Klipsch Icon SB 1 Soundbar review: Klipsch Icon SB 1 Soundbar

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The Good Very good sound quality. Very strong subwoofer performance.

The Bad Doesn't use the LFE channel in Dolby Digital. Limited connectivity.

The Bottom Line The Klipsch Icon SB 1 delivers very good sound quality and extended bass in a convenient package, but lacks some of the connectivity expected at this price level.

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7.7 Overall

Review Sections

The Klipsch Icon SB 1 is a soundbar/wireless subwoofer combo. It draws upon Klipsch's origins back in the immediate post war (WW2, that is), with horn loaded tweeters. Some quite inconvenient laws of physics make it difficult to turn electrical power into acoustical power. So a typical loudspeaker (one with a sensitivity of 89dB) will turn about 0.5 per cent of the input power into sound, while the rest becomes heat. Horns improve the match between the physical impedance of air, and that of the speaker cone, and therefore increase efficiency. A highly efficient horn-loaded loudspeaker system might run to as much as 20 per cent of the input power being converted to sound.

The horns over the 20mm tweeters in this Klipsch soundbar — and you can actually inspect them, because the cloth grilles are removable — are fairly shallow, so they are unlikely to increase efficiency all that much. But even a little helps. Midrange is carried by, for each of the left and right channels, two 76mm drivers. Bass is sent wirelessly to a subwoofer.

The sub is an unusual unit. Rather than being roughly cubical, it is quite narrow, but deep. On one side is a remarkably large driver: a full 254mm woofer. The enclosure is bass reflex loaded, with a slotted port at the back, near the level control.

The soundbar itself is reasonably wide at just a touch over a metre. It is narrow and not too tall (112mm) and has slots on the back for wall mounting. A pair of feet are also provided for putting the bar on a bench in front of a TV. Analogue stereo (via a pair of RCA sockets) and optical digital audio inputs are provided. Perhaps surprisingly, given that the pricing puts this unit in the premium space, Bluetooth isn't available. A small six button remote is provided for controlling the system, but you can also program it to operate with your regular TV's remote control.

(Credit: Klipsch)

In Use

The subwoofer is pre-paired to the soundbar so all you need to do is plug everything in. I put the subwoofer in my standard subwoofer room corner, and the bar on a bench in front of a TV.

It is important to put the subwoofer into balance with the soundbar. There's a level control on the back of the subwoofer for that purpose. I used a stereo test tone and a Sound Pressure Level meter to make sure it was right. If you don't have those, I'd suggest you use some stereo music with which you are very familiar — something with decent bass — and adjust the subwoofer's level until it sounds right.

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