Klipsch is a company known for making big – refrigerator-sized, in some instances – speakers, all of them with a version of the horn-loaded driver design the company has used since producing its first models back in the 1940s. But the long-running American brand has also kept up with the audio times, producing compact wireless speakers, wireless earbuds like the Klipsch T5 True Wireless Earphones, and Dolby Atmos soundbars.
Klipsch’s latest effort addresses the best Bluetooth speakers category, with a three-model lineup offering a range of size and performance options for music fans on the move. The new portable speakers are named after cities known for their contributions to American music, and they all share extended battery life, an 1P67 dust and waterproof rating, a built-in microphone for calls, and a rugged black-clad exterior.
Other features found on the new portables include Bluetooth 5.3 for wireless connections at up to a 40-foot distance and support for the Klipsch Connect app, which lets you adjust volume and bass and store custom EQ settings. The speakers also support a Klipsch Broadcast Mode that allows for more than 10 speakers, including the brand’s larger The One Plus and The Three Plus, to wirelessly link up for simultaneous multiroom playback.
At around 4 inches tall and wide by 1.75 inches deep, Austin ($99) is the smallest of the three speakers. It packs a 1.5-inch full-range driver powered by a 10-watt amp and is capable of playing up to 12 hours on a single charge. The Austin weighs only 14 ounces and comes with a clip for attaching the speaker to handlebars while biking.
The mid-size (7 inches wide by 3 inches tall and deep) Nashville ($149) ups the level of audio immersion via dual 2.25-inch full-range drivers and adds dual passive radiators for enhanced bass. This model’s built-in battery can run a full 24 hours, according to Klipsch, and it can also charge other devices connected to its USB-C port.
As an MC5 and Stooges fan, the Detroit ($299) is the Klipsch speaker I’m most excited about. This larger-scale model measures 13 inches wide by 4.8 inches high and 4.1 inches deep and weighs in at a hefty 5.5 pounds. The Detroit uses dual 3-inch drivers and 1 inch tweeters to kick out the jams, and it features four passive radiators for added bass output.
The Austin and Nashville are now available for pre-order at Klipsch retailers and the company’s website. The Detroit is scheduled to arrive in 2024.
Analysis: Bluetooth speakers bring music to the masses
High-performance audio remains very much alive and well, though many people now choose to listen to music using the best headphones and the best wireless speakers. Bluetooth speakers provide an even more user-friendly option via a built-in rechargeable battery and many can be touted outdoors where their weather-resistant casing allows for listening at the pool or beach.
The top pick in our best Bluetooth speakers guide, the Sonos Roam, was chosen for its compact, rugged design and powerful sound for its size. The Roam also supports Wi-Fi and can automatically integrate with a whole-house Sonos system when you return home from outdoor adventures. But at $179, the Roam is also pricey for a compact Bluetooth speaker, and its built-in battery will only run for 10 hours maximum.
The Klipsch Nashville, in contrast, can play for up to 24 hours and it has a heftier build than the Roam, which could equate to a more robust sound. And then there’s the Detroit, a model that based on specs alone looks to be a serious power-house for a portable Bluetooth speaker. Will either of these speakers displace the Sonos Roam as the best overall option in our Bluetooth speakers guide? We’ll know more about that after we get our hands on one to test, but in the meantime, the portable wireless speakers world just got a competitor with serious high-end audio pedigree.
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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.