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Klipsch Forte III review

In the same way that hearing you well-heeled friends rattle off lightning-fast 0-60 times while driving their sports cars in the center lane is hardly relatable, most audiophiles aren’t very fun to talk to about actual music. As cultured connoisseurs of tube watts and lossless digital audio files, high-end buyers often use music as a means of gear-tasting, rather than to relish in imbibing the songs themselves. As such, it’s easy to see why many models on the £4000/pair speaker segment feel designed for folks who pour themselves small amounts of expensive scotch and spend hours discussing impedance on internet forums.

That is what makes the Klipsch Forte III, a new US-made iteration of the company’s beloved Forte loudspeaker from 1985, so special to us: They’re meant for people who put music first. The new Forte III is a set of vintage throwbacks for those of us who want to blast The Rolling Stones while shredding air guitar and spilling cheap beer all over ourselves. They offer the kind of thick sound that will bathe you in the warm throaty tones of Stevie Wonder while you sip your morning coffee, or pump AC/DC into your bloodstream while you do push-ups on the floor.

Best of all, they won’t have you considering cable thickness or what amp you’re listening to them through, instead overpowering you with the sheer joy of the music itself. If these speakers were a car, they’d be one of those gold Corvettes the astronauts drove — and they’d be fresh off the assembly line.

Video review

Out of the Box

The first thing you’ll notice when you take delivery of the Forte III is that they pack some serious heft. You’ll need some help to move the cardboard box containing each 72-pound speaker near your listening area before removing various layers of protective coating, at which point you’ll catch your first glimpse of what will seem to be a very familiar sight for fans of vintage stereo speakers — especially those of us who have experienced the company’s previous Forte and Forte II models.

Features and Design

Fashioned as big wooden rectangles with off-white lambswool grill cloth, the new speakers look like they could have been sitting in your grandpa’s living room spinning Frank Sinatra records for decades.

That’s not to say they aren’t stunning to behold; each set of Forte III speakers comes with cabinets that were hand-made in Hope, Arkansas, and the workmanship is immediately evident. In fact, each pair is grain matched so that they look nearly identical to one another when sitting side-by-side. Our review set featured a gorgeous distressed oak veneer, but the Forte III can also be had in black ash, natural cherry, or American walnut finishes.

A couple of special-edition colors are also available for a little more cash. The speakers themselves are 36 inches tall, 16.5 inches wide and 13 inches deep, making them a formidable addition to any living room or listening space. They are also perfectly designed to place their tweeters at ear level for those relaxing on a couch or in an easy chair.

The warmth, depth, and intricacy is astonishing. The back of the Forte III reveals two sets of binding posts for optional bi-amping or bi-wiring, as well as a glimpse of one of the key upgrades Klipsch made to its best-selling model from the mid-80s: A massive 15″ passive woofer which replaces the smaller radiator found on the original model for punchier bass response. Under magnetically affixed grills you’ll find a black bafflie with three black drivers.

A single 12-inch bass driver is positioned towards the base of the cabinet, with two titanium-diaphragm horn drivers above it — one updated 1.75-inch unit for midrange, and a one-inch driver for treble. Those horn-loaded drivers are a key element of the classic Forte sound – and a hallmark of Klipsch speaker design, in general — and we welcome their return in this model. Though a somewhat polarizing technology in the audiophile universe, the “classic” Klipsch sound is often associated a zesty top end which avoids distortion, even at high volumes.

Performance

Our review team listened to the Forte III speakers over several months, playing virtually all formats and genres of music via Naim Uniti Atom, Yamaha R-N803, and Peachtree Nova 220SE amplifiers, and placing the speakers head-to-head against other high-end options like the Bowers and Wilkins 702 Series 2 and Paradigm Persona B.

To make a long story short: We’re in love. These speakers devour any genre with a smile. It’s very difficult to describe the perfect blend of faithful reproduction and spirited coloration that manifests inside speakers this good, but we can say that the simultaneous warmth, depth, and intricacy with which these updated classics handle sound is nothing short of astonishing.

