I remember the first time I heard the name Klipsch. I was in the Army and my neighbor down the hall was admiring my vintage Pioneer speakers.
He said they were nice but said something to the effect that they were lame compared to his vintage Klipsch speakers! I had never heard the name Klipsch before and he demonstrated to me the awesomeness of his old Klipsch LaScala speakers.
My manly pride was hurt…I had to admit that his sound system blew mine away. Really primarily because of those damn beastly Klipsch speakers.
Eventually years later I managed to obtain my own Klipsch vintage speakers.
This post is your guide to vintage Klipsch speakers. We will cover all of the best models ever put out by Klipsch and talk about modern versions of their vintage speakers.
Klipsch Speaker History
Founded in Hope, Arkansas, in 1946 as ‘Klipsch and Associates’ by Paul W. Klipsch, and since its inception, Klipsch has promoted the use of horn-loaded speakers as part of its goal to produce speakers which:
- Are high in efficiency (more formally called “sensitivity”), meaning that they can be driven by relatively low-powered amplifiers.
- Are low in modulation distortion, which Paul Klipsch believed was very important.
- Have wide dynamic range, meaning that they accurately reproduce both soft and loud sounds.
- Exhibit controlled directivity, meaning that the radiation pattern is directional, rather than diffuse.
- Have a flat frequency response, meaning that there is no unnatural emphasis in the bass, mid-range or treble.
Why are Klipsch Speakers So Special?
Klipsch are a great example of a company that has a belief system and sticks to it.
Klipsch Horn Tweeters
The classic Klipsch speakers all had horn tweeters despite nearly all other speaker manufacturers not using horns.
While horn tweeters are often called a “love it or hate it” sound. The people that hate it I have to wonder if they truly are rabid music fans or have attended many live concerts. Klipsch speakers are able to deliver that lively sound unlike many of their competitors — and that is because of their horns.
Big Klipsch Woofers & Passive Woofers
Many of the higher end vintage Klipsch had insanely powerful huge woofers or even an extra passive woofer in the back just for extra low end sound. If you are in the room with these vintage speakers you know it as you can feel them in your gut (in a good way).
High End American Cabinet Build Quality
It is not unusual to see vintage Klipsch speakers from the 50’s that not only sound great and rock the house, but still look amazing and are structurally like new. This is because they were made by craftsman in America using quality hardwoods.
What are the Best Vintage Klipsch Speakers?
I guess to make it more interesting we may as well put them in order by something. I vote for total vintage speaker awesomeness as the judging scale.
And that is keeping the price in mind. Otherwise the order would just basically model the pricing structure which is not that interesting.
Do keep in mind that I am a mostly heavy rock dude…so the fact that many Klipsch vintage speakers put out heavy bass is a big part of why I love them.
So be warned…
This is not going to be a post talking about tiny ass satellite speakers. Sorry…
Another unique thing to point out is that while all of these speakers were introduced many many years ago — they are all still being produced by Klipsch right in the good ole’ USA. That is right, they ar built in Hope, Arkansas just like they were back in the beginning of the company.
Of course with inflation, the cost of materials, labor and everything else going up; the prices can be higher for new models. However every one of these speakers is something you can expect to keep till you croak and pass on to your kids — and they will still be able to rock out on them!
Not a bad deal if you ask me! Of course if you can track down actual vintage copies instead to save a lot of money.
Without further delay…here are the best Klipsch speakers in history!
#5 Best Vintage Klipsch Speaker — Klipsch Heresy
Despite a name that sounds like something from a horror movie — these are the least monstrous of the great vintage Klipsch speakers. Actually they were named “Heresy” because founder Paul Klipsch thought it was heresy that he had to design a smaller speaker!
He thought (accurately!) everyone should just own massive Klipschorn speakers.
Don’t get me wrong they are great looking and high quality speakers. But for hard rockers like me you are going to want to add a subwoofer to a set of these. That said…add a decent sub to a set of Heresys and you have a totally kick ass system that will kick for years.
The current version you can still buy new is Klipsch Heritage Klipschorn Speaker. It is sold as a pair.
Klipsch Heresy IV Floorstanding Speaker in American Walnut Three-Way, Horn-Loaded Speaker with Updated Design
#4 Best Vintage Klipsch Speaker — Klipsch Cornwall
While the Heresy is kind of like a neutered Forte, you could say the same about the Cornwall. It has some elements of the La Scala but in a stripped down fashion.
One simple example to demonstrate what I am saying here is this. Both have 15″ massive woofers, but a Cornwall speaker weighs roughly about 100 lbs. One La Scala speaker (of the current version) weighs roughly 200 lbs.
Get a new vintage style set.
