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Klipsch vs B&W – Detailed Comparison

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Klipsch and Bowers & Wilkins are two renowned and well respected brands in the audio industry that produces high quality speakers, headphones, soundbars,  subwoofers and amplifiers. 

In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, looking specifically at sound quality, durability, price and so on. Of course, each brand has different devices at different price points, however, we will compare them as closely as we can.

Quick History

Klipsch Quick History

Klipsch Audio Technologies (also known as Klipsch Speakers or Klipsch Group, Inc.) is an American loudspeaker manufacturing company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The company was founded in Hope, Arkansas, in 1946 by Paul W. Klipsch. Klipsch audio also makes loudspeaker drivers and enclosures, as well as complete loudspeakers for high-end, high-fidelity sound systems, public address systems, and personal computers.

It has expanded a lot and has undergone a lot of changes since its establishment. Klipsch audio still manufactures some legacy speakers that have been around since the days when the genius of P.W. Klipsch made his first speakers.

B&W Quick History

Bowers & Wilkins, best known as B&W, is a British manufacturer of consumer and professional loudspeakers and headphones. B&W was founded in 1966 by John Bowers in Worthing, West Sussex, England. They currently have many award-winning loudspeaker designs to their name.

Sound Quality

Klipsch Sound Quality

Klipsch speakers are well-known for the high quality, stunningly precise sound they produce, which can be matched by only a few select brands. The speakers produce crisp highs, powerful bass, and full, encompassing sound with low distortion. However, many people don’t like the Klipsch sound because it can tend to sound ‘bright’ or harsh.

Klipsch speakers use a horn tweeter (Klipschorn), which is what makes horns and brass instruments sound more realistic. They are ideal for higher frequencies, which is why Klipsch speakers are often recommended when dealing with high-frequency sounds (like movies and certain music genres). This is also why high-efficiency design is a core Klipsch design principle.

Klipschorn design, patented by the founder, Paul W. Klipsch himself, is a fully horn-loaded three-way speaker, which means that it houses three separate speaker units, each with their own diaphragm and horn in three frequency ranges: high, mid and low. Separating the frequencies in this way ensures less frequency modulation distortion. The Klipschorn design is still used in many Klipsch speakers, which explains their quality audio and energy efficiency.

B&W Sound Quality

B&W puts a lot of money into research and development. This has allowed them to make many audio breakthroughs over the years. B&W devices are noted for delivering pure, natural and detailed sound reproduction. There’s chest-thumping bass and clear mids and highs.

One feature of some B&W speakers is a tweeter separated from the main cabinet, this allows the tweeter to produce an accurate sound that’s unaffected by the subwoofer

Features

Klipsch Features

Klipsch devices are best known for the premium sound they produce, but they also have a host of features to ensure a wholesome experience for users.

Below are some common features that Klipsch speakers are known for:

  • HDMI-eARC connectivity: Single Cable, Single Remote
  • Dolby Atmos Decoding for immersive surround sound, stereo multiple channel systems
  • 8K Video Pass-Through
  • Dialogue enhancement mode for crystal clear voices
  • Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, HDMI, USB Audio, and Analog/AUX and optical audio input connectivity
  • Built-in universal wifi for existing Smart Home ecosystems- featuring Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Spotify Connect
  • Klipsch Connect and Klipsch stream are two apps that can be used with your speakers. There are a lot of features included in the apps apart from controlling your Klipsch sound system. They are available for both iOS and Android.
  • Efficiency and low power consumption: Due to the company’s use of horn-loaded speakers, they are able to manufacture speakers with high sensitivity (efficiency). It also makes the speakers consume less power compared to similarly performing speakers.

B&W Features

Even though B&W is an older brand, they are still competing with best-in-class modern devices with modern features, like:

  • Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth, WiFi
  • Wired connectivity includes USB, HDMI, optical audio
  • AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth support
  • Bowers & Wilkins Music App, which supports music streaming services including Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Soundcloud and TuneIn
  • Amazon Alexa voice control for hands-free operation

Build Quality

Klipsch Build Quality

High-efficiency design is a core Klipsch design principle, and this is evident in all their products. Klipsch devices are very popular for the quality and sturdy materials that are used in their construction. This gives their products excellent performance and remarkable durability.

The materials used in construction, such as wood, cerametallic material or plastic, are carefully selected for their acoustic, aesthetic and durability properties. 

B&W Build Quality

B&W has always been at the forefront in pioneering new techniques that improve the acoustics and durability of their devices. Their devices are enclosed in aluminum or sturdy plastic for a durable and attractive finish.

bowers and wilkins history

B&W patented the use of Kevlar fibers, impregnated with a stiffening resin to provide controlled rigidity and internal damping; and minimize distortion. They currently use their own material, Continuum, for their speaker cones.

