Products in This Review
1x Klipsch Wireless Hub
4x Klipsch RP-140WM Bookshelf speakers
1x Klipsch RP-440WC Center Channel speaker
1x Klipsch RP-110WSW Subwoofer
...and the star of the show
1x Axiim Q UHD Media Center
A few months ago I bought the Klipsch Wireless Premiere system. I bought the hub, four bookshelf speakers, a center channel, and a sub. After the setup, the speakers sounded fantastic. I'm no audiophile, but I didn't hear any wireless artifacts, latency, or sync issues. They easily fill my apartment living room with great music and watching movies is delightful. After a few days, I started getting frustrated with the system. Speakers would drop out for a moment, or would disconnect completely. The hub interface was terrible: No EQ, laggy interface that looks like it came out of the 80s, ARC was flakey, and it would occasionally power on at 100% volume, waking up everyone in the house. I started looking for an alternative WISA compatible receiver and found the recently released Axiim Q UHD. This is my review/impression of using the Axiim Q UHD with the Klipsch speakers.
Bottom Line Up Front
If you have the Klipsch speakers already, are frustrated with the hub, and can spend the $1,000, you should buy the Axiim right now. It's what the Klipsch system should have been.
If you're putting together a new wireless system, I can recommend the Klipsch/Axiim combination. I would not recommend the Klipsch hub knowing that the Axiim exists. Axiim also has their own 5.1 and 7.1 speaker system that you can buy packaged with the hub, but I haven't heard those so don't have an opinion.
Unpacking the Axiim (and First Impressions)
Packaging is simple cardboard. No Apple-esque luxury packaging here. Everything is securely wrapped for protection and securely encased in cardboard sections. It comes with some standard fare: External power supply, remote, and batteries for the remote. It also comes with an HDMI cable, which is a nice addition. I wish it would have come with an IR receiver cable - the receiver remote is bluetooth and doesn't have a built-in IR receiver. The hub is larger than the Klipsch hub, feels heavy, and appears to be built well. It's MUCH smaller than a typical receiver because the amps are in the speakers rather than in the AVR. The bottom is rubbery which causes it to stay put in the media cabinet.
When I took the remote out of the bag, I was delighted because it's made out of that soft, velvety plastic/rubber that you see occasionally. It feels great in your hand. It's substantial, but small. At the bottom there are four colored buttons that you can assign to whatever functions you want. I customized two of mine to map to Cinema/Music profiles. I mapped the other two to HDMI1/HDMI2. The directional control feels very "tight". The stiffness requires that you push pretty hard on the buttons, which is a bit of a shame. The other buttons feel fine, but the directional control is the thing you're most likely to be using on the remote. I'm hoping it loosens up a bit with use. I control my media systems with a Harmony hub, so it's not a huge deal for me. Speaking of the Harmony, the Q UHD codes are in the Harmony database and everything works great. One thing to note is that the remote is Bluetooth instead of IR. This means that you can use it even when the Q UHD is hidden away behind a closed door in your media center. On the flipside, the Q UHD doesn't have a built-in IR port. To use it with the Harmony or any other IR Universal Remote, you'll need to buy an inexpensive IR receiver cable. It cost me $15 on Amazon, but would have been nice if it was included.
The hub is a huge improvement over the Klipsch. The Klipsch has 4 HDMI ports and only one supports 4K video. None of them support HDR. The Q UHD has 6 HDMI ports, all of which support 4K and HDR. The hub also has connections for the power brick, an eSata and 2x USB connections you can play music from, an ethernet port, an HDMI out with ARC, and an IR Receiver port. Inside it has 802.11 ac and Bluetooth. There's not much to it because speaker connections are wireless. One thing I would have liked is an analog/phono in. Also nice to have would be an optical in. It looks like an RCA to HDMI converter can be had on Amazon for about $15. Not sure what kind of quality to expect from a $15 box when hooking up a turntable. Optical to HDMI converters are around $40 and are probably better because they are digital->digital.
Physical setup is a piece of cake. Plug the TV into HDMI Out. Plug the Chromecase into HDMI1. Plug the Xbox One into HDMI2. Hook up the power and turn it on.
