Klipsch Synergy B20/SW450 review

The Klipsch Synergy B20/SW450 package has an intriguing driver arrangement, and its sound is an acquired taste Tested at £1050

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

More notable for its vibrancy than its flaws, but the Klipsch is an acquired taste


  • +

    Intriguing driver arrangement

  • +

    positional flexibility

  • +

    full-strength, energetic sound


  • -

    Sub plods as the speakers sprint

  • -

    tweeters lack refinement

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Naming a new range of loudspeakers ‘Synergy’ is a bold move. Either the manufacturer is supremely confident of its products’ abilities, or it’s misunderstood the meaning of the word.

Here, based on previous experience of US specialist Klipsch, we guess (and hope) it’s the former.

Go to www.klipsch.co.uk and you’ll see a £1000 5.1 package comprising a pair of B20 bookshelf speakers, a pair of S10 surrounds, a C10 centre speaker and an SW350 subwoofer.

However, Klipsch has submitted the system to us with that sub ditched in favour of the SW450 – a subwoofer with 450 watts of power, a 10in downward-firing driver and unsubtle dimensions (43 x 36 x 50cm). Hence the extra £50.

Decent build quality
No one’s going to get excited about the black-ash vinyl wrap, but build and finish are decent enough and the tweeters (an aluminium driver behind square horn arrangement) add a touch of pizzazz.

The S10 rears feature a pair of tweeters and 10cm mid/bass driver for greater dispersal. The C10 centre has a foot to aid positioning.

After a lengthy running-in period, the Klipsch set-up lays its cards on the table;
it’s here to offer great big helpings of drive and excitement to your home cinema.

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack to Shutter Island is delivered with attention to detail, fulminating low-frequency presence and a convincing, open soundstage.

Vigour and enthusiasm
But, fundamentally, it’s delivered with the vigour and enthusiasm you’d associate
with contestants on The X Factor.

Problems, such as they are, lurk at the extremes of the frequency range. The SW450 sub shifts some air, but it’s not as pacy as its partnering speakers and so drags at tempos a little. At the other end, treble sounds are, at best, crisp; they get harder as more volume is wound in.

But if you crave excitement and bombast (vital ingredients in a home cinema, certainly) this Klipsch has them in spades.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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