Last night, I had a chance to truly audition the Klipsch ICON WF-35 towers. Just to give you an idea of the room they are set up in, the room's dimensions is approximately 25 x 18 x 9. The ceiling is a drop ceiling type with I would assume acoustically treated panels. The walls are mostly covered with wood with some areas revealing drywall. In Magnolia style, the AVRs are on the left wall on shelves and the Def Techs and WF-34/35's are positioned on the right wall. Along with the speakers, is a tv stand with a 46 LCD on top. A WC-24 is on the lower shelf of the stand. Flanking the tv, the speakers sets were in this order outside in: Def Tech 7002, 7004, 7006, Klipsch WF-35, WF-34. At the front of the room sits a pair of Klipsch ICON XF-48's and a pair of Vienna Acoustics Grand Bachs and a pair of Grand Mozarts. They flanked a tv stand with a 50" flat panel. In the rear of the room, sat a pair of Martin Logan's flanking another tv stand and flat panel. In the center of the room was a circular shaped ottoman so you can basically face in any direction and listen to any speaker set from 8-9 ft away.
Now for the WF-35's! That's what we're here for isn't it?! The WF-35's on display was in the "Expresso". The WF-34's are in the "Cabernet". Both look very nice. Klipsch really did a nice job on the fit and finish of these speakers. The wood veneer is of decent quality. Much better than the lower model References 10's, 52's, 62's and yes, the 82's!, and smoother than the grainy finish of the 63's and 83's. The WF-35's sat about 9 ft apart measured from the center of the 2 driver, tilted in maybe 10 degrees. And I sat approximately 9 ft away, dead center, similar to the positioning of my speakers at home. The sources used, was a Denon AVR3808 and a Denon DVD1730 DVD player. This was strictly a 2 channel audition. No sub, no surround, no center, just straight pure direct. The WF-35's were on their own! The dvd player was connected with both analog and digital cables. How do I know this?! I checked!
During the audition, I switched back and forth to see if I could notice a difference. I couldn't!
The music I used was from 2 home made cd's with various artists. The CD's were recorded from my Cambridge Audio 640C to my Philips CDR950. Direct source of course! I started with some music from the contemporary jazz compilation CD-R. The first track is by Boney James from his Shine CD, his rendition of "Waters on March". Okay, these speakers are different from the References. At a volume level of -15, the WF-35's really surprised me with the midrange definition and low end response. The bass was balanced and even, not overbearing, bordering on smooth. The highs do not fall far from the tree. It's truly a Klipsch tweeter! Dynamic? No doubt. But, not to the point where it interfered with the midrange. Again, very balanced. Imaging was very good. That was truly revealed on the following track by Norman Brown and his rendition of Janet Jackson's "That's the Way Love Goes". The WF-35's made it seem as if Norman was sitting front and center picking away at his guitar! Even the Magnolia rep was amazed by the clarity. (A side note: the Mag Rep didn't seem too familiar with the Imaging concept!). He's a Def Tech fan from way back! I listened intently to 10 tracks and I've gotta tell you, Klipsch has a winner here! Understand, they are not as lively as the RF62's or 82's, but they are not supposed to be. Definitely more laid back, but more dynamic than any of the Def Techs on display. The next CD was a compilation of easy listening vocals. The first track was by Bobby Caldwell, "What You Won't Do, Do For Love". This particular track is HDCD encoded and the Denon AVR3808 recognized it immediately. Bobby Caldwell's voice was very clear and realistic and front and center. Again, the WF-35's ability to properly place his voice front and center was impressive. The sound stage was expansive and you could locate the positions of the instruments. The next track I listened to was from Natalie Cole's newest CD, Leavin, a remake of The Isley Brothers, Don't Say Goodnight. A very nice ballad and Ms. Cole does a beautiful job on the song. The WF-35's again reveals why it's a different speaker from the Reference series. Uncanny clarity comes to mind when trying to describe the performance. On this particular track, Ms. Cole uses an orchestra and you could literally decipher the location of the horns, percussions, strings and the background vocals. Did I say dynamic and revealing?! But not in your face like the Reference series tends to be, depending on what you're listening to!
Now I have to say that for all intents and purposes, the WF-35 does have its limitations just as any other speaker. The lows aren't bad. As a matter of fact, when we started the Boney James track, I thought one of the subwoofers in the room was active. The low end performance was that good. But compared to say, the Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grands, the Mozarts went deeper! But we are also talking a $1300 difference in price! Regardless, the WF-35's are nice speakers. I listened to 5 more tracks including Sting's We Shall Dance off the Fields of Gold CD. Here is where the WF's, in my opinion have the edge over the Reference 62 and 82. We all know that Sting's voice can at times reach terradactyl-like octaves! My RF-35's can be a little flamboyant at times, to put it mildly, especially when Sting is at full terradactyl! The WF-35's on the other hand, at that same passage during the song, where much smoother. That surprised me!
Now I must say that I did compare the sound of the WF-35's to the other speakers on display. Switching from the Klipsch's to the Def Tech 7004's, revealed that the WF-35's are more dynamic. Now some would describe that as Brighter. Some would say that the 7004's cleaned up the highs some. Others would probably say that the 7004's sound kind of dull. Without question, the 7004's low-end performance was a more pronounced, as it should be! With an integrated sub and amp, I would expect the low end to be deeper. Compared to the VA Mozarts, the WF-35's where downright boisterous in the high range. The Martin Logan Source 8's where very laid back but I discovered that those particular models are the most directional speakers I've ever experienced. When sitting and the grilles are at ear level, they are very accurate and balanced. When you stand up and your ears are above the grill, it's as if you've step outside of the room or put in ear plugs! When you sit back down and you're front and center, it seems as if you took the plugs out of your ears, or you walked back into the room! It was crazy. Even the Magnolia Rep was surprised by that difference!
Anyway, in conclusion, I like the Klipsch WF-35 Tower speaker. It will appeal to a broader customer base and if Best Buy/Magnolia does it right, the ICON series will be their best selling speaker. I'm by no means saying that it's the best speaker they offer. Not at all! But, I witnessed 4 different customers comment on the WF-35's sound compared to the Def Techs , VA's and ML's and I can tell you, each one of them were very impressed with the Klipsch! Descriptions were, cleaner, crisper, dynamic, more revealing, and transparent! Did you notice that I left out accurate?! That's truly up for debate and will no doubt be the topic of many debates on this particular speaker set.
The ICON WF Series is not a replacement for the Reference. It's an alternative for those who love the Klipsch sound but, not the look. Now you have a speaker that's just as efficient, with a slightly warmer sound and will be more compatible with in-home decors (WAF). If you have wondered about the Klipsch product and have been deterred because of submitted post on this website, do yourself a favor a visit your local BB/Magnolia location and check out the WF's. You will be pleasantly surprised!