When it comes to the consumption of music and other forms of audio (including movies and other audio-visuals), speakers and sound systems play the most crucial role. Because of this, the sound system industry has greatly evolved over the years.
While some are just casual listeners of normal consumer-level sound systems, some are audiophiles of high-fidelity sound systems.
The quest for a better, cleaner, flatter, and maybe louder sound is something we cannot fully discuss here.
However, the truth remains that when it comes to sound, humans are always eager to “hear more” or hear it all. This explains the evolution of sound replication technology and how we got to technologies like surround sound.
Although there are quite some very popular and reputable hi-fi audio and home theatre system brands, there are some that truly always stand out. However, it can be a bit hard to tell why some stand out and some don’t.
Sound interpretation and aural perception [to a great extent] can be very subjective. This means it can be pretty risky and controversial trying to tell another person what “sounds good” and what doesn’t.
This is true, because, for example, high-frequency sounds might sound quite appealing to the ears of another while also sounding a little disturbing to the ears of another.
However, there is always a balance and this is where sound-replication technology comes in.
Many home theatre and hi-fi audio brands have worked tirelessly to create that very much-needed balance and thus replicate audio in a way that we can describe as “universally appealing.” In this article, we will look at two amazing hi-fi audio brands.
We will discuss these two brands side by side and help you not just understand their similarities and differences but also their individual strengths and weaknesses. Although this might not be the article telling you which is better, it however will try.
The biggest difference between Klipsch and MartinLogan is in the speaker technology.
MartinLogan features electrostatic speakers on a lot of their products which use a thin membrane powered by electrostatic charge to create sound.
On the other hand, Klipsch uses traditional voice coil and cone-style speakers but the main difference is in their tweeter horns and the way they design their drivers.
Klipsch speakers may look like regular speakers (with their covers off) but they sound completely different.
If you have ever tried to create a versus between Klipsch and MartinLogan, then this is the article for you. Just read on…
All About Klipsch
Klipsch was founded by Paul W. Klipsch in 1946. Paul was a very well-known and highly regarded audio engineer who established Klipsch and Associates in a small tin shed in the late 1940s.
Paul’s work in the field of audio engineering and speaker design not only had a massive impact on how speakers were designed and built at Klipsch but they had far-flung effects on the audio industry as a whole.
For Paul, it was about being able to produce the real sound of an orchestra in his own dining room, and that is an objective many would say he accurately achieved with his speaker designs.
Moreover, Paul’s objective with Klipsch was to create speaker systems that could produce high-fidelity sounds like no other. This way he could make truly high-quality audio more accessible.
This is not to say that Klipsch was cheap, or even affordable to the masses, however, his innovative designs certainly made quality audio more easily available to the public.
There are a few key things that made Klipsch products and Klipsch the brand really stand out from the competition.
Popular Products by Klipsh and What Made Them Unique
The Klipschorn is easily the most iconic feature of Klipsch products that is still used today in many of their speaker products.
Essentially, this is a horn-loaded speaker that is designed to deliver very high-frequency sounds in excellent sound quality while minimizing distortion no matter how loud they are played.
Here is a video about the Klipschorn.
The Three Wireless Speaker
In recent times, another product/innovation by Klipsch that took the audio world by storm was the ‘The Three’ speaker series. This product is fitted with two 5.25-inch long-throw subwoofers along with two 2.25 full-range drivers.
Moreover, this speaker is built in a retro body, yet, it sports a lot of modern technology including Bluetooth and a built-in amp which makes them an excellent addition to any kind of environment.
Here is a video about the Three Wireless speakers.
The Reference Series is one of the top-tier products offered by Klipsch. The focus of these speakers is clarity, fidelity and sound detail.
The Reference Series comprises several different models that come in several different sizes. They are excellent for home audio or even home theatre applications.
All About MartinLogan
Ron Logan Sutherland and Martin Gayle founded MartinLogan in 1983. Currently, the company has a head office in Lawrence, Kansas and is well-known globally as one of the top loudspeaker manufacturing companies in the world.
More specifically, MartinLogan is an expert when it comes to crafting electrostatic speakers, hybrid speakers and dynamic drivers.
In fact, MartinLogan pioneered electrostatic technology and to this day, they are the best when it comes to this particular kind of speaker.
As opposed to traditional box speaker design, electrostatic speakers create sound a little differently. Rather than a cone driven by a voice coil, electrostatic speakers use a very thin diaphragm to produce sound.
This diaphragm is driven by an electrostatic field (hence the name) which is powered by a charge stator.
The thin diaphragm with the direct electric current is extremely responsive to sound waves and is able to output sounds with incredible quality and clarity.
