Let's face it: most small speakers have a bad habit of sounding little. That's why we're such big fans of Klipsch's little speaker kits, such as the Quintet II, the company's least expensive home-theater package. This system's pint-sized sats can unleash wide-open dynamics, and the matching sub has plenty of oomph to deploy home-theater punch, as well as taut, highly musical bass. This six-piece system includes four 8.25-inch-tall, deliciously curvy sats; a dedicated, near full-sized center speaker; and a conventional-looking, black, cube-shaped, powered subwoofer that measures 15 by 13 by 13 inches.
Since most satellite speakers are either affixed to a wall, put on a shelf, or placed in a cabinet, the Quintet II's sats come with a nifty integrated bracket. This swiveling pedestal is premounted to each satellite. As we handled the sats, their loose-fitting speaker grilles kept falling off--although they remained in place while playing music.The sats are available in black, white, or silver.
The Quintet II will shine in small to midsized rooms, but its larger and only slightly more expensive brother, the Synergy System 6, is an even better all-round performer. The System 6 is nowhere as lifestyle-friendly as the Quintet but nevertheless won our Editors' Choice award. Pop off one of the Quintet II's sat's grilles, and you can't help but notice its unique feature--the 0.75-inch polymer-dome tweeter that sits in the mouth of Klipsch's Micro Tractrix horn. The 3.5-inch poly-cone woofers are more conventional, but it's worth noting that these sats' unusually high efficiency provides impressive dynamic range and loudness capability with low-powered receivers (50 watts per channel or less). They will also happily accommodate 100-watt-per-channel receivers.
This brand-new model offers significant detail improvements over the original Quintet, which was introduced in 1998. Klipsch claims that the II's flatter, more accurate frequency response is the result of an improved crossover design. The company also beefed up the bracket assembly.
The KSW 10 subwoofer's high-quality, 55-watt MOSFET amplifier is mated to a 10-inch, down-firing, fiber-composite cone woofer. We were impressed by the unit's solid construction.
There's not much to talk about regarding connectivity other than to note that the sats and the sub boast extrabeefy five-way binding posts. Oh, and the sub doesn't have speaker-level outputs, but that loss won't affect too many people. Compared to our reference Energy Audio Take 5.2 speaker ensemble, we found the Klipsch's sound more immediate and forward. The Quintet II's freewheeling dynamics and uninhibited loudness capabilities allow this system to easily fill spaces up to 400 square feet with sound.
We showed the Quintet II no mercy and cranked up the sound to a healthy level but heard no distress from the sats or the sub. On the two-song DVD video bundled with the new Dylan CD Live 1975, the sound was commendably alive and exciting. We next watched Vulgar, a powerfully bizarre flick that more than lives up to its name. The Quintet II absolutely reveled in its heavy-handed surround mix, and its wildly raw dynamic shifts were viscerally presented. Dialogue was nicely balanced, and the sub rolled out deep, growling bass with surprising authority.
Yes, we could quibble with the Quintet II's less than perfect sub/sat blend, which resulted in a mild midbass hole on some CDs and DVDs, but that sort of thing is very dependent on your room. Further experimentation might improve the system's midbass response.
The Quintet II is a minimasterpiece of many strengths: smooth, unfatiguing sound; boisterous home theatrics; the ability to play plenty loud; and walloping bass.