Review: Klipsch The Sevens
Is bigger better? This question can lead you down an existential rabbit hole with nearly every product, but when it comes to speakers, the answer has traditionally been a firm "yes." In general, bigger speakers provide larger (or more) drivers and roomier cabinets to serve up more power, deeper bass, and a more expansive soundstage. All things being equal, the bigger the speakers, the better the sound.
That seems to be the driving force behind Klipsch's latest self-powered pair, The Sevens (as well as the even larger Nines). They follow Klipsch's more compact all-in-one pair, The Fives, utilizing the same retro-modern styling and a stout fleet of connections, but on a grander physical scale. Like the Fives, The Sevens let you breezily connect everything from your TV to your turntable, without the need for an external amplifier or even a phono preamp. They're just, well, large.
There's more to the story than size alone, of course. Not only are the Sevens a tighter fit than The Fives for small and medium-size rooms, they also scale up pricing by several hundred dollars. And in contrast to competitors like KEF's LSX II (9/10, WIRED Recommends) and SVS' Prime Wireless Pro, The Sevens stick with The Fives' Bluetooth-only streaming, omitting Wi-Fi and Ethernet. That was a notable limitation at $800, but it's downright head-scratching at $1,300.
The Sevens are still great speakers, though, and what they lack in streaming versatility, they aim to make up for in sheer bombast. While I won't say The Sevens prove that going bigger is inherently better, they do serve up more cinematic spectacle than nearly any smaller powered speakers I've tried. While they're good for music, they're even better for movies and gaming, providing a mega-splash of sound that's a blast to behold.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the only thing more notable than The Sevens' size is their gorgeous design. Pulling them from the box feels like stepping into the groovy '70s in all the right ways. The walnut veneer version (there's also a matte black) with cream acoustic screens does not go with my living room's warmer color scheme, and yet I never want them to leave. They're just gorgeous.
You can't escape the sheer scale of The Sevens in smaller rooms. It's not that they're all that big for speakers in general--even small tower speakers easily dwarf them--they're just big for this kind of speaker. Without the screens, their 6.5-inch woofers and ... tweeters put out serious muscle-car vibes. My wife's first reaction was blunt: "These things are ridiculous." Even a fellow WIRED speaker-head was surprised to find they were the smaller of Klipsch's new powered models, exclaiming "Those are The Sevens?!"
But snapping on the covers adds just the right layer of elegance, and they're unquestionably beautiful, from their tactile silver controls to their matte paneling. They'll also look less intimidating in larger rooms, especially if you've got a grand-size TV and console (preferably with matching '70s veneer).
In a foam platter inside the box, you'll find 4 meters of heavy-gauge cabling with metallic wheels that lock the two speakers in stereo tandem. There's also an extra 2 meters of extendable speaker cable if needed, an HDMI cable for TV connection, a small remote with batteries, and instructions. As with virtually all powered speakers, a single active speaker contains the electrical guts and inputs, while a passive one receives sound from its neighbor.
Putting aside the lack of Wi-Fi, The Sevens provide plenty of connection options to create a one-stop sound solution. There's HDMI ARC for simplified, lossless TV connection, an optical input for older TVs or legacy devices like a CD player, a 3.5-mm analog connection, a subwoofer output, and an RCA/phono connection with built-in preamp (and even a grounding post). There's also a clever switch to let you choose which speaker is left or right to match your nearest power outlet.
Though Bluetooth limits your streaming options, The Sevens support high-resolution audio at 24-bit/192kHz via the USB-A connection for your laptop (cable not included). High-quality Bluetooth codecs include AAC for iPhones, as well as aptX and LDAC for Android devices, though aptX HD and aptX Scaleable aren't currently supported.
Once you've hoisted the weighty speakers from their boxes, setup is quick and painless, and I had them following my TV remote commands in no time. The Klipsch Connect app is intuitive, connecting over Bluetooth in seconds, though you may need to manually add your new speakers if you have other Klipsch devices. App settings include inputs, power, volume, and basic EQ. There's also a Dynamic Bass mode, designed to use digital signal processing to compress or extend bass depending on volume, which can come in handy.
I love using The Sevens as my primary TV speakers. These babies live and breathe all the intricacies of my TV indulgences, from smooth and delicate dialog in sitcoms and dramas to guttural, explosive action scenes.
It's not just the hearty bass that warmed me to The Sevens, though that's certainly part of it. They can't dig down as deeply on their own as a 2.1 setup like my current KEF LSX-powered speakers and SVS 3000 Micro subwoofer, but they get low with authority, and the big drivers provide a smoother and meatier transition through the lower mids and upper bass than the LSX's smaller, 4.5-inch woofers. You still might want to add a sub to free up some space in the upper frequencies and improve sub-bass, but the speakers have plenty of gravitas in smaller rooms without one.
The Sevens are built for big sound across the spectrum, with a broader soundstage that's more immersive than that of most smaller rivals. The big cabinets and Tractrix horn waveguides around the tweeters also combine to cook up dazzling dynamics. That allows everything from the B-section of the Beatles' "Something" to the tank attack in All Quiet on the Western Front to expand and contract with ease, so I rarely had to ride the volume. At the most intense moments, the sound seems to break free from those wooden boxes like a caged beast.
The Sevens push more air to project big sound across the board. The upside is a sweet concoction of audio alchemy for set-it-and-forget-it films and prestige dramas. They sound great for music. There's woody warmth in the upper mids for creamy piano and buzzy guitar strings, a breathy attack to instruments like horns and vocals, and expansive stereo spacing along both the vertical and horizontal planes. But it's here that their size is less advantageous. You'll get more clarity and precision with the KEF LSX II and the value-packed SVS Prime Wireless Pro.
Part of that is likely down to internal components and design. The Sevens swap some accuracy in the midrange for a more buttery flavor, which can lead to inconsistencies there. But part of the issue is also likely the streaming method. Network streaming over Wi-Fi or Ethernet isn't just better for usability, shedding distractions like phone notifications, it also offers more bandwidth for cleaner sound. That can't be bested by Bluetooth, especially if you're streaming high-resolution tracks from services like Tidal.
In terms of sheer value, there's more overall clarity for your dollars in those competitors, and in the case of the SVS pair, at a much lower price. There's also the rival within. Klipsch's sweet entry speakers, The Fives, aren't just cheaper at MSRP, they can often be found on sale for as low as $550. That's a very tough number for these full-priced Sevens to beat.
But when it comes to sheer cinematic gusto, The Sevens are primed to deliver a grander experience. Add in their rugged good looks and multiple ways to connect, and this is one fun and versatile pair of TV speakers that could be worth the splurge. For medium-large rooms, and especially if you watch a lot of TV or listen to records, these are a beautiful, albeit slightly costly, option.