Sometimes we encounter wireless speakers that try to do too much—and the awkwardly named Klipsch The Three, at first glance, seems like it could fit that description. At $399, the speaker isn’t cheap, but for the price, it streams audio via Bluetooth or your Wi-Fi network, and it can connect to any RCA sound source or a regular 3.5mm output device like your phone. It’s also a multi-room system that can access internet radio and streaming services like Tidal and Spotify via a free app. We expected this jack-of-all-trades to be a pain to operate and set up, but it’s actually one of the more user-friendly multi-room speakers we’ve tested. Better yet, it sounds excellent, with powerful bass response, clear highs, and an impressive maximum volume, earning it our Editors’ Choice award.
Available in ebony or walnut wood finishes, The Three’s handsome exterior measures 7.0 by 13.7 by 8.0 inches (HWD) and features some retro design flourishes, like copper knobs and an old-school Klipsch logo on the front grille. The system is not portable, and its 10-pound weight rests on rubber-covered wooden feet to prevent movement due to vibration.
The grille itself is black woven
The back panel houses all of the connection points: a USB port marked Service, another USB port for playing digital audio from your computer (a lengthy cable is included), RCA inputs for the
Klipsch includes a remote control with a power button, a mute button, controls for play/pause, track forward/backward, volume up/down, dedicated source buttons for all of the aforementioned inputs, and a button marked LED that turns all of the LED lights on the speaker on or off. It’s notable that the remote, which runs on two AAA batteries (included), has some options that aren’t on the speaker itself (track navigation, playback, mute, and LED). Of course, many users will be able to control these functions directly from their paired phones, tablets, or computers.
Like most wireless speakers that use both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (and can be expanded to multi-room setups, like the Sonos Play:1), The Three utilizes an app for the Wi-Fi setup process. The Klipsch Stream app is free for Android and iOS devices, and once you’re connected to your wireless network, you can stream from services like Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music,
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” The Three delivers intense
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with little in the way of deep bass in its mix, sounds rich and full here, but you don’t get mega-bass exaggeration on the drums, something that can easily happen on bass-forward sound systems. Instead, you get some extra low-mid richness on Callahan’s baritone vocals, but also plenty of high-mid crispness and clarity. The vocals get a
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop gets the ideal amount of high-mid presence, accentuating its sharp attack and allowing it to slice through the layers of the mix. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with gusto, but not boosted to an insanely high level—true bass
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, get an added dose of
Klipsch’s The Three sounds fantastic, and while it isn’t cheap, it certainly performs to our expectations for this price range. Its retro design is matched with a thoroughly modern, multi-room-capable wireless streaming app that’s easy to use. Throw in RCA connections for turntables and stereo gear, and you have a versatile, excellent-sounding system. Most speakers we encounter that try to do this much end up being a pain to operate, but nothing about The Three’s operation is annoying, and its audio performance is impressive.
In this price range, we’re also fans of the Urbanears Baggen, the Sonos Play:5, and the Sonos Play:1—like The Three, these are multi-room wireless options. If you’re looking to spend less, the JLab Block Party is a solid wireless multi-room system worth checking out. But in this price range, Klipsch has delivered a winner. The Three earns our Editors’ Choice award for its handsome design, ease of use, versatility, and compelling audio performance.