It doesn’t matter what you are listening to or how you are listening to it, every song you put through these speakers becomes a deep, revel-inducing experience. The Forte III are earth-shatteringly good. It’s not just that you can practically reach out and touch the upright bass when listening to Lou Reed’s Take A Walk On The Wild Side — most other speakers in this price range can do that — it’s how the speakers slightly warm everything in the soundstage, making each element of the sound buttery, but not overwhelming any one instrument with too much coloration.

It’s not just that you’ll sob as classic ballads like The Eagles’ Desperado come through like the band was playing it on a stage 20 feet in front of you, it’s that the speakers somehow make each note more vibrant and passionate than you’ve ever heard them before.

When compared to other expensive floorstanders like B&W’s 702 Series 2, the Fortes offer a similarly scintillating treble response, but their punchy low end easily bests the B&Ws, thanks to that 15-inch radiator on the rear and its 12-inch active bass driver. That said, these are not overtly bass-heavy speakers. They are punchy and exacting.

Every note, every phrase, every subtle mixing technique, it’s all there in front of you, yet where the B&Ws offer a crisp, HD-feeling image, the Fortes somehow blend in just the right amount of 72mm film grain. Very few speakers feel as explicitly designed to purvey musical joy, and because of their nimble agility and warmth, the Forte III devour any genre with a smile. Feed them Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and you’ll bathe in near-perfect bass response and clean hi-hats ticks between passionate vocal bouts.

Feed them Ahmad Jamal’s classic jazz trio album Ahmad’s Blues, and you’ll bob along to every intricate brush stroke and piano tickle. Feed them Purple Rain and let Prince’s heart-wrenching vocals melt you into a multicolored puddle on the floor.

Klipsch Heritage Series Forte III Compared To

It’s tough to count the number of songs that I had never heard sound better on any other set of speakers. It’s embarrassing to admit, but over the several months we’ve had the review units sitting in the Digital Trends A/V room, I’ve wondered how soon we will have to send them back with the same heartache I once attached to summer camp girlfriends.

There is not a single set of speakers I want to personally own more; On a sheer smiles-to-songs ratio, the Forte III rank somewhere up there with placing a bouncy castle in your listening room.

Warranty information

Klipsch offers a five-year limited warranty for defective materials and workmanship on all of its passive speakers.

Our Take

The Klipsch Forte III offer a near-perfect blend of new-school finesse with old-school charm, easily ranking among the finest speakers that have ever graced our listening room. Is there a better alternative? While speakers like the Bowers and Wilkins 702 Series 2 compete in terms of price, Klipsch are the only major manufacturer we can think of that is offering reissued and tweaked versions faithful to its classic design aesthetic.

If you’re looking for the same vintage audiophile sound, you may want to spring for a vintage set of Klipsch Forte or Forte II, Dynaco A-29, Acoustic Research AR3a, or Large Advent speakers to get what you’re after. How long will it last? Given Klipsch’s long history of manufacturing excellent-quality loudspeakers, as well as this particular product line’s longevity, we expect that the Forte III will last for generations if treated properly and maintained every decade or so.

Should you buy it? Yes. The Klipsch Forte III are easily among the most fun-to-listen-to speakers we have ever tested, and they offer the kind of classic styling and tone that you can pass down for generations.

You may pay a pretty penny up front, but the existential question lingers brightly with these speakers in particular: Can you really put a price on musical happiness?

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Rutger Hauer wasn't a fan of 'Blade Runner 2049'

Warner Bros.

“Blade Runner 2049” was almost unanimously praised by critics, but Rutger Hauer, who was unforgettable as Roy Batty in the 1982 original, wasn’t a fan. “I just think if something is so beautiful, you should just leave it alone and make another film,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 was hailed as an instant classic but underperformed at the Box Office, barely recouping its £185 million budget with a worldwide gross of £259 million.

