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Klipsch The Three Review (Powered Speaker)

YSC

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But this is exactly what these lifestyle boom box meant to be: something you don’t recognised as a speaker at first glance with nice fabric to blend in house, some bass not obtainable by phone speakers and it emit sound
 

Billy Budapest

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Apple still makes the HomePod
See below—the Space Gray Homepod is no longer available and the White is only available while supplies last:

EC30CFB6-14A7-40AC-96DF-9913D3C3CC3D.png
 

digicidal

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So this sounds better than any other Klipsch speaker under $2K (and some above that)? :p

Somewhat joking with that remark... but I think my old Synergy line and later Reference models couldn't have measured much better. They sure sounded like garbage... but they were dirt cheap and made tons of bass for their size/cost. Parties required nothing more than 200WPC and enough substances to forgive the SQ. Luckily they somehow retained much of their value in resale and wound up costing me only a couple hundred for a few years of bad (but loud) sound.
 

Ron Texas

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What a mess. Thank you @amirm Every set of measurements is important whether great, OK or awful.
 

napilopez

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Are we expecting too much for an all-in-one at this price? <https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/klipsch-the-three-review/>

Nah. The Sonos Roam($129), and Google Nest Audio($99) -- are both much cheaper and significantly 'smarter' than this speaker and they measured way better than this. Presumably with less SPL output because they are smaller, but nonetheless they got the basics of frequency response and directivity right mostly right.

Sonos Roam(60% volume):
Sonos Roam Spin (60%).png


Google Nest Audio(62% volume):
Google Nest Audio Spinorama.png


They both have built in limiters that will significantly reduce the bass at higher SPLs but it's obvious that Google and Sonos were at least, you know, trying. SPL and bass limitations are going to largely be a function of the speaker's size, but there's no excuse to not try to optimize FR and directivity. And Klipsch clearly knows how to make a good waveguide as shown in Erin's measurements of the fives. But this just doesn't look like much effort was put into it
 

Maiky76

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Klipsch The Three "lifestyle" stereo speaker and USB DAC. It was kindly sent to me months ago and I am just now getting to review it. :p It costs US $399 including Prime shipping on Amazon but I see it cheaper elsewhere.

The front pictures of The Three look nice and and bring that retro look:

View attachment 132970

But look on top and touch the controls and you immediately realize what a cheap and poor implementation this speaker is. The toggle switch is something you found in Radio Shack catalog and not any proper high-fi in 1970s. The volume control is rotary encoder with no indicator of volume that I could find. If you want to do retro, this should have been an analog volume control. The next knob is another rotary control to select inputs which works horribly with LEDs that are part lit and such indicating what input. To select RCA input, I had to select "phono" and then move a switch on the back to select line in:

View attachment 132974

Back to the front, there are actually three speakers there. A woofer in the middle and a tweeter on each side of it. So the lower frequencies are played in mono while the higher are in stereo. This is not a bad compromise and is common in the industry. What was weird though was that the drivers are covered with wood and only have holes for sound to come through. Normally there is only the grill mesh to protect the drivers. Here you have both the holes and the grill for the sound to get through. Odd and certainly not what was common in 1970s except in plastic portable radios.

At some point while I was messing with the wifi switch in the back and such, some very loud static came out of the thing. So clearly there are design issues here.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 700 measurement which resulted in error rate of less than 1% below about 7 kHz. Above that the error shot way up due to me setting the reference axis to the woofer center, not the tweeter. This severely disadvantaged the NFS system in computing the sound field as the tweeter took over more of the duty. I picked the woofer because I incorrectly assumed this was a mono speaker and dual tweeters were used for some kind of spatial effect. I realized this was not the case after the fact but didn't want to put more wear and tear on the NFS system to measure it again.

Temperature was 68 degrees F.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Klipsch The Three Measurements
I usually lead my measurement section with the spin graph. This time, I am going to change and show the distortion graph as it gives you the in-room frequency response as well:

View attachment 132977

Distortion is quite high but that we could have probably guessed. Pay attention tot he peaking near 20 kHz in top right of the frequency response. Now let's look at the spin graph:

View attachment 132979

That same peak is now heavily attenuated. This is due to the incorrect reference axis that I explained. So in your mind, add good few dBs of energy to anything above 8 kHz in this graph.

