I knew of the KLH Model Sixes and KLH Model Seventeens, but I don't know that I had heard of the KLH Model Twenty-fours until I saw a couple of pair on Craigslist recently.
Recommend this product?
KLH was one of the most respected manufacturers of loudspeakers during the late 1960s and early 1970s, and their speakers competed with the likes of AR, Dynaco, and Advent.
The KLH Model Twenty-four is a small acoustic suspension speaker with an 8" woofer and a cone tweeter that looks relatively pedestrian. I'm not sure of its exact vintage, but my guess is that it's from the very late 1960s or early 1970s. The Twenty-four's cabinet is small, only about 18" tall x 10 1/4" wide x 7 1/2" deep. The cabinet is finished in real veneer (it looks like walnut) and the grilles are a beige color, somewhat darker than the grilles of the famous Dynaco A-25s. Overall, the appearance is typical of quality speakers of that era: classy and understated.
The speaker wire jacks are similar to those on Advent speakers. They do not accept banana plugs (the A-25s' terminals do) but the metal finger screws are of high quality and can accept bare wire of various sizes. They screw in and out easily with thumb and index finger and will not drive you nuts when attaching your speaker wires.
I have no idea what the retail price of these speakers was in the early 1970s, but my guess is that it was under $100/pair, or perhaps $100 exactly, discounted to $70/pair or so. Remember that at that time, Dynaco A-25s retailed for only $160/pair and could be had for $110/pair at your local stereo store.
Incredibly, I saw a handful of pairs of these KLH Model Twenty-fours for as low as $25/pair on Craigslist and Ebay a couple of weeks ago. A pair of classic speakers from the late 1960s or early 1970s with real walnut veneer, and in working condition, for under $50 PER PAIR? Right. Of course, I had to snap up a pair just to see what they were like.
The pair I bought finished up beautifully (I restore the cabinets of all vintage loudspeakers I buy). The quality of wood is comparable to that on older Dynaco, AR, Advent and Klipsch speakers. The drivers appeared to be intact, with no tears or decay in the treated cloth woofer surrounds. So I set 'em up to give them a listen.
My first impression was that the KLH Model Twenty-fours sounded a bit bright. I suspect a 1 or 2 db peak in the 2-5 khz range. They were not quite as warm and mellow sounding as the Dynaco A-25s or Large Advents I'd been listening to. But the Twenty-fours were also quite crisp and clear, with low distortion and nice articulation. And the bass, while it didn't go particularly deep, was tight and "tuneful."
On classical music on my local classical music radio station, the KLH Model Twenty-fours sounded good, but a bit more forward than my A-25s or the Large Advents. But, like the Klipsch Heresys I'd worked on a couple of months ago, they were not fatiguing. I was actually surprised by how clean their high end sounded. I sometimes missed the warmth of the other speakers I'd been listening to lately (Dynaco A-25s; Large Advents; Klipsch Heresys, my reference Cambridge Soundworks Towers), but overall the sound was quite satisfying.
On Govi's Seventh Heaven, a CD of New Age guitar music with a mellow Latin feel, the KLH Twenty-Fours were fantastic. The slight upper midrange/lower treble peak really brought out the sound of fingers on guitar strings, and the overall clean and uncluttered sound made for a nice listening experience. Even the bass, while not deep, was tight enough to provide a decent foundation to the music. The musicians were presented behind the plane of the loudspeakers, and the overall sound was quite airy and spacious.
On Miles Davis's jazz clasic, Kind of Blue, I was reminded of the Klipsch Heresys in that that the horns and saxes were a bit forward and very lively. The cymbals were very clear and less down in level than through the Dynaco A-25s or Large Advents. However, the KLH Model Twenty-fours did not quite share the Heresy's sense of unrestricted Dynamcic range. Or am I assuming this to be the case due to their small size? As I listen again, I'm actually quite impressed by the Twenty-four's ability to play jazz music quite loud without sounding strained. One shortcoming: to make the walking bass lines fully satisfying, I had to turn on my Cambridge Soundworks 12" subwoofer. With the sub firing, the experience is really enjoyable!
On Greg Brown's The Poet Game, a CD of dark and delicious folk music, Brown's voice sounded nicely suspended in space, but a bit of the warmth I was used to was diminished a bit. When I turned on my subwoofer and moved the crossover frequency up to 70 hz or so, the overall presentation was very nice.
Overall, I grew to like the sound of the KLH Model Model Twenty-fours quite a bit. At first, I was a bit put off my their slightly forward presentation relative to the Dynaco A-25s and Large Advents, but after awhile, I found myself enjoying the extra detail and articulation. These are very clean sounding speakers.
One advantage the KLH Model Twenty-fours have over several vintage speakers (including Small Advents, Large Advents and many AR-4s) is that their woofer surrounds are made of some kind of treated cloth that does not deteriorate over time--at least not as fast as the foam surrounds of many vintage speakers. Buy a pair of Large Advents and the odds are you'll have to replace the woofer surrounds at a cost of $40 or so. Dynaco speakers have rubber woofer surrounds that share the KLH Model Twenty-four woofer's durability.
Further, because the KLH Model Twenty-fours have have no tweeter level attenuator (basically a knob that adjusts relative tweeter level), you do not have to worry about the contacts on that attenuator corroding and making the tweeters go silent. This is a problem with many AR-4s. So, as with the famous Dynaco A-25s, you have a speaker you can take home, hook up, and be be pretty confident it will keep working for many years.
To conclude, if you are looking for a small, attractive, high quality vintage pair of speakers, I'd consider the KLH Model Twenty-four, if you can find a pair. They're likely to be less expensive than a pair of Dynaco A-25s or Large Advents, and they appear to be quite durable. Their sound is smooth but perhaps a bit more forward than some other good small speakers of their era, and the level of detail is surprising for a speaker over 30 years old.
A pleasant surprise!
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