on January 5, 2012
Disclaimer!! Audio "quality" is ultimately a subjective notion that depends greatly on personal taste, room characteristics and recording quality, among other things. While this review represents my own experience with the G17, prospective buyers would be wise to test this system in person, with their own music, before drawing any definite conclusions.
I purchased this unit as soon as it became available. I'd been looking for a complete, compact audio solution for my NYC apartment and, being a satisfied owner of other Klipsch audio products, I decided to try it out. The room I wanted to use it in is small, maybe 10' x 12', so I though the G17 may be the right size for what I needed. Basically, I had three criteria: sound quality, physical size, and input/connectivity options. While the size of the unit is certainly compact, it was the sound and lack of input options that ultimately led me to return the product for something different altogether.
First off, the presentation of the G17 was good. The included cotton gloves were a nice touch that prevented me from smearing finger prints all over the very glossy unit. It's very nice looking and the magnetic grille cover is clever and works well. The build quality is excellent. The unit fairly hefty and very stable...no vibrations, etc. The size of the G17 is perfect for small spaces and being able to wall-mount is an option I would have taken advantage of had I kept it. It was very, very easy to set up and I was streaming music from various Mac's and my iPhone (4, not 4S) in 15 minutes or so.
Here is where I was torn on the G17. The sound is good overall...very crisp and clear sounding with ample amounts of bass (mid-bass, anyways.) Instrumental recordings were dynamic and lively and vocals sounded crisp. However, the midrange was weak. Because much of the "oomph" in the music I enjoy lives in the midrange frequencies, I was left feeling unsatisfied with the lack of power and "weight" in the sound. Due of the airy top-end and weak mids everything sounded rather "light" and somewhat small, regardless of what music I played. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's not what I was looking for. The G17 is not an ideal audio solution if you like to "feel" the weight of, say, electric guitars in rock music. Guitars in particular live in the midrange, so I was left feeling uninspired. There was a genuinely surprising amount of bass coming from this thing which sounded quite good. But understand that this is achieved by increasing the amount of "mid-bass", or, the highest end of the bass frequencies. It is physically impossible for such a small enclosure with small woofers to pump out true low-end bass frequency so if you're expecting anything along the lines of what a sub-woofer provides, prepare to be disappointed. Low-end rumble and thumping kick drums are not happening here. That said, there is a good amount of tight low-end that will satisfy many listeners. Now, because this is a single sound bar, don't expect anything in the way of stereo separation. Again, it's just impossible to recreate stereo imaging and/or the wide sound stage achieved through two speakers set apart from each other. Basically, the G17 has a rather one-dimensional sound when compared to just about any pair of stereo speakers that have at least 6 feet of separation between them. But I suppose that's to be expected so I can't knock it there.
The other gripe I had was lack of input options. Yes, I know, this is an Airplay device and it works well as such, but for $550 I would have liked some kind of physical input option other than the 1/8" analog input. Because I had the G17 situated below my HDTV, I wanted to use the Klipsch to run audio from the TV. My TV has a headphone jack which I connected to the G17, but the sound was weak and thin...really not a marked improvement over the built-in TV speakers, which surprised me. I know it wasn't made for this purpose, but I wasn't looking for much... just a decent improvement over the stock TV speakers, really. While TV audio was better with the G17, it was not nearly good enough to justify the price.
I realize now that I expected too much from the G17. Partly because of the premium price, I was hoping for audio characteristics that the laws of physics would never allow. To sum it up, the G17 sounds good and will work well for someone looking for a compact, simple airplay solution, but those looking for a big, powerful sound to replace a stereo system need not apply. I ended up going with the Audioengine A5+ speakers w/ S8 subwoofer and an external DAC (highly recommended for digital music, really improves sound quality) paired to the optical connection on my Apple TV2 for airplay streaming. Granted, this is a more expensive and larger system, but there is simply no comparison. The Audioengine setup sounds truly phenomenal and completely blows away the G17 (and everything else priced comparably) in every conceivable way. It also sounds wonderful running audio from my TV via RCA inputs. With this, my set-up for digital audio is now complete and I am very satisfied with the results.
