Bowers and Wilkins (B&W) and Klipsch are two popular audio device manufacturers. These brands deliver a wide range of audio devices from home theater systems to headphones.
In general, Klipsch speakers are bright, sensitive, efficient, and revealing but very articulate as well, requiring little power to produce high volumes. They are great for live music, as well as movies with plenty of sound effects. On the other hand, B&W speakers are smooth and relaxed however they require a tremendous amount of power and are quite expensive.
In this article, we will be doing a full comparison of B&W vs Klipsch speakers. We will be going through everything from sound quality to design, build quality, pricing, power requirements, and more!
B&W vs Klipsch Comparison Table
|Features||Bowers and Wilkins||Klipsch|
|Sound Quality||Smooth but can be dull and lackluster or muddy.|
Be careful with placement (ported speakers)
|Bright reference speakers.
Sound harshness can cause sound fatigue
|Bass Performance||Good, full bass||Powerful horn loaded bass (very subjective)|
|Frequency Response||Excellent frequency response with good low, midrange and highs||Very heavy on the high frequency spectrum. Midrange lacking (except Heritage line)|
|Pricing||Expensive high end speakers||Wider range of process from expensive to affordable|
|Efficiency||88-91 efficiency scale||Very efficient speakers - 95db at 1 meter or better.
High volumes even with small amps
|Power and Amplification||Power hungry. Require powerful amplifiers||Deliver high volumes with small amps due to bright nature of these speakers|
|Music||Mellow music - jazz, soul, blues||Harsher music genres - hard rock, punk and metallica|
|Movies||Drama, comedy, romance||Action, thriller, science fiction,|
You can also check out the following comparisons:
- Klipsch vs KEF Speakers
- Klipsch vs MartinLogan
- Klipsch vs Definitive Technology
- Klipsch vs Polk
- Klipsch vs SVS
- KEF vs Bowers and Wilkins
B&W vs Klipsch Overview
Bowers and Wilkins is a legendary speaker brand, offering over 50 years of experience in the audio industry.
They also produce subwoofers, car audio systems, headphones as well as home theater systems.
Klipsch is a trendy home audio brand, offering an extremely wide catalog of audio devices from high end to the very low end.
The company offers home theater systems, floor standing speakers, center speakers, bookshelf speakers, surround systems, subwoofers, and more. They are also popular for their headphones and amplifiers.
Popular brands within the Klipsch line include their Heritage Home Audio Systems, Reference speaker lines, and their Cinema line.
B&W Speaker Sound Quality
One major drawback of many B&W speakers is that placement too close to a side or rear wall can certainly muffle the sound.
Now that may not be a problem if you have a large room, but speaker placement becomes even more important when you are dealing with a small space.
This is because many B&W speakers are ported. On the other hand, without the port, they will likely be muddy and produce a terrible sound image. In any case, you need to turn the speaker port away from the wall.
If you have no choice but to place them too close to a wall, then B&W may not be the brand for you. You need to have at least an 18″ distance between the speakers and the wall, in general.
Take for example the B&W 604S3 floor-standing speaker. This speaker is certainly best for larger rooms.
It will reproduce everything from the delicate sounds of solo performance and all the associated complexities in a large space. However, if you are dealing with a room say less than 12×15, you may have problems. However, in any case, you need to face the port away from the wall.
Remember, room acoustics and placement limitations should always be a consideration when choosing speakers.
If you don’t like the sound and dynamics of horn speakers, B&W is worth considering. However, many B&W speakers can be on the other end of the brightness spectrum – being dull, lackluster, and uninspiring.
However, say what you want about B&W, they are certainly smoother than Klipsch. problem is, this is at the expense of sounding less clear and effortless. In other words, they don’t always sound very natural like live music.
Keep in mind also that different series offer varying sound quality. For example, to be honest, the B&W 700 doesn’t offer a lot to talk about. On the other hand, the 800 series offers decent options.
Klipsch Sound Quality
Klipsch speakers are notorious for being very bright. In fact, they can be so bright, some people may find them painful. In general, they will also have good bass, but it’s rather boomy.