Popular Products by MartinLogan and What Made Them Unique
The electrostatic speaker is the highlight of the company and is usually the main reason why people want to go for a set of MartinLogans in the first place.
The design of these speakers along with their performance makes them an excellent choice for music, movies, sound production, and a variety of other applications where sound quality and clarity are essential.
However, the company also offers other speakers and there are other kinds of technologies that go into those products which make them market leaders as well.
Here is a video demonstrating the electrostatic speakers.
Room Correction Technology
Not every buyer has the money to build a new room in their house that is engineered for perfect acoustics. That is why MartinLogan has worked extensively on what it calls ‘room correction technology.’
This is an umbrella term used to describe a few different technologies that help their speakers produce the most optimum sound for any given room by modifying their performance according to the layout and the acoustics of that room.
For instance, the ‘Perfect Bass Kit’ uses a few measurements to help the user place the speaker in the right place and then allows further tweaks to the equalizer to get the best bass from the speaker for that room.
Here is a video demonstrating the room correction technology.
Folded Motion Transducer
This is a modified/upgraded version of the classic diaphragm design and is significantly better than both the standard diaphragm design as well as regular cone speakers.
The folded motion transducer makes use of a pleated diaphragm which means it has a significantly greater surface area and can therefore produce clearer and more accurate sound.
Here is a video demonstrating the folded motion transducer technology.
Klipsch vs MartinLogan
If you are trying to make a purchase decision between Klipsch and MartinLogan, there are a few things you should know about.
Generally, people will only consider one aspect of these two brands, or even two products from these brands, and base their entire decision on that.
In this section, we are going to take a holistic look at what you can expect to get when you go with a Klipsch product or a MartinLogan product.
This will give you a very clear overview of what each entails and what it means for you as a potential buyer and owner of these products.
There aren’t many similarities between these two brands. Since the basic technology that these two brands use is so different, it is hard for the speakers to have much in common.
Moreover, the two technologies have developed cult-like followings over the past few years. Those who prefer one brand seem to find nothing attractive about the other.
Nonetheless, both these brands offer fantastic speakers that will deliver excellent sound quality. Moreover, whether you go with a Klipsch or a MartinLogan system, there are lots of different products and product lines to choose from.
This helps you select a speaker system that will be better suited to your particular needs.
For instance, a system optimized for home theatre applications rather than a reference series meant to be used in a studio for audio production or audio mastering.
With both of these brands, you can be confident that you will get a high-quality product.
Whether that is in terms of the finish of the speakers, the design and construction, the internal components, or even the research and development that goes into developing these products.
Both companies use some of the highest quality materials you will find on any speaker so you can be confident that you are getting a quality product.
Perhaps, the biggest difference is in the speaker technology. MartinLogan features electrostatic speakers on a lot of their products. This technology uses a thin membrane powered by electrostatic charge to create sound.
Klipsch on the opposite end, uses traditional voice coil and cone-style speakers. But, the main difference is in their tweeter horns and the way they design their drivers.
Klipsch speakers may look like regular speakers (with their covers off) but they sound completely different.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially if you plan on using external amplifiers with either of these speakers, is the required power input. In most cases, the MartinLogan speakers will require more power.
In fact, Klipsch is an extremely power-efficient speaker and you will find that nearly all Klipsch speakers have a better sensitivity (rating in dB) than MartinLogan speakers.
In terms of aesthetics, Klipsch speakers look very retro and classic. They have the same kind of styling that you would expect on a set of speakers from the 60’s—though on the inside they are hiding some of the most advanced audio technology available.
MartinLogan speakers, especially the electrostatic ones, are limited in terms of their design. They look extremely modern and they have a slim and sharp profile.
Moreover, they have a smaller footprint than Klipsch speakers, so if you are limited on space, then these will be a good option.
When you have a set of MartinLogan speakers around you can be sure that they will be a conversation starter.
For an audiophile, the most important part of picking a set of speakers is the sound.
If you need something to support a home theatre setup or something you can enjoy everyday music on like rock, pop or hip-hop, then Klipsch will be a great choice.
These speakers have a bright and lively sound. They are able to cover a broad spectrum which makes them excellent for replicating many different kinds of audio.
MartinLogan is a more specialized kind of speaker. While it is quite warm in its sound and extremely detailed in its delivery, it is better suited to classical music and music applications where higher levels of detail are necessary.
The pleated diaphragm models in particular will be fantastic for situations where realism is required.
If you need a realistic representation of an orchestra or you want to experience a live performance in the most realistic way, a MartinLogan will be an excellent choice.
