The Vintage Project: Klipsch Forte I – Updated Impressions and Final Upgrades
Now we’ve come to it, the end of my first vintage restoration project. The Klipsch Forte I were an excellent first step on this time travelling jaunt. Horn speakers and tube amps were to be the focus, and the Forte were a great introduction to the former. Outside of great sound, I experienced the excellent community on the Klipsch forums, and learned much of Paul Klipsch’s role in the development of consumer audio in the US.
Ultimately, I found that I do prefer horns to direct radiating drivers. Their dynamics, tonal accuracy and low distortion deliver the type of sound I want, and most importantly, bring me closer to the music.
Today, I plan to log my impressions of the final crossover updates. I’ve got what I think are my last upgrades for the Forte crossovers – Obbligato caps for the LF section, and Duelund standard resistors – all ordered from HIFICollective.
My experience has shown that new electronics often do need time to settle. Sometimes, that’s a lot of time. Thankfully, working from home means I can run my system all day, at low levels. They’ve been running for a week or so now, so I’m thinking 50 hours.
The Obbligatos were, at first, thick and forward sounding. The speakers sounded heavy. Bass! Too much, in fact, but I was told this was how it would be. In time, they’ve opened up, and today they sound great. Not sure they are done settling down, but I am very happy with the way things are going.
Ok, I have grown to despise this part, yet I know I have found these type of impressions useful in the past. But, without a familiar comparison, this report may be of little use to you. So, here we are…
The stage now fills my small listening space. I mean, the stage is bigger than the room at times. Deeper, wider, taller. These horns are throwing a big picture. Yet tonality remains true-er than before. We haven’t traded tonal weight for wispy images on a widescreen. The mid-range has opened up, and has surpassed my previous setup in spookiness. Individual instruments have more space of their own. Complex music doesn’t make them lose their cool. Vocals sound very natural and their presence can be felt. The Forte deliver excellent bass – a solid foundation for the music, with less boom than before. All this adds up to a more engaging experience.
Here’s what I think:
Upgrading the electronics in a well designed speaker will deliver. The Forte have a reputation among a certain group of listeners. One of greatness. In fact, Klipsch is bringing the Forte (series III) back in 2017. I am confident it’s worth a listen, and if you are so inspired, with some work, you can get fantastic sound out of an original pair. Mind you, the speakers are part of a larger system. Everything matters. Finding the right mix is part of it.
New isn’t always better, and in this hobby it’s often just a compromise. I’m having a blast looking back, and my next project is very intriguing. I’ve grabbed a pair of Altec Lansing A8, ‘Voice of the Theater’ speakers. I plan to restore, and possibly modify these larger horns. Altec is a part of our cultural history, so interesting from one perspective. And, I trust they’ll deliver even more of the sound I have experienced with the Forte.
More on that later – thanks for listening.