Raise the Roof: Klipsch KG4
I only picked up these Klipsch KG4s as an afterthought while on a KLH binge – I’d found a pair of KLH 17s online and was dickering over them when the seller mentioned these KG4s. I initially said no, laser-focused as I was on the Model 17s. But after I read a few reviews online I was intrigued.
People absolutely raved about these speakers, saying they were the best they’d ever heard. Folks were fanatics.
And the price was right. I picked them up and took them home.
These are not small speakers (24.25″ x 15.75″ x 10.75″) and probably weigh 40lb apiece easily. And when you move them you have to be careful handling, as they have a huge 12″ passive radiator on the back.
The construction is top-rate – I have the oiled oak wood veneers and the look amazing. Like the Boston Acoustic A100s and A200s I have, this oak veneer is thick and textured, and not too glossy. Just right. It goes well with almost any decor, modern or vintage. It really fits in well in my living room. The front grilles are black and made up of a thicker more wooly-feeling stretch material than on other speakers. Taking the grilles and their neat metal Klipsch badges off affords you a view of the front half of this speaker system – two 8″ poly woofers and a 1″ K-74 horn tweeter. As I mentioned before, around back is a 12″ passive radiator which rounds out the system. So there’s a total of 4 moving sound surfaces in what is essentially a 2-way system. Compared to my Polk Monitor 7s (also 2-way with a passive radiator), this is a lot of firepower.
The KG4 was the top dog in the new-for Klipsch KG line in the late 1980s and early 1990s – There was a KG1.5, 2, 3, the 4, and then from what I understand later 5 and up models. I’ve seen the KG2s around, which are basically one 8″ and a tweeter (not horn) in a not-much-smaller cabinet. The 3s and 5s came later and were in narrower and taller cabinets as audio design tastes moved away from big squat floorstanders to home theater-style towers.
So I got them home and hooked them up to my Pioneer SA-6500ii in the basement to give them a listen. They’re very sensitive (94db/w), so I wasn’t expecting to need a lot of juice to get them going.
And I was right. Wow! At ’3′ on the dial, these KG4s were shaking the house! Bass was overwhelming – the ceiling in my basement was vibrating. Use these as home theater front speakers and you have no need for a subwoofer! And the mids and the highs were well rounded and pleasant. I really liked these speakers. Pushing them a few inches closer to the back wall cut some of the overwhelming bass from the mix by limiting the room the rear passive radiator had to do its work. That balanced things out well. Lesson: these speakers are very sensitive to placement, even more so than some of the others I’ve had.
In reviews people’s biggest complaint about these KG4s (and other Klipsch horn-loaded speakers for that matter) is that the highs can be shrill, overbearing, or harsh due to the horns. There is a small cottage industry of folks out there who modify Klipsch speakers to mitigate these symptoms. For whatever reason I’ve never had that problem with these KG4s. Perhaps the capacitors are worn out and are killing the shrillness or my ears aren’t that sensitive but I would say these are the opposite of shrill. Bob Crites sells crossover upgrade and horn tweeter diaphragm upgrades that I am intrigued to try. I think that my first stop will be new crossover components, then the tweeter upgrade.
Right now I have these in my living room hooked up to the Harman Kardon 3380 receiver. Neither the Klipsches nor the Harman are really shining here, but that is due to the terrible acoustics of the living room area – it seems to suck up extra volume from the Harman and it’s almost impossible to get a real clean and detailed reference-level sound directed to the seating areas at the other end of the room.
But I don’t use the living room for critical listening – we have guests in here and the volume is rarely at good listening levels. No one is ever sitting straight ahead trying to test the imaging capabilities of this or another speaker. Or we have the stereo set to classical music radio or jazz to reverberate through the house while we cook in the kitchen or eat in the dining room. For those applications the KGs are perfect – they have a surfeit of clean low-frequency sound which carries through the house and effortless mid and high ranges. It’s not every speaker that can overcome the decibel-suck of my living room to deliver pleasing frequencies throughout at reasonable levels. The KGs are like their own ‘loudness’ button.
Perhaps when I get around to a cap upgrade I’ll rotate them downstairs for a while for some critical listening duty. Right now I have the Boston A200s as the fronts in my HT and main listening setup. Since I hated the A200s upstairs and love them downstairs, I have high hopes for the KG4s, which I already like upstairs.