Review: Klipsch HD Theater 500

Your meal plans may be more Top Ramen than Top Chef these days, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice dinner music too. Klipsch understands. The high end audio company is now offering three “recession-proof” speaker sets that can deliver top shelf 5.1 sound even as your 401K bottoms out.

We tried out the middle child of this triage, the HD Theater 500. The entire set comes packed in a box about the size of a mini fridge. Inside are four teeny speakers, one slightly larger center channel, and a decent-sized rear-ported 8-inch subwoofer. The system also comes with components for wall-mounting the five speakers.

After an easy setup, we cranked up tunes ranging from punk rock to classical jazz. Virtually every genre of music we tossed at the system had clear tonal balance, distinct separation, and plenty of window rattling bass. However, it was when we started screening films that these noisemakers really shined.

During the Mark II test sequence in Iron Man, it literally sounded like Robert Downy Jr. was jetting around the living room. An agonizing screening of Beverly Hills Chihuahua yielded yelps from onscreen pooches that actually scared the crap out of my dog. Special shout out: the center-channel speaker. While the rest of the room was shaking during Transporter 3, this boom box’s dual woofers delivered crystal-clear sound — even when we didn’t necessarily want to hear Jason Statham awkwardly deliver his dialogue.

Of course, if you have an enormous entertainment alcove, this is not the system to fill it with. In wide rooms, the 500’s fidelity quickly became weakened and lost. But if you need to fill a small space with big sound, this is one of the best bets out there. Especially now, the HD 500 is a stretch for a lot of budgets, but at least you can pick one up without getting a cosigner first.

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