On the other hand, some people don’t consider Klipsch brightness to be a bad thing. Others simply consider Klipsch to be revealing and that the brightness adds more dimension to the sound field.
The fact is, all All Klipsch speakers are reveling. This means they will unmask any flaw from the original recording. In fact, they may even unmask flaws from the electronics used in the setup! That’s the whole point of reference speakers after all.
However, being revealing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Let’s say, for example, you are walking down the street and you hear live music.
Well, how do you know it’s live music? It’s because it sounds unrestricted and this is what Klipsch offers especially their reference speaker line.
Their horn systems in particular will reproduce much of the natural dynamics found in music, and they can do so at high power!
Klipsch Sound Harshness and Fatigue
Sound harshness and fatigue are very important considerations, especially when looking at Klipsch speakers. Now, there is no doubting the Klipsch speakers are generally harsh.
This is because they are very efficient (more on this later) due to the horn design. This efficiency often translates to some harshness and distinct frequency segregation.
B&W Sound Harshness and Fatigue
B&W speakers are generally much smoother than Klipsch. However, many Klipsch lovers may refer to this type of sound quality as muddy. What is muddy to some is smooth and seamless to others!
Also, you may even find that some cheaper B&W speakers may be rather fatiguing as any Klipsch.
B&W Bass Performance
B&W offers good, full bass from most of their speakers. If you are looking for a deeper depth of bass, most B&W options are pretty good.
For example, the B&W 800 D3 offers two bass drivers and a specially designed bass reflex port. The B&W brand also offers a few good subwoofers for dedicated bass as well.
Klipsch Bass Performance
With Klipsch, bass is subjective. In other words, it depends on what you like. The horn-loaded bass is very different in feel and sound from the more conventional speaker systems. However, they do offer powerful bass.
For example, the dual bass drivers of the Klipsch RF-7 III produce so much bass you honestly don’t even need a subwoofer. In any case, Klipsch also offers quite a few subwoofer options.
B&W Frequency Response
B&W offers excellent frequency response with good low, midrange, and highs.
Klipsch Frequency Response
In general, Klipsch is very heavy on the high-frequency spectrum. However, the midrange is lacking in most Klipsch except for the Heritage series.
B&W Speaker Prices
Now B&W speakers can be rather expensive, some people even say overpriced. Take their high-end Nautilus, for example, we are talking about prices up to $60,000!
- Bring impeccable Bowers & Wilkins sound quality outdoors with ultra-durable, weather-resistant AM-1...
- With its rust-proof aluminium grille and super-rigid cabinet AM-1 is our most durable speaker ever.
- The easy-install bracket allows the AM-1 to be mounted vertically or horizontally, for total flexibility of...
- Impressive sound impressive size
- The anywhere speaker Sleek and compact M-1 can be used on a shelf on its dedicated stands or wall-mounted...
- Easy integration Use M-1 as a pair in a small room add a subwoofer for more bass or build a mini theatre...
But that is on the very end. For their regular 700 and 800 series speakers, you are looking at prices within the $5000 range and $30,000 range respectively.
Take for example the B&W 802 diamond line of speakers. These are really fantastic speakers and we do understand the high price tag, but these speakers are certainly not cheap!
Klipsch Speaker Prices
Klipsch has a much wider range of prices, ranging from the low end to their high-end RF series. At the high end, we are talking about a $1500-$1700 range. Of course, you can find much cheaper speakers in the Klipsch catalogs as well.
- Single 4" spun-copper IMG woofer
- 1" aluminum LTS tweeter mated to a 90x90 square Tractrix Horn
- 68 hertz - 21 kilohertz +/- 3dB; Nominal impedance - 8 ohms; Compatible crossover frequency – 1,730 hertz
- KIT INCLUDES: Klipsch Reference 2x R-625FA Dolby Atmos Floorstanding Speaker, Black | 2 Grilles (installed) |...
- FLOOR STANDING FEATURES: Built-in Elevation Channel for Dolby Atmos | Dual 1" Aluminum Diaphragm Compression...
