Belle Klipsch review

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by SKATTERBRANE, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    I got my Belle Klipsch delivered on Friday. I have been listening intensely and often since then.

    I never understood the objection to the sound of Klipsch based on the fact I really like my Forte I. But NOW I get it! The Belles have several problems.

    1. They have a bass resonance, you cannot hear the cabinets per se, but you can hear the effect they have on music. Sometimes drums sound like cardboard boxes for example. There is a specific frequency range in which they do.

    2. They ARE "shouty" in the midrange. Not only that, they are also "chesty" and "hooded". As a singer goes up and down the scales, they go from chesty to nasal. And I do not mean that it is the characteristic of the singer, as ALL the vocals I have auditioned do this. It is frequency dependent. It matters not whether I am using the original mid drivers or the new 55-Gs. (It only takes 5 minutes to switch them out back and forth).

    3. Acoustic instruments change in size depending on frequency. An acoustic guitar does not hang in the soundstage in its natural size, instead it grows to gigantic proportions in the lower registers and shrinks back down in the higher registers. Sometimes the guitar body seems 20 feet long.


    I have to say these are the worst sounding speakers I have ever owned based on "audiophile" criteria. Now if you want to ROCK OUT, then hey, they are great. But the "sweet spot" reveals a host of severe problems as it comes to reproducing music. Give me my Rogers Studio 1As any day. Yes, and even my Forte Is trounce these Belles in just about every department. They are a fine piece of furniture that happen to have speakers built in. Much like (but not as bad) as those expensive console stereos of the 60s. (We called them "sound coffins" back in the day).

    It pissed me off because it is not like one can sell them easily as they weight 125 lbs each. I bought them without hearing them, because, well there are none to hear anywhere in AZ. And secondly I really LIKE the sound of the Klipsch Forte speakers. They are horns too.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  2. Wngnt90

    Wngnt90 Forum Resident

    How old are they? Did you check the crossovers to see if they need work?
     
    JediJoker7169 likes this.
  3. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    That's how I feel about the Klipsch ones I've heard, although I couldn't remember the specific models. They all had these issues except for the bass reasonance problem you mentioned.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  4. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Crossovers have been recapped. I even put in new mid and tweeter drivers, no help. As I say the Fortes I have sound MUCH better in all respects I have described above. All Belles are old, but mine are from 1973 with AA crossovers which have been recapped with Sonicaps. Trying either the original drivers (K-77, K-55V) or the newly designed and recommended ones, (C120 tweeters and A-55G squawkers) the problems persist. I was expecting a much better and more accurate midrange as that is what all the Klipsch heritage owners say the K-horn, LaScala and Belles do better than any other heritage model including the Forte I. Heck even my Heresy IIIs sound better in the aspects I mentioned. As I say, these are the WORST as it comes to soundstage, instrument placement and proportions. I want an singer or instrument to be ROCK SOLID in size and placement throughout the performance. I do not want the guitar to go from smaller than life size to the size of an elephant as it is played up and down the fingerboard.

    I should have spent the money on new Forte IIIs.
     
    The Pinhead likes this.
  5. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
  6. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
  7. bobdog

    bobdog Forum Resident

    You will have no problem selling them. How much did you pay?
     
  8. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    I paid $5250. I KNOW everyone on the Klipsch board says I paid too much because I could have gotten a set for 1/2 that. But then I would have had to get them restored. I WANTED perfect veneer. And the all the ones that have sold or are for sale all over the country are typically Walnut with many small strips of veneer butted together. I talked to a few that have restored Belles themselves. One example is a guy who got a pair for $400 and then proceeded to put another $5500 in them and he sold them for $4000. So, at least I did not have to go through the pain of getting them restored. They are perfect in the aesthetics department. They are rosewood done by a premier furniture maker.
    If someone LIKES the sound of Belles, I think they will LOVE the looks of these Belles. But, alas, here in Tucson no one has the money or interest in our hobby it seems. Tucson is a the 3rd world compared to many metropolitan areas.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  9. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    One last hope is I ordered some ALK crossovers. It will be 2 months before I get them, so I will have gotten well used to these by then to easily determine whether the new crossovers make a difference. I am NOT optimistic. As I say neither my Forte I nor Heresy III have these problems to this degree.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  10. beavis

    beavis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sayre, Pa. USA
    Hold on for those ALK crossovers....they transformed my 1976 LaScalas.....shouty, piercing, etc with the original AA crossovers, like your Belles.....then a world of difference!

    While you are in the speakers change the wiring....consider some of the tinned copper offerings like Belden 9497.
     
    JediJoker7169, djost and SandAndGlass like this.
  11. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Well I hope you are right! I would LOVE to keep these Belles, but only if the can sound at least as good as the Fortes do. I know they will not go as LOW as the Fortes, but heck, I use an ENTEC subwoofer no matter what my main speakers are.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  12. Joe F

    Joe F Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas TX USA
    Did you buy those out of Texas by chance?
     
