Klipsch has been building speakers for so long that it still uses horn-loaded tweeters, a more old-fashioned way to produce these high-end delivering outputs. This 3.1-channelKlipsch BAR 48 Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer has an improved sensitivity thanks to those retro-looking tweeters.
There is also a separate wireless subwoofer for deeper bass response, a backlit remote control and an HDMI-ARC connection (audio return channel for plug-and-play simplicity with a TV). Otherwise, however, this particular soundbar is somewhat light on features – the emphasis is on performance.
The big question: does the Klipsch Bar 48 sound good enough to hold its own against better-specified alternatives? Have a look below.
- Sound bar: 1211 x 73 x 86 mm
- Bottom part: 302 x 410 x 410 mm
- Available in black
The Klipsch Bar 48 is the definition of an acquired taste. There will be those who will love the signature horn-loaded tweeters on both ends, and those who will be immediately put off by them. If you don’t like the retro look, that’s tough – because there’s no removable grille to cover them.
What you do get is a well-made soundbar that uses a simple rectangular shape and is made of wood, which is unusual these days. There is an wraparound black cloth grille, covering the three woofers and the center tweeter, while the two end tweeters are exposed, but use a dark silver finish to add a bit of class.
The Bar 48 is unlikely to win design awards, but the overall appearance has a timeless elegance and Klipsch has interchangeable end caps to better match your decor – a nice touch. Aside from LED indicator lights, there’s no display, but at the top corner you’ll find basic controls for power, volume, and input.
The included wireless subwoofer is also made of wood and has a build quality that generally matches the main unit, combined with a simple black finish. It uses a large 8-inch down-firing driver with a bass port to ensure plenty of low-end extension. The sub should automatically pair with the soundbar when you turn them both on for the first time.
- 3.1 channel output
- 440W amplification
- Optional borders
- Dolby Digital
- DTS 5.1
The Klipsch Bar 48 is relatively limited in terms of features, but is therefore extremely easy to set up. It is designed to be plug and play and offers a solution that quickly and effectively upgrades your TV’s built-in audio.
The three front channels are each composed of a 1 inch soft dome tweeter paired with a Tractrix horn, and two 3 inch oval fiber composite cone woofers. The use of a dedicated center speaker should ensure that dialogue remains clear and focused on the screen.
All these drivers are individually amplified to provide detailed and dynamic performance, and the system as a whole is rated at 440 W.
Klipsch has added three sound modes: Dialog for more vocal clarity; Night for reduced dynamic range when you need to keep things still; and Surround to virtually create the effect of rear speakers. The company also plans to add DTS Virtual: X via a USB firmware update.
The Bar 48 can decode lossy Dolby Digital and DTS formats up to 5.1 channels. However, if you want to create a true 5.1-channel system, you will need to buy the optional Surround 3 back speakers (which can be connected via a dedicated USB wireless transmitter).
Connections and controls
- HDMI connection with ARC (Audio Return Channel)
- Optical digital input; 3.5mm analog input
- Includes remote control with backlight
- Subwoofer output (for wired use)
- Bluetooth wireless
The Klipsch Bar 48 has a fairly basic set of connections, which are located in a recessed area on the back of the soundbar. There is a single HDMI-ARC port, an optical digital audio input and a 3.5mm analog input. There is also a USB port for adding wireless rear speakers, an input for an IR extender and built-in Bluetooth. Klipsch has added a subwoofer output so you can upgrade the wireless subwoofer with a wired one if you prefer, or even use dual subwoofers.
There’s a full-size remote, which is a nice change, and it sensibly has a backlight for use in the dark. The zapper offers all the buttons you need to operate the soundbar effectively, including buttons for power, volume and stepping through the various inputs. There is also a mute button and a button to turn off the LED indicator lights, along with additional controls for adjusting the subwoofer level and selecting Dialog, Surround and Night modes.
The Klipsch Bar 48 is an impressive sonic performer, thanks in no small part to the emphasis placed on sound quality. Klipsch knows what it does when it comes to speakers, as evidenced by the three forward-facing drivers in this soundbar. The combination of woofers and horn loaded tweeters results in a wide and expansive front soundstage with exceptional levels of detail.
The mid-range in particular is well represented, while retaining a lot of depth and clarity, while the horn tweeters not only offer superior sensitivity, but also reproduce the higher frequencies with demanding clarity. The Bar 48 may not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone’s taste, but it sounds really impressive whether you’re listening to music or watching your favorite TV show.
In fact, this soundbar is so good with two-channel stereo that it is a shame that there are no more ways to listen to music. You can use the optical digital and analog inputs, along with bluetooth, but the lack of multiroom functionality or smart support is a shame. Whichever method you choose, you will be rewarded with an energetic and enjoyable performance.
Where the Bar 48 really adds value is of course improving the sound quality of your TV quickly and easily. The width of the main unit lends itself to a large soundstage that spreads on either side of the screen. Not only does this provide a better stereo image for music, but also ensures that effects are placed around the front of the room with remarkable precision.
The dedicated center speaker produces a dialogue that remains clear and anchored on the screen. So whether it’s news, sports or a documentary, this soundbar always delivers the vocals with pleasing accuracy that guarantees you won’t miss a single word.
The addition of a separate subwoofer also ensures that the bass has depth and power, creating a solid foundation for low frequencies.
When it comes to movies, all these factors create a balanced, engaging and rewarding soundstage in the front of the room. There is little rear presence in the way, even when virtual surround processing is applied, but the overall sonic delivery retains a lot of dynamic range and the bass gives LFE (low frequency effects channel) more impact.
Klipsch BAR 48 Sound Bar – Conclusion
The Klipsch Bar 48 shuns modern design choices and object-based sonics, resulting in a decidedly old-fashioned soundbar. This more focused approach works when it comes to sound quality, with the three front-facing speakers creating an open and detailed sound image at the front. A dedicated center speaker provides clear dialog, while the wireless subwoofer delivers deep bass.
The downside to this no-nonsense philosophy is that the Bar 48 looks a bit limited when it comes to features. There are no additional HDMI inputs, no Wi-Fi, no smart features, and no support for immersive audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. However, if none of that matter and you just want superior audio performance, then the Klipsch Bar 48 is definitely worth considering worth.
Positives of Klipsch BAR 48 Sound Bar
- Impressive sound quality
- Well-integrated bass
- Easy installation and operation
Negatives of Klipsch BAR 48 Sound Bar
- No additional HDMI inputs
- No Atmos / DTS: X support
- Horn tweeters not for everyone