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8.0 out of 10 based on 28 reviews

Klipsch Cornwall III

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  1. Testfreaks.33053966
    26 March 2013

    Having owned Klipsch Heritage loudspeakers before, including Heresy I and II models, La Scala I and II models, and Cornwall I models, I thought that I knew what I was getting when I bid on some Cornwall III models on eBay. I was wrong.

    To "calibrate" this review, let me first describe my impressions of the Cornwall I models. The speakers had clean, though not extended treble, articulate midrange without excessive horn colorations, and extended bass without significant coloration or bloat. The speakers' main shortcoming was their slight softness in the midrange where the 15" woofer strained to articulate before passing off the higher frequencies to the midrange horn. Overall, the speakers' shortcoming was one of omission rather than adding anything significant to the sound.

    The Cornwall IIIs are a completely different animal. Klipsch has abandoned their plywood construction and now uses MDF. For their La Scala model, the MDF is significantly thicker and avoids any change to the sound. For the Cornwalls, however, the MDF is the same thickness as the previous models' plywood - 3/4". For this reason (or not?), the cabinet now "sings along" with the driver to a FAR greater extent than with the previous Cornwall model. This results not only in a very muddled bass line, but also in a "sameness" to the bass.

    The discontinuity between the woofer and the midrange is still there, but now is more pronounced because of the higher crossover point and the "faster" titanium driver in the midrange horn. The discontinuity, formerly only occasionally noticeable, is now distressingly audible and for almost all types of music.

    Further, the treble is now voiced from a titanium-diaphragm tweeter horn. Although more extended than the old Electro-Voice T-35 tweeter (used in the type I), the treble can now be excessively bright on axis. Position the speaker so that the listening position is not on axis, and the woofer-to-midrange discontinuity becomes more obvious because of the woofer beaming.

    There's no way to win! No matter how the speakers are positioned, they never seem to speak with a single voice.

    To ensure that I'm getting the best of the speakers, I've used different preamplifiers (Emotiva XSP-1 and Audioquest Dragonfly feeding the amplifiers directly), different amplifiers (Emotiva Mini-X, Crown PS-400, and a Rouge Audio Tempest Magnum tube integrated amplifier), and different speaker wires (yeah, I know that some say they've "proven" that wire differences can't possibly be heard, but whoooo boy - you should hear the differences between Kimber 12TC and Nordost flat wire on this setup!).

    All in all, the Cornwalls just don't work for me. Their flaws are too apparent and too great in magnitude for me to tolerate. For those who have experience with the Klipsch Cornwall model I versions, I STRONGLY advise keeping what you've got. The Model I versions are a far superior loudspeaker to the model IIIs in my opinion. Why Klipsch didn't double the cabinet thickness on the Cornwalls as they did on the La Scalas is a mystery to me. A further mystery is why Klipsch raised the crossover frequency from 600 to 800 Hz.

    It goes without saying that all the above comments are prefaced with:

    "In my room..."
    "Using my equipment..." and
    "To my ears..."

    If I'm missing something that will magically transform these speakers from "worse than Bose" into what the Cornwall sound should be, please enlighten me! I'd hoped that these would be keepers, but unless I can change the sound of these radically, it isn't to be.

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