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Klipsch Heritage Series Heresy IV Loudspeaker Review: 10 Reasons It‘s an Audiophile Icon

As a digital technology expert and lifelong audiophile, I‘ve had the privilege of auditioning countless loudspeakers over the years, from budget bookshelf models to towering electrostatics. Few speakers have left as indelible an impression on me as the Klipsch Heritage Series Heresy IV. This meticulously handcrafted loudspeaker represents the culmination of over 70 years of audio innovation and an unwavering commitment to founder Paul W. Klipsch‘s core design principles. It‘s not just a great sounding speaker, but a functional work of art that commands pride of ownership.

If you‘re considering investing in a pair of high-end speakers and the $3,198 per pair Heresy IVs are on your shortlist, read on. As an audio industry veteran, I‘ll share my hands-on experience with these legendary speakers and lay out the top 10 reasons why they warrant such serious consideration.

The Heresy Legacy

First, a bit of history. The original Klipsch Heresy speaker debuted in 1957 as a compact center channel to accompany the brand‘s larger Klipschorn speakers. It quickly gained a reputation among audio enthusiasts for its dynamic, lifelike sound and became a hit model in its own right.

Over the years, the Heresy went through several iterations, each refining the design while staying true to Paul Klipsch‘s original vision. The Heresy II launched in 1985, followed by the Heresy III in 2006. The Heresy IV reviewed here represents the latest evolution of the lineage, released in 2019 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Klipsch brand.

Specifications and Performance Benchmarks

Let‘s dive into the Heresy IV‘s technical details. This 3-way, ported loudspeaker employs a 12" fiber-composite woofer, 1.75" polyimide compression driver midrange mated to a large exponential horn, and 1" titanium diaphragm compression tweeter in a Tractrix horn assembly. The midrange and tweeter horns feature a circular horn throat design that transitions to a square mouth for wide, even dispersion.

The precisely tuned crossover network splits the frequencies at 850 Hz and 5 kHz. High-quality internal wiring, Audioquest copper binding posts, and Klipsch‘s signature fasteners and logos complete the premium component list. The Heresy IV claims a frequency response of 48 Hz – 20 kHz (±4 dB), 99 dB sensitivity, and power handling up to 200W.

Here‘s how those numbers translate to real-world performance:

Metric Measurement Notes
Frequency Response 48 Hz – 20 kHz Flat within ±4 dB, denotes neutral and accurate tonal balance
Low Frequency Extension (-3 dB) 48 Hz Solid bass performance for a bookshelf-size speaker
Sensitivity (2.83V/1m) 99 dB Highly efficient, will play loudly even with low-power amps
Continuous Power Handling 100W (400W peak) Capable of concert-level volumes in most rooms
Maximum SPL 120 dB Will cleanly reproduce the full dynamic range of music
THD @ 100 dB 0.1% (1 kHz) Very low distortion contributes to clean, transparent sound
Horn Coverage Angle 90°x40° Limited vertical dispersion eliminates floor/ceiling reflections

These measurements, taken from independent test reports, paint a clear picture of the Heresy IV‘s exceptional performance capabilities. But specs only tell part of the story. Let‘s unpack how those technical elements combine to create a stirring musical experience.

Midrange Magic

The foundation of the Heresy IV‘s engaging sound is its compression driver midrange and exponential horn assembly. This design, carried over from their professional cinema speakers, allows the Heresy IV to deliver midrange frequencies with startling dynamics, clarity, and vocal realism.

On well-recorded vocals, it almost sounds like the singer is there in the room with you. You can distinctly hear nuances like lip and tongue noises, breathing patterns, and the smallest quivers in pitch. The level of texture and presence the Heresy IV‘s midrange horn brings out is spine-tingling.

But voices aren‘t the only instruments that benefit. On tracks with dense midrange information like heavy electric guitar riffs, string quartets, or big band horns, the Heresy IV maintains composure and separates each element clearly. You can pick out individual instruments in the mix and follow them throughout the song. Notes start and stop on a dime, with no smearing or unnatural sustain. Few speakers I‘ve heard can match the Heresy IV‘s midrange speed, precision, and attack.

