Popular loudspeaker manufacturer Klipsch has a rich history and loyal fan base, but has reached its customers mostly through mainstream consumer channels since its beginnings way back in 1946. The Indianapolis-based company is certainly no stranger to CEDIA, but perhaps has never entered the annual custom integrator tradeshow with as much enthusiasm and dedication to the channel as it is for CEDIA 2017 in San Diego.
“We’re really trying to change that message to the dealers about our commitment to the channel,” says Tyler Nelson, who recently came onboard as Klipsch’s channel marketing manager, CI/Cinema/Pro, and brought with him channel experience most recently as training director for RTI.
One of Nelson’s tasks heading into CEDIA was working with Klipsch’s in-house creative team on a “Home Cinema Solutions” product and design “leave-behind” collateral for dealers to use as an asset for highlighting how the company’s various speaker solutions can be integrated into different rooms. Colorful graphics and product suggestions shown in theaters, family rooms, kids rooms, etc., will allow dealers to demonstrate to customers how a range of Klipsch speakers can be integrated or address specific needs.
“It’s to give to clients so they can get a visualization of what could be done, what the potential is for any situation from a playroom to a home theater room, and how that dealer can help them,” says Nelson.
Klipsch dealers ought to benefit greatly from such a guide with all of the new offerings that will be available to them – the company has in its booth (#4812) at the San Diego Convention Center 50+ new products aimed at the custom market, all price protected. They include residential, commercial, architectural, outdoor, wireless and more.
New Architectural Loudspeakers Make Installation a Snap
CE Pro got a preview of some of what’s on tap for dealers during a recent visit to Klipsch headquarters. In particular, the company demonstrated two types of tool-free installation methods incorporated into its new Professional Reference Premiere Architectural and Professional Reference speakers, and Design and Custom Architectural series, respectively.
Michael Buratto, product manager, component audio, walked through the quick installation technique called SecureFit that the company is using for its Pro Reference Premiere or Pro Reference models.
The two-part modular system leaves the dog legs exposed after the installation frame hole is cut, and once the frame is in place the installer flips the dog leg in the direction of the arrow. It snaps, keeping the frame in place and machine screws are ejected from the frame; after you wire the speaker and put it in the installation frame, use your screw gun to secure the machine screws and it’s all set.
“Because of the machine screws you get higher clamping force on that speaker module, and it also decouples it from drywall better or the installation surface better than traditional installation methods,” Buratto explains. “Because of that higher clamping force and decoupling, you get a lot less baffle vibration or baffle vibration transmission into the drywall, so you get better mid-bass and overall a clearer speaker.”
Baffle vibration is reduced as much as 40 percent, according to the company.
“While everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon of a faster installation method we were jumping on an installation method that is not necessarily faster, certainly not any slower, but more reliable,” adds Buratto (pictured below), “which leads to less issues in the field and most importantly creates a better acoustic experience.”
The Pro Reference Premiere and Pro Reference loudspeakers take the place of Klipsch’s 5000 series for the custom channel and deliver 60- to 90-degree dispersion (they sounded very good even listening way off-axis during the demonstration).
The Reference Premiere models feature a new silicone-coated horn, which Buratto says also reduces resonances to lessen mid-range coloration and produce sound a bit more universally appealing to someone who’s used to a direct radiator, but still deliver the dynamics, power and controlled directivity of a tried-and-true Klipsch horn.
Meanwhile, for the builder/contractor communities in particular Klipsch is addressing volume and speed of install with its Custom Series (CS) and Designer Series (DS) models that employ a new Sky Hook by Swarm tool-free technology.
These models will replace the 1000 and 2000 series products, and while we did not hear a demo of prototypes (they will be shown at CEDIA and launch in October) we did see the install technology in action.
Basically you press the top of the speaker into place, the four dog legs clamp into position and you’re done – and Sky Hook automatically adjusts to whatever the thickness of the surface material is, with teeth that lock into place.
“It’s an alternative on traditional in-ceiling installation, which can take up to a minute for a speaker; with this, after it’s wired up it’s literally a few seconds and you’re onto the next speaker,” says Buratto.
The Custom Series will be more of an entry-level, contractor-grade product, while the Designer Series is a step-up featuring Tractrix horns and silk-dome tweeters and some with pivoting tweeters and woofers. New architectural products will also give installers round or square grille options, a paint shield that magnetically attaches, and small aperture models that resemble recessed lighting.
“One of the big deals at CEDIA for us is all the new Pro Reference and DS/CS lines are designed for integrators specifically and will not be sold to retail online kind of businesses, they’re really aimed at the CI guys, and that’s different than where we’re at today,” says Rob Standley, vice president – general manager, professional & component audio solutions.
“We’ve got some products in the market that are those other channels, and these are for this channel specifically,” adds Standley. “The other cool thing is the grilles and look of the products. Wether you go from the CS line at the bottom all way to the top Pro Series line, will have same kind of appearance; so if you have a home where you’ve got these in the theater room, then something in the bathroom that’s a mono speaker that’s lower priced, it’s going to maintain the same clean look throughout the project.”
Outdoor Speakers, New Soundbar Being Shown
In addition to the architectural speakers, Klipsch previewed its Professional Series Landscape speakers and entry-level RSB-3 soundbar during the headquarters/factory visit.
The all-weather Landscape models, good for residential or commercial use, featured easy installation too by which 10- or 18-inch stakes can be hammered in separately and the satellite speakers attached thereafter, with one quarter turn all it takes to be securely mounted to the stake. The sub-sat system has 5- and 6-5-inch two-way horn-loaded satellites that can accompany a full-burial subwoofer.
At CEDIA the company will also have on hand a sub-sat outdoor system from sister brand Jamo, which can be run in 70-volt as well for resi or commercial use and simple scalability.
As a way to expand its RSB (Reference Soundbar) lineup, the company addressed smaller-room installers with the new $299 RSB-3, which launches in September. It’s a two-way design with separate tweeter and mid-range drivers and integrated subwoofer, with analog and optical inputs, Dolby decoding, Bluetooth support and universal remote code support.
“The main goal is to attach to smaller television sets without the need to have a separate active subwoofer. Some people just don’t have the space for it,” says Andre Larouche, director of product development systems. “It’s not intended for large living rooms, but it does a very nice job of reproducing sound, and has ports on the side for low frequency, to keep turbulence low so it’s not sending low frequencies though the metal grille.”