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The Fives Klipsch Review | Best Bookshelf Speakers Under 1000$
This is a review of the fives from and they are a new powered loudspeaker from Klipsch. They are designed to trade on the appearance of Klipsch’s heritage line of products. And in this respect, I think they succeeded because for tiny, little bookshelf loudspeakers, these are incredibly sexy.
Our review pair came in a walnut finish and this is a real wood walnut veneer. I don’t know how Klipsch does it, but they have got the woodwork and the veneers on point. They make my inner modernist heart flutter and I love them. I absolutely love them. Now, one of the standout traits to the fives is the inclusion of an HDMI port, which is not something that is common on a lot of powered loudspeakers.
And it is welcomed because it enables the fives to be connected to say your smart television, thus making them the centrepiece of a two channel or two dot one home theatre or home entertainment system. If you’re wondering what other associated equipment we used, in order to evaluate the fives, the first place that I installed them was my office, we also used them out here in our main listening space where we connected them to our LG Smart TV.
We also streamed music to them via Bluetooth. And I even busted out my Uturn orbit special turntable in order to test the phono input.
I am a firm believer that you do not listen to specs, you listen to music, and this is the second review and as many weeks where I have felt the need to stress this. And the Klipsch’s fives are no different than the concept five hundreds were on paper, there were a lot of things that you may have been like, “Hey, wait a minute”, but in reality, it turned out to be just fine.
In fact, they turned out to be fantastic. Now the fives are not neutral. Let’s get that out of the way. These are not neutral loudspeakers. But what they are is engaging and fun. And frankly, they kind of react the way my soul wants to hear music. So starting with the bass because this is arguably the most shocking aspect of the fives performance because let’s face it, this is a tiny two way bookshelf loudspeaker.
I know it’s powered and powered loudspeakers are often capable of performance feats that passive loudspeakers simply cannot. The bass that this tiny little loudspeaker possesses on some level is almost floorstanding like and if you play a lot of bass heavy music; if you are a fan of say hip hop or rock music. Oh my goodness! The bass is so powerful, so enjoyable, so rich that there are times I thought there was a subwoofer in my office, but even in our main listening room,there was no subwoofer required.
Yeah, I know it has a subwoofer output and honestly you have got to have one hell of a big room if the bass on the fives doesn’t get it done for you. But that being said, the bass is not neutral in any way, shape or form, it has clearly been enhanced by the designers at Klipsch. And so this becomes a very, very bass heavy loudspeaker. And because it is ported out of the rear, placement does become an issue; place this thing too close to your front wall and you’re only going to load up more and more bass, which for some people, you may really want.
But if you find that putting this speaker in your house, the bass is a little too much of a good thing, well, you’re going to need to get those speakers out away from the wall. Which brings us to the mid range because there is so much bass energy, we can’t call the mid range neutral because some of that bass does bleed over into the fives mid range performance.
But honestly, for a slightly above average budget loudspeaker, this is okay, because I have to imagine the bulk of people considering purchasing the fives are going to be listening to a lot of streaming music. I don’t care what streaming service you want to use, but you’re probably going to stream it or cast it via some type of wireless connection and as a result, the slightly warm, slightly rounder mid range of the five makes long listening sessions just an absolute joy.
But it also does colour the sound ever so slightly off of neutral and the ever so slight colour that it imparts is just a little bit more rich in depth. Some may refer to this as a little bit dark on the mid range, but it’s just a richness and depth that well, some of your favourite singers may sound just a little bit deeper in their overall tonality than maybe what you’re used to. It’s not distracting. It’s not a bad thing.
It’s still very enjoyable and able to be listened to for hours on end. Now up top, it’s Klipsch through and through. Hold on before you go crazy and go out, that means they’re bright. Klipsch is doing something lately and prior to the Heresy MK IV’s arrival in our home, I would have said that Yeah, Klipsch historically is a little bit on the brighter side. But since the Heresy MK IV’s arrival, I do think that they are starting to change a little bit of their signature sound. And the fives are another perfect example of this.
Yes, there is a horn loaded waveguide, yes it does make the high frequencies project and have a little bit of top end energy. But it’s not fatiguing. It’s not harsh, it’s not brittle, save, you keep things within reason, in small to medium sized rooms you will never reach the limits of the five tweeter capability. In larger rooms, if you push too loudly, in our instance pushing it beyond 85 or even 90 decibels, you can begin to hear the high frequencies break up and exhibit a little bit of grain, but kept within reason.
The top end on the fives is incredibly refined and on a whole, that means that the fives are weighty, not neutral. So a little bit on the darker side of neutral but they have enough top end sparkle and extension that it doesn’t feel all Willy and pillowy. No, there’s still detail there. There’s still excitement there. There’s still an attack there. But overall, because of the bass energy, things are just a little bit smoother, a little richer.
It should be no surprise that dynamically, the fives are incredible. A lot of powered loudspeakers have a leg up on their passive counterparts because the amps needed to wring the best performance out of them. It is already built into the loudspeaker. And so yeah, yeah, the powered five monitors are dynamic monsters. And provided you don’t put them in too large of a room, you’re never going to feel a strain to their dynamics.
