Klipsch HD Theater 500 review: Klipsch HD Theater 500

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.5
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Klipsch HD Theater 500 is a compact surround-sound speaker system with four small two-way satellites, a center channel, and a 100-watt, 8-inch powered subwoofer. It can often be found online for less than $500 and sounds much better than a sound bar or HTIB.

The Bad While the HD Theater 500 sounds much better than a sound bar, its sound quality is a step behind other budget speaker packages. Also, its speakers' wire spring-clip connectors feel cheap and aren't as secure as we'd like.

The Bottom Line The Klipsch HD Theater 500 is a stylish and compact 5.1 speaker system, but better-sounding systems are available at this price.

Editors' Top Picks

Editors' note: This review has been updated as part of a recent budget speaker roundup and its rating has been changed accordingly.

If you're putting together a home theater on a budget, the first options that probably come to mind are sound bars and home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems, but that's too bad. Budget 5.1 speaker systems like the Klipsch HD Theater 500 are available for less than $500, and once you pair them up with a competent AV receiver, they sound drastically better--it's not even close. Sure, the Klipsch HD Theater 500 has more pesky speakers to deal with, but their compact size and tasteful finish really won't tarnish your living room decor.

While the HD Theater 500 system certainly puts HTIBs and sound bars to shame, it fares less well compared with other 5.1 speaker systems available for less than $500. If you like to turn the volume up even moderately loud, the Energy Take Classic 5.1 sounds significantly better at higher volumes, and if you're OK with huge speakers, the Pioneer SP-PK21BS delivers truly outstanding sound for the price. The Klipsch HD Theater 500 offers competent sound for a budget 5.1 system, but we like most of its competitors more.

Design and features
The HD Theater 500 is a six-piece system that comes with four satellite speakers, a center channel speaker, and a subwoofer. The curvy ABS plastic speaker cabinets are attractive and finished in a combination of satin and high-gloss black; the speakers all have removable black cloth grilles.

Klipsch HD Theater 500
The HD Theater's satellites are larger than Boston Acoustic's ultrasmall SoundWare system speakers, but smaller than the Energy Take Classic's speakers.

Klipsch HD Theater 500
The HD Theater's horn-loaded tweeters are very directional, so proper placement is even more important than on other systems.

The satellites are just 6 inches tall, 3.6 inches wide, and 3.85 inches deep. The center is slightly larger, at 3.6 inches high, 9 inches wide, and 3.85 inches deep. The build quality of the speaker cabinet feels solid, but the speakers' plastic spring-clip wire connectors look and feel cheap. The spring-clips' grip on the wire doesn't feel secure, so even a moderate tug on the wire may pull the wire out. The clips only accept skinny bare wire ends, so you can't use banana plugs, spades, or pins.

Klipsch HD Theater 500
Many speaker systems at this price have higher-quality speaker connectors.

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Where to Buy See All

Klipsch HD Theater 500

Part Number: hd-theater-500 Released: Feb. 15, 2009
Low Price: $549.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb. 15, 2009
  • Speaker System Type home theater speaker system
  • Nominal (RMS) Output Power 100 Watt
  • Speaker System Configuration 5.1-channel
  • Color black
  • Amplification Type active subwoofer, passive satellites
  • Connectivity Technology wired
  • Type Home theater speaker system
About The Author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

About The Author

Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.