• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Klipsch The Three Review (Powered Speaker)

dorirod

Active Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2019
Messages
252
Likes
253

beagleman

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
1,182
Likes
1,638
Location
Pittsburgh Pa
The FR is not exactly a million miles from the 80 phon equal loudness curve. Especially if we assume that the Klippel got lost above 8kHz.
Indeed it is sufficiently close that I can't help think it is pretty clear it is intentional.

Lindos1.svg
Exactly how I feel.
I totally get the "Neutral" sound curve for accuracy, but often this boosted bass sound can sound better when listening for pure fun or enjoyment.

Flat bass will sound puny and weak in many situations.

Why is no one seeing (mentionong) this thing is doing 40 Hz at the same level as 1 kHz?
Many of the bookshelf speakers we see tested here and even some expensive floor standers are strugging to do 50hz at the same level.
 

Loathecliff

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
377
Likes
489
Location
Iberia & UK
I'm thinking Klip missed a USP with this one.
The top panel as a lift-up lid, with storage beneath.
 

srsxmi

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 3, 2019
Messages
49
Likes
57
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
T

... unless you are just buying it for decoration.
/

Well, that's what they have been for the last several years, they don't get used much although I still enjoy them. I do not have the living space to support cranking them up, so they actually are reasonable to listen to at low volumes through Roon.

Thanks to Amir and the ASR forum, I have a bountiful number of replacements to choose from.
 

Keithdd

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
17
Likes
13
I like this product. Part of it is psychological. You don't expect such a small box to play most music types quite acceptably with some real bass and tolerable mid and highs. It goes louder than you'd think, and no doubt due to its "loudness curve" sounds decent at low levels. Compared to the widely sold JBL range and the Marshall's, some of which are similarly expensive, it sounds better. It's real walnut finish adds to the appeal. It's better than most soundbars. And it's not overly bright like so many other Klipsch products. I haven't noticed the homepod sounding great either. The Sonus, OK that's nice. But the Klipsch has a lot going for it and the many good reviews out there don't all stem from ignorance, cloth ears or financial incentives.
 

morespinach

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
34
Likes
7
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.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/


Brilliant. I own one for my side room. even without measurement I could feel this V type sound. It’s most baffling when highs become sibilant. And the low end is almost artificially boomy.

The Threes weaned me off Klipsch forever.. the Fives and Sixes are the same, just bassier and even more annoying to anyone with a sense of audio.

In this type of a gadget Marshall speakers do much better. Also in white they look cuter as a furnishing accessory.
 

morespinach

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
34
Likes
7
I like this product. Part of it is psychological. You don't expect such a small box to play most music types quite acceptably with some real bass and tolerable mid and highs. It goes louder than you'd think, and no doubt due to its "loudness curve" sounds decent at low levels. Compared to the widely sold JBL range and the Marshall's, some of which are similarly expensive, it sounds better. It's real walnut finish adds to the appeal. It's better than most soundbars. And it's not overly bright like so many other Klipsch products. I haven't noticed the homepod sounding great either. The Sonus, OK that's nice. But the Klipsch has a lot going for it and the many good reviews out there don't all stem from ignorance, cloth ears or financial incentives.


Marshall speakers. Same form factor and target audience, but even cuter presentation. Much much better sound.
 

Keithdd

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
17
Likes
13
Each to their own. My store sells both and most people prefer the Threes sound to the Marshall's. But they are different things. As Amir says they have surprising apparent bass and a nice spatial effect which the Marshall's don't. The Marshall's have far better portability which is what bt speakers are mostly about. Both have cute styling in their own way.
 

io53

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
15
Likes
8
Brilliant. I own one for my side room. even without measurement I could feel this V type sound. It’s most baffling when highs become sibilant. And the low end is almost artificially boomy.

The Threes weaned me off Klipsch forever.. the Fives and Sixes are the same, just bassier and even more annoying to anyone with a sense of audio.

In this type of a gadget Marshall speakers do much better. Also in white they look cuter as a furnishing accessory.

The Fives are actually quite decent in bass cut DSP mode https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...fives-powered-bookshelf-speaker-review.22892/
 

Chromatischism

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 5, 2020
Messages
4,800
Likes
3,744
Just a quick glance at the response curve and the distortion levels tells me this speaker was made for lower-volume listening where:
  1. Distortion is not a problem
  2. Human hearing needs such a bass and treble curve for perceptual equal loudness
Right?
 

YSC

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 31, 2019
Messages
3,205
Likes
2,601
Just a quick glance at the response curve and the distortion levels tells me this speaker was made for lower-volume listening where:
  1. Distortion is not a problem
  2. Human hearing needs such a bass and treble curve for perceptual equal loudness
Right?
I am wondering the perceptual equal loudness thing, coz supposedly the preferred target curve for proper listening Hifi won't resemble the equal loudness or so
 

Chromatischism

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 5, 2020
Messages
4,800
Likes
3,744
Without electronic loudness compensation, a perfectly flat-measuring speaker will only sound balanced at high levels, such as the levels that Amir tests distortion at. That is why many home audio speakers are designed with a bit of a bass and treble bump. And that is why some reviewers may state that a certain speaker needed to be cranked up to really get going. That won't be the case with this Klipsch, which takes the smiley-face curve to the extreme, and which can't be cranked up much anyway. 10 kHz seems absent, though.
 

Gio

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2022
Messages
67
Likes
137
Location
Italy
This speaker has been my biggest mistake. I bought for my son some years ago. 400€ wasted. Klipsch is a chapter closed for me.
 
Top Bottom