unhappy with the lousy sound from Fender Bassman amps using 4-10s so he started building his own. The old Bassman is now a popular guitar amp but I never see anyone playing bass through one.
     
  16. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    Tom:

    I tolerate poor dynamics? Insert it fully up your horn.

    It saddens me that you think you know so much about what you have never heard. I call it aggressive ignorance. Your statements are based on conjecture and false assumptions.

    The Polks have dynamics aplenty. As do so many other top-quality, similar designs, such as those of the other companies I mentioned earlier. Count on one's hand all of the currently manufactured speakers revered today that are horn designs--maybe one finger would be flexed. And only maybe. Then count the non-horn designs--you would run out of digits.

    You obviously place dynamics as the prime aspect of speaker performance. I do not care for a one-trick pony. Neither do informed, serious audiophiles. High performance comes from balancing all the many aspects of loudspeaker design. To focus on a single item at the expense of others is foolhardy. Based on your posts I doubt you even know what a great loudspeaker even sounds like. But when I'm looking for a shrieking, piercing, honking, loud one, I'll be in touch.

    Have a nice day.
     
  17. Dan Hine

    Dan Hine Screenwriter

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    Now come on guys, lets get along now... [​IMG]
    I think perhaps we've forgotten that different people prefer different sounds and that what makes a speaker a "great loudspeaker" is pretty subjective.
    BUT, Tom, many of the speakers you referred to seem to be of the pro audio flavor, if I'm not mistaken. Now, even though the theory of a horn speaker is new to me I have gotten to hear many pro audio speakers. OAP, JBL, Nexo, Meyer, V-Dosc, Roadworks, EV, etc...are those similar to what you prefer? If so then I'm gonna have to say we have a huge difference in taste. I wouldn't put any speakers of those I mentioned in my home. But to each their own. [​IMG]
    Mark, clearly different strokes for different folks. Have you gotten a chance to listen to both? If so, what are your thoughts on them so far?
    Regards,
    Dan Hine
     
  18. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Dan, it's funny you asked, because I was just going to make this post anyway. I am very familiar with the Klipsch KSP series. I've never heard the KLFs, however, I understand that the KLFs are an entirely different beast from the KSPs just going by what I've heard and read about them. The guy who has them for sale has agreed to let me come listen to them at his house. And get this, he has them biamped with an Adcom GFA5500 powering the woofers (a total of 4 12 inchers), and another Adcom GFA5400 amp powering the tweeters and midranges. From what I gathered over the phone, he simply removed the jumpstraps connecting the 2 pairs of binding posts to biamp them, and simply run speaker wires straight into each of them from the amps. I'll be the first to admit that I don't fully understand biamping. I am familiar with biwiring, but I thought you needed an outboard crossover or something for biamping. I don't know, but at least I'll get to hear what the sound like with an amp set up at least similar to mine (Adcom GFA5500). I'm going to spend at least an hour listening to them (if he'll let me for that long). I also want to ask him why he wants to sell them, but I'm not sure if that would be appropriate or not, because what if it's simply because he needs the money or something?
     
  19. Dan Hine

    Dan Hine Screenwriter

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    Glad to hear you're going to get to listen to them Mark. If I recall correctly, to truly bi-amp speakers you must be able to bypass the crossovers in the speakers and use an outboard crossover, like you mentioned, sending the lows to one amp and the highs to another. Because of that, some people say bi-amping is bad b/c you bypass what in many cases is a very well designed crossover network that was created speficically for those drivers in that size enclosure. So...if you can, ask if he wouldn't mind wiring them up how you'll be using them to see if it makes a difference (positive, negative, or neutral). Enjoy!


    Dan Hine
     
  20. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    Dan---Yes, prosound speakers are similar to those I prefer.
    But there are differences in execution between home and pro horns though they may often share the same or similar drive units. Drivers used in prosound today often place sound quality second in the search for higher power handling and directivity control.

    For example most prosound speakers today use constant-directivity horns. These horns give very stable dispersion patterns over a very wide bandwidth. But to do so these horns incorporate features that compromise fidelity. Fair enough, these horns are meant for a certain task and they do it. But the home user can use tractrix and exponential flare horns that are higher in fidelity and much better in a home situation. My round, wooden, tractrix Edgar "saladbowl" horns would be a total bust in a pro situation. :)

    To get better power handling many pro speakers push the crossover from the woofer to the compression driver very high, often over 1500hz. Now most 15" woofers don't sound their best operating to such a high frequency. The home horn user can make the crossover much lower, at 500-800hz with a great improvement in smoothness and clarity.

    And the home horn user can pick those drivers with the best sound, often these drivers simply don't have the power handling wanted today. For example the Altec 515B 15" woofer is an incredibly smooth and realistic sounding device originally designed for motion picture theater and studio use. But it's power handling of only 50 watts makes it unsuitable for rigorous modern prosound use. But it's great in the home. In the 1980s JBL went to titanium diaphragms in their compression drivers for better power handling but they don't sound as good as the old aluminum ones did. Altec did the same. But the home horn enthusiast can use the old aluminum diaphragms.

    In my opinion the best sounding pro speakers were the old small-format Altec VOTs (Voice of The Theatres)and the Altec 604s and 605s. They were designed with fidelity in mind and were widely used as playback monitors in recording studios as well as in smaller theaters (Altec also made many home speaker sysytems based on the VOT components). But by the 1970s they were blowing with regularity under the demanding use of music sound reinforcement. So a new generation of gear was designed by Altec, JBL, EV and others, gear designed with music sound reinforcement in mind. But gear that, IMO and that of many other hornies, was somewhat inferior in sound quality to the previous generation of gear.

    And now JBL, which has always had a market in Japan for high-end horn speakers never seen here, speakers like the K-9 and Everest, is going back to aluminum and forward to berilium diaphragms for some of their drivers intended for no-holds-barred home horns.

    Whew! :)
     

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