Surround Sound Speaker Systems
- Written by Jim Clements
- Published on 11 March 2010
The talking guinea pigs in "G-Force" make this movie seem like a really far-fetched fantasy. But I have read about scientists who use mice, rats, bees, cockroaches and other creatures to infiltrate secure areas and either deliver weapons or retrieve intelligence data. So, besides the fact that the guinea pigs could speak perfect English, the premise of this film is a real possibility. Right off the bat, I noticed that the Icon W speakers did not have the undesirable "cupped hands" effect which is commonplace with horn-loaded speakers. But they did have a slight "hi-fi" sound with a subjective rise in the upper mid band. Outside of that, these speakers impressed me a lot. The bass integration was very good. The hip-hop parts of the score had a nice "poing, poing, poing". This movie features great voice acting from an all-star cast and the Klipsch Icon WC 24 center speaker did a really great job passing this along clearly. I have always enjoyed the dynamic and unrestrained qualities that are typical of horn-loaded speakers. And that is a major trait of the Icon W's.
"There Will Be Blood" is a smarmy tale about some extremely reprehensible characters. I loved it! This movie has a generally sparse soundtrack that is interspersed with various loud effects-filled scenes. During the sparse scenes, the background orchestral music involved a lot of minor chords. I liked the way the Klipsch Icon W's passed along the creepy, discordant emotions in this music.
The Klipsch Icon W's were capable of wide dynamics and the louder scenes were quite impressive. Check out the scene near the beginning of the movie where the roughneck falls into a mine. Even I felt the impact in my shins with the sound of him landing at the bottom of the shaft!
The music in the gusher scene had great clarity in the upper registers and I felt that the Icon W's did a good job of preserving the air in the soundtrack. Nevertheless, Daniel Plainview's voice thundered mightily in the bowling alley scene!
"Star Trek" has already become one of my all-time favorite movies. Yes, I know it is a little campy and it's interspersed with a little too much divine machination. (I mean what are the chances that the entire crew would be assembled by almost pure happenstance?) But all this can be forgiven, because it is "Star Trek", right?
The Klipsch Icon W's created a nice surround bubble on this movie. Thanks to the Icon W system, I really felt "transported" to this amazing future world. The XW-500d sub was not at all bloated sounding the way my reference system can get. And the bass extended to the low 20 Hz range.
The screams, shouts and growls of the Delta Vega creatures were very intense. By the time the Earth attack sequence was in full swing, I could totally see why commercial theaters use horn-loaded speakers almost exclusively. This is what Home Theater is all about!
The DTS HD Master track on KD Lang Live in London Blu-ray is an excellent choice of program material because it includes all types of instruments as well as female and male vocals. Once again, I heard a slight peak in the lower treble/upper mids. I also felt that the bass was not quite as distortion free as the very best subs out there. But these criticisms are a little nit-picky because the Icon W's generally laid down a really satisfying performance: unrestrained dynamically and with a rare sense of palpability. The mournful steel guitar sounded live and there was real nice air surrounding the brush work on the drum kit.
I concluded my critical listening with the multi-channel SACD of Weather Report's Mysterious Traveler. SACD is a superior format, even on older recordings such as this. This simultaneously funky and sublime master work really shone through on the Klipsch Icon W system.
The surround layer on this disc is a total trip. It has direct, antiphonal and synthesizer action coming from the rear channels. For my set up and room, however, I would have liked to have bipolar surrounds or some surround back speakers. This is not a fault of the Klipsch speakers as I have felt this way with many other speaker systems. With Icon W's, I only felt this way when listening to SACD's that had discrete surround information that places you in the middle of the band. A contrasting example would be the KD Lang live disc which was mixed from an audience perspective. I had zero concerns over the surround performance on that disc.
The Icon W system did a very decent job of sorting out the complex passages on Mysterious Traveler. There was detail resolution down to the molecular level. The XW-500d sub did an amazing job preserving the pitch and timbre of the rollicking bass work on this disc.