Introduced in June of 2008, the Klipsch�Icon W series delivers the classic Klipsch sound in a more refined, sophisticated package, incorporating furniture-grade finishes and other high-end touches. Klipsch wanted to create a series of high performance, aesthetically pleasing speakers that pushed the Klipsch name into more areas of the house.
The smallest offering in the Icon W line offering two floorstanding models (WF-35, WF-34), a center channel (WC-24), and a surround speaker (WS-24), the $599/pair WB-14 features a 1-inch titanium tweeter loaded with a 3.75-inch XT Tractrix Horn, and a 4.5-inch high-output, fiberglass cone woofer with a ceramic motor structure, encased within a very solid bass-reflex enclosure finished in gorgeous Espresso or Cabernet finishes. The WB-14 also provides a threaded insert for easy wall-mounting. The line provides a welcome change from the aggressively styled, mostly black, gold and silver-finished models pervading the company's product line.
The WB-14's small footprint and 10 pound weight allows for easy placement on either a bookshelf or floor stand. The high quality binding posts accommodate bananas, spades, or bare wire. I also found the bass reflex port in the rear very elegant, and coupled beautifully to the connector panel within a one-piece black plastic fitting with matching flush-mounted screws. Combined with the superb finish (I particularly like the subtle Espresso), I found the overall cosmetics and fit and finish very impressive, with or without the magnetic grill.
Set up on speaker stands, the WB-14 did not provide the classic, in-your-face Klipsch sound - which some might say is a good thing. The 80-degree by 80-degree round horn sounded a bit tamer than that used in the Klipsch B-3, for instance. The small woofer provided surprising thump, presented a decent midrange and meshed nicely with the high frequencies. The WB-14 also threw a less directional presentation than the usual offered from horn designs, with good soundstage width and depth, and crisply presented images.
Klipsch's typical sonic signature doesn't change here - the zippy balance still simmered under the surface - but the inert cabinet structure, tapered horn and stiff woofer allowed it a slightly more even balance than the company's models with lesser parts that tend to flip out and only exacerbate the hyperactivity. I would guess that many would welcome this "Klipsch in a smoking jacket". I still don't completely prefer the hotter balance - horns will always be horns - but the WB-14 veers much closer towards the type of sonic balance that I listen for. With a particularly small woofer, Klipsch needed to reel things in a bit, and I think they've succeeded.
As with all compact speakers, the WB-14 certainly would benefit from a subwoofer. While Klipsch recommends its XW-500d or XW-300d, those from other brands would certainly excel, as well. I would suggest one with a smaller driver and cabinet, in order to remain in character with the tight WB-14. While I didn't hear it, I would look forward to hearing a complete Icon home theater setup in a small room. The delicately achieved sonic balance would likely stretch across most music genres as well as movies and games, and the sexy finishes across many decors - great for a cozy living room.
Continue reading about the performance of the WB-14 on Page 2.