Klipsch Gallery G-28/G-12 Speaker System Page 2
My reference gear, as usual, included the Rotel RSX-1550 A/V receiver and Oppo BDP-83SE universal disc player. All movie demos were Blu-ray Discs with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks, and all music demos were CDs.
Imagine Yourself in a Boat on a River
As horn-loaded speakers often are, the Klipsch Galleries were imaging champs. The 90-degree horns directed frequencies above the 2.2-kilohertz crossover—upper midrange and up—to intensely differentiate and focus objects throughout the soundfield. Exceptional clarity in the presence region gilded voices with an extra measure of intelligibility, which subtly outlined them but didn’t hype them. The G-28’s imaging prowess remained consistent even when cut down to two channels—singing voices would track my lateral head movements, but the soundstage didn’t altogether collapse even when I was well off axis. The dispersion of the horns was wide enough to cover every position on the sofa. The midrange frequencies below the tweeter crossover offered slightly less intense focus but still good resolution, and midbass balanced well with the lows. At the sub crossover, the satellites and sub seemed to mate smoothly.
Kingdom of War is a Thai-made epic about medieval culture, politics, friendship, and war. Its eventful soundtrack gave me a chance to assess the Galleries with a wide variety of voices, effects, and music over a running time of nearly six hours. Klipsch has had decades of experience with horns and has long been adept at avoiding the worst horn-related colorations, such as extreme nasality and the cupped-hands effect. While the upper mids handled by the horn tweeter didn’t abruptly detach from the lower mids at the 2.2-kHz crossover point, it was clear where one left off and the other began. I’d characterize what I heard as spotlighting, or what some might describe as added emphasis in the presence region. Low frequencies were precisely the opposite story, and the sub produced well-defined pitches and deftly handed them off to the upper speakers. The sub underplayed war scenes slightly and lacked the brute-force output of a larger (and/or cruder) product, but I was happy to accept quality over quantity.
Setup is an urban heist flick in which Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson lends impassive gravitas and Bruce Willis offers comic relief. The satellite/sub crossover continued to be impressively seamless with male voices and effects alike. By now I was used to the character the horns imparted and had processed their spotlighting effect into my expectations to the point where it seemed benign and even pleasurable to listen to. The horns exhibited noticeable vocal coloration only in this movie, and only in one scene with in-car conversation. The addition of car acoustics tipped the balance. The effect recurred nowhere else.
Ne le Dis à Personne (Tell No One) is the contemporary French equivalent of a Hitchcock hunted-man psychological drama. Occasional eruptions of music benefited from the speakers’ presence-region emphasis. The G-28’s confident vocal adeptness made it easyfor me to catch and comprehend the few French phrases I understand.
See Me, Feel Me
David Byrne’s self-titled album from 1994 got me listening to Paul Socolow’s melodic bass lines. The system’s bottom end didn’t leap out and grab me by the throat, but its sure-footed tunefulness suited the bass player and enabled him to offer a warm and straightforward counterpoint to Byrne’s detached and ironic vocals. I found myself walking over to the G-28 to feel the drivers and note the difference between the excursions of the active and passive drivers. The active ones moved farther, of course, but my fingertips could still feel the passive radiators moving with every bass note, drum impact, and even the voice. Not only could I feel the passive radiators move, but I could even see them move. The satellites held up their (bottom) end of the bargain and contributed to a satisfying blend with the subwoofer.
I turned to a 1781 baroque cello in Il Progetto Vivaldi 2, on which the Gallery system uncovered resonant wood textures that began in the midbass but were most striking past the tweeter crossover. This brought cellist Sol Gabetta forward in the soundstage and placed her small string chamber ensemble slightly behind. My non-horn-loaded, fabric-domed tweeter desktop system got more soundstage depth out of this CD, but it tended to defocus flurries of harpsichord notes, whereas the Galleries were better at separating the instrument’s plucked-string attack into impeccably timed discrete notes. These period stringed and keyboard instruments offered the G-28 an open invitation to exaggerate or pollute its high-frequency presentation—yet it was commendably free from grit, with extended though not sizzly highs.
On Ella Fitzgerald’s At the Opera House, the speakers’ horn-loaded tweeters and enhanced presence brought out previously unnoticed finger snaps and resolved every detail of breathing, although Fitzgerald might not have preferred her intakes of breath to be so prominent. The album contains two nearly identical sets from 1957, one recorded in stereo with a small ensemble, the other in mono with a larger ensemble.
The mono recording was better balanced, with Fitzgerald breathtakingly imaged at the center by the left and right speakers. The speakers made me acutely aware of how fastidiously she manipulated the microphone and only rarely smeared sibilants, a triumph for both performer and transducers. They even mustered a smidgen of depth in the mono recording—and used timbral distinctions between singer and band, as opposed to spatial cues.
If the prospect of mating your flat-panel HDTV with chunky audiofool speakers has you wondering, What’s wrong with this picture?, the Klipsch Gallery line will smooth over that visual incongruity. These speakers do a great job of producing listenable and engaging (albeit distinctive and idiosyncratic) sound with a flat form factor that’s likely acceptable to décor-conscious homebodies.