This week we reviewed the Klipsch Heritage HP-3 high-end, semi-open headphones -the flagship model of the U.S. manufacturer’s range of headphones. Are the Heritage range headphones as good as the Klipsch Heresy III and Klipsch Forte III speakers?
While Klipsch has been one of the leading names in loudspeaker design for both hi-fi and professional sound (concert halls, cinemas) for over 70 years, the brand has only recently entered the headphone and earbud market with the release of headphones such as the Klipsch X10i. Klipsch’s catalog now features earbuds, Bluetooth earbuds, Bluetooth headphones and hi-fi headphones.
The Klipsch Heritage HP-3 are the newest and most sophisticated hi-fi headphones designed by the brand.
Klipsch Heritage HP-3: from the Heritage range
The Klipsch Heritage range regroups older loudspeaker models designed between the 1950s and 1980s by the founder of the brand, Paul Wilbur Klipsch. These speakers have the particularity of being highly efficient and are fitted with acoustic horns. These legendary speakers offer an ultra-realistic listening experience and are regularly revamped -like the Klipsch Heresy III and, more recently, the exceptional Klipsch Forte III. Nevertheless, the Heritage HP-3 headphones did not inherit any technological traits from these speakers.
The Klipsch Heritage HP-3 has a conventional sensitivity rating (98 dB / mW), and its 2” wideband driver is not used for any Klipsch speaker.
The transducer is a KG-520 biodynamic model featuring a paper cone reinforced with synthetic fibers. According to the manufacturer, this driver covers frequencies between 5 Hz and 45 kHz.
This is rather surprising considering the materials used in the construction of these headphones and the fact that even the smallest and most rigid tweeter built by the manufacturer doesn’t go up this high. Its sensitivity rating is average (98 dB), suggesting a rather linear response curve. The KG-520 driver is combined with a copper voice coil capable of withstanding high levels of electric current (up to 1.8 W).
The magnet paired up with this voice coil generates a magnetic field of one Tesla. This high rating allows for rigorous control of the cone’s excursion. Lastly, the nominal impedance rating is 25 Ohms into 1 kHz and does not vary much from one end of the spectrum to the other, according to Klipsch.
In other words, most DAPs and headphone amplifiers should have no trouble making the Klipsch Heritage HP-3 sing.
Klipsch Heritage HP-3: finish
The Klipsch Heritage HP-3 headphones are exceptionally elegant and feature varnished wood earcups, a light brown leather headband, and brushed aluminum components. Klipsch has pulled all the stops to make these headphones particularly pleasant to the touch. The HP-3 is rather comfortable, although its weight results in a certain inertia with sudden head movements.
Klipsch Heritage HP-3: accessories
The Klipsch Heritage HP-3 comes with a carrying case made of wood and plastic, a display stand in kit form (a screwdriver is required but not included), and two detachable cables -a 1.4 m long (4.5 ft) cable fitted with a 3.5 mm mini-jack connector and a 2.5 m long (8 ft) cable with a 6.35 mm jack connector (for the headphone output of a hi-fi amplifier, for example). Note that the Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier has been designed to ensure optimum performance with the HP-3.
Klipsch Heritage HP-3: test conditions and listening impressions
We listened to the Klipsch Heritage HP-3 with the FiiO X7 II DAP as well as with various smartphones and enjoyed a high output level every time. We listened to FLAC and MP3 files via Deezer.
Sound signature: the restitution is physiological and full of energy in the lows. The mids are a little quiet and the highs are slightly emphasized. The sound signature stays the same regardless of the sound level, and the HP-3 ensures a serene sound delivery even at high volume. Paradoxically, the soundstage is wider at high volume.
Lows: this is the HP-3’s forte. The energy is well distributed from the infrabass to the high-bass. The double bass growls joyfully and the kick drum sounds clean. The extension in the infrabass is pleasant and provides a solid foundation.
Mids: slight coloration in the mids -despite the absence of emphasis on this range- which actually works against these headphones’ hi-fi aspirations. We noticed some bumps in the frequency response curve, but quickly got used to it.
Highs: properly balanced with respect to the other ranges, despite a slight emphasis which doesn’t impact the breadth of the soundstage.
Tones: the lack of smoothness in the highs impacts the instruments’ tonal accuracy.
Soundstage: another of the Klipsch Heritage HP-3’s strengths is the notable depth and width of its soundstage. The soundstage is as deep as it is wide and offers a particularly convincing 3D effect.
Klipsch Heritage HP-3: compared to…
Focal Clear: the Focal headphones benefit from a wider soundstage as well as a lot more finesse from lows to highs. The Focal headphones are also more comfortable.
B&W P9 Signature: the Klipsch Heritage HP-3 offers a softer, more linear, and more dynamic sound restitution and benefits from a better layering of the soundstage.
Sennheiser HD660S: the Sennheiser headphones are more rigorous in the mids and offer a more spacious restitution, although less substantial in the lows.
What we liked
- The physiological response curve
- The extension in the lows
- The absence of auditory fatigue, even during long listening sessions
- The 3D soundstage
- The display stand
What we would have liked
- Smoother mids
- To experience the sound of Klipsch Heritage speakers
- Lighter weight
- A more accessible price
The Klipsch Heritage HP-3 hi-fi headphones seem to have been designed for long listening sessions at low and high sound level alike. Although they lack precision in the mids, this is counterbalanced by their accuracy in the lows and their spacious 3D soundstage. A prolonged listening session is necessary to enjoy the full potential of these headphones, as it doesn’t immediately shine through.
This post is also available in: French