The smallest of its three floorstanding loudspeakers, the F-1 ($550.00/pair MSRP) utilizes a 5-inch 90x60 Tractrix horn coupled to a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter. The latest generation of its famous horn loudspeaker technology, Tractrix, according to the company, refines the shape of the horn to improve smoothness and detail. Horn manufacturers have had to refine their basic design in order to reduce the honkiness typically associated with horns, along with directionality and lack of dispersion.
As the foundation of its horn philosophy, Klipsch believes in using as little amplifier power as possible when driving a loudspeaker, which keeps amplifier effort and distortion down. Like a cheerleader's bullhorn, Klipsch attaches a horn to the front of a driver to mechanically amplify its output, which offers some advantages in dynamics, distortion level, and overall volume capability. The tweeter crosses over at 2.1kHz to a 6.5-inch IMG (Injection Molded Graphite) woofer with rubber surrounds. A bass reflex design, the F-1 incorporates a front-firing port located at the bottom of the baffle to increase interaction with the floor to enhance bass response. The F-1 provides two sets of five-way binding posts for bi-wiring, nicely mounted on a plastic fitting that fits tightly into the cabinet. Measuring 36 inches high by 8 inches wide by 13.5 inches deep and weighing in at 40 pounds, the F-1 offers a surprising amount of heft for its relative small size and slim profile. The F-1 is finished in a black-ash vinyl finish with titanium accents, and offers an elegant look with its grills on and an aggressive one with them off. For the price, the fit and finish of the F-1 is very good.
The F-1 presents a nominal 8 ohm load with a 93dB efficiency. The speakers needed only average quality power sources to perform well, but upgrades in power quality did net some very small gains.
The F-1s threw a moderately wide soundstage with good imaging. It needed some more clarity in these areas, which gave the presentation a lack of air and speed overall. The sound seemed more 2D than 3D, although every now and then some space opened up well. The sweet spot also was on the small side. The F-1 had a pretty edgy top end with good detail but also a little too much forwardness. This was most evident on classical recordings, where the top end just carried things too much and revealed a shallow, thin midrange that lacked coherence and overall liquidity.
On vocal tracks, the sound turned a little honky and slow, and piano material had good body but lacked musicality. The bass provided good impact and intensity, and was the best aspect of the F-1. While not particularly fast or tight, especially with large scale classical recordings, it complemented the intense top end well and somewhat rounded out the presentation with its thumping, bloomy qualities. The F-1s overall sonic profile best matched with rock and electronic material (and will likely with movies and games, as well), and handled high volumes very well. It tended to sound better with a little space away from walls, which kept the balance leaner.
• The F-1 offers a dynamic, driving sound that delivers best with rock and electronic material.
• The F-1 sounds good at high volumes, and could fill some medium sized rooms.
• The F-1 doesn't require high power to perform optimally.
• The F-1's top end was too hot overall, its midrange lacked body, speed and coherence, and its bass needed more tightness and impact.
• The F-1 didn't sound particularly musical, with the negatives of its individual parts detracting too much from the presentation and robbing it of overall coherence.
• The F-1 only comes in Black, and looks a little aggressive when grill-less.
The Klipsch F-1 offers some interesting features like bi-wiring capability and a slim profile with a contemporary look, but its overall sound lets it down. The F-1 just didn't sound very coherent - you hear a certain collection of sounds, not a synergistic piece of music. This is due to the individual flaws of various frequency sections, and the design's inability to satisfactorily bring together the hot tweeter, shallow midrange, and thumping bass to deliver enough musicality for a recommendation. On the positive side, it plays loud, sounds good enough with rock and electronic material, looks nice, and is put together well. But if you need something a little bit more, other products in the category might offer a better fit.
• Read more floorstanding loudspeaker reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Look for smaller speaker solutions in the Bookshelf Speaker section.