The one area in which MartinLogan doesn’t excel is bass reproduction. This is not to say they don’t have bass, but right out of the box, a Klipsch speaker will be fuller sounding than a MartinLogan.
In this section we will look at a few of the most important characteristics of a speaker. Looking at these parameters of any given speaker will help you decide whether or not it is a good choice for you.
Sensitivity is measured as the output of a speaker in dB when 1 watt of power is applied. This is also referred to as efficiency by some manufacturers. The higher the dB output the more sensitive or the most efficient the speaker is said to be.
In this department, Klispch is the clear winner. However, just because MartinLogan is slightly less efficient doesn’t mean it offers inferior sound quality.
In fact, a lot of audiophiles are of the opinion that a slightly lower sensitivity (efficiency) is necessary for a speaker to produce quality sound.
Both of these brands of speakers have the ability to get extremely loud while maintaining fantastic quality.
The real challenge is providing these speakers with the right amount of amplification and ensuring that the amplified signal that the speakers receive is clean and distortion-free.
In some models, the speakers feature an in-built amplifier while in other models you need to use external amplifiers.
Klipsch speakers are more optimized for mid-range and high frequencies. They are known to have a bright sound and crisp delivery for those high-frequency sounds. The horn-loaded drivers are excellent at reproducing guitars, cymbals and vocals.
Klipsch speakers are a bit weak when it comes to producing low-end frequencies; however, when paired with an external subwoofer it can create a complete package.
MartinLogan speakers do not focus on any specific band in the sound spectrum. They are designed to produce the entire spectrum of sound optimally while creating a detailed and intricate sound.
These speakers are especially good for complex natural sounds and excel if you want to play classical music or any other kind of genre or sound that requires a high level of detail and accuracy in the sound.
Klipsch speakers have a classic retro design to them. Typically, these speakers have a more angular design and come in finishes and colour schemes that are reminiscent of vintage speakers.
There are some speaker lines from Klipsch that also come with a copper colour scheme. Over the years, this copper colour scheme, particularly on the cones of the speakers has become a symbol of Klipsch.
MartinLogan speakers, especially the electrostatic speakers have remained relatively unchanged.
This is not because the company does not want to update the design but because the features of the speaker make it difficult to have any other design.
The resonant sheet in front of the speaker takes up the entire front face and itself has become a symbol that represents the MartinLogan brand.
Other speaker lines from MartinLogan that use different speaker technologies do come in other designs, but overall, they are far more modern looking than Klipsch.
|Price||High-end||Upper-mid to high-end|
|Sound Signature||High fidelity with a focus on nuance and detail||Bright and dynamic with a focus on efficiency and clarity|
|Recommended Use||Classical music, highly detailed content||Home theatre, rock, pop|
|Cabinet Design||Retro and classic||Sharp and modern|
|Driver Type||Electrostatic panels||Horn-loaded drivers|
Pros and Cons of Klipsch
- Value for money: Klipsch speakers are pricey but they are still more affordable than many other audio brands. Due to the sound quality and the durability of Klipsch speakers at a good price they are considered good value for money investments.
- Versatility: Klipsch speakers can be used with a variety of devices for a variety of purposes. This makes them an excellent choice for someone who wants to build a versatile system.
- Design: Klipsch speakers are quite good-looking on their own. However, if you want speakers in a different aesthetic to suit your home/application then you can always have them customized.
- Quality sound: If you are getting a Klipsch you can be sure that you will get quality sound from the product. These speakers can be great for many different applications and when paired with a good amp or a subwoofer you can get amazing sound from them.
- Price: Klipsch speakers are great but they aren’t the most affordable option. For someone who isn’t an audiophile, it may be hard to tell the difference between a Klipsch speaker and something that is a bit more affordable.
- Size: Some Klipsch models, especially those designed for home theatre systems can be quite large. While the sound output is fantastic it can be a problem for people with smaller homes to install these speakers.
- Add-ons: Some speaker systems from Klipsch will require additional equipment such as amplifiers and subwoofers which will add to the overall cost of the system.
Pros and Cons of MartinLogan
- Durability: MartinLogan speakers are built to last. With nearly all products, you will get a lifetime warranty and you can be confident that your investment is protected. You can expect your MartinLogans to sound excellent for many, many years to come.
- Options: MartinLogans are available in plenty of different models. This way you can select a speaker system that exactly meets your requirements and get the absolute best sound quality.
- Quality sound: The main reason people opt for MartinLogans is the quality of sound. The electrostatic design of the speakers delivers a completely different experience from any cone and voice coil-driven system you may have heard.
- Visual appeal: Again, due to the technology, these speakers look very different and add a very interesting visual to whatever space they are installed in.
