CNET First Look
Klipsch HD Theater 500The Klipsch HD Theater 500 is a stylish and compact 5.1 speaker system, but better-sounding systems are available at this price.
-Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET.com and this is the Klipsch HD Theater 500. This is a 5.1 speaker system and it can be found online for less than $500. The system is made up of four small satellite speakers, a center channel, and a 100-watt subwoofer. The speaker cabinets are plastic and the grills on the front are removable revealing a 0.75-inch tweeter and a 2.5-inch woofer. Wall mounts are included for the satellites and they offer the ability to angle the speakers at up to a 20-degree angle either left or right. The subwoofer is average size for a system like this and there's an 8-inch driver on the bottom. While the Klipsch system looks pretty stylish, we were disappointed by the cheap speaker connectors on the back. They have a spring clip design that only accepts bare speaker wire and they don't make as much of a secure connection as we'd like, and while this is a budget speaker system, many competitors have better connectors on the back. The most important aspect of any speaker system is its sound quality, and while the Klipsch sounds a whole lot better than many of the sound bars and home-theater-in-a-box systems we test, it didn't sound quite as good stacked up against other budget speaker systems. When we played action movies like Black Hawk Down at high volumes, the small satellites started to sound strained and not quite as powerful as the competing Energy Take Classic 5.1 system. Music wasn't much better either and, again, it didn't fair well when we tried to get loud. However, if you tend to listen at relatively low volumes, or you watch less sonically demanding movies, the Klipsch can sound quite good as long as you don't push it too hard. Altogether, while the Klipsch HD Theater 500 is a competent budget surround sound system, we prefer a lot of its competitors at this price range. The Energy Take Classic system offers better sound quality at around the same size, and if you can put up with larger speakers, the Pioneer SP-PK21BS delivers unbeatable sound for the money. If you find the Klipsch HD Theater at a heavy discount, it's not a bad system but we generally prefer the alternatives. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Klipsch HD Theater 500.