Software setup is a bit more complex. When you turn on the unit it shows onscreen instructions. The interface is LIGHTYEARS ahead of the Klipsch Hub. Colors are bright and appropriately rich. Fonts are legible and modern. Graphics are informative and crisp. Step one is setting up the speakers. My initial Search For Speakers resulted in zero of the speakers being found. I'm guessing that this would have "Just Worked" if I had purchased the matching Axiim speakers. It may have even worked if I had virgin Klipsch speakers. Because I had existing Klipsch speakers that had previously been connect to the Klipsch hub, I had to unplug each speaker, plug it back in, and hold the button on the back for a few seconds until the LED on the speaker started flashing. After some trial and error, I got all 6 of my speakers connected. Each speaker popped up in a list with a progress bar showing the firmware being updated as it joined the WISA network. I was a bit surprised that the firmware updated because they had already been updated to the latest on the Klipsch hub. I'm guessing that Axiim developed their own firmware and pushed their own version to the speakers. That made me a bit nervous, but everything seems to be working great. One blip here. I got all of the speakers successfully connected and mapped to their respective positions and pushed "Continue". The Q UHD took me back to the beginning of the setup procedure and started searching for speakers again. This time it only took a second because everything was updated and positioned. I clicked "Continue" again and was again taken back to the initial setup. This time I tried pushing the Menu button on the remote instead of "Continue". I was taken to the full settings screen and did some configuration. I turned the Q UHD off, then back on. Initial Setup started again but this time after pushing "Continue" it took me to a Time Zone selection and then to a congratulatory "Setup Complete". This was a small bug, but it confused me for a bit.
The Settings interface is really good. It's your typical Tree menu with configuration options at the leaf nodes. You have all the typical configuration options: Speaker volume and distances, ARC, CEC, Inputs, etc. Some of the notable options are:
- EQ for adjusting the speaker performance. There are multiple templates, as well as the ability to set a 10 point EQ setting PER SPEAKER! One delighter is that the default setting after my setup was "Klipsch Optimized". It's clear they considered the Klipsch speakers as they built the Q UHD.
- Default Volume at Startup. The Klipsch would often turn on at 100% volume and wake up everyone in the house, so this setting is especially appreciated.
- Multiple latency modes for Gaming, etc.
- Speaker Zones.
- UI Personalization, including icons and labels for each input (including unique icons for Xbox, Xbox One, Chromecast, PS4, etc). You can also change the accent color of the UI, which is a nice touch. To show the attention to detail, the accent color in the mobile application also reflects your choice here.
- There's a solid firmware upgrade experience. You can force downgrades, or join a beta program for the latest firmware.
- There's a way to send diagnostic reports and reach support right from the device.
Functionality and Quality
This seems like an odd topic. It's weird to write a section on whether everything works, but in a wireless world and coming from a very buggy Klipsch receiver, I think it's important. I've been using the Q UHD for two days now and have watched maybe 6 hours of content. In that time, I haven't had any drops in audio on any channel. I haven't had any disconnects or speakers that went missing. Everything is snappy on the menu system. Input switching is fast. ARC worked instantly and automatically and hasn't dropped out. CEC power communication works every time. The sound output seems to be exactly the same as it was when the Klipsch hub was installed - when it was working properly. One concern I have is the heat of the Q UHD. It runs really hot, even when in standby mode. I've read similar concerns on their older model but never found any posts that indicated heat-related failure. I wish it were cooler, but it's not a deal breaker.
In terms of format support, Axiim claims it supports "up to" Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Specifically, it does not have Atmos support. I believe Atmos is now supported in the WISA standard. The Q UHD supports up to 7.1 channels. Time will tell whether they release a firmware upgrade to allow those extra to channels to be used as height channels resulting in an Atmos-compatible 5.1.2 setup.
I've been basically pestering the support team and they've been great. I emailed them the first time at 9pm Pacific (our shared time zone). I was asking whether the hub supported the Klipsch speakers before I bought it. They responded after hours and within 30 minutes to let me know they tested them extensively and they worked great. After buying the hub I've emailed them almost a dozen times with a combination of questions about initial setup, bug reports, and requests for new features. Nothing major, but for completeness, the list I gave them was:
Bug: Typo in menu - "Minimuze"
Bug: The repetitive first-run setup issue I had.
Feature request: Allow the LEDs on the speakers to be turned off (which they've said they've added to the backlog)
Feature request: On-screen keyboards should be QWERTY instead of A-Z
Feature request: Ability to choose my own background images. This isn't a big deal since they only show up when an HDMI input isn't selected or it's in screen-saver mode.
Overall, this is the AVR that Klipsch should have delivered. If they read this, I would suggest partnering with Axiim to license the Q UHD and perhaps rebrand it as the Klipsch hub v2.
If you're buying a WISA system, you should definitely buy the Axiim Q UHD. You should definitely not buy the Klipsch hub. As for speakers, the Klipsch are fantastic and I don't have any experience with the Axiims.
Let me know if you have questions and I'll try to answer them.