What I mean by that is like, you’re never going to feel like the speakers working that hard to try and get sound out to you. And so the sound that emanates from their drivers is absolutely effortless and it retains some of that Hallmark high efficiency quality that we get from our Heresy MK IV provided we pair them with the right amplifier. Well, the fives save you on amplification because like I said, the amplifiers are built in and as a result you are treated to some of that Hallmark Klipsch high efficiency sound, but with fewer boxes and fewer cables.
But apart from all of their individual Sonic traits, let’s talk about the soundstage because one of the things that small bookshelf loudspeakers do is orally disappear. What do i mean by “orally disappear” ? Well, when you look directly at a loudspeaker, do you hear sound emanating from it? Or does it kind of sound like it’s more emanating from the middle or behind it? Basically, you can’t lock your eyes on something and hear something directly coming out of it and the Klipsch fives do that, because for such a tiny little bookshelf loudspeaker, the soundstage that they’re capable of reproducing is decidedly tower like the centre image again, awesome.
The delineation within the soundstage itself is fantastic. But the fives are more than just two channel playback capability. Because we have the presence of HDMI, we can use the fives in the same manner that we would otherwise use a soundbar. While sound bars may be great at approximating the sensation of listening to surround sound for movies, they’re usually not the best.
When listening to two channel audio, we get to kind of have our cake and eat it too. Because now we can connect our fives to a smart television and use all of the various built in apps that come as standard with smart TVs in order to either stream music or movies. But we get that true two channel separation. And with the addition of a subwoofer, we can even have a 2.1 home theatre system.
And now that the fives have the HDMI input, the simplicity in which you’re able to get that type of performance through the connectivity options that they offer, it’s kind of a no brainer. So as good as the five sound, there are a couple of drawbacks that are worth mentioning. Starting with the bass, I know I just got done telling you how amazing the bass was. Well, because it’s so amazing, and there’s so much of it, it is possible that you are getting too much of a good thing.
I have to imagine that a lot of people looking at the fives potentially live in smaller spaces, smaller spaces that may not enable them to pull the fives away from the wall in order to kind of smooth out that bass response. Next, you know that I love powered loudspeakers and I advocate for them every chance that I get. The reason I love them is they do cut down on a lot of equipment clutter because the fives are so small.
The amount of cables that ultimately get plugged into just one of them is quite a number. And as a result if you are using a lot of sources as I did in testing where I connected my turntable, a smart TV, the other speaker itself and then ultimately the power cord. That’s a lot of cables coming out of a speaker that is honestly smaller than a shoe box.
And speaking of cables, the included speaker cable that connects one speaker to the next, it may not be long enough for everyone. It was barely long enough for me stretching between either side of our VDI octave cabinet. So if you are really looking to put some distance between your left and right five speakers, you may be limited by the cable that comes in the box.
Now I understand that Klipsch is releasing separately a longer cable for those of you that may want more separation. It’s not available yet, but I have been told that something like that may be coming in short order. But straightaway out of the box, you will be limited to the distance that you can place between these two loudspeakers. So depending on your living situation, this may be a good thing or may be a bad thing. I don’t know.
Another downside worth noting has to do with the speaker grilles. I think they’re incredibly fashionable. I love that Klipsch uses magnets in order to fix them to the front of the speakers themselves. However the grill fabric is not as taut as some grill fabrics on the market right now. And as a result over time, I think it might show some type of waviness or wrinkles. I only say that because my review sample which is fresh from the factory after only a couple of weeks has started to show just a little bit of loosening.
Outside of that, there isn’t much to complain about because this is a very well built, stylish little bookshelf loudspeaker that packs a tonne of performance and connectivity options in it that honestly, picking fault with it is pretty much just nitpicking to be honest.
There is no shortage of powered smart speakers on the market today but I’m only going to compare the fives to speakers that I have direct experience with.
Klipsch Fives vs SVS Prime Wireless
The fives compare very nicely with the SVS Prime wireless loudspeakers. Now the prime wireless is a little bit less expensive. They don’t offer all of the same connectivity options and well i don’t think they’re fit and finish is as stylish as the fives. Now I could make the argument that the prime wireless is more expensive going from 399$ pair all the way up to 799$ a pair for the fives, you should expect improvements.
I do think that the fives are the best bookshelf speakers under $1,000 at the moment. So who are the fives for? Well, Klipsch would have you believe that they are for the person that may be on the market right now for a soundbar. And I’m not gonna disagree, but I think these go a little bit beyond that. I do think that they can appeal to the hi fi enthusiast or budding audiophile.
I do think that they also appeal to people who are just music first aficionados and therefore people that may just want something simple because at the end of the day, all of the guesswork that comes with trying to build a passive system around say a pair of bookshelf like the 600 amps, that’s all gone. Because everything that you need to enjoy music right now is built into the fives and that is one of their greatest selling points, besides the fact that I happen to think they’re completely engaging.
And like I said in the intro, they present music in such a way that I think my soul really likes. Are they the most critical loudspeakers on the planet? No, not at all. Not by a longshot. But are they enjoyable? And do you want to listen to them? Heaven, yes! Do I think they compete with passive bookshelves like Klipsch’s own 600 cinema? No, I don’t mean to say that the two customer bases can overlap. Just I don’t think that they need to worry about one over the other.
I think there’s room for both because the future of this hobby is decidedly powered and Klipsch is in a way warming up a younger generation to the thought of having a dedicated hi fi system. It’s just one that’s going to look a little bit different than the one maybe your dad or your grandfather had.
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