In conclusion, the G17 is a nice-sounding, easy to use airplay solution that may be perfect for some, but it simply cannot achieve the level of sound quality, stereo imaging and power that a pair of good quality bookshelf speakers and a sub woofer will provide (Which, through the process of evaluating the G17, I realized is what I was really looking for.) Because my decision ultimately came down to my own tastes, and because this is an airplay system and not a full audio system, I went with 4 stars instead of 3.
on July 22, 2012
I have the Klipsch 2.1 stereo system and wanted to go to the next level for a bedroom musical sound system. I listened and shopped for the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin but found it to be unattractive and more expensive. Than Klipsch came out with the G-17 Airplay Sound System and I was quickly interested since some reviews claimed it was good as the Zep or very close to it for less money and in a very attractive package.
Hit with "buy fever", I ordered it, without ever listening to it, and after a quick setup, I was soon disenchanted and ready to return it for lack of volume, mid-range, and what I felt was muddy sound. However, I remembered that when I got the Audio-Techica M50s Monitor headphones, they sounded similar but after breaking them in, the sound improved amazingly, so I decided to give the Klipsch G-17 a chance.
After running the G-17 for several hours, and hooking them up to my headphone amp (Behringer HA400, $22 at Amazon), which was required for the sound levels that I wanted, it slowly became evident that these had qualities similar to the headphones, and eventually the sound simply "wowed" me with decent bass, clear, crisp, accurate sound, and undistorted room filling volume. I had not noticed any burn in time mentioned in any of the previous reviews, but for me, it certainly worked. Also, there does not appear to me to be any strain or distortion when using the headphone amp to attain my preferred sound levels.
Stereo separation is limited, but the sound is excellent for my kind of music which includes all types except hard rock. If you want booming bass and wall shaking volume, look elsewhere.
I connect directly to my computer, so I cannot respond to any issues with the other types that it supports, but other reviewers seem to have it covered, as well as more details of its looks and operation.
In conclusion, all speakers have their own personality, and these satisfy all the requirements that I was looking for. I would probably rate them at 4.5 stars for the limited separation, but when listening to them for long periods of time, it seems insignificant with no listener fatigue or discomfort. Just pure pleasure!
Update #1: For curiosities sake, I recently shopped for a DAC (Digital to Analog) converter after reading a review of the Behringer UCA222 from someone who used it for listening to music through his computer and was amazed about the improved sound. So I bought the Behringer UCA222 from Amazon just to see if it would improve the sound from my speakers (Klipsch G-17's). I disconnected the Behringer Amp (HA400), connected the UCA222 to my USB port on my computer and WOW! It really did improve the sound and I also could actually listen to my Audio Technic Headphones without an amplifier. Wish I had tried this before but I am almost a "0" when it comes to electronic techs, but this really did work extremely well and cost less than $30. Well worth it for me and glad I was cruisin' Amazon for fun stuff! You might have to get an RCA male to 3.5 female audio plug cable splitter, but that's less than $2.00. [ASIN:B0023BYDHK Behringer UCA222 U-Control Ultra-Low Latency 2 In/2 Out USB Audio Interface with Digital Output And Downloadable Software Bundle]]
on December 18, 2013
This purchase was one of the very best I made this year. After several failed attempts at finding a good bluetooth/wireless speaker that fit my needs, had great sound, good design, and flexible functionality. While the G-17 is by no means perfect (more below), I gave it 5 stars because, compared to everything else I tried, it was as close as I could get!
1.) The Sound
First things first, it doesn't matter what the features are or how pretty the thing is if the sound isn't there for you. This is the classic Klipsch sound. While I am by no means an audiophile, the overall sound quality of Klipsch speakers has always been favorable to my ear when compared with its competitors. The three I've been able to extensively compare with are Polk and Bose, and the newer Sonos Systems by Pure. Klipsch has a great low end, something I found lacking in my last speaker, the Bose SoundDock II. I found the SoundDock II to be heavily focused on the upper registers, which could at just the right moment, say a breakout horn line at the peak of a song, elevate the material it was reproducing. At other times, however, it would become distracting, especially when it seemed it was taking away from the already lackluster low end, an area I have found typically lacking in most Bose products. Search the web and you will find legions of Bose detractors, and I want to clearly state that I am not one of them (more on that below). However, to my ears, I just have to give the sound nod to Klipsch, which handles the whole spectrum with fidelity and ease, bringing forth the music as i believe it was intended to sound, consistently, and beautifully.
