We've heard dozens of home-theater speaker systems, but we were taken aback by Klipsch's Synergy System 6 package because it sounds like a much bigger and more expensive system. And it's not just good for blasting through effects-laden DVDs. No sir--this flexible system works its magic on CDs with equal verve.
The numeric rating for this product has been changed since the review's original publication. The reason for this is simply the general improvement of technology over time. In order to keep our ratings fair and accurate, it's sometimes necessary to downgrade the ratings of older products relative to those of newer products.
Something completely different
Klipsch's $999 six-piece system is made up from four designs: a pair of bookshelf SB-1s, the center, two surround speakers, and the sub. That's not so radical, but what is special is the fact that all of the sats feature horn-loaded tweeters. What are they? Well, instead of mounting its tweeters flush on the front baffles, Klipsch places them back a few inches, in the mouth of a horn. The horn focuses the tweeter's output and dramatically increases efficiency. This is important because it enables Klipsch's speakers to produce more volume with less distortion while using minimal power. The System 6 will happily run off low-powered (50 watts or less) receivers. Speaking of power, Klipsch's mighty KSW-10 sub employs a more conventional design than the sats, using a downward-firing, 10-inch woofer powered by a 225-watt internal amplifier. This component handily fleshes out the bottom end of the system.
The SB-1 main speakers sport a 5.25-inch woofer in addition to the horn-loaded tweeter, and the SS.5 surrounds utilize Klipsch's Wide Dispersion Surround Technology to create an open sound field. Another nice touch: the SC.5 center speaker's top is angled, so if you position it upside down on top of your TV, it will project the sound down toward the listeners. The center, as well as the surround speakers, use 4-inch woofers, and since they aren't ported, they can be wall-mounted without any degradation in sound quality.
On a more critical note, the System 6 is available only in black; its plain and simple looks probably won't thrill style-conscious buyers.
The Moulin Rouge DVD wowed us with its deliciously dense soundtrack. The Synergy had no trouble filling our large listening room with the disc's wild and woolly big bands, rousing orchestral flourishes, and huge choruses. Amazingly enough, the System 6 tracked everything from the subtlest sounds to the most explosive dynamics with a freedom that we associate with larger and more expensive speaker packages. This system can crank!
Sub/sat blend was spot-on, so midrange sounds such as dialogue were naturally balanced. Our favorite war film, The Thin Red Line, was particularly visceral, thanks in no small part to the way the sub pounded out the sound of explosions and artillery. The SS.5 surround speakers tossed the soundtrack's jungle scenes' steamy ambiance into the far quarters of our listening room.
Holly Cole's Tom Waits tribute CD, Temptation, is something of an audiophile's favorite; even a cursory listen to this disc on the System 6 shows why. Cole's sexy vocals set our hearts aflutter, and David Piltch's big, fat, growling bass lines were felt as well as heard. Drums and percussion were lively and quite present.
Yes, we're head over heels in love with this system--it raises the performance bar on home-theater speaker packages to new heights. Klipsch offers a less-expensive alternative to the System 6, dubbed the Quintet II. That package utilizes the System 6's brawny KSW-10 sub but features microsats.