Active speakers are back. Their return to the market was helped by the huge growth of wireless speakers, which are technically active due to their integrated amplification which directly feeds the speakers. Contrary to wireless speakers, active speakers are powered but do not support WiFi. To access streamed music and platforms like Qobuz they need an external component such as a smartphone, a network media player, or a PC.
Klipsch has had three pairs of active speakers to offer for some time now: two in the PM series, with a 10 or 13 cm woofer, and The Sixes with a 16.5 cm woofer. The Fives are a new addition to this selection. They feature a connector which is rarely available on these types of devices: an HDMI input. The purpose of this is to allow the use of these speakers with video as an alternative to direct soundbars. This excellent idea will likely grow in the future.
● Price: 899 €
● Speakers: 1x 25 mm tweeter with a Tractrix horn, 1x 11.5 cm woofer
● Amplification: 2x20W + 2x60W
● Bandwidth: 50 – 25.000 Hz
● Features: amplified autonomous speakers, DAC 24/192, infrared remote control, manual commands on top of the device.
● Connectivity: Bluetooth, 1x HDMI ARC input, 1x mini jack analog input, 1x optical digital input, 1x analog RCA line/phono input, 1x USB-B port, 1x mono subwoofer output
● Weight: 10.2 kg
● Dimensions (W x H x D): 165 x 305 x 235 mm
General Presentation of The Fives
Klipsch The Fives, like the imposing Sixes, are part of the brand’s “Heritage” series. They’re available in a vintage looking walnut finish or in a more discreet mat black. The speakers are protected by a grill covered with a 1960s inspired fabric which features Klipsch’s old logo at the bottom.
The 11.5 cm diameter woofer with its composite membrane hides behind this fabric. Its linear travel suspension and its rear laminar port make for an excellent bass response. Its specific format is called Tractrix, a term which also refers to the horn tweeters. The horn tweeters are equipped with a titanium membrane.
All connectors are located at the back of the main speaker. You can use up to six sources simultaneously: analog with a mini-jack, analog with RCA, optical digital, USB, HDMI audio and a Bluetooth device. Thanks to the dual RCA input, you can activate an RIAA preamp with a switch and connect a turntable.
The Fives split the amplification into four channels. Two amps supply 20 Watts each to the horn tweeters whilst the other two provide 60 watts each to the woofers. The main speaker plugs into a wall outlet. The two speakers are connected with a cable ending with a locking plug. You should place the main speaker on the right, but if you’ve done it the other way around you can press on a single button to change the setup without having to move the devices.
Features of The Fives
The top of the main speaker features two retro looking control knobs. The first knob controls volume. The second one allows you to choose a source. A white LED will light up next to the selected source. The volume level is also indicated by LED.
The infrared remote control offers additional controls such as a power button, a mute button, and a play/pause button. The “sub” buttons allow you to set the bass level of the speakers. There is a subwoofer output at the back, so if you connect a subwoofer, the sub buttons will control its volume.
To access Qobuz, we plugged a MacBook Pro laptop into The Fives’ USB port. We used the native Qobuz app, as well as its versions that are integrated into Roon and Audirvana. The Mac laptop immediately recognized the speakers and displayed their name. In passing we were able to check the speakers’ reading capacities on Audirvana which showed us the expected 192 kHz and 24 bits for Hi-Res.
The HDMI ARC output connects the device to a TV set. The Fives capture the sound of all connected sources (Blu-ray players, game consoles…) and all smart TV apps (Netflix, myCanal…). The Fives are universal and could replace your Hi-Fi stereo system, your home cinema amplifier and your soundbar.
By default, the bass level is set to 4/6. We think this is too high, but many users will enjoy this setup. The bass coming out of these small 11.5 cm woofers is impressive. It’s not only flashy but also full of substance with strong foundations, fullness and a powerful lower mid-range. The Fives are great with electronic music at all volume levels. On the track Pili Pili from Polo & Pan’s last EP, the low frequencies were about to crack our walls! We lowered the bass levels to 1/6 for an improved balance; less flashy but more enjoyable.
The soundstage is wide, coherent, and consistent without any disruption. The sound never sticks to the speakers. It delicately spreads itself out without being projected. The Fives’ signature is fairly dark. It features a shy and extreme treble, which is enjoyable since The Fives sport a pair of horn speakers. The mid-range is lightly colored, bringing a surplus of presence and heat that is not unpleasant, if not perfectly faithful. On Eric Clapton and BB King’s rendition of Key to the Highway, when the medium treble awakes, the surgical precision of The Fives allows you to follow the sound of each string touched by these masters of blues.
The Fives are not suited to classical music. We tried them with many of our favorite classical tracks and were never overly pleased with the outcome. The speakers are not subtle enough to do justice to the greatness and the diversity of an orchestra. So, we switched back to The Fives’ preferred style with ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man. The Fives are at ease with the guitars and with the drum beats, never becoming overly aggressive. Where many speakers collapse and fail to distinguish strings from percussion, The Fives remain efficient and precise.
“+” and “-“
Lively and vibrant
Nice Vintage Look
Very pronounced sound signature
We’re waiting for the integrated streamer!
The Fives have a lot to offer. In a lot of ways, these American devices remind us of the big motorcycles created by a fellow American company. Like a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, they boast an attractive and comfortable sound, leaving pure performance to their Japanese competitors. In the world of audiophiles, they are going ever so slightly against the tide. Firstly, because they centralize all equipment rather than opting for the common use of DACs, preamps, and separated amps. Secondly, they offer a warm listening experience for everyone, satisfying our guilty pleasures with their impressive bass and opulent mid-bass. They won’t take up too much space on your shelves, they are stylish, and their HDMI ARC input is certainly a modern twist. Who could resist?