To me, Klipsch takes the cake hands down here. This speaker is beautiful, with or without the included grill. The package comes with white gloves, an inclusion that may or may have been somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but when opening this package, you clearly get the idea that you have purchased something high end. While this may not be important to you, to me, someone who thrifts his way around eBay and often settles for second hand goods, doing my best to convince myself that presentation is not important, and looks can't determine quality, it is nice to receive a package without the corners cut and a product that was designed with both functionality and beauty in mind. The speaker comes with a quality stand, and can also be wall mounted. One thing I haven't been able to find out is if there is still any place to buy "custom grilles" with your own photos, a unique feature offered by Klipsch when the speaker first came out. I think this option has likely been terminated, but would love to hear if it hasn't! Also of note, this speaker is a High Gloss Black and while beautiful, is a dust and fingerprint magnet, so get yourself a good microfiber or electronic cleaning cloth and keep it close!
3.) Wireless Functionality
This is the make or break it point for many shoppers I believe, and I know it was for me. For me, I had a couple priorities when shopping for a speaker. One was that the speaker be wireless, not just Bluetooth. While Bluetooth is obviously the easiest, and most widely utilized connection method, I wanted the enhanced sound quality without the loss of fidelity that Bluetooth inevitably causes, as well as the control over a much larger range that connecting via a WiFi network provides. Further, I am heavily invested in the Apple Ecosystem, so for me, Airplay was a huge plus. There are still, I believe, at the time of this writing, few affordable quality Airplay speakers. Airplay, Apple's proprietary wireless connection method, has worked great for me. Now here is where a few notes are necessary, as the few negative reviews I have seen around seem to center around issues of connectivity.
Get the latest firmware. Doing so, while not the most intuitive of processes, seems to fix most issues. It also adds support for many of the G-17's hidden features. It supposedly supports DLNA for those with PC's or HDTV's with this technology, and now supports WiFi direct, a lossless connection solution that allows the G-17 to create it's own private wireless environment, which would be great somewhere there isn't already a wireless connection readily available, and also helps to ease set up woes. I have not tried either, and cannot vouch for there usability, but I am happy to know I have the option should I decide to leave the Apple Ecosystem. One gripe a buyer might have here is the lack of documentation or support for any method that is not Airplay, or any features added since its release. At this time, I would say, it seems like you are very much on your own for most other methods. The functionality is there, but I was hard pressed to find clear instructions on any of it. A great resource here is the Klipsch support forum, where it seems there are still members of the Kilpsch support community actively answering queries and giving support. Don't be discouraged as I was when you can't find the G-17 on the website, it appears to have been discontinued recently, at least from direct sale by Klipsch, but is still very much supported from what I can tell on the forums. The fact that the firmware update added so much functionality at all clearly shows the professionalism of the company and their ability to stand behind their products, as it does not appear that they did so to use for marketing, but simply at the behest of customer requests, a huge + in my book.
b.) Networking Notes
Here, as with any wireless speaker, is where many people get frustrated. Often coming in with little networking know how, maybe from a Bluetooth setup, it can be mystifying if a steady connection is not made right away, or it does not seem to work out of box. In my experience, even with the old firmware it shipped with, the connection was almost perfect out of box. The few problems I did have were either solved by the Firmware upgrade, a 10 minute process, or were not really Klipsch's fault to begin with. Here is where it can get complicated.
First let me say, that by comparison, the Klipsch wireless setup was light years ahead of the struggle I had trying to get a steady reliable connection to the newer Sonos speakers offered by Pure. Those speakers, I believe, had some firmware work that needed to be done, as nothing I tried would guarantee a continuous steady connection, and even when a connection was made, it took forever to link and would be forgotten the second the music stopped. Bare in mind, those speakers were not airplay, but simply wireless, and required that all music be played through the Sonos app or via a web interface on a laptop, a huge misstep in my opinion, although I believe that this was being addressed by Pure in a much needed firmware push coming around Christmas. For me, I wasn't willing to wait 2 months for a usable speaker.
