KLH Model Five loudspeaker

In May of 2019, I heard about a promising jazz vinyl and hi-fi estate sale happening on New York's Upper East Side. Little did I know then what treasures the dig would yield.

Jazz Record Center's Fred Cohen had called from the UES apartment, the former residence of late CBS Records and Sony Entertainment mastering engineer Harry N. Fein. Fred said, "The records are kind of beat, but the apartment is jammed with tape decks, turntables, cartridges, tubes, midcentury modern furniture—get up here."

I called NYC turntable technician Mike Trei, who's always up for a dig. Upon picking me up from my Greenwich Village pad in his pearl-black 1991 Mercedes, we zoomed uptown on Park Avenue. Well past Grand Central Station, we found the address on a quiet residential block.

At the doorway to the apartment, two muscled Russians were removing a ratty red velvet couch. We squeezed past them into a tiny living room. Books were strewn everywhere. A window sucked in hot, sticky air. A Zenith Seville console stereo, a crusty BSR McDonald turntable, and a '60s-era Ampex Model AG-350-2 ½" tape machine stood sentry. Where were the records and other audio booty Fred spoke of?

Mike found a side door, jammed shut. We applied two-shoulder pressure and stumbled our way in. The 10' × 6' space—Fein's secret workshop—was a time traveler's dream of audio exotica.

Dixieland, swing, comedy, and vocal albums lined an in-wall case. Fein's CBS mastering work was represented: Grachan Moncur III & The Jazz Composer's Orchestra's Echoes of Prayer, The Billie Holiday Story Volume II, and Jingle Bell Jazz. A Teac SX-3300 reel-to-reel deck sat on the floor. I pulled open a drawer crammed with Fairchild 225A mono, GE VR-1000, and Shure V15 cartridges. A closet produced a Scott Stereomaster 299-f integrated amp and a slate-gray, Streamline Moderne–looking Fairchild Model 202 tonearm complete with three Fairchild mono carts in turret headshells. Wedged into the back of the closet, their chunky cabinets faded and scratched, grilles seemingly blanched yellow by the sun, was a pair of vintage KLH Model Five loudspeakers.

Produced between 1968 and 1977, the KLH Model Five—like its siblings Models Six and Seventeen—was one of the most popular American loudspeakers ever.

KLH Research and Development Corporation was founded in 1957 by Henry Kloss, Malcolm Low, and Joseph Anton Hofmann. As John Atkinson wrote in 40 years of Stereophile: The Hot 100 Products, "The late Henry Kloss had the Midas touch: whatever his fancy alighted on turned into sonic gold."

At KLH, Kloss developed the Model Eight FM table-top radio, the Model Nine electrostatic loudspeaker, the Model Eleven record player, and the first reel-to-reel tape recorder to include Dolby noise reduction: the Model Forty. Kloss also founded Advent Corporation (1967), Kloss Video Corporation (1977), Cambridge SoundWorks (1988), and in 2000, Tivoli Audio. And three years before KLH was established, Kloss and inventor/teacher Edgar Villchur launched Acoustic Research, Inc. ("AR"), which mass produced the country's first sealed-box, acoustic suspension loudspeaker (the AR-1) and first suspended turntable (the AR XA), both affordably priced.

Like Acoustic Research's popular AR-3a loudspeaker, the original KLH Model Five produced clean, tight bass owing to its acoustic suspension design, a departure from the then- (and now-) ubiquitous bass reflex designs. The Model Five included a 1.75" pulp-paper tweeter, dual 4" cone midrange drivers, and a 10" paper-cone woofer mounted to the front baffle of a sealed plywood cabinet weighing 54lb. Reported impedance was 8 ohms.

KLH went kaput when its Japanese owner, Kyocera Ltd., terminated production of the legacy brand in 1989. Nearly 30 years later, in 2017, former Klipsch global sales president and Voxx Electronics executive David Kelley purchased KLH. Kelley relocated KLH HQ to Noblesville, Indiana, and relaunched the company in late 2018 with no fewer than 30 new loudspeaker models.


The New Model Five
"We started development of the new Model Five two years ago," KLH chief designer Kerry Geist wrote in an email. "Development was put on hold in early 2020 due to the pandemic, ... but the desire was always there to bring back some of the better-known KLH models."