  13. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Yes. They freakin' gorgeous. The seller is a great communicator and a very talented laminator. He makes a fantastic crate as well. I have NO complaints about the seller. I would recommend dealing with him to anyone.
     
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  14. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    Are you using a big SS amp? That’s kind of what my cornwalls sounded like when I put a 200wpc amp to them, it was awful. Sure, I you want to rock And cause hearing loss, it’s a great combination.

    I’ve not heard bells but I think they are around 100db efficient. What they need to sound their best is a tube amp.
     
    Sneaky Pete, Helom and SandAndGlass like this.
  15. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident

    Never had the Bells but had a new pair of La Scalas which are similar. It didn’t take me very long to switch to a new pair of Klipschorns which imo had a far more balanced and coherent presentation and much better bottom end. In all far “smoother” across the board.

    I’ve been aware of rather radical yet successful modifications to the big Klipsch speakers including useing JBL Pro med compliant/efficiency woofers to great effect. Experiment and you could come up with a real winner. I wouldn’t rule out an active dividing network between Low- Mid drivers.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  16. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    As for the SS amp, it is a Threshold S300II. It works great with Heresy and Forte, which are not quite as efficient. I would say in real world terms, only one detent more attenuation on my preamp brings the Belle down to Forte levels. I have to take the cabinets apart to change the bass driver, not doing that.

    I am not concerned about bass extension, as I have a great Subwoofer (the only component that has been with me since I bought it back in the early 1980s). It is the bass colorations that EVERYONE tells me is present in the direct radiating and/or passive driver Heritage Klipch line, but not on the folded horn bass Klipsch. Everyone recommends the Belles, or LaScalas for their "accurate" bass. Of course every agrees to get that accuracy AND extension, K-horns are the way to go. But K-horn requires specific room, with them placed along the LONG wall and preferably with a center channel. I have heard K-horns a long time ago and I liked their tonality. But that was before I understood imaging and a host of other things to listen for. It is a matter of experience and preferences.

    I am not ever getting another set of Klipsch. I have been there done that as far as I am willing to go. I will go back to my Rogers Studio 1A. I have loved them ever since I heard them back in the 80s as well.
     
  17. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Central PA
    I’m afraid spending $5250 is a hard lesson to learn by not listening to a speaker first, no matter what they look like.
     
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  18. Joe F

    Joe F Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas TX USA
    Ok

    Well those were my speakers at one time. Thought I recognized them. I sold them to the person you bought them from a few years ago. They were finished in mahogany although the veneer had quite a bit of trouble .

    I ended up selling them for the very reasons you say that you’re not real thrilled with . I do like the horn sound but I had a pair 1960 vintage klipschorns, the ones with the wooden horn, sitting in an extra room for years and really wanted to get those going which I have now . He does very nice veneer work and I’m planning on having him redo mine at some point . He had those for sale locally I believe for $5500 at one point .
     
    segue likes this.
  19. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Yeah I suppose I could have transported my system to someone who has a pair of Belles for sale, flown or drove in and spent a couple of days with them. Or I could have paid someone to ship them to me with the right to return them if they sounded in some manner that I did not like in which the seller probably would have no idea what in the heck I am talking about. I was basing my expectations on Cornwalls, Forte I, Heresy II and Heresy III and most people's comments on LaScala and Belles have even more accurate can clear midrange and bass (not as low as Forte or Cornwall) and even image BETTER than any of those. It is a general consensus among those who are into Klipsch and have experience with many models. I did not care about those who discount Klipsch out of hand because I LIKE my Forte I speakers.

    I cannot go to a music salon and try them out like I could back in 1980-1990 here. Does anyone have a loaner set of K-horns they would ship to me to see if they satisfy my preferences?
     
  20. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Yep, I LIKE the horn sound on my Forte I and I understand the Forte II and III are even better, but I'll be damned if I will take general consensus again in the Klipsch world. I have no desire to even try a set of Forte II or IIIs after this experience. They seem to be insulted if anyone refers to them as an audiophile. I am beginning to understand why (because they are not!)
     
  21. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Every piece of equipment I have bought since the 90s has been without hearing it first. Most of the time I buy used and something that I can ship FEDEX. So, I sometimes make a couple of bucks but usually lose a few bucks. No big deal. I have found that other people's opinions don't matter that much. Most are not as critical as I am and a few are FAR more discerning than I am. However personal taste plays heavily. Had I not really liked my Forte Is, and my Heresy IIIs, I would NEVER have taken this chance. I gambled and lost, not the first time, not the last.
     
  22. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Now I understand what the Klipsch people mean by BIG sound. It is not that the soundstage is lifelike and the instruments within the soundstage are lifelike in size. It is that EVERYTHING is HUGE within the smaller than life soundstage.
     
  23. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I love my Klipsch speakers, but they are not suited for playing cds. Records sound great though.
     
    bluesaddict likes this.
  24. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Klipsch are theater speakers. If you play them in a normal size listening room, you gotta be ready to ROCK. :agree:
     
  25. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    :doh: Well that pretty much sums it up doesn't it?
     

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