There aren’t too many compact speaker systems that have been around as long the Klipsch Quintets. Not too many have been as popular, either. Thanks to its svelte form factor, good looks, and all-around pleasant sound, it consistently ranks as one of the best-selling satellite speaker systems currently available.
In fact, Klipsch goes so far as to claim on its website that the Quintet is the best-selling 5.0 system of all time. And while we have no way of verifying that claim, no speaker would remain in continuous production for nearly 15 years if it wasn’t something special.
Of course, the Quintet series has been continuously refined over those 15 years to keep up with the competition; the system is now in its fifth incarnation. But with an improved aesthetic design, upgraded drivers, and all-new, über-special cabinet material, this latest Quintet set promises big performance from small packages. Read on for our detailed findings.
Out of the Box
What first grabbed our attention upon removing the speakers from their packaging was the overall impression we got from what we saw. With some products, all of the little things come together so well that their quality, design ingenuity and functional considerations are all apparent. This fifth-generation Quintet system is just such a product. It’s not that they’re lavishly made or anything like that, but as we inspected our way around these speakers, we kept thinking that the Quintets had some of the best attention to detail we’ve ever seen from an under-$550, 5.0 system.
…the Quintets had some of the best attention to detail we’ve ever seen from an under-$550, 5.0 system.
We were also struck by each satellite’s surprising heft and solidity. Diminutive though they may be, at about 3.75 lbs for each satellite and 6.25 lbs for the center channel, the Quintets certainly feel more inert than a similarly-sized “home theater in a box” type speaker. And with dimensions of only 7.5 x 4.3 x 5.3 (H x W x D – in inches – 4.9 x 11.5 x 4.9 H x W x D – in inches for the center), they should integrate inconspicuously into any décor and blend in well in small rooms or tight spaces.
Examining the speaker’s drivers from underneath their simple yet tastefully-made grilles, we noticed what looked to be the latest versions of Klipsch’ IMG woofers and metal-dome, horn-loaded tweeters. We were also happy to see the Quintet’s drivers mounted on the insides of the front baffle surface, which helps maintain a clean, streamlined look devoid of any visible mounting bolts or screws.
As with the speaker enclosures and baffle assembly, the tweeter and its baffle-molded, Tractrix horn flare fit together with extremely tight tolerances for a seamless, well-integrated speaker to horn transition. Again, this sort of fit ‘n finish is impressive for a speaker system at this price, and it speaks to both the ingenuity and care with which the Klipsch Quintet system is designed and manufactured.
As its name implies, the Klipsch Quintet is a standalone, 5.0 satellite speaker system that can be purchased on its own and mated with one of the manufacturer’s suggested subwoofers or a different make and model altogether. Since its frequency response is specified as spanning 110 Hz to 23 kHz, a subwoofer will definitely be required for full-range performance. Still, offering the satellites separately remains a fairly unique feature in a category where most sub/sat parings come prepackaged by the manufacturer.
Perhaps the Quintet’s most unique feature however is the aforementioned enclosure material. That material is made from a dense, pressure-molded composite polymer Klipsch calls AcoustiComp. On its website, Klipsch details this polymer’s many benefits, including being “naturally dense, rigid, and acoustically inert.”
By the look and feel of things, and compared to some other systems in this price range, we’re certainly inclined to agree with that statement. Using the official “knuckle rap” test on the enclosures produced a reassuringly dead-sounding thud—a welcome surprise over the hollow ringing one hears from the thin and flimsy materials sometimes found in other speakers in the Quintet’s price range.
Making the enclosures out of a composite material yields other benefits as well, such as being able to mold shapes that are not possible with wood cabinets of this size. Consequently, the Quintets feature curved and tapered sidewalls and non-parallel surfaces which should help eliminate internal standing waves that could muddy up the sound. A rear-facing reflex port is also molded into each enclosure to help extend the woofer’s output capabilities.
The Klipsch Quintet features one of the most cleverly-designed wire connection schemes we’ve seen yet.
The tweeters cross over to a single 3.5,” injection-molded graphite (or IMG) woofer with rubber surrounds for each of the front and rear satellites, while the center channel features a pair of these drivers. Klipsch says the woofers are completely new designs with large motor structures and stiff, lightweight diaphragms for better excursion linearity and a more balanced sound overall.
The Quintet system features unique mounting provisions as well. At first glance, it would appear each enclosure has just a simple yet practical keyhole cutout for wall mounting. Look closer though, and you’ll see a threaded insert is smartly recessed into the rear of each keyhole, easily accommodating your choice of suitable wall brackets or stands. While the Quintets don’t have any inserts positioned on the bottom of their enclosures, we didn’t have any trouble finding suitable stands with backside mounting options.
In a nod to streamlining appearances, the Klipsch Quintet features one of the most cleverly-designed wire connection schemes we’ve seen yet. The wire receptacles are inset into the rear of the enclosures, while the spring-loaded push terminals that actuate them are accessible from the bottoms of the speakers. This results in the Quintets having completely flush rear and bottom surfaces with nary a protrusion in sight.
Speaking of wire terminals, we’ve mentioned our chagrin for the spring-loaded variety before, but thankfully the ones Klipsch uses for the Quintets are robust and supremely effective. Klipsch specifies them as being capable of accommodating up to a 14 gauge wire size, and we had no trouble using a wire of this size.
