Klipsch Heresy III 70th Anniversary Edition
We live in strange times when people often throw away old stuff to buy something new, not always better. Everything gets replaced faster and faster, sometimes just for the sake of making small changes in our lives. Not surprisingly, some people are not taking part in this process anymore. Instead, they started looking for true quality in products that have been manufactured long ago. The only trouble is, these things are not easy to find.
As for vintage audio equipment, among hundreds of devices, only some are truly valuable and unique. One must have not only great knowledge and experience but also quite a lot of money to buy them. It's impossible to find legendary, hi-end equipment in perfect condition for a few hundred dollars. Renovation of such devices is just as difficult as finding them. But what if you could buy brand new speakers, which were built according to old recipes? Not a chance? Well, take a look at those offered by Klipsch. The American company has a full range of such products. Heritage models are classic loudspeakers that have been manufactured up to this day for many, many years with slight modifications. Heresy loudspeaker is one of the undisputed hits, now available in its third generation. However, it's almost an exact copy of the construction released in 1957. In other words, we can buy a brand new pair speakers designed roughly sixty years ago and improved without killing their original character.
But it's not the end of the story. To celebrate company's seventieth anniversary, Klipsch launched a special edition of this model. Heresy III 70th Anniversary Edition has received a luxurious Australian Walnut veneer, black riser and some unique touches like special stickers and nameplates on the back. This birthday gift for the fans of the brand is not easy to get hold of since just seventy pairs of these speakers have been released worldwide. And one of them has just arrived in our editorial office.
Design and functionality
For a long time I haven't come across such unique speakers available in, let's call it, acceptable price. The limited version is obviously more expensive than the standard one, but many audiophiles are willing to pay for a beautiful veneer and the pleasure of having one of only seventy pairs of these speakers. When I brought them home for the listening session, I began to wonder how it ever happened that this set of the Heresy III 70th Anniversary Edition was not acquired by some lucky client immediately after the first delivery. According to information on the manufacturer's website, with these boxes, we are not only buying great speakers but a piece of American audio history with badass sound. Yes, these are exactly the words used in the original description. The whole background of this jubilee model is only a nice addition to the main dish. Apart from a few details, such as the veneer, black risers or plaques on the back, Heresy III 70th Anniversary Edition does not differ from the basic version. Cheaper Heresy III model offers the same technology and basically the same sound. To be brutally honest, the standard Heresy III will probably be the only version of this model you will be able to buy.
Why are these speakers so unique? First and foremost, they have been produced for over sixty years and they look almost exactly the same. They are not scratched and battered at the edges, they have no damaged suspension in the woofers, or capacitors in the crossover that need to be replaced immediately. This is a completely new product, although manufactured just like it has been in 1957. The world of audio equipment knows several similar stories, like for example Sennheiser HD 414 headphones manufactured since 1968 or the McIntosh MC275 power amp, presented for the first time in 1961. The changes in subsequent generations of Heresy were rather cosmetic, which makes them even more unique.
The design is also unusual for today's standards. Heresy III is a large monitor speaker standing on factory-mounted plinths, which are designed to tilt the boxes backward. Technically we are dealing with floor standing speakers, with the height barely exceeding 60 cm. Klipsch says that thanks to the compact housing, these three-way speakers are very versatile in terms of positioning. They should perform just fine everywhere and with every type of electronics. For us, however, such a construction is weird, to say the least. It's like having Spendor or Harbeth monitors and placing them on the floor with a small wooden block under the front wall. It absolutely doesn't fit in today's standards, according to which the tweeter should be approximately on the same level as the listener's ears. Here it's more like knee level, but... Tilting the boxes back makes us actually feel as though they were standing in front of us. You just have to look down. Everything is correct, but at a slightly different angle, and of course with the right distance between the speakers and our listening place. For a moment I even thought what would happen if we replaced the factory risers with heavy stands with a height of say 40 cm. I think the result could be interesting, and certainly closer to our standard perception of the soundstage. Placing such monitors on the floor requires one more small thing - removing any obstacles such as chairs, stools or tables. For example, I had to take a small coffee table outside the listening room. However, I can easily imagine a situation in which Heresy IIIs will be set up incorrectly and deliver great sound anyway.
The uniqueness of American speakers doesn't end there. Their acoustic system is also unusual. Two horn speakers and a large classic woofer operating in a closed enclosure? That's very freaky by today's standards. It would seem that an arched notch in the riser is an element of the tuning system, but that's not the case. Heresy III is a completely sealed box. The 30.48 cm woofers have composite membranes with wavy suspension. The midrange is reproduced by the 4.45 cm titanium speaker in a wide horn, while the highest frequencies are covered by a very similar 2.54 cm driver, with a proportionally smaller horn. All drivers are placed close to one another. The basket of the woofer even overlaps the enclosure of the midrange speaker. As you can guess, all this is to improve consistency and stereo imaging. To see all these things, you need to remove the grilles that perfectly match the wooden edges of the front wall. Their dismantling is not particularly difficult because they are magnetically mounted. I guess the grilles should be removed for critical listening, but in my opinion, they don't affect the sound too much.
So what do we have on the back? It's simply another black panel with double speaker terminals and special nameplates. You may wonder why the back wall is not finished in Australian Walnut veneer as well, but to be honest, I don't know. For me, it's acceptable, because somehow these black rear walls go with the general styling of these speakers. Also, the Heresy III 70th Anniversary Edition are delivered in two boxes described as left and right channel. Usually, it means that the drivers are arranged asymmetrically, but that's not the case here. For the Heritage series, Klipsch only uses book-matched wood veneers. Its leaves are kept in order as they are delicately sliced from the timber and precisely arranged to provide a mirror image at the splice joint, like turning the pages of a book. This gives each speaker an aesthetically appealing and consistent appearance. Americans say that in addition to enclosures, the drivers are also precisely matched to create a perfect pair.
