Gadget Gary: Klipsch LightSpeakers
A s many of you know, I built a house a little over 3 years ago and wired it to the hilt. I thought I had my future-proof bases well covered, but 3 years is a lifetime in today's techie world. When we first moved in there, my sons were 12 and 8 years old. They liked music to some degree, but since it wasn't a prioirty for them, I didn't bother to wire their rooms for speakers. Fast forward: My kids are now veterans in using iPods, iPod touches, and the Sonos wireless multiroom music system. It's no surprise, then, that my iTunes bill is through the roof. Nowadays, having music in their rooms has become way more important than it was when the house was built, Sure, I could call my installer and have wires snaked all through the house, but I really don't want to deal with that mess. And it would probably cost another small fortune.
I've found a pretty good solution for my predicament: the Klipsch LightSpeaker system ($599; klipsch.com). It's essentially a wireless speaker that's built into a light bulb. (Well, okay, technically, it's not built into the bulb itself, but it's part of a lighting system that can screw into any Edison-type socket.) Here's how it works. You get two lights with the wireless speakers built in. You get a wireless tabletop transmitter, an RF remote, and a nice array of wires. The system can handle up to eight LightSpeakers; each additional one goes for $250. If you want to put speakers in your house but don't want to rip up the walls, this is a major bargain; plus, there's no install fee involved.
The LightSpeaker transmitter, which has a range of up to 50 feet, has two zones that allow you to use two different sources. The system comes with a remote control that enables volume adjustment and source switching. It also allows you to turn the lights on and off as well as dim them.
Installation is very easy. (I mean, if you can screw a light bulb into a socket, then you're 75% of the way to completing this project.) The LightSpeakers can fit into any 5- or 6-inch recessed ceiling cans. Since my kids share a bathroom, I decided to try them out in there. After I screwed them in, I put the transmitter under one of my son's desks and selected our household's Sonos S5 wireless system as the music source. I simply ran a stereo mini-plug from the S5 to the Klipsch transmitter. And that was it. Done in a flash. We were ready to crank the tunes.
So my sons and I took the LightSpeakers on a test drive. We started with a latter-day Aerosmith classic, "Love in an Elevator." The sound was impressive in this small room. After our music session, we tuned in a baseball game on the MLB Network on Sirius XM. My kids love to keep up with their teams while in the shower, so this was a great application.
I outfitted my home theater with an array of higher-end Klipsch speakers, so I was happy to hear a similar level of quality in these small ones-tight bass, nice highs. Really great sound overall, in fact. I've used wireless speakers in the past, and while they got the job done, it always seemed like I was trading quality for ease of use. With the Klipsch LightSpeakers, I'm getting the best of both worlds.
One thing I found odd about the system was that the light itself has to be on for the speakers to work. It's a minor issue, and the folks at Klipsch have told me that they're working on changing it.
Bottom line: The LightSpeakers were a godsend. Do my kids absolutely need to have music in their bathroom? Well, no, not exactly, but at this price, this ease of use, and this level of enjoyment, how could I deny them?