Klipsch The Fives review: These Bluetooth bookshelf speakers deliver smooth, refined sound

Ever since 1946, when Paul Klipsch began selling his patented Klipschorn speakers, the company that bears his name has been inextricably linked with horn-based designs. As he discovered a decade earlier while comparing horn-loaded and cone-based speakers, horns offer greater efficiency and more controllable dispersion.

Now, almost 75 years later, the company continues to implement that philosophy in a wide range of speakers, including The Fives, a pair of powered, wireless bookshelf speakers that bespeak high quality in their construction and performance.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best Bluetooth speakers, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of speaker.

Klipsch The Fives feature set

The Fives are fairly large bookshelf speakers that measure 12 x 6.5 x 9.25 inches (HxWxD). The primary speaker weighs in at 11.8 pounds, while the secondary speaker is a bit lighter at 10.7 pounds. As with most such wireless bookshelf systems, the primary speaker houses all the electronics, while the secondary unit is nothing but a passive speaker. But unlike some such systems, you can select whether the primary speaker is on the left or right with a switch on the back, which makes placement more flexible.

klipsch the fives grilles Klipsch

The magnetic grilles are made from a tough woven fabric.

Each 2-way speaker includes a 4.5-inch high-excursion fiber-composite cone woofer, the size of which is close enough to 5 inches to give the speakers their name. A 1-inch titanium LTS (Linear Travel Suspension) vented tweeter with 90 x 90-degree Tractrix horn is derived from the company’s lauded Reference Premiere series. The bass-reflex enclosure has a rear-firing Tractrix port, and it’s constructed from sturdy MDF with genuine wood veneer. Also, the speakers come with a handsome magnetic grille-cloth cover.

The built-in, custom-designed amplifiers provide a total of 160 watts of power (320W peak), with each woofer receiving 60W and each tweeter getting 20W from their own separate amp circuits. The maximum output is specified to be 109dB at a distance of 1 meter from the stereo pair, and frequency response is specified from 50Hz to 25kHz (no tolerance given), with bass extension down to 46Hz at 35 percent volume.

klipsch the fives exploded Klipsch

The Fives incorporate high-quality parts throughout.

One interesting feature is Dynamic Bass EQ, which is normally found only in A/V receivers. Basically, the level of low frequencies relative to the entire spectrum changes depending on the overall level you set—the lower the overall level, the more the bass is boosted to accommodate how the human hearing system perceives different frequencies at different levels. This feature can be disabled using the included IR remote.

Inputs abound on The Fives, all of which are found on the primary speaker. For wireless connectivity, there’s Bluetooth 5.0 with support for the aptX, aptX HD, AAC, and SBC codecs. In addition, physical digital inputs include optical Toslink, USB-B for connection to a computer, and HDMI ARC for connection to a TV.

To use the ARC connection, you need to connect the TV’s ARC input to The Fives’ HDMI input; as you may know, the TV’s ARC input sends audio data to an external device in addition to accepting video and audio data from a device. In this case, you must connect your source devices to the TV and use it to switch between them, and you can’t use the TV’s HDMI ARC input as an input. If your TV doesn’t have an ARC input, you can use its optical digital-audio output or line-level analog-audio outputs to connect to The Fives. (You can read more about ARC in this story.)