Clearly we do not have anything resembling proper tonality here. Company, predictably, has decided to boost the bass and highs with the mids heavily recessed. You would expect this from Klipsch but is this the competition in "smart" speaker category? I hope to find out soon by testing some of those.

Early window and predicted in-room response are horrid of course:
View attachment 132980


View attachment 132982

Do we depress ourselves by looking at directivity and beam width plots? I guess we have no choic:

View attachment 132983

View attachment 132984

View attachment 132985

Klipsch The Three Listening Tests
I did my listening tests in my near-field setup with the unit just 3 or so feet/1 meter from me. Without thinking I drove it in stereo as opposed to mono that I usually do. I must say, somehow your brain recalibrates and says, "this is a boombox so how does it sound compared to one" and the answer is that not so bad! It produces decent bass and with both channels playing in stereo compared to typical mono, there is a pleasant spatial effect.

I developed an EQ to see if the measurements were lying to me or not:
View attachment 132986

Measurements were correct. The broad boost did wonders for clarity especially with female vocals. The somewhat shrillness of the highs improved a bit with that dip as well. These were quick and dirty EQ to test the hypothesis but shows conclusively how important it is to build a neutral speaker.

Story didn't end there though. I would often hear a buzzing sound that would come and go. At first I thought it was the EQ casing mild clipping but Roon player never complained and I caught it with EQ turned off. I put my ear closer and realized that the buzzing was from one side or the other. So disconnected one channel which showed the tonality issues more but more importantly brought out a serious design problem: when one channel is playing certain frequencies, a much more distorted version bleeds into the other channel! Think of cabinet buzzing except that I am 99% sure it is the driver actually playing this distorted crosstalk signal. It takes sufficient channel differential to hear the effect as the other speaker needs to be silent/low level for the buzz to be easily audible.

I switched the channel that was being driven to the other and the noise moved to the alternate driver showing this is electrical problem, not cabinet.

Conclusions
Other than getting the fabric covering right, there is not a thing I can say about the Klipsch The Three that would be a positive. It has a clearly faulty electronic design fault. And super awful objective tonal results. I don't care for the controls either. For casual listening in near-field if the static doesn't come through, it doesn't sound too bad. So I can see some appeal to it if you have low standards of a boombox.

Needless to say, I cannot recommend the Klipsch The Three unless you are just buying it for decoration.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Hi,

Here is my take on the EQ.
The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 3.0
With Sub: 4.8

Spinorama with no EQ:
  • Flat is only for tires?
  • A lot of bass
Klipsch The Three No EQ Spinorama.png

Directivity:
Not horrible except at HF
Better put the speaker on its side to swap H and V?
Klipsch The Three Normalized Directivity data.png


Klipsch The Three 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png


EQ design:
I have generated one EQ. The APO config file is attached.
  • The EQs are designed in the context of regular stereo use i.e. domestic environment, no warranty is provided for a near field use in a studio environment although the LW might be better suited for this purpose.
  • Well I guess this EQ is purely for academic purpose....

Score EQ Amirm: 3.5
with sub: 5.4

Score EQ Score: 5.5
with sub: 7.3

Code:
Klipsch The Three APO EQ Score 96000Hz
June012021-114704

Preamp: -5.5 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 31.5 Hz Gain 0 dB Q 1.03
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 101 Hz Gain -3.81 dB Q 0.57
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 611.5 Hz Gain 1.48 dB Q 0.97
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 767 Hz Gain 1.22 dB Q 1.19
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 1100 Hz Gain 1.61 dB Q 0.75
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 4699 Hz Gain -3.5 dB Q 1.93
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 6349 Hz Gain -1.5 dB Q 2.48
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 6522 Hz Gain -2.25 dB Q 2.87
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 11082 Hz Gain 6 dB Q 2.27

Klipsch The Three EQ Design.png


Spinorama EQ Amirm
Klipsch The Three EQ Amirm Spinorama.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Klipsch The Three EQ Score Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Klipsch The Three Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal
Klipsch The Three Regression - Tonal.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Some improvements!
Klipsch The Three Radar.png


The rest of the plots is attached.
 