According to Hauer it focused too much on the homage. “In many ways, ‘Blade Runner’ wasn’t about the replicants, it was about what does it mean to be human? It’s like ‘E.T.’ But I’m not certain what the question was in the second ‘Blade Runner.’ It’s not a character-driven movie and there’s no humor, there’s no love, there’s no soul.

You can see the homage to the original. But that’s not enough to me. I knew that wasn’t going to work.

But I think it’s not important what I think.”

Rutger Hauer famously wrote and performed what is perhaps Blade Runner’s most iconic scene: the “tears in rain” monologue.

Now Playing: Watch this: Latest Blade Runner trailer debuts

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Samsung reveals soothing ringtone for Galaxy S9

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.

Bathe in its gentle touches.

Samsung/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You might currently be pulsating in an unseemly manner. You’re desperate to get hold of the Samsung Galaxy S9 — to be revealed on February 25 — and touch its delicate perfection. Well, you hope it’ll be perfect.

What can you do to be at one with it in these intervening days?

Look at hundreds of (possibly fake) renders of the real thing, of course. I, though, would like you to soak in the large musical bath that is the ringtone specially created by Samsung for the new phone. Each year, Samsung creates a new arrangement of its classic — to some — “Over the Horizon.”

This year, the feeling is one of symphonic soothing, as if your back is being soaped by a dozen back-soaping experts from distant forests. The Korean company partnered with Icelandic composer Petur Jonsson to create this sumptuous oeuvre. This is, Samsung says, “a minimalist arrangement that takes listeners on an atmospheric journey of discovery.”

We could all surely do with one of those these days. Everyone will have their own version of what they discover as they listen to these new mellifluous tones. This new version is, though, a marked contrast to last year’s arrangement, made far more frenetic in the hands of Grammy Award-winner Jacob Collier.

This new joy wouldn’t be out of place in “Downton Abbey” or some other superior soap opera. It’s a balm for our barmy times, in which loud noises predominate over ancient essences such as thought and empathy. Some, though, might wonder what it will say about the phone.

Has Samsung created its most sophisticated phone yet? Will it enjoy subtle wonders that haven’t yet emerged into the harsh light of the rumor mill? Will it be so sophisticated that Samsung will still be able to mock Apple for its (alleged) lateness to every phone party?

On the 25th, my colleagues will be at Mobile World Congress to offer you each movement of Samsung’s new creation.

The best game console you can buy right now

It’s an interesting time to be buying a game console. More than four years into the current console generation, we are seeing (and hearing) about a new array of incrementally improved hardware, such as Sony’s PS4 Pro, Microsoft’s Xbox One X, and sub-platforms like PlayStation VR. The stratification can become problematic, as the primary benefit of a gaming console is its simplicity.

There are many compelling arguments as to why players who care about performance or want access to the greatest number of games should invest in a gaming PC — the ability to mod games, change intricate performance settings, and Steam sales all come to mind — but there’s a large contingency of people deaf to those arguments. They simply want to buy a game and play, and consoles offer the best way to do that.

Our pick

Why should you buy this? It’s the best version of the most popular console, and has the highest number of high-fidelity games.

Sony PlayStation 4 ProThe PS4 Pro is the best version of the PlayStation 4.

Who’s it for? Everyone, but especially players with a 4K TV. How much will it cost? £400

Why we picked the PlayStation 4 Pro: The PlayStation 4 Pro is the best version of the most popular game platform available today. With 4K and HDR 10 compatibility, as well as the most powerful components in a dedicated gaming platform, it is the best plug-and-play gaming platform.

A very large majority of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One libraries are available on both platforms. Though both platforms have popular exclusive franchises, the PlayStation 4 (Pro or standard) generally gets more exclusive games each year. The PS4 also gets access to small number of less well-known indie games and niche titles, such as Japanese role-playing games, that the Xbox One does not.

