KLH Model Five Review

by Bruno Brozovic

KLH Model Five features a three-way speaker system and a sealed box design. They delighted me with powerful bass, clear midrange, and detailed treble. This makes them an excellent choice for high-quality music listening and those who appreciate a touch of nostalgia.

Intro

KLH, originally owned by Japan’s Kyocera, made the Model Five speakers between 1968 and 1977. These speakers were incredibly popular in the U.S. market. The original KLH no longer exists, but a few years ago, former high-ranking employees from Klipsch and Voxx Electronics got the rights to use the KLH name. They moved the headquarters of this revived brand to America and picked up where KLH left off in the late 1980s.

This isn’t a review of the original Model Five speakers, but their new release with the same name. I noticed that these new speakers have major changes and improvements. At $2500, they were some of the most purchased speakers I tested in 2021, and I can confidently rank them among the best.

The excitement, raw energy, and fun that the Model Five speakers deliver make them worth every penny.

KLH Model Five Review

KLH Model Five Review

Construction & Design

As you can see from the photos (and its legendary status), the Model Five is a modern retro speaker. It fits into a category that includes models like the JBL L100, Wharfedale Linton Heritage, Klipsch Forte III, or any from the English Harbeth range. These speakers can technically be considered floor-standing, but they are lower and noticeably wider than modern stand-alone speakers.

The huge subwoofer is the reason for its width, and in KLH’s Model Five, it’s as large as 254 millimeters (10 inches). There are also 100mm (4”) midranges and 25mm (1”) tweeter drivers on the top half of the speakers.

KLH Model Five - front view, no grills

The Five model is based on a three-way speaker system, built into a sealed box. There’s a 1-inch aluminum tweeter, a 4-inch cellulosic tweeter, and a 10-inch cellulosic tweeter

The Model Five is a three-way speaker system with an acoustic suspension design and second-order electroacoustic switches set at 380 Hz and 2,850 Hz. The subwoofer and midrange have a pulp-paper cone and inverse rubber suspension, while the tweeter features an aluminum dome with soft rubber suspension.

There are no bass reflex apertures because these are sealed speaker boxes. The boxes are made of reinforced, 19-millimeter MDF, and the front is covered with canvas grills that are magnetically attached. They come in two veneers, African mahogany and English walnut, with two mesh colors. I tested the mahogany variant, which was the only aspect that didn’t impress me. The darker English walnut with lighter mesh looks much more striking and luxurious.

KLH Model Five - meshes attached with a magnet

The meshes are attached to the speakers with a magnet

Given that these are floor-standing speakers, and their height is only 66 centimeters, you might wonder how to get them to the right height for optimal listening, with the tweeter directed towards your ears.

The answer is in the box: a pair of enclosed steel racks. These racks raise the speakers to about 87 centimeters and give them a 5° inclination, providing the ideal height and orientation for listening from the couch or armchair. The stands also increase the weight of the speakers from 20 to about 24 pounds.

Connectivity

At the back of the speaker, there is a pair of gold-plated terminals and a three-position switch: Lo, Mid, and Hi. This switch suppresses frequencies above 400 Hz to better integrate the speakers in different rooms and reduce potential penetration. In the Hi position, there is no change in output. In the Mid position, frequencies above 400 Hz are attenuated by -1.5 dB, and in Lo by -3 dB. The sensitivity of the speakers is 90.5 dB, so they are very efficient and do not require exceptionally strong amplification to deliver their luxurious sound.

KLH Model Five - input panel

In addition to the terminal, at the rear we find a switch for attenuation of frequencies above 400 Hz. Interestingly, the neutral position is not “Mid”, but “Hi”

The recommended power range for the KLH Model Five speakers is 20 to 200 W. I tested them with Cambridge Audio’s CXA60 amplifiers (60 W per channel, class AB) and EVO 75 (75 W per channel, class D). In both cases, I felt there were no difficulties in controlling the KLH speakers.