Now for problems with the G 17. One slightly frustrating issue was that my Macbook Pro, with the latest 10.9 Mavericks OS, seemed at times unable to connect to the speaker. A simple "option" click on the speaker icon in the top right corner would show it as an external output option, but clicking it would do nothing. Note, that to play through iTunes this was not necessary, as I could still hit the Airplay button; but in order to use the speaker as a complete sound output, for say streaming a movie or using Spotify, I was having issues. Turns out the problem came from some glitch with the Maverick OS and how it handled returning from "sleep" after a period of non use. A simple, but annoying fix has been to go to the application Activity Monitor in Utilities when this happens. Find the "coreaudiod" daemon (a non user started process of the core operating system) and simply force quit it. This just restarts it, giving it the "kick" it needs to both see and connect to the G 17. If you are more of a power user on Macs and are experiencing this problem, I have seen some useful scripts for "Automator" and terminal commands that seem to simplify this process, but I have not tired them and therefore cannot vouch for their use. I also don't know how widespread it is, or if any correlating problems exist for other devices. I have had no problems whatsoever with my iPhone 5 running the latest iOS, even if the Klipsch's synopsis does not explicitly state that it is supported.
Another thing that may be an issue for you is there seems to be a slight delay in responsiveness. Pushing the volume up or down buttons on my Macbook Pro results in about a 1 to 2 second delay, noticeable by the audible response to the button push. I believe this is common with Airplay products of all kinds, correct me if I'm wrong. For me this has only been noticeable in said scenario. The Apple TV compensates for this automatically, and works perfectly, no mismatched video and sound, and I can even pause and play Netflix, etc from the Klipsch remote, and I don't believe I have noticed any mismatched video and sound using any other programs or hardware.
As for other network problems, I will just say that if you are experiencing drop outs every couple seconds or other issues, don't be quick to place the blame. Wireless networking is complex, much more so than Bluetooth, as I have found out the hard way before. Troubleshooting everything from your ISP to the physical cable running into your house, to your router/modem setup, computer hardware/setup, G 17 firmware, the relation of the G 17 to the other pieces of your network, the Network channel you reside on and how crowded it is in your neighborhood, whether you connect via a personal or corporate VPN, your firewall settings, and any networking issues the device you are trying to connect may be experiencing, is a daunting task. It can be complicated and intimidating for someone who runs into trouble, and often genuinely beyond the ability of any singular customer service rep from any one place to resolve, although they will likely try! I have found the most help is available in forums such as the Klipsch forum, SmallNetworkBuilders forum, and for my personal setup, the Apple and MacRumors forums. What I found to be an issue for me, in the past, was after upgrading to Mavericks OS on a Macbook Pro, I was getting intermittent dropouts every 5 seconds or so, not just on G 17, but I came to find out in general my connection was "dropping packets" every couple seconds, or in other words, losing data. This has turned out to be an Operating System problem, not one that could have been solved by Klipsch, my ISP, or the manufacturer of either my Modem or Router. To properly stream music from my computer via wireless through Airplay or any other method, I had to fix the OS. Others have reported problems with various Airport products, so check and make sure that there aren't compatibility issues, and even if you see one, keep looking, as most that I saw while doing my own research seemed to have been resolved.
If this sounds scary, don't worry, you are unlikely to face any serious problems with the setup and once its all figured out, at least for me, it is has been pretty flawless, working across the board to play music from my laptop, phone, serve as a speaker for my apple tv, which in turn serves as another vector for my iTunes server, etc etc. I am pretty much all linked up, with almost too MANY options to get whatever I want going through the G 17!
One other factor that may be of consideration, is that the G 17 has no native equalizer. Changing the audio settings is to be done with whatever you are using as an input device, such as your native sound settings on your computer, phone, etc. If you are lacking these settings in your input device, you won't have the option to change them. Honestly, I don't think I've really changed mine at all on any devices.
4.) Customer Service
I have not yet dealt with customer service. I can only speak of one of its competitors, and as I said earlier I am no Bose hater, and was amazed by there above and beyond customer service after an incident I had with my SoundDock II, so Klipsch has some pretty big shoes to fill! I initially felt a little put off after I checked there site for some help and found no mention of the G 17 after some clicking around, and realized that it had likely been discontinued. However it seems it is still well supported, and I believe Klipsch is also known for backing up there products in a big way. The continued firmware updates also showed me that my purchase wasn't dated before I even received it. Time will tell, but I don't see this area being a problem!
Hope this helped clear up some questions some of you might have had, without having to do as much research as I did. I for one am very happy with my purchase, and would recommend this speaker strongly to anyone, especially at the prices that are being offered, which is the one thing I didn't touch on much in my review, as I believe it speaks for itself!