Setting up the Klipsch system was mostly a straightforward process. To get a handle on how sensitive they are to placement, we first experimented with trying them out in various positions throughout the room, including placing the front speakers directly on the edges of our A/V stand. This put them about 6 feet apart, a foot out from the wall, and a low-ish 2 ½ feet up from the floor. Regardless of their positions in the room, the Klipsch Quintet’s tonal balance remained fairly stable and sounded clean and uncolored in a wide variety of locations.
Ultimately, we ended up placing the front channels in our theater room where miniature speakers usually work best—on a pair of 31” high stands, 8 feet apart, 1.5 feet away from the wall, and approximately 10 feet away from our main viewing position. We then placed the center channel between the front speakers and put the rear channels on another pair of the same stands, in line with our ears at our main viewing position and about 9 feet apart.
A quick word on the center channel: Even though it has a gorgeously curved cabinet, Klipsch smartly designed a flat section into the bottom of the enclosure which allows it to sit flat on a surface without any footers—very thoughtful. Unfortunately, our A/V stand is a little lower than average, which means we had to improvise a way to tilt up the center channel for proper directivity. We would’ve welcomed some footers from Klipsch in this instance, but thankfully we already had some rubber footers on hand we could use.
Klipsch also sent along its 10-inch, 200-watt SW-110 subwoofer to help with bass duties. While it had excellent output capabilities, its depth reproduction and articulation seemed somewhat limited for its size. Since this review focuses on the Quintets satellites as its own entity, we decided to alternate between the Klipsch model and our own 10-inch, 100-watt Polk PSW-350, a subwoofer whose performance we’re intimately familiar with.
Test equipment for the Klipsch HD Theater 600 system included a Marantz NR1602 A/V receiver, Samsung BD-C5500 Blu ray Player, HP Pavilion G6-2320DX laptop, Samsung UN40C6300 LED TV, and an Apple iPhone 4.
After we got speaker positions dialed, we let the Klipsch system break in for about 24 hours or so before attempting any serious listening. We were jonesin’ for some high-adrenalin action flicks soon afterwards however, and once we started watching the “Hammer Drones” scene from Iron Man 2, we knew we were in for sonic treat: the Klipsch Quintet system had a big, dynamic, pleasantly warm and easy-going demeanor that never called attention to itself, regardless of volume.
In fact, the Quintets are perhaps the most dynamically-capable small speakers we’ve heard in quite some time. At one point, we literally turned the volume up to 11 on our Marantz receiver, just to see how much punishment these tiny speakers could handle. The Quintets took it all in stride and always kept their composure without ever going into break up or distortion.
[The speakers] completely wrapped the sound around the front and side walls of our room while sonically disappearing into it.
Note that this fullness was never cloying, however. Watching dialog-driven films, such as Joe Wright’s 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice and Good Will Hunting, every spoken word and vocal inflection came through cleanly and clearly. Donald Sutherland’s voice from Prejudice positively resonated with all of its bravado intact, while the movie score’s repeating piano theme sounded clear, extended and well detailed through its upper registers.
We’ve been fond of using Justin Timberlake’s most recent album The 20/20 Experience as a test lately for a number of reasons, but mostly because this album’s midrange is so difficult to reproduce well. The Quintets easily sailed through the many layers, overdubs and edits present on this album. Jay-Z’s guest vocals on “Suit and Tie” sounded cleanly enunciated, naturally rich and distinct, and all of the synthesized horns, guitars, and plucked harp present on this track always sounded smooth and free of harshness and distortion.
All of that made the Quintets a somewhat surprising experience for us. In the past, we’ve taken Klipsch to task for its speakers’ tendency to emphasize the upper mids/lower treble region, adding a bit of consistent brightness into the mix. But with the Quintet system, in our on-axis locations, the opposite was actually true: its upper midrange and lower treble regions could sound ever-so-slightly recessed at times.
The Quintets allow you to virtually pinpoint every musician across a deep and wide soundstage.
The same K&D album was also recorded with excellent imaging cues, and the spatial effects can be hypnotizing with the right speakers. The Klipsch Quintets can definitely be counted among those that deliver in this regard: They completely wrapped the sound around the front and side walls of our room while sonically disappearing into it. The Quintets allow you to virtually pinpoint every musician across a deep and wide soundstage with this album and do a fine job of tracking panning and phasing effects as well.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time with the Klipsch Quintet speakers. Their combination of class-leading build quality, pleasingly rich sound, and compact size keeps them firmly in the top-tier of mid-priced miniature speaker systems. Their ability to blend well with a variety of subs should also prove to be a bonus if you’ve already got one you’re fond of, or are interested in something other than the manufacturer-suggested models.
Even though we noticed a bit of reticence in the presence region now and then, its effect on the sound was so minor that it never called attention to itself unless we listened for it. Night after night, movie after movie and album after album, the Klipsch speakers provided consistently-enjoyable sound that never failed to enhance our listening experience. That alone is enough for us to recommend the Klipsch Quintet to anyone looking for high-performing speakers that are big on sound and small in stature. If you’re in the market for just such a system, be sure to put the Klipsch Quintet series on your shortlist.
- Surprising dynamics and loudness capabilities
- Rich, warm, and well-balanced sound
- Great for long-term listening sessions
- Fulsome lower mids rare for speakers of this category
- Recessed upper mids and lower treble can obscure detail
- No angling/tilt footers for the center channel