Klipsch HD Theater 500 5.1-channel sound system impressions

Klipsch won our hearts over years ago with its ProMedia 4.1 setup, and we're happy to say that the winning formula hasn't been significantly altered in the HD Theater 500. Honestly, the satellites presented here look an awful lot like those bundled in with the ProMedia kit, but these do check in with a bit less bulk and a bit more gloss. Upon unboxing the 5.1 system, we were actually pretty astounded by how light each of the speakers were, with even the subwoofer not being painfully heavy. All the small talk aside, we know you're here to see if these suckers are worth your hard-earned dollars -- follow us on past the break for a breakdown of the pros and cons.

With this rig, Klipsch has managed to squeeze a whole lot of sound into relatively small satellites. For those cooped up in small apartments or those who simply need to wall mount every one of their speakers (save for the sub, obviously), the HD Theater 500 is hard to ignore. The lightweight nature makes these perfect for hanging on even thin walls, and the standard red / black "clip" inputs means that they'll play nice with every ole AV receiver on the market. The subwoofer is a down-firing, 100-watt beast (8-inch driver) which accepts both RCA (left / right) and line-level inputs. There's a master volume and crossover knob, and it can be set to always off, always on and auto-detect on. The speakers are pretty good looking, though the glossy black finish does mean that fingerprints will hang around after touching. We can't understate how great this setup is for areas with space constraints -- you'll really be amazed at how much sound is emitted from these small drivers.

After hooking these up to our Harman Kardon 5.1-channel receiver, we fired up an eclectic playlist that included everything from Norah Jones to Slipkot in order to really check out the range. As predicted, these babies just sing with music. Every Klipsch driver we've ever heard seemed most comfortable with music, and this setup is no different. The highs are perfectly detailed, the mids are smooth and punchy, and the low-end is bold, precise and powerful. If you're a movie and music lover, you can rest assured the HD Theater 500 will easily handle both. It's hard to say why "the Klipsch sound" fits so perfectly with musical composition, but it just does. It's easy to fire up your favorite track and just drift away -- we couldn't find a single genre that made these sound bad, and honestly, it'll be tough listening to our tunes on the house speakers once these head back.

Movies / TV
If you're looking for us to start grumbling, we're afraid you're looking in the wrong place. Yet again, the HD Theater 500 proved more than adequate when it came to movie watching. For the area that this set is designed to work in (average sized dens, small apartments, etc.), it simply fills the room with beautiful sound. Explosions were no problem for the 8-inch sub, gunfire was sharp and potent and voices were silky smooth. The only gripes we had came when the volume was turned up entirely too loud (90 percent of the maximum), but hey, we had to find something to kvetch about.

Honestly, what makes the HD Theater 500 so impressive is its uncanny ability to simply sound bigger than it really is. You'd never guess this much full-bodied sound could be emitted from satellites this small, and unless you're trying to fill up a cinema-sized room with sound, we can't imagine you not being impressed with what Klipsch has assembled here. We will say, however, that we're not huge fans of the $599.99 price tag. The HTIB market has grown significantly, and there are simply too many other adequate options that cost far less than this. We fully expect to pay a small premium for that iconic Klipsch sound, but we still maintain that this setup is about a Benjamin too high considering the absolute dearth of accessories.

Seriously Klipsch, how much would it eat into your margin to toss in a few feet of copper wiring to get novices going right out of the box? We can't think of many things more frustrating in the consumer electronics world than to buy something, get it home and then realize a few required accessories weren't included. These days, it's practically a foregone conclusion that speaker wire will be bundled in with multi-channel audio rigs, and it just feels downright cheap that Klipsch has opted not to toss in any wires here. 'Course, you may be able to find these on the streets for closer to $500, and if you could somehow get 'em out the door for $450, we'd say it's a no-brainer. For six bills (not including cables), however, we'd strongly recommend finding a dealer and giving your ears a chance to have a say before buying blind. Just don't be shocked when said ears start shoving your wallet our of your rear pocket and onto the checkout counter.