When Paul Klipsch created his legendary Klipschorn speakers in 1946, which laid the foundation for the Klipsch company, acoustic engineering was much more of an art form than it is today.
Today, thanks to the advanced design methods proposed by Thiel and Small, and the corresponding computer programs, the competent specialist will calculate not only the characteristics of the speakers, but also estimate how they will sound with the chosen components.
However, the Klipschorns, bulky and unusual in our modern opinion, turned out to be so good in terms of the reliability of the recreation of musical material that they continue to be released to this day.
The first version of the Klipsch Forte was offered in 1985, at the beginning of the digital era, when CD was confidently proving its superiority over vinyl and tape, and audiophiles were not yet possessed by the longing for “analog” – and retro was not at all in vogue.
However, the sound quality of these speakers was so high that within 10 years they confidently outstripped their competitors and became the most popular model of the company. And so, in 2017, the Klipsch Forte III model was released, only slightly different from the original source externally, but with a new midrange radiator in the horn and an improved woofer.
Fashion dictates style
As we remember, not so long ago lifestyle was popular – speakers in thin streamlined cases, often with a fair number of radiators, through which their creators tried to circumvent the laws of nature, the essence of which boils down to the fact that a big sound with deep bass can be created with the presence of large speakers loaded with a significant volume of air.
In a sense, the current fashion for retro – including “old-school” speakers – is more loyal to the developers, allowing them not to compromise and provide a truly high-quality sound.
And some companies – for example, Klipsch – can simply return to production their own well-proven models. Naturally, having previously carried out their modernization using new materials and technologies.
This marketing approach is also advantageous because in the eyes of a fan of vintage audio equipment, the “remake” will always lose to the really “old” equipment.
The Klipsch Forte III are large, but not bulky speakers. This is due to the small (compared to the width) depth of the enclosures, which are simple rectangular parallelepipeds made of 1.9 cm thick MDF boards.
The top and side edges are finished with natural veneer, obtained from successive cuts of the same piece of wood – for an identical pattern.
There is a low pedestal below, which visually facilitates the structure. The front and rear panels are coated with special paint. A protective grille completely covers the front panel, giving the speaker a piece of furniture.
The Forte IIIs are built in a three-way design. An inch compression tweeter and a 4.5 cm titanium diaphragm midrange driver are loaded onto proprietary rectangular horns with complex wall geometry, while a 30 cm fiber composite cone woofer is loaded onto a 38 cm passive radiator that takes up almost half back panel.
The model was designed and produced with a large share of manual labor in the USA, and Paul Klipsch himself had a hand in the creation of the first version (in particular, the design of the crossover) – or rather, his ear, since he was convinced that the final tuning of the speakers should be done by ear …
When the first speakers of the company were created, the power factor of the amplifiers was decisive, since they were all tube ones, and it was still far from semiconductor ones. The horns, so revered until now at Klipsch, allowed to increase the sensitivity of the loudspeaker for obtaining high volume with low-power amplifiers.
Today there is no such problem even with tube models, and the Klipsch Forte III, having a sensitivity of 99 dB, it would seem, can work with a variety of devices.
However, there is something in them that requires increased attention to the selection of the amplifier. At least I’ve had to deal with a situation where the Klipsch Forte III sounded poor with one high-end component and was truly great with another.
Perhaps the fact is that the Magnat RV-4 turned out to be a good option – a hybrid amplifier with a preamplifier stage containing two E88CC tubes in its circuit. The source in the system was a Lyngdorf CD-2 CD player.
“Requiem” by G. Verdi begins very quietly, literally in a whisper, but you can hear everything down to the smallest detail, the scene is clearly formed, the groups of the choir are visibly represented on it. Slowly, but inexorably, the dynamics grows, the orchestra enters, the voices of the instruments are detailed and rich in timbre. All elements of a complex, multidimensional work are presented harmoniously, lively and expressively.
If the word “digitalization” and everything connected with it has already set the teeth on edge, and you want to feel something solid and material next to it, then there is nothing better than retro: a turntable, a tube amplifier or Klipsch Heritage series speakers.
Klipsch Forte III is perhaps the most compromise in terms of size and design for the modern music lover. And you don’t have to completely redo the interior of your listening room for it.