Although they don’t have bass reflex openings, you shouldn’t place the KLH speakers against the wall because they produce extremely loud and powerful sounds. Fortunately, they don’t need a lot of space; moving them about eighty centimeters away from the wall is enough. The left and right channels should be about two meters apart and slightly angled so that the front units are directed toward your ears.

KLH Audio Model Five 3-Way Floorstanding Speaker - English Walnut (2022)
  • Bundle includes: 2 KLH Model Five Vintage-Styled Stand-Mount Speaker - English Walnut
  • Frequency response: 42-20,000 Hz (±3dB)
  • Recommended amplifier power: up to 200 watts
  • Sensitivity: 90.5 dB
  • Impedance: 6 ohms

KLH Model Five – Sound Test

After such elementary adjustment, what follows can be described in two words: pure enjoyment.

As I mentioned earlier, the Model Five speakers produce a large and unusually wide sound that can fill even larger rooms. In this grandiose soundscape, the arrangement of vocals and individual instruments remains completely clear. It gives the feeling that the sound doesn’t come from the speakers but originates in the space between them.

Many people will be really impressed by the fantastic deep bass reproduction from these speakers.

The low frequencies are extremely solid, well-defined, and layered. This great bass performance shines through in all kinds of music genres.

From rock and metal, where the low end often hides little details, all the way to rap, EDM, and modern pop – genres where you don’t need refined bass, just raw power and hard-hitting thump. Delivering that concrete, punchy bass is one of the KLH Model Five speakers’ specialties.

KLH Model Five

The vocal range sounds full, smooth, warm, and extremely pleasant. The same level of detail present in the bass carries over into the midrange too, maintaining these speakers’ versatility across genres. However, this isn’t a typical audiophile hyper-detail presentation that becomes the focus. Instead, the Model Five speakers have an extraordinary musicality that will make you want to revisit old CDs and vinyl just to hear how incredibly these speakers reproduce all your favorite songs from the past.

The aluminum dome tweeter never sounded overly thin or metallic. If someone told me it was made from a non-metallic material, I would have believed them. Overall, the KLH Model Five speakers are endlessly energetic and indescribably fun to listen to, yet still refined enough to never become aggressive. The driver integration is seamless, and the soundstage they create is massive. But you won’t need to spend weeks finding the perfect positioning or have a nuclear power plant to drive them properly.

KLH Model Five Video Review

Specifications

  • Frequency response: 42Hz – 20,000Hz +/- 3dB
  • Subwoofer extension: -10dB @ 32Hz
  • Sensitivity in space: 90.5dB @ 2.83V / 1M
  • Outdoor sensitivity: 87.5dB @ 2.83V / 1M
  • Power: 200 W / 800 W peak
  • Recommended amplifier power: 20 – 200 W
  • Maximum SPL (sound pressure) in space: 112.3 dB
  • Impedance: 6 Ω (3.5 Ω minimum @ 140 Hz)
  • Horizontal dispersion: 140 °
  • Cutting frequencies: MF: 380 Hz (2nd Order Electro-Acoustic)
  • HF: 2.850Hz (2nd Order Electro-Acoustic)
  • Tweeter: 25 mm, aluminum dome, soft rubber suspension
  • Midrange: 100 mm pulp-paper cone, inverse rubber suspension
  • Subwoofer: 254 mm pulp-paper cone, inverse rubber suspension, 50 mm diameter flat wire coil

You can download & view the manual here->KLH Model Five Manual

Final Verdict

The new KLH Model 5 speakers look old-fashioned on the outside, but their insides use modern, up-to-date technology and design. These are three-way speakers with special drivers made to reproduce midrange sounds perfectly. The bass cabinets don’t vibrate, the midrange drivers are cast, and the crossover network has 13 parts including special Mylar capacitors. To help adjust the sound for your room, you can use a switch on the speakers to change the acoustic balance in three steps. So while they look vintage, the Model 5 speakers actually have advanced insides with quality parts and tuning options to deliver great modern sound quality.

You will get a perfect and balanced sound – this speaker is worth every penny.

With these speakers, the manufacturer gives a ten-year warranty.

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