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Review: Klipsch The Three Shows Why Old Is The New Gold

Klipsch The Three is a big boombox that’s uniquely vintage, yet it boasts smart wireless features that bona-fide 1950s boxes can only fantasise about. So let’s cut to the chase and step back in time! (Sort of)

Build Quality and Design

Yes the chassis is wood, and yes its got classic metal knobs – design elements that take you back to the mid-20th century! But these elements are put together in a clean way. It is a smart rectangular box with sharp 90 degree edges, like how most speakers were in the 50s. The wooden shell feels thick and the click-step knobs are reassuringly metal.

All the input ports are located neatly at the back. Its speaker drivers are tucked away behind this acoustic fabric that you can only find on vintage guitar-amps nowadays. Will it fit into your decor? I’d say it will in most cases, but I will not recommend it for all types of home decor – unless you’re looking for some extra contrast to your ultra-modern home interior.

Performance and Features

Features

The Three may not look modern, but it is in every other way. You’ll get a host of connectivity options – both wireless and wired. WiFi, DLNA, Bluetooth (with aptX), USB, traditional 3.5mm Aux Input and even a Phono Input for your turntable!

It also comes with a remote control, something lacking in Sonos and B&O streaming systems. The remote felt a bit cheap but the rubber buttons were well laid out and snappy. For what it does (switching sources, changing volume etc), it worked pretty well and I have no complaints.

With the Klipsch Stream App, you gain access to the songs on your phone, or a range of music streaming services (Spotify, Deezer and Tidal – to name a few). You can also access your NAS music server from the app if you have your entire library stored in there. It also reads Hi-Res files up to 24-bit/192kbps. Overall the App’s layout is pretty neat and smooth. Its learning curve is pretty small too, with a ‘help’ button to guide you around any confusion.

My only gripe is that it does not have a search function, since the Klipsch system does not catalogue your music like Sonos.

Setting up through the App is hassle-free. The guided process is smooth-sailing and it connected reliably to my WiFi on the very first attempt. I wish I could say the same for other brands!

Sound Quality

Klipsch the Three is bi-amped, and has two full range speaker drivers and a powerful woofer inside – so clearly this is engineered for large spaces. Indeed it’s pretty powerful, loud enough to fill my 4-room apartment – and then some!

The Three delivered bright treble that seemed effortless even when I turned the volume up. The mids were quite balanced as well – vocals and dialogue tracks had a lot of clarity to flaunt. Bass performance is muscular indeed. When putting on ‘That’s What I Like’ by Bruno Mars, I found the thumps really satisfying and energetic while his vocals remained snappy.

However with bass-heavy tracks, the bass could get pretty boomy – such that vocals tracks will sound overwhelmed and more recessed in the background. It’s a pity that the Three does not have any Auto-EQ balancing or bass level controls to mitigate that.

The Three is described as a stereo speaker, and this is largely true. I got some stereo separation but it was pretty minor. However, the Three managed to reproduce a relatively spacious soundstage that extended above and sideways from the Three.

WiFi / Bluetooth

Most brands have their own proprietary streaming technology, but the major drawback is the inability for them to work with other brands. The Three uses DTS Play-Fi for its wireless streaming. Being Play-Fi capable means you’ll get a very flexible Multi-Room streamer that can talk to other Play-Fi capable speakers as well, regardless of the brand.

The Three is dual-band capable supporting both 5ghz and 2.4ghz bands. (Sonos only tethers to the 2.4ghz network) It streams from my server reliably with no dropouts at all, and I was able to access it from my room’s WiFi repeater too.

Streaming through Bluetooth is a breeze. There were no signal drops or syncing issues, and the sound quality is great. 

What’s missing from the Three is Airplay and Google Cast capability. This means that every time I want to watch a video, I have to switch the Three to Bluetooth and connect it to my phone!

Price

At S$699, Klipsch The Three is pretty good value given its sound quality, connectivity options and its suite of wireless features. Comparable speakers like the Bose SoundTouch 30 and the Sonos PLAY:5 cost S$300 more!

Conclusion

With its authentic vintage design and strong set of wireless features, Klipsch the Three is a great purchase if you’re looking to get something that sounds powerful and stands out from the crowd. To get the same range of features, you may have to spend quite a bit more.

It can also be a great talking point for family and friends who come over to visit!

Build Quality and Design (Wireless Earphones)

  • Pros: Unique wooden vintage design that feels authentic and solid. Control knobs and switches are made of solid non-conductive metal. Connectors and power input are located neatly behind.
  • Cons: Might not be suitable for some home interior tastes.

Score: 3/4 (25%)

Performance and Features

  • Pros: Full range of connectivity options available, even Phono Input. Comes with remote control. Klipsch Stream App is intuitive and polished. Smooth, hassle-free set up process. Supports DTS Play-Fi Hi-Res and Multi-Room Streaming. Dual-band WiFi connectivity was very reliable. Bluetooth Streaming was very smooth with no signal drops within 10 meters and no AV Syncing issues. Very loud sound output. Good spacious sound quality that hits all the right notes. 
  • Cons: Bass output can be boomy or overwhelming with bassy tracks. Stereo separation is almost absent. No Airplay or Google Cast support.

Score: 9/12 (25%)

Price

Score: 4/5 (25.6%)

Final Score: 7.6/10

Aaron. T.
Aaron's dream is to meet the celestial man in the sky who blessed him with huge ears, and shake his hand with a big smile. His typical day is split between getting Rekt on Battlefield 1 and making exciting YouTube reviews at www.youtube.com/loudwirelesssingapore

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