- SUBWOOFER FEATURES: Powerful 12" copper-spun front-firing woofer | All-digital amplifier delivers 400 watts of...
- The Klipsch reference theater pack delivers a superior acoustic performance while keeping an incredibly...
- Klipsch's exclusive Tractrix Horn technology and aluminum Tweeters deliver the cleanest, most natural sound...
- To complement the easy placement of the wireless subwoofer, each satellite speaker has a keyhole mount and a...
Now, be careful – some of the higher-priced Klipsch are really good, but at the low range, you are sacrificing quality for price.
However, the Klipsch Series from the RVX line all the way up to the R-7 are fine speakers.
Most B&W speakers in the 88-91 efficiency scale.
Klipsch speakers are very efficient as we mentioned above. Their efficiency is usually 95db at 1 meter or better.
This high efficiency means that you can drive Klipsch speakers at loud volumes with small amps that don’t produce much amplification.
Power and Amplification
Klipsch Power Requirements
Many people buy Klipsch speakers simply because they want to get more volume from cheap amps.
In other words, you get a lot of sound with very little power. However it’s not that you are getting more amplification, but the revealing nature and efficiency of Klipsch exposes “bright” amps and creates that “edginess” that sounds louder.
These speakers are so efficient that you can power them with some really low-quality, cheap amplifiers.
B&W Power Requirements
Many high-end B&W speakers are rather power-hungry. Take for example the 801s. These speakers demand a lot of power with a nominal impedance that varies based on load and can be as low as 3 ohms!
If you understand speaker impedance, you understand that 3 ohms is quite low and will demand a good deal of power.
These speakers require powerful amplifiers. We are talking about Bryston monoblock amplifier levels!
The drawback to this is that the only way you are going to get B&W speakers to sound good if you get a pretty big amp behind them! Most of these speakers will require 250 watts or more!
B&W vs Klipsch For Music and Movies
B&W speakers For Music and Movies
B&W is suitable for more mellow music and movies without a lot of sound effects. Great genres include jazz, soul, blues, and so on. Movie genres include drama, comedy, romance, and so on.
Klipsch speakers For Music and Movies
When it comes to harsher music genres such as hard rock, punk, Metallica, and so on at incredible volumes, Klipsch is the better choice, easily.
Great Klipsch movie genres include action, thriller, science fiction, and so on.
Design and Build Quality
B&W Design and Build Quality
Their designs aren’t always the most modern, though.
Klipsch Design and Build Quality
Klipsch builds quality generally depends on the price of the speaker. At the high end, their speakers tend to have good build quality.
However, at the low end, you are sacrificing build quality for price. One advantage however is that these speakers tend to offer good, modern designs regardless of price.
The Importance of Audio Audition
We cannot stress enough the importance of an audio audition when choosing speakers. You will find good quality speakers from both B&W and Klipsch. The best option is to listen to both to determine which you like better.
Example Comparison on sound Quality
For this article, we decided to look at four comparable speakers from B&W and Klipsch – the B&W 300 and 600 as well as the Klipsch 25 series and 35 series.
Neither of these is top-of-line speakers from either brand, but they are comparable.
B&W 300 and 600
In terms of these two speakers, we did find that the 600 didn’t sound much better than the 300.
In fact, the entire range of 300 to 700 B&W speakers don’t make much difference. For lower-end speakers, these did offer a pretty clear and full sound.
Klipsch 25 series and 35 series
The Klipsch 25 series and 35 series are quite dynamic. Of course, they are efficient and bright like other Klipsch speakers as well.
In conclusion, B&W and Klipsch are at opposite ends of the sound spectrum. Klipsch speakers are efficient, bright, and sensitive. They only require little power to produce loud volumes.
B&W speakers are smooth, relaxed, and less efficient, so they need a lot of power to produce loud volumes.
At the end of the day, both speakers do different things well. If you want loud music that sounds like live music, Klipsch is the better bet. For a more relaxed, soothing, and controlled sound, B&W is the better choice.