The revived Model Five shares the original's cabinet dimensions; three-way, acoustic suspension design (but with just one midrange driver, not two); and vintage-looking grille (a Stonewash Linen grille is available at $199/pair) with new drivers and crossover. KLH retained the zinc logo affixed to the speaker's grille, and the price is still affordable ($1998/pair), but this isn't Henry Kloss's Model Five.

"We wanted to pay tribute to the original Model Five," Geist told me, "but the goal was never to replicate the sound of the original. I looked at it from the standpoint of how the Model Five, with its acoustic suspension design, would be conceived and designed today. However, a 10" pulp-paper woofer, mounted in the exact same cabinet dimensions and internal volume as the original, will ensure some amount of performance commonality. [But] transducer design (and testing) has come a long way in 50 years, and that translates to much better overall performance."


Manufactured in China, the Model Five employs a 1" aluminum-dome high-frequency driver with soft-rubber suspension; a 4" pulp-paper cone midrange driver, and a 10" pulp-paper cone woofer driver. The mid- and low-frequency drivers utilize reverse-roll rubber suspensions and nonresonant, die-cast aluminum frames. The 13.75" wide, 26" high, 11.5" deep cabinet is constructed of structurally reinforced ¾" MDF and weighs 44lb. The M5 is rated at 6 ohms nominal impedance with an in-room sensitivity of 90.5dB/2.83V/m. (The free-field sensitivity is 87.5dB/2.83V/m.) Each KLH Five comes with its own powder-coated, 8" high, 14-gauge steel, 5°-slant riser base for the "proper angle to ensure the best vertical coverage for all listening positions." Two finishes are available: English Walnut and West African Mahogany.

In addition to upgrading its drivers, Geist overhauled the M5's crossover, a 13-component network that uses iron-core inductors and Mylar capacitors. "The crossover is all 2nd order, 12dB/octave," Geist explained. "The low-pass woofer and high-pass midrange cross over at about 380Hz, low-pass midrange and high-pass tweeter at 2850Hz. The crossover is comprised of four inductors, four capacitors, [and] five resistors. Three of the resistors are used in the attenuation circuit for the switch located on the back panel."


Taking different-sized rooms and varying acoustics into consideration, Geist incorporated a three-position attenuator switch (marked "LO, MID, HI") on the M5's backside (above a pair of gold-plated binding posts), a holdover from the original M5—sort of.

"The switch attenuates/decreases output above 400Hz," Geist explained. "I'm not a huge fan of attenuators on loudspeakers because of the affect they have on voicing of the loudspeaker. So, I repurposed the attenuator switch to deal with difficult room acoustics. The amount of attenuation is relatively small (0, –1.5dB, –3dB), over a broad frequency range. The idea is to pull some excess energy out of an overly bright listening room."

KLH Audio
984 Logan St.
Noblesville, Indiana 46060
(833) 554-8326

Anton's picture

Thank you!

Now, I gotta find a way to ‘side by side’ these with the Wharfdale Linton speakers. Seems like a perfect shoot out.

Ortofan's picture

... KM do a follow-up review of the Wharfedale and HR do a follow-up review of the KLH.

tonykaz's picture

There is something nice about a box loudspeaker like this, my Operatic mother liked them too ! ( says a lot ).

I sold my Hi-Fi and moved on to Motorcycles, Camping, Engineering School and Marriage with 5 Children! Phew

Later on:
General Motors Corp. sent me to England to re-lamp a Manufacturing Plant with Westinghouse Mercury Vapor Lighting Systems giving me a time budget which I was able to complete about 5 days early, allowing me to meander around London Shops and discover the Rogers LS3/5a in a small hifi specialist. ( I also discovered HiFiNews & Record Review Magazine : the finest Audio publication I'd ever seen ). I purchased Both and still feel like I'd discovered greatness.

As much as I liked my KLH loudspeakers ( enough to purchase them ) I loved ( still do ) the little Rogers and couldn't live without them or their close cousins .

Manufacturing wise :

Business people using Chinese need inform consumers about how impossible it is to get service parts.