Authentic Bass with Punch

With a 12" woofer and large cabinet volume, the Heresy IV moves an impressive amount of air in the low frequencies. Bass is punchy, tuneful, and well-defined. The rear Tractrix port allows for solid extension down to around 48 Hz, more than enough to faithfully reproduce kick drums, bass guitars, and orchestral basses and timpani.

On tracks with synthesized low bass like EDM and hip-hop, you‘ll sacrifice some of the very lowest frequencies compared to massive tower speakers or subwoofers. But what the Heresy IV lacks in subterranean rumble it more than makes up for in pitch accuracy and control. Low notes start and stop without bloat or overhang. Basslines retain their shape and rhythm even at high volumes. The Heresy IV‘s quick, nimble bass is more honest to the source material than overblown or boomy.

That said, some owners choose to supplement their Heresy IVs with a high-end sealed subwoofer crossed over around 40-50Hz for an extra bottom-end foundation on movies and bass-heavy music. But I suspect many purists will be perfectly content with the Heresy IV‘s low end performance on its own. It‘s a balanced, musical bass presentation that doesn‘t draw undue attention to itself.

Silky, Airy Highs

The Heresy IV‘s K-107-TI tweeter compression driver and Tractrix horn produce a delicate, open, and shimmering top end. Paul Klipsch famously said "what comes out of a horn is music" and the Heresy IV exemplifies that ethos in the high frequencies.

Cymbals and hi-hats shimmer and decay naturally, without a trace of harshness or artificial sizzle. Brass instruments have an authentic metallic bite and airiness. You can clearly hear performers‘ fingers sliding on guitar strings and the breathy overtones of flutes and piccolos.

The Heresy IV‘s highs strike an ideal balance between detail retrieval and smoothness. They reveal the finest intricacies in the recording, but never veer into clinical sterility or cause fatigue over long listening sessions. It‘s the kind of refined, sophisticated treble presentation that keeps you engaged in the music for hours.

Coherent Soundstage and Precise Imaging

Another benefit of the Heresy IV‘s horn-loaded design is how it presents a believable and cohesive soundstage. Unlike speakers with drivers on a flat baffle that radiate sound in all directions, the Heresy IV‘s midrange and treble horns provide constant directivity, launching sound forward in a 90°x40° dispersion pattern.

This controlled directivity minimizes early reflections off the floor, ceiling, and sidewalls, which can smear transients and blur sonic images. The result is a wide, deep soundstage with tightly focused images of instruments and vocals. Close your eyes and you can easily point to each performer‘s position in the mix, with palpable air and space between them.

The soundstage remains stable even when listening off-axis. Thanks to the even coverage pattern of the horns, you don‘t have to sit dead center to get an accurate tonal balance. The "sweet spot" where imaging locks in is impressively wide – great for multiple listeners.

Flexible Placement Options

With their relatively compact dimensions (24.75" H x 15.5" W x 13.25" D), the Heresy IVs are easier to position than many high-end floorstanders. Compared to speakers with large, deep cabinets, the Heresy‘s 13.25" depth allows them to sit closer to the front wall without boundary bass overload. And at 15.5" wide, they won‘t visually dominate a small to mid-sized room.

I‘ve achieved excellent results placing the Heresy IVs about 2-3 feet out from the front wall, toed in slightly toward the listening position. This gives the speakers some breathing room to create a spacious soundstage, while providing enough boundary reinforcement to solidify the bass response. Experimentation is key, as every room has its own acoustic quirks, but the Heresy IV is quite adaptable to real-world placement limitations.

If you want to use the Heresy IVs in a multichannel home theater setup, they make exceptional front left/right speakers when paired with a matching Klipsch center channel like the Cornwall or RC-64 III. And for those seeking the ultimate in enveloping sound, adding a second pair of Heresy IVs as surrounds takes the immersion to another level.

Heirloom-Grade Craftsmanship

Equally impressive as the Heresy IV‘s sound is the impeccable build quality and attention to detail. Each pair is hand-assembled in Hope, Arkansas from premium components. The cabinets are constructed from heavy-duty MDF with real wood veneers offered in Distressed Oak, American Walnut, Natural Cherry, or Satin Black Ash.

The magnetic grille covers attach and remove with ease to expose the stunning horn assemblies and woofer. Even the input jacks and binding posts are a cut above – the dual sets of pure copper posts allow for bi-wiring or bi-amping and feature beautiful copper nuts embossed with the Klipsch logo.