Picking PlayStation 4 also opens the door for you to pick up PlayStation VR, which, as we’ve noted, is the most affordable premium VR headset available. While there are rumors of Rift support for the Xbox One, PSVR is the only option for console VR right now – and it’s a good one. While it can be difficult to take advantage of the PlayStation 4 Pro’s advanced features, namely HDR support, the improvements it provides to even unoptimized games make it the most technically impressive way to play the largest number of games on a console.

Depending on how well its adopted by developers — and whether 4K and HDR catch on — the PS4 Pro could represent the future of console gaming. Our full review

The best console for 4K gaming

Why should you buy this? With a 4K Blu-Ray player and HDR, it offers access to both great new games and high-resolution video.

The most powerful consoleMicrosoft Xbox One SThe most powerful home console ever made runs games and media at 4K HDR better than anything else available.

Who’s it for? Players who want to to play games and watch movies at the highest possible image quality. How much will it cost? £499+

Why we picked the Xbox One X: Sony led the charge on the intrageneration console update with the PS4 Pro, but, by taking its time, Microsoft gave us the better hardware in the Xbox One X. It offers the same 4K Blu-ray and HDR video playback that the One S does, while also bringing that visual enhancement to games.

Microsoft wasn’t exaggerating when they told us that the Xbox One X is the most powerful home gaming console ever sold. The PS4 may still have a stronger gaming library than the Xbox One, but the Pro’s improvements are only really noticeable in games that have been specifically enhanced for it. The Xbox One X has proven far better at using its extra horsepower to improve the visuals of all games on the platform, enhanced or not.

Microsoft is also doubling down on investing in first-party studios, such as Rare, which could make the Xbox exclusive library more appealing to start with. For those of us who haven’t made the jump to 4K, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are great consoles with large game libraries. You will be able to play the vast majority of new and upcoming games, including a few exclusive franchises like Halo, Gears of War, and Forza.

Plus, if you are (or were) an Xbox 360 owner, a very large number of last-gen console’s games are now compatible with the Xbox One, which could expand your game library and keep at least some of your old games in rotation. Our full review

The best portable game console

Why should you buy this? You want a full, console gaming experience, but on the go.

The best portable game consoleNintendo SwitchThe Nintendo Switch truly bridges the gap between home consoles and handhelds.

Who’s it for? Everyone How much will it cost? £300+

Why we picked the Nintendo Switch: Nintendo has struggled to keep up with Sony and Microsoft for the last decade. For all its explosive, mainstream popularity, the Wii traded graphical horsepower for the motion control gimmick, and thus took Nintendo out of the third-party AAA platform running for a whole hardware generation.

The Wii U tried to bridge the gap, but floundered for lack of identity. Nintendo’s latest console, the Switch, turned all of that around. Nintendo sidestepped the arms race by changing not how you use your console, but where.

The Switch is a “hybrid” device that plugs into a television like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but also works as a handheld device. While it doesn’t quite have the computational oomph to play the latest 4K, 60 fps releases for Xbox One or PS4, the Switch can play Doom (2016) at a smooth 30 fps anywhere you want to, and that’s more than good enough for a lot of gamers. In addition to contemporary titles like the upcoming Wolfenstein II port, the Switch has also proved itself as a fantastic venue for reviving modern classics, such as Skyrim, L.A.

Noire, and the recently announced Dark Souls Remastered. More than just a clearance house for lightly-aged AAA titles, the Switch also offers an ever-growing catalog of fantastic first-party games like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as well as excellent indies such as Stardew Valley, Celeste, and Battle Chef Brigade. Add in some forward-looking experiments with Nintendo Labo, and the Switch is looking like an incredibly well-rounded platform with something unique to offer everyone.

Our full review

The best complementary console

Why should you buy this? Nintendo makes unique games you can’t play anywhere else, and this is the best way to play them right now.

The best complimentary consoleNew Nintendo 3DS XLThe best way to get access to Nintendo’s unique style of video games, including a large number of games from its classic gaming catalog.

