Audio

Premium quality at a premium price

Made of high-grade leather, stainless steel and wood, the weight of the Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Headphones will be felt after a period of listening, but they are still plush and comfortable.
Made of high-grade leather, stainless steel and wood, the weight of the Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Headphones will be felt after a period of listening, but they are still plush and comfortable. PHOTO: KLIPSCH

Klipsch's Heritage HP-3 delivers a top-notch sound experience, but it comes at a price - $1,999

Klipsch is best known for its high-end speakers and, in recent years, the company's move into the personal headphone space has been centred on making cans that sound just as good and immersive as speakers.

It has met its goal with its most premium set of headphones to date, the Heritage HP-3. The semi-open over-ear headphones, made with wood, die-cast steel and sheepskin leather, look and feel luxurious even before you put them on.

All that comes, of course, at a premium cost and the Heritage HP-3 is targeted not just at audiophiles looking for their grail item but also at those with deep pockets willing to fork out $1,999.

The vintage wooden earcups, in your choice of walnut, ebony or oak finish, make them look premium in a classy, understated way, unlike the sleek, steel-and-chrome look of modernity.

The HP-3's classical style conjures up images of relaxing in a plush leather armchair in a drawing room with a glass of brandy while being serenaded with classy smooth jazz.

Which is not to say that these headphones do not hold their own with other genres - I ran them through a gamut of genres, from electronic band Daft Punk to punk-rock outfit Wolf Alice to an orchestral arrangement of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

The HP-3's imaging and soundstage are top-notch, which is most clearly experienced in orchestral renditions and live concerts.

Part of the the high cost comes from the biocellulose membranes, which make up the headphones' drivers and give the HP-3 its distinctive character.

  • TECHSPECS

  • PRICE: $1,999

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 52mm

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 5Hz - 45kHz

    WEIGHT: 440g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

They provide an incredible amount of body to low-end frequencies, giving plenty of sub-and mid-bass but always managing to resolve treble and mids without overpowering them.

The HP-3's bass hits hard and powerful but is not overly loud, which gives it a lot of impact while still sounding relatively restrained.

The bassline in dream-pop band Cigarette After Sex's Affection, when played through the HP-3, seems to surround the song like a comforting, bassy blanket.

The HP-3 has a very smooth, burnished sound and tone, with less attack so it does not come across as being very aggressive. The highs are clear and crisp, while vocals are sonorous and detailed.

With its mix of high-grade leather, stainless steel and wood, the HP-3 is a sturdily built package.

Its weight will be felt after a period of listening, since it is not as light as other headphones made out of plastic, but is still plush and comfortable.

The HP-3's incredibly premium pricing won't be for everyone. But those who trust Klipsch's long heritage in the audio space might want to give the cans a listen to see if they're worth saving up for.

• Verdict: Classy, luxurious but oh so pricey, Klipsch's Heritage HP-3 is not just an aural experience but also a visual and tactile one.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2017, with the headline 'Premium quality at a premium price'. Print Edition | Subscribe