Attachments

  • Klipsch The Three APO EQ Score 96000Hz.txt
    495 bytes · Views: 77
  • Klipsch The Three LW Better data.png
    Klipsch The Three LW Better data.png
    112.2 KB · Views: 71
  • Klipsch The Three Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    Klipsch The Three Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    599.2 KB · Views: 67
  • Klipsch The Three Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    Klipsch The Three Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    600.5 KB · Views: 73
  • Klipsch The Three Raw Directivity data.png
    Klipsch The Three Raw Directivity data.png
    780.1 KB · Views: 59
  • Klipsch The Three Reflexion data.png
    Klipsch The Three Reflexion data.png
    270 KB · Views: 66
  • Klipsch The Three LW data.png
    Klipsch The Three LW data.png
    283.1 KB · Views: 67
  • Klipsch The Three 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    Klipsch The Three 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    317.8 KB · Views: 66
  • Klipsch The Three 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    Klipsch The Three 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    461.2 KB · Views: 72
  • Klipsch The Three 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    Klipsch The Three 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    450.4 KB · Views: 99
OP
amirm

amirm

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I had no issue changing the reference point/plane. I did this when I first measured a speaker laid on its side. Flipped the orientation vector post-measurement and it fixed the results. I’ve also used it recently on the DIYSG HTM-12 to change the reference point from center of waveguide to between waveguide and woofer to see how the response is altered. And in my interview with Christian, he actually states this can be done. Not sure why it is giving you issues. :/
Again, you were changing the presentation format, not solving the aliasing problem. Go and listen to Christian. He tells you that you need to give the reference point to the scanner so that it can optimize the points it selects. To the extent the sound field is fully captured, then changing orientation 90 degrees or offsetting is fine. But if you had undersampled, the change in axis would change the same wrong data. It would not magically create new data points that it needs to describe the sound field.
 

Tom C

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Soo...I have one of these. Bought it for my wife when she wanted something for the kitchen while she’s cooking. She liked the mid-century look. It’s plenty loud enough. As Amir said in his review, it doesn’t sound that bad. Well, actually, I’ve never heard music through it because she likes to use it for podcasts, so pretty much voices only. Stereo not a big deal in that use case. The bass boost gives voices, particularly male voices, a quality that reminds me of the all vacuum tube color TV my grandfather had in the 60’s. A rather pleasant reminiscence for me, and in keeping with the mid-century theme. I don’t hate it. We both rather like it.
 

richard12511

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wow that is higher than I expected.

Same. I was clearly wrong, but I was expecting 1-2 for some reason. This Klipsch actually beats the Revel M55XC, which is crazy, as to my eye the Revel measurements look clearly much better. Bass extension is helping tremendously here, I think.
 

Francis Vaughan

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My kitchen currently boasts a pair of JBL 305 mk2 and a Topping bluetooth DAC. Curiously the overall cost is pretty much lineball with this speaker. I don't have WiFi capability, but Bluetooth works fine and I tend to just stream from my phone. The speakers are more than capable of filling the space with sound and I can bop along to The Stranglers whilst cooking dinner.

OK, I don't get the retro looks and it is a bit more cumbersome, but seriously, what the heck are Klipsch doing to justify this junk?
 

vert

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Are there any good sounding boomboxes out there ? Is there still a big market for such products ? I used to love my radio cassette boombox as a teenager. My teenager is content with phone and airpods. I have this little practice guitar amp, boombox sized, the Yamaha THR https://images.app.goo.gl/xWsnJ4zMHQJ5JmKE6
it doubles a music system for when working out, or eating outside, etc. I play music from a notebook via the USB port (it doesn't accept my phone, I can't figure out why). It sounds really nice and can go quite loud, I can't find fault with it for that kind of use. The internal DAC must be decent. They have new models with bluetooth capability, that aren't cheap, but if you were a guitar player, you would get an additional very capable guitar amp for about the same price as the Klipsch.
 
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