Test Report: Klipsch HD Theater 600 5.1 Speaker System Page 3

For example, let’s take Chapter 4 (in which Peter awakens to his new powers): The echoey soundtrack here is busy and heavy in all channels, yet the plinks of Peter climbing the fire escape still sounded clear and convincing, as did the dialogue in his encounter with the toughs. There’s enough low-end oomph to conjure up real movie sound and, as long as you keep the sub level quite lean, a tolerable degree of midbass boom. (That said, the little Klipsch sub is no brute: Material like the famous cannons from Master and Commander was audibly bereft of bottom-octave underpinnings.)

Other factors, less glamorous but of at least equal importance: The Klipsch system’s miniature center speaker made a surprisingly close match to its lateral mates, and held its tonal character well to substantially off-axis listening angles; it should answer nicely in most rational living-room setups even with fairly close-in seating. The surround-channel sats, identical to the main L/R pair, worked decently in this task, though the relatively modest dispersion of mids and highs, and the high crossover, tended to make them somewhat easier to localize by ear. The time-tested trick of aiming them toward the side walls to “wash” reflected sound into the listening space proved effective for film-sound ambience.

Klipsch lists the 8-inch sub’s output as extending — unqualified — to 36 Hz, and while this may be so at low levels, I found the useful limit to be rather higher. Nevertheless, the little sub did a very good job to that point, which is effective for the vast majority of music. When pushed hard at the bottom of its range, the woofer did produce some fairly strong, impulsive port “chuffing” (it sounded almost like clacking), but this was nearly always obscured by high levels of full-range music at such loud settings. Otherwise, the sub’s limiting circuitry worked well, keeping any audible distress from intruding even at ridiculous volume levels.

And speaking of level, the HD Theater 600 can deliver quite a bit. The tiny Klipsches play louder, clean, than I would have expected, and while some dynamic compression is clearly happening, given adequate power they will impress even experienced listeners with their sheer output.