Ease of Use

Klipsch Ease Of Use

Klipsch devices are very easy to set up and use. With a wide range of ports for easy connectivity, such as the HDMI Arc port, setting up is as easy as plugging in and playing. Remote control support and iOS and Android apps also make it much easier to use your Klipsch devices.

B&W Ease Of Use

B&W devices are very easy to install and operate. This is made even easier by the company’s support for voice assistants, such as Alexa. The B&W music app allows you to use streaming services on your devices and finetune the sound output to your taste.

Cost

Klipsch Cost

Because of the materials used in Klipsch speakers, they tend to have premium prices, such as the RP-8000F floorstanding speaker, which costs from $800 to $1000 apiece. But they deliver much more than what you pay for. If you really care about the quality of the sound and the durability of your speaker, it is easy to overlook the cost.

There are also a few Klipsch product lines that do not cost as much (the Klipsch Reference RSB-3 home cinema speaker costs from $150 to $300, while a Klipsch Reference On-Ear headphone costs from $99 to $200), but sometimes this results in lesser than premium sound quality.

B&W Cost

B&W devices usually have midrange prices, though some devices are well into the high-end price range. Their price ranges are given below.

Subwoofers: $900 – $3200

Earbuds/headphones: $320 – $550

Speakers: $500 – $8400

Space Requirements

Klipsch Space Requirements

Klipsch speakers have a wide range of sizes, and therefore require different amounts of space for effective operation. For example, there are portable PC speakers that can be easily placed on a desk while there are large cinematic models that require much more space.

B&W Space Requirements

B&W floorstanders require quite some space in which to operate and are better suited to spacious rooms.

The bookshelf speakers are more versatile and can either be mounted on a stand, fixed to a wall using brackets or placed on a desktop or shelf space. Keep in mind that they all require some free space around them for ventilation.

Remote Controls

Klipsch Remote Controls

Klipsch supports some universal remote controllers as well as custom-made Klipsch remotes. This brings additional functionality to your devices.

Klipsch also has apps for both iOS and Android that can be used to control your Klipsch sound system remotely. The apps also allow for the use of voice assistants like Google Assistant, Spotify Connect, and Amazon Alexa, which respond to simple voice commands. Klips stream allows you to stream directly from music platforms such as Spotify and Amazon Music.

B&W Remote Controls

Some B&W devices have their own in-house remote controls but they also support the use of third-party remote controllers. The B&W music app and Alexa allow you to control your speaker from any device on the same WiFi network.

Connectivity Options

Klipsch Connectivity Options

Klipsch devices have several connectivity options including both wired and wireless choices. These include Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, HDMI, USB Audio and Analog/AUX, and so on.

This allows you to connect your Klipsch speaker to a lot of different devices such as phones, personal computer, TV or used as part of a system of other speakers. The support for voice assistants also allows quick WiFi connection for several different speakers.

B&W Connectivity Options

B&W devices can be connected to each other and to other devices using wired or wireless options. These include Bluetooth, HDMI, WiFi, USB, aux input and a whole range of other options.

Power Range

Klipsch Power Range

Klipsch speakers consume much less power compared to other speakers of the same performance range. This is largely due to the horn tweeter that is used in their speakers, which reduces the need for a high-powered amplifier to boost the sound produced. 1 Watt RMS produces a 105 decibel at 1 meter sound pressure level (SPL), which is about 14–20 decibels higher than ordinary speakers.

The power range is different for each of the various Klipsch devices, so it is advisable to check the information included in the user manual.

B&W Power Range

devices varies for different devices, though they all give quite powerful performance, even without the use of amplifiers.

The B&W 607 S2 bookshelf speaker is rated at 100 Watts, while the B&W Zeppelin peaks at 240Watts.

Frequency Response

Klipsch Frequency Response

Klipsch speakers have very pleasing and natural frequency responses. The speakers all have frequency ranges that all lie within the recommended frequencies to produce full and natural sound.

Due to the diversity of devices produced by Klipsch, there is a wide range of frequencies ranging from about 30Hz to 15KHz. The information about the frequency response of a particular device can be obtained from the user manual.

B&W Frequency Response

The B&W 606 Speaker has a frequency response range of 52Hz on the low end and 28KHz on the high end, which is simply amazing for a bookshelf speaker. The B&W 804 D4 floorstanding loudspeaker has a vast 20Hz to 35KHz frequency response range.

Conclusion

Klipsch has been in the speaker component manufacturing business for over seventy years and they have the experience to make great sounding speakers as shown in their array of quality devices. If premium quality sound is what you want, Klipsch speakers are great options to try out. B&W devices deliver excellent performance at reasonable prices. Though they can be quite costly, you should expect nothing but the best from them.

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