Klipsch The Fives Powered Loudspeakers Review
David Price rocks out to this punchy pair of powered mini-monitors…
If you’re not currently able to splurge £12,000 on a pair of La Scala AL5s, or your listening room is spatially challenged, then Klipsch might just have the thing for you. The Fives are a pair of powered stereo speakers that come with comprehensive digital connectivity options, including TOSLINK, HDMI and aptX Bluetooth. And if you’re old school enough to have vinyl or tape, then this product has got that covered too, with RCA analogue inputs.
This £829 package is one of a new generation of ‘super-connected’ powered speakers that fulfil a multitude of roles – from letting you headbang in your shed, game in your man cave or play movie soundtracks in your bedroom. It removes the need for soundbars, multimedia speakers and even small hi-fi systems, with one single solution. There’s even a moving magnet phono stage, which is a major novelty on a pair of powered speakers, almost all of which are line-level only. The USB input even plays out 24-bit/192kHz hi-res files from your computer – and there’s a subwoofer output should you wish to go 2.1.
The Fives seem solid considering their modest asking price. You don’t get the usual vinyl-wrapped thin fibreboard cabinets; instead, it’s genuine walnut wood veneered MDF, with the option of a matt black finish. The speakers are a good size considering what they’re purposed for – 305x165x235mm, with the primary speaker weighing 5.35kg, and the secondary 4.85kg.
Each sports a 25mm Klipsch titanium TLS vented tweeter, with the company’s proprietary Tractrix horn, and a 110mm long-throw fibre composite coned mid/bass unit, loaded by a Tractrix port. Powering these are Class D power modules delivering a claimed 160W RMS; the design is bi-amped, with passive crossovers. A link cable runs from the powered speaker to the passive one, carrying a balanced amplified signal. Claimed frequency response is 50Hz to 25kHz, and you can tailor the sound via Klipsch’s Dynamic Bass EQ. A remote is included, and there’s a Klipsch Connect app, which currently only supports product registration but has more features coming soon.
Let’s all be grown-ups here and admit to one another hi-fi’s wretched, guilty secret – all speakers have their own voice, it’s just that some of them pretend not to. You can’t say this of Klipsch though; this historic marque has no pretensions towards so-called ‘neutrality’. Instead, you get an unashamedly fast, punchy, engaging, animated and powerful sound – it’s ever so slightly lacking in subtlety, but certainly lots of fun.
The Fives give basslines an extra push, and cymbals get some spice, yet there’s no sense of the upper midband being excessively harsh or screechy. The music is well etched and has sparkling harmonics but doesn’t grate. Even The Cure’s In-between Days – hardly a smooth hi-fi recording – was satisfying to listen to; The Fives caught the spirit and the emotion of the track, without ramming its slightly forward mix down my throat.
They work well with punchy dance music too. Shalamar’s Take That to the Bank is classic late seventies disco, and surprisingly well produced. The Fives had a ball, as the transient speed of the horn-loaded treble units made for a gripping, edge-of-the-seat rendition. The music flew by, with the emphasis on the super-tight percussion. Jody Watley’s vocal work was bright but not brittle, while the bass guitar work was surprisingly strong – and the overall effect was of a rousing and uplifting sound. These speakers’ unrelenting turn of pace never failed to make the music fun.
You’d never expect small, powered speakers to deliver a vast, expansive sound – but The Fives don’t do too badly here. Stereo imaging is as good as you could wish from a product such as this, providing you get placement right. Especially via the analogue inputs, I got a spacious sound with a good deal of depth; Kate Bush’s Wow was quite ethereal sounding, with lots of room for her vocal line to breathe, while Peter Gabriel’s Here Comes the Flood was vast and epic on its fabulous crescendos, and even at high volumes things stayed together.
A great pair of versatile powered mini-monitors, The Fives score highly for their speed, punch and general musical fluency – as well as offering serious flexibility. I wouldn’t say that these little Klipschs are the best powered small speaker that money can buy, but they’re super value for money and should deftly satisfy many peoples’ musical needs.
David started his career in 1993 writing for Hi-Fi World and went on to edit the magazine for nearly a decade. He was then made Editor of Hi-Fi Choice and continued to freelance for it and Hi-Fi News until becoming StereoNET’s Editor-in-Chief.
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