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REVIEW: Klipsch Klipsch CF 3 Speakers

Model: Klipsch CF 3
Category: Speakers
Suggested Retail Price: $2500.00
Description: Dual 10
Manufacturer URL: Klipsch

Review by iamhartigan on August 10, 2012 at 23:50:28
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for the Klipsch CF 3

I am posting this review because there seems to be some mis-information about the Klipsch CF-3s posted by user Ka7niq. Unfortunately these speakers were made before reviews were published to the internet, so ka7niq's review is the only reference that people have to base their assumptions on.

First off: All versions of the CF-3s had dual ports. Only the CF-1 came with a single port.

There are 3 Revisions that were done to the CF-3s. This revision log is direct from Klipsch. (Copied verbatim even text included in parenthesis)

Rev 1: Start Production in Spring of 1994

- These models had 5" long port tubes

- Networks used OFC (monster cable looking) clear jacket wiring.

- Horns in these models were gray in color.

Rev 2: Fall of 1994

- These models had shorter 2.5" long port tubes (to raise the box tuning)

- Networks had a component/value change to correct for the new ports. (The network wire was still the OFC used in Rev 1)

Rev 3: Subber of 1995 to end of production in 1996

- These models had new lighter cone woofers (new vendor) (these cones aren't nearly as stiff as the originals and can be deformed easier by pressing on them)

- Networks were changed to compensate for the new woofers.

- Change in network wiring to colored 16ga like what is used in Legend KLF networks.

- New horn material that was 20% glass and was painted black.

Now I am here to say that I am the proud owner of CF-3 Revision 3 speakers. These are hands down some of the best speakers I have ever listened to.

Sure, ka7niq said that these are to be avoided by all means, but I am here to tell you that unless you listen to them at "stupid loud" levels then you will be nothing but pleased.

First Impressions:

These speakers are huge. I don't know what to really expect when I heard of the size of these, but being 5'11" these come up to my ribs and are nearly as wide and deep as my torso. You will need help moving these.

They are very attractive. Mine came in a medium oak finish, personally I would prefer the subtle black satin finish (and may re-finish them in the future), but the medium oak is a very classy finish and the black plastic facia help modernize the appearance of these speakers. They look fantastic with the grills on, and downright intimidating with the grills off.

A large note: You need to be sitting down to appreciate these.

I have them set up toed in to directly point at my listening position. Center placement of sound is directly placed at level of the tweeters. Using speaker risers on the front two feet or all four corners allows the soundstage to be physically moved vertically as well. But I find that the stock (level) and height works beautifully.

The horns have a much smaller vertical dispersion pattern than horizontal. So there is no need to worry about pleasing all sitting at a couch or multi-chair seating arrangement. Toeing out the speakers to near 0* may be a more viable option for a wider sweet spot.

Back on topic. These speakers are some of the best I have ever heard. Comments about the horn overwhelming the woofers I find to be absolutely wrong. They are on the bright side, and the bass is not as dominant as one might expect from dual 10" woofers, but I find the combination nothing but pleasing. The short port design drops the tuning off right around ~30Hz. And it does drop off quickly. Personally I would still recommend using a large subwoofer. A subwoofer like a cylindrical subwoofer from SVS; one that is tuned for sub-sonic bass and plays comfortably in the sub 30Hz region. But overall these woofers perform beautifully, if you keep the volume levels reasonable then you will never regret the lighter cone. (Reasonable is reference level and below)

The soundstage is something that I have only heard from Electrostats like martin logans. Honestly, it is a massive soundstage and these speakers image like mad. I blame the 2" tweeters and the wonderful crossovers. They are ridiculously detailed with precise placement of voices and instruments. It is something that I can't find present in even the current Reference Series speakers. I listened to some well mastered acoustic works and there was awesome separation of instruments and vocals. Honestly, with the lights off, these perform nearly identical to Martin Logan ESLs as far as soundstage and imaging goes.

Treble is beautiful. It comes in crisp and detailed. Guitars and pianos have never sounded better. No worries about the "cupped hands" sound to vocals. The only word I keep coming back to is crisp. The resonating strings of a poorly fingered guitar are revealed, the twang of a harpsichord comes out in full force, the nuances of a slowly bowed cello are all expressed through these great tweeters. Keep in mind that these are the revised tweeters of the rev 3 CF-3s.

They do not seem as sensitive as the 100db rating would suggest. I suspect that rating is somewhat inflated, they sound more around 96-98dB 1w/m. But that is still more than enough to get clean sound and low power requirement by the receiver.

I cannot rave about the speakers enough. Especially since they are popping up used for very reasonable prices. If you have the space, I would recommend these over the current Reference line of speakers.

Product Weakness: Not as bassy as dual 10%22 woofers would suggest, Very large in size, Very poor off axis response, Must be sitting to appreciate, Anything louder than reference level and sound quality suffers some.
Product Strengths: Massive soundstage, Great imaging, Crisp treble, Balanced sound, Fantastic SQ at Reference level and below.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Pioneer Elite VSX-49TXi
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): None
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Sony Playstation 3 CD/SACD/Bluray
Speakers: Klipsch CF-3
Cables/Interconnects: Optical transmission, 14g speaker interconnects.
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Acoustic, Orchestral, Alternative
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Monster Power HDP 1850G
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Klipsch Klipsch CF 3 Speakers - iamhartigan 23:50:28 08/10/12 (1)


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