Over the last couple of years, while working from home, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at cool desk setups ranging from minimalist to more complex arrangements. Being a tech nerd, I gravitate to more is better and I love having speakers for playing music, watching videos and listening to podcasts. So, when Klipsch asked if I’d like to take a loan of their new Fives Mclaren Edition powered speakers I was delighted. I’m always testing new audio products but it’s not too often I get the opportunity to test something as special as these.
While the Fives speakers have nearly everything you’d want in a set of powered speakers, the McLaren Edition is mostly about the brand and design. If you’re looking to take your desk setup to the next level and just need that final ‘piece de resistance,’ then your search is over.
Where to start? From the deep black, hand-painted MDF cabinets to the striking carbon fibre cones found in the mid/bass drivers, the McLaren Edition of the Fives are beautifully crafted. The removable speaker grille covers have a McLaren logo on the bottom corner and attach to the speakers via magnets. While I like the minimalistic look with the covers on, the speakers are far more impressive with them off.
Just below the tweeters on both speakers are the Klipsch and McLaren logos. The top of the primary speaker has two large vertical rotary dials — one for volume and the other for input selection.
The included cables have been given the full McLaren treatment too — braided in the McLaren orange with black flecks — even the power cord has the same colour braiding.
One of the killer features of the Fives is the inclusion of the HDMI ARC support which allows you to connect them to a TV with ARC support. This offers true stereo sound rather than what you typically get from a soundbar that can only simulate stereo.
You can add a bass speaker for 2.1 audio but the bass from the two Fives speakers is astounding. Action movies have a big expansive soundstage and you'll feel the explosions and punches. The Fives sound much better than any soundbar I've ever heard. Having an HDMI ARC connected to your TV means you can control the Fives through your TV's remote.
I was also able to test the analogue inputs including the RCA phono that I connect to my turntable — there’s a switch beside it to toggle between phono and line. There’s also a 3.5mm AUX, single RCA line level out to a subwoofer, digital optical and a USB-B port to connect the Fives to a PC or Mac. The latter uses the internal DAC with 192kHz/24-bit to decode hi-res audio tracks. My streaming service of choice for hi-res audio is Qobus and the Fives McLaren Edition was able to reproduce and produce great detail in glorious stereo.
I also tested the speakers with my IFI Zen DAC connected to my desktop computer but to my non-audiophile ears, it really didn’t offer anything more than the internal DAC of the speakers.
Unfortunately, there’s no built-in wifi steaming but you do get Bluetooth with aptX support. This worked flawlessly and while I didn’t find the need to use it often, it’s a great extra to have when you want to stream something from your phone.
The Klipsch Connect app provides a lot of extra features including the ability to customise the sound via the 3-band equaliser (bass, mid and treble), and specify the speaker placement. I found this a massive help in improving the sound as I wasn’t able to place the speakers in an optimal location for the best sound reproduction.
You can also update the firmware on the speakers using the app or get one-tap access to support.
The Fives are not a neutral sounding speaker and despite their incredible sound quality, may not be for the purist audiophile. But, what they do offer is an engaging, immersive and fun sound for a broad range of musical genres, movies or just general speakers for your PC or Mac computer. While the Fives have a dedicated bass out port, I never felt the need/want for more.
The sound staging is also impressive with the excellent delineation between the left, right and phantom centre. Despite their size, the Fives are room-filling speakers that are a joy to use, listen or dance to. The sound is exciting, with a strong attack and bass that delivers a lot of power without distortion. There’s still great detail in the mids and highs and I never tired of listening over long periods of time.
Of course, sound is a matter of personal taste and if you’re looking for a studio class set of powered speakers with a neutral sound signature the Fives are not for you.
The Klipsch Fives McLaren Edition are astonishing in both looks and sound. They offer so much — physics suggests they really shouldn't be able to produce such a big sound with incredible bass in such a small cabinet.
The versatility and range of inputs are what make them unique. I find soundbars are great for TV but the lack of stereo separation annoys me for listening to music. With the Fives you get the best of both worlds and then some.
The only downside is the price but if you’re into the McLaren brand then this may not bother you. The other option is the much cheaper, non-McLaren version of the Fives that features a more traditional Klipsch styling.
The Fives Mclaren Edition available for €1,500 at Klipsch