Klipsch Cornwall IV Floorstanding Speakers in Natural Cherry
#3 Best Vintage Klipsch Speaker — Klipsch Forte
The Forte is to my mind what the Heresy coulda shoulda been. You DO NOT need or EVEN WANT a subwoofer with these. They are already enough to get you kicked out of any apartment/condo/neighborhood in the country.
Where they fall short compared to the others is that they lack the visual flair for one. They just kind of look like a regular set of vintage speakers. But consider how affordable these were and how hard they rocked — these were the best bang for buck in the Klipsch speaker universe.
For two…they are not massive enough to produce sound to shake the walls in a HUGE room, concert hall, etc. Honestly these are MORE THAN enough for just about every normal household situation or any gameroom. The rest of the vintage Klipschs in this list are all pretty much insane over the top pieces of absolute craftsmanship.
The Klipsch Fortes are very workmanlike in both duty and appearance.
This is the best for the buck in the Klipsch Heritage series out today. For a few reasons…the Forte III’s are already about $500 less than they were due to the Forte IV’s having been released.
And additionally the White Oak finish is less expensive. So this is the best deal going right now on a new pair.
I still have a pair of vintage Forte II’s and they have been making me go nearly deaf (but in an exciting way!) for over a decade now. And they show no signs of stopping either.
Klipsch Forte III Heritage Series Tower Speaker – Pair (Distressed White Oak)
#2 Best Vintage Klipsch Speaker — Klipsch La Scala
Named after the Teatro alla Scala in Italy, the original La Scala was unveiled in 1963. These were introduced as basically baby Klipschorns.
Cosmetically improved over the years, the La Scala provides Klipschorn-like performance from a smaller cabinet that does not require corner location.
If you are short on space or cash for the ultimate Klipsch speaker — the La Scala is possibly the vintage speaker for you.
Klipsch La Scala AL5 Cherry Floorstanding Speakers (Pair)
#1 Best Vintage Klipsch Speaker — Klipsch Klipschorn
The first and the best. Amazing how that worked out for Klipsch.
The Klipschorn, or K-Horn, loudspeaker is the flagship product of Klipsch Audio Technologies. It was patented by founder Paul W. Klipsch in 1946 and has been in continuous production in the company’s Hope, Arkansas, ever since.
At the time Paul Klipsch reportedly said “I have made the perfect speaker. I may as well retire now.”
That makes it the longest run in speaker production history!
Although the Klipschorn’s design is more than seventy years old, it has received only periodic minor modifications.
If you are lucky you can score a nice set of these vintage used and cared for Klipschorns at $2000 and up. If you cannot wait to get lucky on finding a pair vintage or just want the newer fancier version — you can get them all brand new and shiny shipped direct.
Klipsch Heritage Klipschorn Speaker Pair (Walnut)
Tips on Repairing or Upgrading Vintage Klipsch Speakers
Speaking of the old vintage speakers you can always upgrade or update electronics within the speakers to make them sound even better.
There was an electronics wizard named Bob Crites who built a business offering updated parts or replacements for many of the vintage Klipsch speakers. Bob sadly passed recently, but his family is continuing to offer his products.
Beyond this look the online forums, YouTube and elsewhere for guidance and eBay can be great for vintage parts that you cannot locate new from Klipsch or Bob Crites (yes Klipsch will often be able to get your replacement parts).
Vintage Klipsch Speakers for Sale
My advice is to monitor your local Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist listings for some nearby vintage Klipsch action. This is going to be your best way to get a good deal on set of old Klipsch speakers.
If you are not having luck then consider eBay or audio equipment online marketplaces such as Reverb.
If you have the funds you could consider buying new updated versions as well (see links earlier in this article).
Where To Sell Vintage Klipsch Speakers?
Do you live in the South? Call me and I will take those worthless old vintage Klipsch speakers off your hands!
But I understand big speakers are not for everyone or maybe you just have too many of them. I have sold many speakers and I will tell you what I usually do to sell them.
- List on Facebook Marketplace. This way I can avoid packing and shipping. Obviously packing and shipping speakers takes time and care. But I will warn you about this method. It can take a LONG time to sell this way depending on where you live. Sadly many people have been led to believe that a life listening to music on some bullshit tiny Bluetooth speaker is Ok. That is not OK!!! I pity these fools.
- List on eBay to sell faster. I have sold tons of speakers (even really huge ones) on eBay. Pack it well or if you are lazy have UPS pack for you (not cheap…fyi). Take care to charge enough for shipping and make sure in your shipping profiles to block Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and such to avoid a shipping expense you are not expecting.
That is it for today. Rock on everyone and be excellent to one another!