Loudspeakers/Klipsch Forte IV.
Wills gets a quick listen and first impression…
||Sealed, passive cone radiator
||1x K-100-TI 1-inch (2.54 cm) Titanium diaphragm compression driver on a K-79T horn, 1x 1.75-inch (4.45 cm) Polyimide Compression driver mated to a K-703-M horn, 1x 12-inch (30.48 cm) Fiber-composite cone woofer, KD-15 15-inch (38.1 cm)
||8 ohms nominal
||38 Hz – 20 kHz
||100 W continuous, 400 W peak
||908 x 422 x 330 mm (HxWxD)
Don’t be fooled by the retro look. Easy to drive, easy to listen to. Open and surprisingly musical.
PRICE +/- R150k (depending on finish, grilles)
SUPPLIED BY Audioholics
As far as first impressions go….
It kinda feels like a dingy ’80s/’90s club with the old style horns of yore designed for one thing and one thing only — SPL! At around R150k these are about as far away from the cheap and nasty volume deliverers that blared (and glared) a full frontal assault on the ear’s sensory capacity. Smoke, stale alcohol, sweaty bodies gyrating away to metal, alternative, pop and you name it seems like a distant foggy memory with the advent of new concepts such as lockdown and the runaway viral plague that has been Covid.
But the company that this speaker finds itself in in the Audioholics listening room should give you some idea of where they are positioned in the market place.
There are some seriously heavy hitters there — with some properly drool-inducing front end amplification doing duty. The Michi P5 pre-amp coupled to the Michi S5 (500W a channel and it shows) were fed by a Bluesound node and coupled together with Audioquest Yuken XLR cabling.
Presented with the table and of course Tidal to satiate my listening needs it wasn’t long before the Forte IVs were being pressed into duty. I was given carte blanche as to how loud I wanted to listen to them at and this is ordinarily a bad idea, because restraint is a hard learned personal character flaw. I pumped them up to a level that I felt was reasonable and I have to admit that the speakers sounded great from the first notes. One gets a feel for how a system is performing relatively quickly and it was apparent that the Fortes had no issues whatsoever with delivering copious quantities of sound waves at a far higher level than my ears would find comfortable.
Time disappeared. It’s impossible to give a critical review without referencing the speakers from within my own system of course, and this is not intended as such. But from a first impressions point of view I found the speakers to be the opposite of what I was expecting from a box that looks as sonically intimidating as these do. Being a ‘fraidy cat, these are speakers that I would leave the grilles on. What hit me most was just how easy they were on my ears. Tracks that I KNOW have distortion in them on the source recording simply didn’t reveal it at anywhere near the annoyance I was anticipating. Of course the digitally streamed source from the Bluesound may be the solution here, but that said the Fortes still have to get the job done.
A crisp and well detailed soundstage was also surprising. I didn’t anticipate the width that I got despite the speaker placement being what it was. It’s impossible for instance to tell which speakers are in fact playing and that’s always a good sign that imaging is being done reasonably well.
Tonally the speakers as set up are warm and lush with rolled over upper response. There is enough bass to make you take notice but surprisingly taut and accurate — again a throw back to what I was expecting. I would have liked to see a bit more of a deeper reach if I was to nit pick, but I will say that as the volume increases, the punch that the bass delivers is so hefty that reach becomes less of an issue.
Integration across the tonal range felt first class and seamless and I would expect to see a flat graph from the lab to make its appearance. Vocals especially were particularly full and crunchy and gave enough of hint at the speakers’ capabilities to deliver a noteworthy concert performance.
I’d love to hear them with a few live recordings. Given the cleanliness of the performance, cranking them up to higher listening levels is deceptively easy. Rated at 99 dB with a 116 dB continuous SPL rating, you could do your ears in without realising it. When that happens you can be assured that it was a damned good party and despite the modest (relatively) amplification requirements, if I listened to music loudly (I do) I’d probably opt for a beefier spec than recommended.
You can make your own mind up on the looks. As far as a retro ’70s look goes I have to admit that they pull it off. In a modern environment today I can actually see interior designers approving of these speakers — and that certainly cannot be said for many speakers in this league.
Consider my appetite whetted and my prejudices somewhat shaken because if I am completely honest I didn’t expect to be as impressed as I was.