The second interesting fact concerns the stabilizing plinth. In regular versions, these elements are veneered, but here they are just black, which makes the limited speakers even more unique. For some customers, this decision will be incomprehensible. What's more, the speakers actually stand on four metal studs tucked into the riser. So forget about spikes because, in order to mount them, you would have to modify the plinths. But this also means you don't have to worry about such details. Compared to most speakers available on the market today, the Heresy III is in a completely different galaxy, both technically and visually. But what about the sound?
American loudspeakers totally surprised me. Why? Because they offer the sound that many modern loudspeakers can only dream of! Yes, I had to get used to the soundstage which was lower than usual, but to be honest, it was pretty similar to sitting further from the stage in a concert hall. These speakers simply offer huge sound, especially in terms of power and depth. The location of the artists and instruments could have been more precise, but all this doesn't matter because the Heresy III creates a wall of sound in which we want to be immersed, and just forget about the whole world for a moment.
For me, the biggest surprise was the sound of mid and high frequencies. It's simply sensational and harmonious, without any sharp edges or flat, aggressive vocals I was sort of ready to hear from horns like these. The sound turned out to be fast and very direct but also had a very natural temperature, which was just so nice. The Americans managed to merge the sound from all the drivers almost perfectly, without any stitching. The same can be said about the area in between the bass and the midrange. I didn't notice anything disturbing here either. Theoretically, I should, because the 12inch woofer should be hard to mix with a 4.5cm horn-loaded midrange. The gap should be easy to spot, not only because of the different size of the membranes, but also the materials of which they were made. Mind you, Klipsch has been making these speakers for over fifty years now, and there are good reasons for this. I know that some of the attributes of this sound may seem contradictory, but Klipsch found some magic way to link it all together. The end result is a natural, exceptionally pleasant and physiological sound. Anyway, I got involved in this musical performance very quickly.
Now, let's talk about the bass. Here I got exactly what I imagined looking at the big woofers in sealed boxes. We are dealing with a rare combination of depth and control, but you can hear that the ability to dictate the rhythm of the music was perhaps the most important thing for the designers. Generally, the bass is a bit less generous than you might have expected if you just saw the 12inch woofers, not knowing that they are working in a closed box. Some of the experienced audiophiles will find this to be a great advantage of these loudspeakers over more popular vented designs. But it must be said that the bass is quite unusual so others may assess it as lack of the lowest frequencies. During all our listening sessions, I never complained about the bass, perhaps because its response and timing was just phenomenal. Somehow, even without pumped-up low frequencies, they offer a dense, pleasant sound without any unnatural effects. These days, something like this is just hard to find.
Build quality and technical parameters
Klipsch Heresy III 70th Anniversary Edition is a three-way floor standing loudspeaker in a sealed enclosure. The original design has been released in 1957. The speakers were designed as a compact equivalent of famous Klipschorns. In 1985 the project was slightly refreshed and marketed as Heresy II. Today, the third edition is equipped with a powerful woofer, dual terminals and tweeter with a titanium diaphragm, benefiting from a larger magnet. The midrange horn driver is also made of titanium. The limited edition is no different from the basic Heresy III model in terms of technical solutions and parameters. The 2.54cm K-107-TI tweeter and similar 4.45cm K-53-TI midrange driver are both equipped with large horns for high efficiency. The bass is reproduced by the classic K-28-E driver with a 30.48cm cone made of composite fiber. The crossover frequency has been set at 850 Hz and 5 kHz. The overall efficiency reaches 99 dB, which at a nominal impedance of 8 Ω makes the American speakers easy to be driven by literally every amplifier, including tube amps with very limited output power. Frequency response starts at 58 Hz and goes up to 20 kHz, which is also a great result for a sealed box. The speakers are also labeled with special stickers and plaques - one with a signature of the person who made our pair, and the second one with a signature of the employee responsible for the final quality control.
Marantz HD-DAC1, Chord Hugo 2, Unison Research Triode 25, Synthesis Roma 96DC+, Cardas Parsec, Enerr Tablette 6S, Equilibrium Tune 33 Light, Solid Tech Radius Duo 3.
My time with the Klipsch Heresy III 70th Anniversary Edition was relatively short but very intense. They are so extraordinary, I can only compare them with some loudspeakers based on similar technology. JBL 4429, Harbeth Super HL5 Plus? The fact is Heresy III doesn't really fit in any category. They are not like typical vintage speakers because you can buy them brand new, and their design has been modified, so it's not an exact copy of the 1957 model. Also, let's not forget that these boxes are not even normal monitors because they should be placed on the floor. Today, it seems like madness. We also get pretty unusual drivers and the sound, which - contrary to appearances - is very attractive and not controversial at all. It is very impressive, but also natural and enjoyable. I will not mince words - this is one of the most interesting speakers on the market today. No bullshit!
Speakers type: Floorstander, 3-way, closed box
Sensitivity: 99 dB
Impedance: 8 Ω
Frequency response: 58 Hz - 20 kHz
Recommended amplifier power: max 100 W
Dimensions (H/W/D): 60,5/39,4/33,7 cm
Weight: 20 kg (one piece)