Who’s it for? Anyone who loves Nintendo and wants access to their quirky, family friendly games. How much will it cost? £200 Why we picked the New Nintendo 3DS XL:

For the last decade, more or less, Nintendo’s consoles have offered fresh and fun games, but not much in the way of third-party support. As great as they are, consoles like the Wii U and 3DS lack the developer support and diversity of game experiences necessary to be the number one game machine in your life. However, if you already own a game console (or a gaming PC) and you’re looking to expand your horizons, the Nintendo 3DS will give you access to an entirely new library of games that you can’t get anywhere else, including Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, and Animal Crossing.

The console also has its own version of Nintendo’s “virtual console” store, where you can grab games from some of Nintendo’s beloved old-school consoles like the NES, SNES, and Game Boy. While similar things can be said of the Wii U, its price tag is a bit higher, and its catalog of great games is arguably thinner. There are many great franchises, like Rune Factory, Animal Crossing, and Phoenix Wright, that are available on 3DS but not on Wii U.

One word of warning: Nintendo is expected to launch a new console, the Nintendo Switch, in March, 2017. The Switch will be a “hybrid” console that can be played as a portable like the 3DS, but can also be played on a TV using a docking station. The company said it plans to continue supporting the 3DS after the Switch launches, as it considers the Switch a “home console,” but there is reason to question whether new games will be coming to the 3DS in 2018.

That said, after more than five years, the Nintendo 3DS has already built up quite a library for you to work your way through. Our full review

The best introduction to gaming

Why should you buy this? It’s a concentrated dose of retro gaming for a very affordable price.

The best introduction to gamingNintendo NES Classic EditionThe NES Classic Edition is a simple, affordable way to give gaming a try.

Who’s it for? Nintendo lovers who don’t own a Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, new gamers who never had an NES. How much will it cost? £60

Why we picked the NES Classic Edition: If you’re new to video games — or want to introduce the form to someone — there’s something to be said for starting with the classics. Nintendo’s new mini-emulator box offers 30 first- and third-party games from the company’s beloved NES console in a small, standalone package, including the first three Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man II, Castlevania, and Final Fantasy.

The device lacks many of the features we’ve come to expect from a game console: It does not connect to the internet, and is not expandable or customizable in any official way. While many argue that’s a failing, we appreciate the opportunity to play games in a space without connectivity issues and free of in-game advertising. On the NES Classic, what you see is what you get, and that’s great.

It’s totally reasonable to expect that someone new to games might play with this, and quickly find themselves ready to move to a modern console. Luckily, at £60 and zero extra cost for games, the console requires less investment than any other console out there. Our full review

How we test

Choosing the best video game console is, honestly, more philosophical than technical.

Since gaming PCs currently produce the highest framerate and highest resolution, picking the best gaming console comes down to a number of factors including its design, features, and game library. We do test them, of course. We’ve spent a lot of time playing video games on these consoles and we even more thinking about what they can do.

We make sure that everything we like about these game consoles works and delivers what’s advertised. That includes playing all kinds of games, checking the console’s internet connectivity, looking at the console’s exclusives, and checking if developers are making games for the platform.

4K, HDR, and buying game consoles

Two of our recommendations, the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X, support high-resolution gaming that can take advantage of emerging display standards, 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR). Most people, aside from enthusiastic A/V fans, do not have a 4K TV yet, and fewer still have HDR, which is currently broken down into some sub-standards.

Given that there’s a relatively small selection of games for each console that take full advantage of these features, we currently do not recommend that you buy a new TV for the sake of high-resolution console gaming.

Currently, no game console requires you to own a 4K or HDR-compatible TV, so you can buy that new console and hold off on buying the TV until you’ve done more research, found games you feel are worth upgrading for, or are otherwise ready to commit.

If you do decide to purchase a new TV for the sake of the console, you should look for a 4K TV that runs at 60Hz and supports HDR 10, as opposed to HDR “Premium.”

Editors’ Recommendations

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