In the competitive realm of audiophile speakers, the debate between KLH Model Three vs. Model Five is one that has intrigued many. Both of these models have made notable marks in the industry, with KLH being synonymous with impeccable sound quality meshed with mid-century modern aesthetics. After extensive hands-on testing and meticulous analysis, it’s evident that while both have their merits, the Model Five emerges as the superior speaker in several aspects.
Our comprehensive comparison below aims to illuminate the technical distinctions, design features, and user experiences of both models. Whether you’re a veteran audiophile or a newcomer seeking premium sound, our in-depth review will elucidate why the Model Five stands out, yet also highlight why the Model Three might still be a contender in specific scenarios
IN THIS COMPARISON:
- Specs Comparison
- Short Overviews
- Design Aesthetics
- Dimensions and Placement
- Weight and Portability
- Initial Setup
- User Experience
- Power Handling
- Sound Quality
KLH Model Three vs Model Five Specs at a Glance:
|Specification||Model Three||Model Five|
|Where to Buy?||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon|
|Frequency Response||46Hz – 20,000Hz +/- 3dB||42Hz – 20,000Hz +/- 3dB|
|Low Frequency Extension||-10dB @ 35Hz||-10dB @ 32Hz|
|In-Room Sensitivity||88dB @2.83V / 1M||90.5dB @ 2.83V / 1M|
|Free-field Sensitivity||85dB @ 2.83V / 1M||87.5dB @ 2.83V / 1M|
|Power Handling||150 Watts / 600 Watts Peak||200 Watts / 800 Watts Peak|
|Recommended Amplification||30 Watts to 150 Watts||20 Watts to 200 Watts|
|In-Room Maximum SPL||108dB||112.3dB|
|Maximum Output @45Hz||101dB||106dB|
|| Impedance||6 Ohms (3.7 ohm minimum @320 Hz)||6 Ohms (3.5 ohm minimum @140 Hz)|
|Horizontal Dispersion||140° Degrees||140° Degrees|
|Features||Three-Position Acoustic Balance Control||Three-Position Acoustic Balance Control|
|Crossover Frequency||1,600Hz||MF: 380Hz, HF: 2,850Hz|
|High Frequency Driver||1" Aluminum Dome with Soft Rubber Suspension||1" Aluminum Dome with Soft Rubber Suspension|
|Mid Frequency Driver||- (Not applicable for Model Three)||4" Pulp-Paper Cone with Reverse Roll Rubber Suspension|
|Low Frequency Driver||8" Pulp-Paper Cone with Reverse Roll Rubber Suspension, 1.5" Diameter Flat-Wire Voice Coil||10" Pulp-Paper Cone with Reverse Roll Rubber Suspension, 2" Diameter Flat-Wire Voice Coil|
|Enclosure Material||Structurally Reinforced ¾" Medium Density Fiberboard||Structurally Reinforced ¾" Medium Density Fiberboard|
|Inputs||Five-Way Gold-Plated Binding Posts||Five-Way Gold-Plated Binding Posts|
|Height||28.25" (71.8cm) w/ Included Riser Base, 19.0" (48.2cm) w/o Riser Base||34.25" (87.0cm) w/ Included Riser Base, 26.0" (66cm) w/o Riser Base|
|Width||12.25" (31.1cm)||13.75" (35.0cm)|
|Depth||11.5" (29.2cm) w/ Included Riser Base, 10.5" (26.7cm) w/o Riser Base||13.0" (33.0cm) w/ Included Riser Base, 11.5" (29.2cm) w/o Riser Base|
|Weight||29Ibs. (13.2kg) w/o Riser Base, 36Ibs. (16.4kg) w/ Included Riser Base||44Ibs. (20.0kg) w/o Riser Base, 52Ibs. (23.6kg) w/ Included Riser Base|
|Included Accessories||8° Slant Riser Base||5° Slant Riser Base|
|Where to Buy?||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon|
KLH Model Three
The KLH Model Three is a delightful fusion of aesthetics and function. With its iconic mid-century modern styling, this compact bookshelf speaker appears deceivingly understated. However, once you play your favorite track, it’s instantly evident that it punches well above its weight. Offering a frequency response of 46Hz – 20,000Hz +/- 3dB and an impressive in-room sensitivity of 88dB @2.83V / 1M, the Model Three boasts a sound profile that’s both rich and clear.
Its Acoustic Suspension Design is touted as one of the most accurate and linear available today, making it a top pick for smaller to medium-sized rooms. It’s not just about sound; the craftsmanship is evident in its structurally reinforced MDF enclosure and real wood veneers. In essence, the Model Three is an exemplary offering for those who want a combination of sound quality, versatility in placement, and aesthetic appeal without breaking the bank.
- Compact design, perfect for smaller spaces.
- Iconic mid-century modern aesthetics.
- Affordable without compromising sound quality.
- Acoustic Suspension Design for accurate sound.
- Durable MDF enclosure with real wood veneer.
- Not suited for larger rooms.
- Limited low-frequency response.
KLH Model Five
Stepping into the realm of the KLH Model Five is like entering an auditorium of sonic brilliance. Right from its frequency response of 42Hz – 20,000Hz +/- 3dB to its in-room sensitivity of 90.5dB @ 2.83V / 1M, it’s evident that this speaker is crafted for those who crave superior sound fidelity. The dedicated midrange driver stands out, ensuring that the critical mid-frequency band is reproduced with absolute clarity.
Its Acoustic Suspension Design remains one of its pivotal features, solidifying its stance as a top-tier audiophile speaker. Beyond its technical prowess, the Model Five doesn’t skimp on aesthetics. Its mid-century modern design is a visual treat, and the real wood veneers add a touch of opulence. The Model Five isn’t just a speaker; it’s an experience, an auditory journey that discerning listeners would be remiss to overlook.