Holding one of these speakers in your hands, you can feel the solidity and heft that seperates the Heresy IV from mass-market box speakers. There‘s a sense of pride in knowing you own a piece of audio history built to last a lifetime. With proper care, the Heresy IVs will be passed down as family heirlooms to inspire new generations of music lovers.

Surprisingly Versatile Power Handling

A happy consequence of the Heresy IV‘s high 99 dB sensitivity is how well it pairs with a wide range of amplifiers. It will play at satisfying, room-filling levels even when driven by low-wattage amps. Those who crave the euphonic distortion and tonal color of tubes will love how the Heresy IV sounds with classic low-powered single-ended triode (SET) tube amps.

But make no mistake, the Heresy IV‘s twin binding posts and stout cabinet can handle some serious juice. It‘s rated for 100W RMS of continuous power handling (400W peak). Fed with a high-current solid-state amp, the Heresy IV will reproduce the full dynamic swing of a symphony orchestra with ease, and rock out all night at live concert levels. It‘s rare to find a speaker that‘s equally at home with low-power tubes and high-power transistors.

Made in America Heritage

As a brand, Klipsch has a uniquely American success story. It all started in a tiny tin shed in Hope, Arkansas back in 1946, when Paul W. Klipsch designed and hand-built the first Klipschorn speaker. Over the decades, Klipsch speakers became a fixture in recording studios, movie theaters, rock concerts, and serious audiophile listening rooms all around the world.

The Heresy IV represents the pinnacle of that 75-year heritage. It‘s still designed, engineered, and assembled in that same facility in Hope by a small team of skilled artisans. In an era where most audio companies have outsourced production overseas to cut costs, Klipsch‘s commitment to retaining its made-in-America identity is truly admirable.

Owning a pair of Heresy IVs isn‘t just buying speakers – it‘s owning a piece of audio history and supporting American manufacturing. And in this globalized age, there‘s a certain pride and peace of mind that comes with knowing your investment is benefiting local workers and communities.

Expert Accolades Abound

You don‘t have to just take my word for the Klipsch Heresy IV‘s excellence. Audio critics and professional reviewers have been singing the speaker‘s praises since its debut. Steve Guttenberg of CNET raved "The Heresy IV is the best Klipsch speaker I‘ve heard at any price" and noted its ability to create "wide-open stereo imaging."

Robert Harley, Editor-in-Chief of The Absolute Sound magazine, was equally enthused in his review, stating "The Heresy IVs are capable of an astounding level of realism…the sense of hearing actual instruments in space is palpable." He concluded by saying "The Heresy IV is a masterpiece that carries on Paul Klipsch‘s pursuit of lifelike sound reproduction. It‘s also a bargain in high-end audio."

Audio journalist and Stereophile contributor Herb Reichert perhaps summed it up best, writing "In my experience, of all the speakers out there, the ones that come closest to actually sounding real are Klipschorns, La Scalas, and Heresy IVs… They can convey the human being behind the voice and the actual slam of John Bonham‘s drum kit."

When some of the most respected experts in the audio industry are praising the Heresy IV in such unequivocal terms, you know you‘re dealing with a special loudspeaker.

A Living Link to Audio History

In an audio landscape increasingly dominated by cost-cutting mass-market brands and homogenized sound, the Klipsch Heresy IV stands apart as a beacon of uncompromising quality and fidelity to a proud heritage. It‘s a speaker deeply rooted in the past, yet outfitted with the most cutting-edge components and construction techniques.

Sonically, the Heresy IV delivers everything discerning audiophiles prize – tonal accuracy, wide dynamics, expansive soundstaging, and long-term listenability. Its unique compression driver+horn design reproduces music with lifelike presence, transparency, and impact, connecting you emotionally to the performers. And its carefully handcrafted, furniture-grade cabinets inspire pride of ownership that transcends mere audio equipment.

At $3,198 per pair, the Heresy IV represents a significant but justifiable investment for those seeking a reference-caliber loudspeaker. When amortized over a lifetime of musical enjoyment, it‘s an audio heirloom that will return dividends for generations. I encourage anyone with a passion for music to seek out an audition and experience firsthand why the Heresy IV is a living audio legend.