Klipsch XF-48 Speaker System Real-World Performance
David Mamet's Redbelt is a character study of real-life jujitsu master Mike Terry (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor). It may not be one of Mamet's better works, but the fight scenes' visceral impact is truly startling—the sound of every punch and kick packs a wallop. I love the way the score's throbbing drums punctuate the fights' physicality. This is the sort of film that relies heavily on the sound mix to convey drama, and the XF-48 Home Theater System was definitely up for the feel-it-in-your-bones hijinks.
In Noise, David Owen (Tim Robbins) is so unhinged by urban din he declares a one-man war on car alarms. The opening montage of city noise—the roar of traffic, sirens, horns, jack hammers, blaring radios—topped off by the glare of car alarms put me so convincingly inside the mayhem it was hard to tell the difference between the soundtrack and the real car alarms and sirens outside my window!
Speaking of loud, when I played the White Stripes Under Blackpool Lights concert DVD at a healthy volume, the XF-48 Home Theater System didn't seem to mind. There was no strain—the Klipsch ensemble played the Stripes' hard rock with the ease of a much larger system. Imaging was fine, though hardly spectacular, but my biggest gripe was that the speakers never came close to disappearing as sound sources.
Listening to the XF-48 towers in stereo was a bit of a letdown—the sound was dynamically a little uptight, with nary a hint of Klipsch's usual freewheeling gusto. In particular, treble detail was restrained, and the soundstage wasn't at all spacious. Even Attention Screen's Live at Merkin Hall CD, recorded by Stereophile's editor John Atkinson, didn't knock me out. It's an amazingly vivid recording, but the Klipsch ensemble made it sound rather tame.