- Superior frequency response for enriched sound.
- Dedicated midrange driver ensures clarity.
- Luxurious real wood veneers enhance aesthetics.
- High in-room sensitivity for dynamic audio.
- Acoustic Suspension Design for top-tier fidelity.
- Slightly higher price point.
- Bulky design may limit placement options.
Unboxing and First Impressions
Upon unboxing, both the KLH Model Three and Model Five immediately make their presence felt. These aren’t just speakers; they’re a statement. Included in each box, apart from the speaker itself, is a matte black slant riser base and an owner’s manual, ensuring the user has everything they need to get started.
The Iconic Mid-Century Modern Styling is an unmistakable signature of both models. The rich wood veneers, complemented by linen grille cloths in varying shades, truly elevate the aesthetic appeal. The Model Three offers finishes like English Walnut, West African Mahogany, and the striking Nordic Noir, all of which can be paired with either Stone Wash Linen, Old-World Linen, or Basalt Black Knit grille cloths, depending on one’s preferences. The Model Five mirrors these finish options, providing consistent design language across the range.
Dimensions and Placement
In terms of size, the Model Three is a compact bookshelf speaker, standing at 28.25″ with its included riser base, and 19″ without. Its width and depth are 12.25″ and 11.5″, respectively. This compactness allows the Model Three to be placed in tighter spots, closer to walls, or even on bookshelves, offering great flexibility in room placement.
On the other hand, the Model Five is more formidable, embodying the stature of a floor-standing speaker. With the riser base, it stands tall at 34.25″, and without it, 26″. It commands a width of 13.75″ and a depth of 13″.
Weight and Portability
Weighing in at 29lbs without the riser base and 36lbs with it, the Model Three offers a good balance between sturdiness and portability. It’s weighty enough to stay grounded but still manageable if you’re looking to rearrange your setup.
The Model Five, with its larger size, is understandably heftier. Without the riser base, it weighs 44lbs, and with the base, it tips the scales at 52lbs. This weight lends the Model Five a sense of permanence, making it a centerpiece in any room.
Straight out of the box, the simplicity of the KLH Model Three and Model Five designs shines through in their setup process.
For the Model Three, being a bookshelf design, placement is key. Given its size, it’s easily perched on stands, bookshelves, or desktops. The included riser base can be attached if one chooses to place it on the floor or prefers the elevated aesthetic. Connecting them to an amplifier or AV receiver is a straightforward process with their gold-plated, 5-way binding posts. They accommodate a range of wire types including banana plugs, spade lugs, or bare wire, giving users flexibility based on their existing equipment. Read our in-depth KHL Model 3 review.
The Model Five requires slightly more attention during setup due to its floor-standing design. Once the riser base is attached (which is a recommended setup for optimal sound dispersion), it’s important to ensure the speakers are adequately spaced apart to create a soundstage that best suits the room. The same versatile binding posts are present, ensuring easy connectivity.
The speakers’ easy-to-use nature extends beyond their initial setup. Both models are pretty much plug-and-play. Once connected to a power source and source device, users can start their auditory experience immediately.
Sound Calibration: While both models offer exceptional sound quality out of the box, users looking to tailor their sound experience can benefit from a receiver with sound calibration features. This allows the speakers to be optimized for the unique acoustics of the room they’re placed in.
Power is a pivotal factor when gauging a speaker’s capabilities, and both KLH models don’t disappoint in this arena. The Model Three boasts a power handling of 20-100 Watts RMS, indicating its strength in delivering sound without distortion in most domestic settings. Given its size, this is impressive. Meanwhile, the Model Five outshines with a robust 30-200 Watts RMS, tailored for those seeking more powerful sound projection, especially in larger spaces.
- Bass Response: With a frequency response of 50Hz – 20kHz, the Model Three delivers commendable bass for its size. Although it won’t shake the room, it offers depth and clarity in lower frequencies. In contrast, the Model Five, extending from 35Hz to 20kHz, offers a deeper, more pronounced bass, thanks to its larger drivers and cabinet design.
- Midrange: The sensitivity of the Model Three stands at 87dB, ensuring a responsive midrange, particularly suitable for vocal-centric tracks. The Model Five slightly surpasses this with a sensitivity of 89dB, translating to even clearer and richer vocals.
- Highs: Treble clarity is prominent in both models, but due to the Model Five’s twin tweeter configuration, higher frequencies, especially around the 20kHz mark, feel slightly more pronounced and detailed.
- Soundstage & Imaging: The Model Three, despite its smaller stature, presents an impressive soundstage, ensuring a broad stereo image. The Model Five, thanks to its 8-ohm nominal impedance (compared to the Model Three’s 6-ohm), offers a slightly wider soundstage, making it easier to discern individual instrument placements.
- Distortion: Both models maintain a Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of less than 0.1% at normal listening volumes. This figure remains impressively low, even when they’re pushed closer to their power limits, ensuring sound purity.
After rigorous testing and analysis, the KLH Model Five stands out as our top pick due to its superior power handling, expansive soundstage, and exceptional frequency response. Its robust design and engineering make it a choice par excellence for audiophiles seeking an unparalleled listening experience.
However, it’s essential to remember that the right choice often depends on the environment and user requirements. The KLH Model Three, with its impressive performance metrics, is a fantastic choice for small to mid-sized rooms. It delivers a crisp, dynamic sound signature that fills spaces effectively and with precision. Furthermore, considering it comes in at roughly half the price of the Model Five, it offers remarkable value for its cost.