At last — A wireless speaker with a rock and roll heart

The Sixes[1] (£799 per pair) are part of Klipsch’s new Heritage Wireless[2] series of self-powered speakers that connect to a turntable, TV, computer or Bluetooth device. The Sixes are sold in pairs, so bona-fide stereo was part of the allure for me. The Sixes sound more dynamically alive and clear than what I’ve heard from pairs of Sonos Play:3[3] speakers (£596), that’s for sure!

Klipsch The Sixes

Klipsch

The reasons for The Sixes superiority start with their 1-inch titanium tweeter used with a Klipsch Tractrix horn[4] that lowers distortion and improves efficiency, and there’s also a 6.5-inch woofer. The right speaker houses two 100-watt amplifiers, one for each of the two speakers. Connectivity options run to stereo analog RCA inputs for a turntable or line-level, a 3.5mm stereo analog input, a RCA subwoofer output jack, optical digital audio input and USB.

The Sixes also feature Bluetooth wireless operation. The digital audio connection handles up to 192 kHz/24-bit files. The Sixes are self-powered — no need to hook them up to a receiver.

The real walnut veneered cabinets look snazzy, and measure 8.6 by 16.75 by 11 inches. Overall build quality is above average, and I mostly loved the look, although The Sixes’ copper toned metal trim seemed a little garish. A cable connects the right speaker to the left one.

The right channel speaker has a source selector as well as a volume control and a toggle power on/off switch; the pair also comes with a remote control. I played the speakers with a Chromecast dongle from a laptop and streamed files from Tidal via my iPhone 6S, and also from an Oppo BDP 105 Blu-ray player that was connected to The Sixes with an optical digital cable. The Sixes have terrific impact and dynamic punch, qualities I’ve come to expect from Klipsch horn speakers, and rarely from wireless speakers in The Sixes’ price category.

Bass was full but not all that deep; some buyers will probably want to add a subwoofer to fill out the extreme low-end bass. Klipsch The Sixes rear panel

Klipsch

Right away I noted The Sixes sounded best when I sat at least 7 feet away; any closer and they sounded too bright. Bass was nicely defined on Raime’s “Quarter Turns Over A Living Line” album of gloomy post-industrial noise-tunes.

It’s the sort of music that turns to mush on most sound bars and single Bluetooth speakers, but The Sixes never faltered. The Sixes shined best when rocking out with the Rolling Stones and White Stripes, The Sixes deliver sound that gets closer to what you hear at concerts than more conventional small box wired or wireless speakers. The Sixes are gutsy performers.

For some perspective, I put together a wired system with a Marantz NR1508[5] AV receiver (£549) and a pair of wired ELAC Debut B6[6] bookshelf speakers (£279 per pair). The two systems sounded very different, the Marantz/ELAC combo had a smoother, more accurate bass/midrange/treble tonal balance, The Sixes’ sound was livelier and brighter, although the bass response was a tad uneven. I’d quickly add that The Sixes sound was more exciting than the Marantz/ELAC system, which sounded a bit drab by comparison.

I liked The Sixes, and if you’re looking for a minimalist stereo music/home theater system that kicks butt, The Sixes deserve consideration.

References

  1. ^ The Sixes (www.klipsch.com)
  2. ^ Heritage Wireless (www.klipsch.com)
  3. ^ Sonos Play:3 (www.cnet.com)
  4. ^ Tractrix horn (www.klipsch.com)
  5. ^ Marantz NR1508 (www.cnet.com)
  6. ^ ELAC Debut B6 (www.cnet.com)

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