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REVIEW: Klipsch “The Sixes” Powered Speakers

I’ve been ragging MAXXIMUS about his turntable + powered monitors setup for over a year now,  while spending a great deal of time (and money) tweaking various iterations of new / old receivers and new / old speaker combos.  Inevitably, I became frustrated because, let’s face it, when dealing with “vintage” articles, you are almost always compromising and compensating for one thing or another.  Sometimes, the process results in magic, other times, it turns you into a hermit or leads you to financial ruin.  In my case, it led me to conclude that powered speakers might be  a valid option.  Ah, the life of an “audiophile;”  truly a journey and not a destination, I suppose…

I settled on Klipsch’s “The Sixes” mostly because my prior path of vintage / retro combos had me heading down a path that was going to lead to a pair of multi-thousand dollar Forte’s or Heresy III’s tied to a 60 watt receiver that is as old as I am.  Klipsch speakers have always had a particular “sound” to them and they usually end up in a “you either love them or you hate them” situation with those that listen to them.  Most find them best suited to rock / live music and it is sometimes said that Mr. Klipsch intentionally designed his speakers to give recorded music a live feel.  Who knows?

The speakers are technically part of Klipsch’s “Heritage” collection, though they are imported and not manufactured in the U.S. like some of it’s larger (and much more expensive) cousins.  Fit and finish are excellent, and these speakers feel solidly built.  The wood is real (veneer), the retro-styled speaker covers are magnetic and easily removed, and both speakers have copper highlights; further lending to the “vintage” aura.  They are a bit large for bookshelf speakers and sit on an angled riser.  I think they would look great in any office / apartment / home listening area, and they pair exceptionally well with the MCM pieces in our home.

Mine are connected to a vintage turntable via a Schiit Mani phono preamp.

      

The speakers are plenty powerful (100w/c) and provide connections for Phono / LINE & AUX, Bluetooth, an optical input, USB, and even come with a remote control.  As most reviews have said, the Klipsch’s phono stage sounds a bit dead to me (almost like someone hit the ‘mud’ switch or rolled the tone knob all the way off) virtually assuring that the life will be sucked out of your favorite music.  Do yourself a favor and find an external pre-amp instead.  Our setup uses a Schiit Mani and the difference in sound quality between it and the on-board unit is night and day.  I am told that a Tube Pre-Amp really makes these shine…

There is a built-in DAC as well (which seems to review favorably) but not something I have a use for.   Bluetooth is pretty good on this unit (at least as good as can be expected).  Curiously, I’ve found that many NEW vinyl releases (or new remasters) sound OK, but vintage / original vinyl (i.e. originally pressed in 60’s/70’s/80’s) really shines and comes alive on these speakers.  For sure, a broad generalization, as there are exceptions, but worth noting…  The remote can control all of the speaker’s functions -source selection, volume, etc., and the speakers are able to be paired with an optional sub-woofer, if you really want to shake shit off of the walls.

PROS: They look pretty and are extremely loud. Sound is actually quite full (and can be boomy) despite what some of the online reviews say about being too trebly. Plenty of connection options: BT, PHONO / LINE, AUX, USB, and they even have a built-in DAC / optical input.

CONS: On-board phono stage stinks. You need to crank them to really make them sing.

MSRP $799 online and in-store.  Periodically, on sale at Amazon and Guitar Center for a significant discount.

Recommended, especially when on sale.

(Yes, I know that placing the speakers on the same surface as the turntable is a high crime in the world of audiophilia, punishable by banishment, gulag, or even death.  I can assure you that this was done due to space constraints *and* I can report that I have not perceived any noticeable negative effects on the sound of this system, even at high volumes.  Look for a future article (ici!) where we explore the validity of the effects this type of arrangement has on audio quality)

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