- Quality accessories: MartinLogan speakers require quality accessories to operate at their full potential, especially a good quality amp. A quality amp on its own can be quite expensive and can make this an unfeasible proposition for budget buyers.
- Sound: MartinLogan speakers are well-known for extremely detailed and rich sound but they also suffer from a lack of bass. This will not be the best option for people that are looking for a bass-rich sound. Alternatively, you could invest in an external subwoofer to complement the system.
- Availability: MartinLogans aren’t as widely available as other brands such as Klipsch. So finding the particular model that you are interested in can be tough. Moreover, service and repairs can be hard to manage as well since the company doesn’t have a very broad service network.
- Room design: While the speakers are great they also need a room with good acoustics for them to really deliver their best. Even just placing these speakers in the wrong place in a room can compromise their output.
Klipsch, in Summary…
If you are just getting into high-quality audio and you want to make the most of your first investment, then you can’t go wrong with a Klipsch system.
This is a no-frills and all-quality brand that focuses on giving you the highest bang for your buck.
Whether you need something to take your gaming room to the next level or you want something for a patio where you can unwind and listen to quality music, this brand has a lot of options.
Unlike other audio brands, it is still a reasonably priced option, you get an excellent-looking product, it is backed with warranties and a very big service network and you also get a speaker system that is easily compatible with other components.
If later down the line you want to upgrade certain parts of the system or you want to mix and match components from your existing system, this will be a great choice.
This brand will also work extremely well for people that are interested in bass-heavy sounds and enjoy music that sounds better with a bit of extra bass.
MartinLogan, in Summary
MartinLogan is better suited to someone who has actually heard the system and understands what its capabilities are.
The fact is that the kind of sound that a MartinLogan system is able to produce will not be attractive to a very wide audience.
The sound is certainly very very good but it is not for everyone and it is not for every kind of music.
If you have heard MartinLogan and its technical capabilities are in line with the kind of audio you usually listen to, this will be a great upgrade.
Moreover, this is also quite a step up in terms of price. However, a good set of MartinLogans will hold their value quite well so even if you plan to let them go later on you should be able to get your money back.
The only thing you need to keep in mind is that just getting these speakers is not the end of the road.
Many of the top models require external amplification, they may be external subwoofers as well to balance out the bass, and they may also require major changes to the space they are installed in to create the best quality sound.
Also, keep in mind that after-sales services are limited and periodic maintenance may be hard to do on these speakers. If you are familiar with these speakers, or if you can arrange for a different audio technician to help you out with maintenance, that will be helpful.
Buying Guide/Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Klipsch, MartinLogan and Hi-Fi in general.
The most important thing is that you have a good quality signal running from the source to the amplifier to the speakers. Upgrading different parts of the hi-fi system is all about getting a higher-quality signal to your ears through all the components that are involved in the process.
Whenever you are looking to improve your Hi-Fi system you should focus on improving the quality of the signal running across the different areas of the system and the quality of the sound that comes out of your speakers.
Klipsch is great because it is a one-stop shop for high-quality audio. If you don’t know too much about audio or if you just don’t want to get involved in the minor technicalities, then you are much better off just getting a good system from Klipsch that you can plug and play.
Klipsch produces some amazing-sounding speakers that can be set up with a lot of different applications to suit any kind of need.
The electrostatic speaker technology, the curvilinear line source (CLS) panels, the Vojtko crossover networks, and many other technologies that MartinLogan has pioneered make them great speakers.
However, they are very specialized kinds of speakers and may not sound good to the average listener. If you enjoy the kind of sound these panels make and you enjoy music that resonates best on these kinds of panels, you can’t get much better than a good set of MartinLogans.
Price – Hi-Fi equipment can be extremely expensive. Top-tier components can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars for a single speaker.
Compatibility – If you are upgrading certain parts of your system you want to make sure your existing equipment and the equipment you are about to buy are compatible. A conflict in compatibility could permanently damage your equipment.
Room size and Acoustics – Room size and room acoustics have a big impact on how your speakers sound. Even an amazing set of Hi-Fi speakers can sound horrible if the room acoustics don’t support those speakers.
Rather than spending all your money on your speakers, upgrading the room can also help a lot.
Klipsch and MartinLogan are both fantastic brands. When it comes to upgrading the audio in your home, it’s all about finding something that works for your needs. Buying the biggest or the most expensive is rarely the best way to go in hi-fi audio.
You are looking for something that suits your needs, will work in your situation (given the size and shape of the rooms), will be compatible with your equipment and will be a good fit in terms of price and ease of long-term ownership.
Before you spend your money, do your research and listen to the different speaker systems available. This will help you learn about the brand and experience what each has to offer before you commit to a particular product.