Instant Atmos
Sound & Vision|October - November 2021
KLIPSCH’S NEW Cinema series soundbars are the latest effort of an iconic, 75-year-old speaker maker to push new performance barriers while delivering a product that is quintessential, well, Klipsch.
Rob Sabin

There are four systems, each with the real wood cabinetry and the signature Tractrix horn-loaded tweeters that have come to define the brand. These run from the entry-level Cinema 400 ($299), a 40-inch-wide 2.1-channel bar with an 8-inch wireless subwoofer, to the Cinema 1200 ($1,699) reviewed here—a 5.1.4 system with a 54-inch-wide Atmos-enabled bar, a wireless 12-inch sub, and a pair of wireless Atmos-enabled surrounds.

Klipsch’s bar made a nice impression right out of its giant L-shaped crate owing to the solid build quality and good fit-and-finish. The bar is a basic but well-detailed rectangular box, most of it wrapped in black grille cloth. In a world filled with plastic soundbars, I found the knuckle-thunk of its wood cabinet both satisfying and nostalgic.

The faceplate features an exposed pair of 1-inch textile dome tweeters at the far ends aided by 90x90-degree Tractrix horns. The rest of the driver complement, all hidden behind the grille cloth, includes a pair of 3-inch fiber-composite oval mid-woofers mated with each end driver, and a dedicated center-channel array. This is a two-way with a matching horn-loaded tweeter flanked by a pair of racetrack mid-range drivers. A pair of 3-inch Cerametallic cone Atmos height drivers located on top are canted forward for a ceiling bounce. Inside, the Cinema 1200 packs 500 watts of power distributed among all the drivers.

On the bar’s top you’ll find a pair of stylish brushed-metal plates, one with buttons for power, input selection, and volume. Around back is a surprisingly robust connection panel with three HDMI ports, one an HDMI output that allows pass-through of up to 8K video signals. This is also the designated eARC port (enhanced Audio Return Channel), critical for routing uncompressed Dolby Atmos signals from a TV’s onboard streaming platform. (On most sets with a regular ARC link, Atmos soundtracks won’t pass through without first undergoing downconversion and a loss of height information.) Like many other Atmos bars, the Klipsch artificially derives height information from whatever signal it’s fed. But unlike some other Atmos soundbars that have only a single HDMI eARC port—we’re talking about you, Sonos Arc—you can still get discrete Atmos rendering with the Klipsch even if your TV has an older ARC connection by directly plugging your Atmos source (such as a Blu-ray player or a Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, or Apple TV streamer) into one of the other HDMI ports.

If HDMI doesn’t work for your setup, there are also optical digital and 3.5mm analog stereo inputs. A subwoofer output lets you mate the bar with a second Klipsch sub in addition to the included wireless one, or with a different sub entirely. There’s an IR input for a third-party control system, a dedicated LAN port for a wired network connection, and you can wirelessly stream audio to the bar via Bluetooth. Finally, hidden behind the removable wooden endcap on the bar’s right side is a USB port for service/firmware updates. The default black-ebony endcaps match the bar and other components, but Klipsch also thoughtfully provides a pair of walnut-stained caps.

The soundbar’s dimensions are 54 x 2.9 x 6.2 inches (WxHxD), and it weighs about 17 pounds. Skinny wall-mount brackets, along with an included template, make for an easy flush installation, but the bar must be oriented with the Atmos drivers facing up and that works best on a credenza below a TV’s screen. (Given today’s thin TV/mount combos, the Klipsch’s 6.2-inch depth means a couple inches of bar will be poking out in front when mounted on a wall.)

Compared with the subs packaged with most soundbar systems, the Cinema 1200’s is a monster: a 16 x 16-inch black, ebony-wood column that stands more than 20 inches off the ground and weighs 45 pounds. Its down-firing 12-inch fiber composite driver, powered by another 500 watts, is aided by a down-firing slot port. The sub crosses over from the bar at 120Hz and is rated down to 22Hz. Test tones revealed that it started to roll off at 30Hz in my room and managed to put out detectable energy at 25Hz.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM SOUND & VISIONView All

XGIMI – A Potent Portable

Even as TVs grow ever-larger, the projector category continues to be an active one, with more recent designs like ultra-short throw models giving viewers an alternative to room-dominating hangfrom-ceiling setups.

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

A Classic Reimagined

KLH model five loudspeaker

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

Instant Atmos

KLIPSCH’S NEW Cinema series soundbars are the latest effort of an iconic, 75-year-old speaker maker to push new performance barriers while delivering a product that is quintessential, well, Klipsch.

10 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

MEDIA ROOM INSIDER: SENECA CINEMA

Do-It-Yourself Theater with a Twist

9 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

LCD Reloaded

IN 2020, Sound & Vision tested Samsung’s 65-inch Q90T series TV, an LCD model that lacked some of the features and refinements found in the company’s flagship sets from the previous year.

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

OLED For Less

SONY’S NEW XR-65A80J OLED TV isn’t a member of the company’s Master Series—that designation belongs to its XR-A90J OLED models, which are spec’d to deliver higher brightness than the XR-A80J sets. And while we haven’t yet tested those pricier Sony OLEDs, the XR-65A80J is far from being a second-class citizen. Read on to find out why.

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

Rack Your World

IF YOU’RE A boomer who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s like I did, you’ll remember that no home was complete unless it had a stereo system in the living room.

9 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

SPATIAL AUDIO RELATIONS

Ears-on with Apple Music’s new Atmos offerings

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

The Power Station

TRUE STORY. My very first hi-fi system featured a Rotel integrated amplifier—if memory serves, a model RA-20 of some 20 watts per channel.

8 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

THX Onyx DAC/ Headphone Amplifier

THX Does High-Res Audio

3 mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021