KLH 32 in and out

I picked up a derelict trio of KLH 32s about a year ago at Goodwill. They were largely intact with their tweed grilles and grown walnut veneers present, if a bit scratched and punctured. I took pity and adopted them, think that between the three of them there must be a pair of good speakers.

KLH 32s in more or less presentable shape. Dented but functional

KLH 32s in more or less presentable shape. Dented but functional

Then I looked up the model 32. It’s the runt of the classic KLH litter, with a smaller size and weight, making these ‘bookshelf’ speakers actually bookshelf-friendly. They are a two-way with an 8″ woofer and a smaller 1.75″ tweeter than the usual tweeters in the KLH 5, 6, 17, 20, and 23. It also employed an interesting sound management device – a layer of fiberglass insulation stapled over the tweeter to attenuate the higher frequencies. This I guess helped mitigate the simplicity of the crossover, which consists of a single 4uF capacitor and a coil. The 8″ woofer looks like its larger brethren.

 

KLH 32 under the grille. Note use of fiberglass for tweeter attenuation It's cheaper than crossover components

KLH 32 under the grille. Note use of fiberglass for tweeter attenuation It’s cheaper than crossover components

The cabinets also look similar to the bigger, more expensive members of the KLH family but are decidedly cheaper. The veneers are thinner and the cabinet overall feels a little lighter. The rear panel, instead of having a metal plate holding the screw-in wire plugs, is a sticker with two cheap nubs sticking through. there is no tweeter tone control as on the 6s and other full-sizers.

And when I plugged them in the first time I wasn’t too impressed – kind of dull really. But the more I played with them the more I liked them. I’ve learned that KLHs both benefit from new crossover capacitors to wake up the tweeters, and to extended listening – they seem rolled off on the extremes but what that takes away from audiophile-level tone examination it adds to general music enjoyment – these speakers are never going to annoy you with harsh top end of massive thumping. They’re going to blend in to the background and provide pleasant music at low levels. They actually fall apart a bit when you crank them up – the combination of a smallish cabinet, largish 8″ woofer and little damping conspire to add a lot of boxiness and coloration to the sound.

But after a recap they were definitely listenable. My wife really liked them, commenting on how pleasant vocals sound, and the surprising presence of bass given the small size. It helped that we had them elevated pretty high (on top of a pair of Klipsch Cornwalls – more on them another time).

KLH 32s after a polish, recap, and new grilles. Much nicer!

KLH 32s after a polish, recap, and new grilles. Much nicer!

The best application I found for these KLHs was for outdoor parties – out in nature their lack of extreme high and low-end was less of an issue and they faded into the background very well. But I was always nagged by the thought that this was not their best or fairest application – just because they were the most expendable speakers in my stable didn’t mean it was right to keep them outside. So they’re going to go into a neighbor’s basement for more use and enjoyment.

KLH 32 rear with new binding posts

KLH 32 rear with new binding posts and little hanging hooks

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~ by silverfacestereo on May 11, 2015.

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