Thursday, August 08, 2013

The amazing Klipsch KSB 3.1

April 26'th, 2013 will go down in my memory as one of the truly God-gifted days in my life. After over a decade, 11 years and 4 months to be precise I got to see and touch my great bookshelf speakers, the Klipsch KSB 3.1's that I had purchased way back in 1998 while in the U.S. It lay in a storage for a year, then at a garage at a relative's place for a decade and then at my friend's place for about 6 months. Finally by God's grace it reached Chennai. I rushed from Pondy to meet my friend who said he would be bringing them. I wouldn't have got a better gift for my birthday in May.

I recall trying out dozens of speakers while trying to purchase a pair of bookshelves in 1998. Some of them I recall were Paradigm and Sonus Faber. But when I listened to just 5 minutes of the Klipsch KSB 3.1's I knew I would be taking them home. When the salesman blew my mind adding a Definitive Technology Powered Sub I took that home first because its beautiful bass just made the Klipsch sound even more beautiful. Production of the KSB  3.1's ceased in 1999.

My setup was complete with the priceless but amazing Marantz PM 57 Integrated amplifier, a Sony 5 CD player and a Technics Double Cassette Deck. The Sony breathed its last in Pondy a couple of months ago. The Technics still lies in the U.S. along with some of my other important audiophile gear which I hope to get to India someday.

When I hooked up the speakers to the Sub and Amplifier (these I had gradually got piece by piece by relatives returning from the U.S. over the years) I was only praying that they sing. How well, I really wondered? One speaker sounded perfect while in the other there was clearly something missing. The treble was particularly out of whack. I was really down. I called Klipsch India and I was surprised how pathetic the service setup in India was considering the fact that their premium speaker "The Palladium" costing several lakhs of rupees for a pair were being sold and serviced in India. Klipsch India refused service for my speaker saying the spares were no longer available for that model. Out of sheer frustration I opened the Horn Tweeter only to find that a wire had come out of its socket. I plug it back in and the speaker performs as perfectly as it can. Considering the loss of hearing due to my ageing all these years, the speakers literally out-perform. KSB 3.1 came with a one of a kind 8'' woofer, a Tractrix Horn Tweeter and front firing port.

Kumba Greenier, CEO of "Sound Wizard" in Auroville (the guys who built A R Rahman's studio and the studio of several other music directors and film stars) was so right when he told me that good speakers were meant to last at least 20 years.

While listening to the Klipsches for the first time, I thought I had a new set of ears. On "Walking on the moon" by" The Police" you can hear a fourth instrument that I never heard before. They and the amplifier are so good you could say a bad recording from a good one. Performers and bands come alive as though playing in front of you and with the amplifier and sub you can even improve upon poor recordings to make them sound just right.

Here they are. I removed the grille on one of them to reveal the woofer and tweeter. (There is some perspective distortion in the pic, of the speakers)

And here's my Definitive Technology 10'' woofer, powered sub that my brother Sathish brought for me in Jan, 2012.

After I purchased the Marantz I auditioned the Rotel and the NAD, both What HiFi products of the year award winners for Integrated Amplifiers in the past but could barely come close to the sweetness of the Marantz. The only amplifier that came close was a Jo Lida tube amplifier. But the Marantz does something that the Jo Lida does not. Once the subwoofer is set at a particular volume (using its built in amplifier) you do not need to tweak it any further. Raising the volume on the Marantz automatically raises the sub's bass too. But while using the Jo Lida I had to increase the volume on the Sub. I have to admit the tube amp was very sweet too. The Marantz PM 57 like most of its successors has a second channel where you can hook up a second pair of stereo speakers. I hooked up a pair of Sonodynes here. It also has a phono input for connecting Record Players.

If you plan to come to Pondy, bring your favourite music and you are most welcome to audition them.

Two other legendary Klipsch speakers that were on display that day were the incredible floor-standers the KLF 10 and the KLF 20. I recall the salesman telling me that if I were to buy them I wouldn't need the powered sub. True, they were probably the best speakers I ever listened to with astonishing bass. Klipsch stopped making the legends in the late 90's but I am sure they are still entertaining those who own them.

Am I hearing "desi" screams of "Bose", "Bose"? I have only two words for you guys, "BOSE SUCKS" or better still, "everytime someone buys a Bose, a sucker is born". More on that later.

Off to listen to some music on them......


Anonymous said...

Congrats on finally getting your speakers!
I have used these for years both as mains in the bedroom and as surrounds along with my Klipsch Forte 2 Heritage speakers.

The KSBs were great speakers for the size and money. No distortion at all, great bass for the size, strong mids, and decent highs.

Subash S L said...

Thanks for stopping by. I recall the sensitivity of the Klipsch, something like 98db i.e. for 1 Watt / meter which was sensational for a speaker as the KSB 3.1.