This week we tested the Klipsch The Sixes speakers, a model which differs from the rest of the American manufacturer’s offering due to its integrated amplifier, phono preamp, digital inputs and Bluetooth wireless receiver. A true compact hi-fi system combining vintage design and modern technology.
No need for an external amplifier to drive these speakers as the right speaker is already fitted with a 2×100-Watt amplifier. The two speakers are linked by a proprietary speaker cable (included).
Klipsch The Sixes: which sources?
A grand total of five sources can be used.
The Bluetooth SBC receiver enables the streaming of music stored on a smartphone, tablet, computer, or even a Bluetooth-enabled TV. The transmission quality is the less gratifying of the five options since the source applies a lossy compression algorithm to the tracks. Moreover, the transmission range is limited to 10 m.
A dedicated USB type-B port situated on the back panel of the speaker allows the user to connect a computer. The Klipsch The Sixes speaker is automatically detected as an external sound card by Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Audio stream up to 24-bits/192kHz is handled. Note that specific drivers must be downloaded from the official Klipsch website for computers running Windows.
The optical Toslink port is the second digital input and is compatible with audio stream up to 24-bits/96kHz. The most common sources for this port are HD and UHD TVs, although it is also possible to connect an optical player (CD, Blu-ray). For the latter, note that the source’s audio output needs to be set to PCM format. Dolby and DTS formats do not seem to be handled.
Two analog inputs are made available, one 3.5mm mini-jack and one stereo RCA. The Klipsch The Sixes speakers are compatible with all traditional music sources. The RCA input can also be used as a phono input.
The Klipsch The Sixes speaker does not feature a network player function. Nevertheless, a Google Chromecast or Sonos Connect network player may be connected to the optical input to listen to Deezer, Spotify and Qobuz, for example.
Klipsch The Sixes: technology
The Klipsch The Sixes speakers feature a high-efficiency Class-D amplifier. It combines a high power rating (100 Watts), low power consumption and compact size.
Thanks to this high power rating, the Klipsch The Sixes speakers can deliver up to 106 db (at 1m). Pretty loud.
The Klipsch The Sixes speakers are part of the Klipsch Heritage Wireless range, which also includes the Klipsch The One and Klipsch The Three speakers. Aesthetically inspired by the legendary Klipsch Heritage range (Klipsch Heresy III, Klipsch Cornwall III, and the soon-to-be-released Klipsch Forte III, for example), the Heritage Wireless speakers do not offer the same features. No large bass driver here, and no double acoustic horn for the mids/highs.
The Klipsch The Sixes are fitted with a 1” titanium dome tweeter placed in a square Tractrix horn. The 6.5” mid-bass driver’s efficiency is enhanced by the use of bass-reflex technology. This specific model is only used for the Klipsch Reference and Klipsch Reference Premiere series.
The advantage of the horn is that it considerably reduces the driver’s distortion rate (the tweeter, in this case), by mechanically increasing its efficiency. Less power is thus required from the amplifier and the cone does not vibrate as much (hence lowering the distortion rate). In addition, the horn acts as an acoustic waveguide, which results in a more concentrated sound delivery. In other words, the sound is less diffused when it reaches the listener. Using this technique without making the sound seem projected is no walk in the park, and Klipsch has mastered this technology for decades.
Klipsch The Sixes: package contents
The speakers come with a remote control, a 6-meter-long proprietary connection cable, a type-A to type-B USB cable, a Toslink optical cable, and a power cable.
Klipsch The Sixes: test conditions
We connected a Rega Planar 1 turntable to the Klipsch The Sixes and listened to FLAC files stored on a Xiaomi smartphone using Bluetooth transmission.
Klipsch The Sixes: listening impressions
There is no doubt that we’re listening to a Klipsch speaker here. The sound is dynamic, colorful, and almost aggressive at times when listening at high volume. The horn-loaded tweeter is not to blame, as the titanium dome is soft and delivers a coherent, wide and deep sound. The mid-bass driver is full of energy and dives relatively low, with a real burst of energy around 60 Hz, which echoes the vitality of the highs. The Klipsch The Sixes benefit from an enjoyable, physiological sound signature.
At high volume, we noticed some harshness in the mids caused by resonance in the cabinet, probably due to a lack or absence of internal padding. When listening at low or medium volume, the sound is warm.
Klipsch The Sixes: conclusion
What we liked:
- The vintage look
- The meticulous real wood finish
- The multiple analog and digital inputs
What we would have liked:
- Less harshness at high volume
The Klipsch The Sixes shine first and foremost for their design and connectivity. These beautiful musical objects are gratifying at moderate volume and compete against the Klipsch RB-81 MKII speakers paired up with the Klipsch PowerGate stereo receiver.French