PROS / These speakers are highly efficient. They are powerful but don’t waste any energy.
CONS / The lowest frequency these speakers can produce is 62Hz.
VERDICT / The Klipsch B-20 speakers are the best speakers we reviewed. They would make a versatile and dynamic addition to your stereo system or home theater.
Bookcase speakers can be a great complement to your stereo system. They may be small, but they can also provide enough sound quality and power to serve as your main speakers. These speakers have many advantages over large systems. Typically, they take less power to drive them and are far smaller than tower systems, thus giving you more options on speaker placement. If you desire versatility and compactness from your home stereo system, a set of bookshelf speakers is what you need.
Few bookshelf speakers boast the ability to be powerful, efficient and dynamic all at once. The Klipsch B-20, our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winners, are among the best available. Paired with a decent AV receiver, it can be a good home stereo system.
Small bookshelf speakers produce a frequency range that rarely falls below 40Hz. In the strictest of terms, a full-range speaker would be capable of accurately reproducing the entire range from 20Hz to 20kHz. In practical terms, no speaker, and certainly not one the size of bookshelf speakers, can do that. This is because the low-frequency driver simply isn’t large enough to move the air required to produce tones down to 20Hz.
Although there isn’t a bookshelf speaker available that can produce the entire spectrum of frequency ranges, the Klipsch frequency response range – from 62Hz to 23kHz – is broad and dynamic for bookshelf speakers. These speakers accurately reproduce music the way it was intended to be listened to, which is exactly what you want from your speakers. When it comes to accurate sound reproduction and overall sound quality, these bookshelf speakers are hard to beat.
As important as its frequency response is, the most impressive and distinguishing specification of the Klipsch B-20 bookshelf speakers is the sensitivity rating. This measures how well a speaker converts electrical energy into sound. Speakers that have a high sensitivity rating use far less power than speakers with a low rating. At 92.5 decibels, these speakers are notably more efficient than any other speakers we reviewed. This ability to efficiently convert electricity to sound provides less strain on the speakers and produces better sound quality. Klipsch has a knack for creating great-sounding, efficient speakers.
The amount of amplifier power required to effectively drive a pair of speakers doesn’t tell you how good they will sound, but it is important to know with regard to matching electronic components with the right speakers. Klipsch doesn’t state a specific minimum input wattage, but it’s impressive to note that it will handle a substantial 85W of power on a continuous basis – quite a feat for bookshelf speakers of this size. It will also handle peak power, or transients, of up to 340W. That can be particularly important when watching films with explosions or similar sound effects. It will also handle the most dramatic of musical crescendos.
The Klipsch B-20 is magnetically shielded. This guards against interference from other devices, in particular CRT televisions or monitors. That can be important in a home theater arrangement.
The size of bookshelf speakers is one of their most important attributes. Being rather small, they don’t present the placement obstacles that can be an issue for its larger counterparts, floor standing speakers. They can be positioned, as the name implies, on a shelf, on speaker stands or just about any flat surface. While the Klipsch B-20 could be positioned on a wall-mounted shelf, much of the benefit of its rear-firing bass-reflex design would be nullified by such an installation.
The Klipsch B-20, like most bookshelf speakers, has a bass reflex design. This allows for increased bass sound by routing the air pressure created by rearward movement of the low frequency out of the enclosure. In this case, the sound is released via a rear-firing port.
Like most of the bookshelf speakers in this price range, the Klipsch B-20 is of the two-way design, meaning there are two distinct drivers housed within the enclosure. The majority of the sound is routed to a single 5.25-inch low-frequency driver. It’s responsible for the frequencies that would be covered by the woofer and the mid-range drivers in larger speakers. Constructed of injection-molded graphite, or IMG, it’s a bit stiffer than comparable paper-coned drivers and tends to react faster and more precisely.
A passive crossover set at 2250Hz routes higher frequencies to the 0.75-inch aluminum diaphragm tweeter. The rather stiff material helps this high-frequency driver react quickly and precisely to treble content. It’s coupled with a patented Tractrix Horn, a feature for which Klipsch is famous and contributes to extraordinary top-end performance. Extending up to 23kHz, the speaker produces an exceptional ambiance that is missed by lesser drivers.
Help & Support
Each Klipsch speaker is covered by a five-year warranty. Klipsch offers a wide variety of customer support options. You can contact the company by telephone or online chat during weekday business hours. The website includes an extensive FAQs section as well as PDF versions of owner manuals and other product literature. A helpful community forum is also available on the site.
The Klipsch B-20 is a top-rated bookshelf speaker. We were particularly impressed with its high sensitivity rating, which adds clarity to the sound across the audio spectrum. The speaker offers a very wide dynamic range and its power handling capabilities are also admirable. In reasonably priced bookshelf speakers, this is about as good as it gets.