Klipsch B-3 Synergy Series Bookshelf Loudspeaker - Review

A classic bookshelf loudspeaker worth seeking out

Klipsch B-3 Bookshelf Speaker
Klipsch B-3 Bookshelf Speaker. Images provided by Klipsch

There are thousands of loudspeakers on the market, and despite all the technical specs, how a speaker sounds to you is the most important thing to consider. The Klipsch B-3, although no longer available new, is a classic great-sounding horn loaded bookshelf loudspeaker that is worth seeking out.

Description and Specifications

The core of the Klipsch B-3 is its 5-inch Tractrix horn and bass reflex design. Additional specifications include:

  • 1-inch aluminum diaphragm tweeter with frequency response up to 23khz (+/- 3db).
  • High-frequency crossover at 2,000 Hz. This is the point where frequencies above 2,000 Hz are sent to the tweeter.
  • 6.5-inch long-throw woofer, combined with a rear port, delivers bass response down to 55HZ (+/-3db)
  • Highly efficient with a sensitivity of 93.5 dB (2.83 volts at 1 meter).
  • Power handling is rated at 85 Watts RMS and 340 watts peak
  • Magnetically shielded for home theater use.

It's All in the Listening

The B-3 was equally at home in both a two-channel stereo configuration or as part of the larger home theater system with the addition of a subwoofer. Although Klipsch also sells companion center and surround sound channel speakers with slightly different designs, 5 or 7 B-3's can be used in a surround configuration, if positioned properly.

The benefit of the B-3's horn technology was very evident in vocal performances. The subtle, intimate breathiness of Norah Jones on "I Don't Know Why" was superb and the standout vocal performance of Sade on "Smooth Operator" jumped right out into the room.

Not only did the B-3's exhibit very good performance on mid-range vocals, but in subtle details as well. One example was that some of the background details on the classic Cream recording, "Disraeli Gears", normally indistinct, were revealed quite well.

On the home theater front, the B-3's worked quite well as both main, center, or surround speakers. The fast recovery time of the B-3's was adequate to the task of the several DVD clips used, including clips from "Master And Commander", "Kill Bill" Vols. 1 and 2, "The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy, "Moulin Rouge", and "Chicago".

The only drawback with the B-3's in a home theater setup is that the lack of a low bass response does necessitate the use of a subwoofer. However, this is to be expected with bookshelf speakers and shouldn't be considered a fault. On the contrary, the B-3's very good upper bass response actually filled in the gap between them and the subwoofer very well, providing an even sound transition at the crossover point between the B-3's and the subwoofer used (Yamaha YST-SW205).

Whether listening to low or high volume levels, the B-3 delivered clean, clear sound, especially in the mid-range and high frequencies. With music, vocals distinctively stand out, and background details don't get lost. Although it doesn't deliver the lowest bass frequencies, its bass reflex design delivers powerful upper bass that is clear and not muddled.

Klipsch B-3 Pros:

  • Horn loaded combined with bass reflex design, the B-3's deliver a full, balanced, and distinctive midrange, without overwhelming the highs and lows.
  • Distinct upper bass performance that doesn't muddy out. In addition, the upper bass response makes for a smooth transition between the B-3's and a subwoofer, when used in such a setup.

Klipsch B-3 Cons:

  • Despite the pluses of the B-3's, the Speaker grills difficult to fit on. In fact, the speaker grills and a speaker grill connectors seemed rather cheap.

The Bottom Line

What makes the B-3 really stand out is the use of a horn for the mid-range frequencies. Horn technology is highly efficient and durable, which means that such speakers can be used with amps as little as 5 to 10 watts-per-channel, but can handle the strong power output of a high-end receiver.

There are bigger speakers, there are more expensive speakers, and there are better speakers at higher prices. However, the Klipsch Synergy B-3 proves that a good speaker doesn't have to be big or expensive.

After spending big money on your other components, don't make loudspeakers an afterthought. Before making your final loudspeaker purchase choice, I recommend that you give the Klipsch Synergy B-3 a listen.

NOTE: Klipsch has discontinued production of the B-3 bookshelf loudspeakers, but they may still be available used via third parties. For a look at Klipsch's current bookshelf loudspeaker offerings, check out their Official Bookshelf Loudspeakers Page

Disclaimer: The product reviewed was purchased at a normally advertised retail price.