Putting Legacy Brand Names on Chinese stuff feels like fraud.

Tony in Venice Florida

Ortofan's picture

... $2K/pair, which would you be more likely to choose:
this new iteration of the KLH Model Five or the equally new (made-in-the-UK by) Falcon LS3/5a Mo(bile)Fi(delity) Edition?


tonykaz's picture

I've already been down that road.

I'd buy an eBay pair of one of the many LS3/5a variants, specifically a ProAc Tablette.


A used pair of Genelec 8020 with possibly it's matching Subwoofer.

The Big Box design of the KLH and a great many others are probably aimed at Rock folks with a large room.

If I needed to fill a large room, I'd likely do a nice pair of Klipsch or Magnapans.

I have the feeling that these new KLHs scaled up nicely for Mr.Micallef's outstanding Electronic selection and they probably do JAZZ well in his hands.

Tony in Venice Florida

ps. I'd probably turn-down a Garage Sale pair of 5s because I no longer have the Storage space or Wife approval for big boxes of hifi. Class D is calling to me.

Jack L's picture


It all depends, bud.

For tiny listening room, minis like Rogers LS3/5a or its crones are the better choice.

But if the room is spacious, then the much larger LH Model 5 would be a better all-rounder high to low frequencies.

I know your concern about made-in-where quality given the same price level.

Me too. I always go for made-in-country-of-origin.

My car for instance: All-Wheel-Drive SUV imported from Japan, its country of origin: better quality control & minimum maintenance.

Jack L

ken mac's picture

Good times, Tony.

Jack L's picture


This I would call "smart business tactic" - to kill 3 birds with one stone" - built in so called 'developing' countries, like China to save cost, lowering selling price to sell more, & making more profit by selling more.

No free lunch, Budd. Inconsistent quality control would result inconsistent performance quality & more frequent repair. Eventually it would backfire to those "legacy brandnames" !

For loudspeakers alone, as long as all electronic components are supplied by the brandname manufacturers & the cabinets & the assembly is made by the OEM off shore should not be so bad.

My qustion is: are the speaker driver units also made by the offhshore OEMs, like China ????? I heard a few brandname loudspeakers speaker units are made in China as well. That's not good news for the consumers !!

Jack L

michelesurdi's picture

why not call them AR 3?

Jack L's picture


Not all acoustic suspension loudspeakers made & sound equally good.

AR-3a sounded so so much better than AR-3, as per some criitics published. So....

Jack L

Pryso's picture

Ken, nice review. Except the KLH 9 was not developed by Kloss. That was Arthur Janszen who KLH contracted to build a full range version with his electrostatic driver elements. Janszen's son David continues to design and build speakers under the family name and also restores the long out of production 9s.

Further information provided by David. " In 1957 Arthur designed what would become the 9 and began field tests. In 1959, KLH brought that speaker in for manufacture and began the process of putting it into production, giving my dad a 5 year contract as CTO or something like that plus some stock. This is the one case where Kloss admitted in interviews that he had nothing to do with the design, although I'm sure he helped with the manufacturing engineering."

ken mac's picture

for the correction.

tonykaz's picture

Dear Mr.Micallef,

I'm sort of puzzled by the various Vinyl Sellers reporting how they came to own large collections of vintage sealed Vinyl.

Recently, Mr.Tupper of the Bronx NY, who collected for 5 to 6 Decades, is now selling to the big Kansas outfit, mostly unplayed and quite rare first pressings, sealed and beautifully preserved. Mr. Tupper reported that he plays Cassettes and has nice Nak Cassette gear. hmm.

The Big Arizona Vinyl Shop also seems to come up with Vinyl Gems. ( presumably pristine and unplayed )

A whole lot of this recent Vinyl "resurgence" appears to be about Collecting impressive numbers of Albums including every Re-master of every popular Artist. Egads, folks seem to amasses tens of thousands of records, probably including a wide range of Duplicates or multiples of Duplicates of exactly the same Album. ( Internet & reviewing personalities will describe their personal collections ) & ( Chad Kassem. seems to limit his customers to only 3 of each of his latest pressings ).

The Jazz Sheppard 'does' play all his Albums ( while alleging that he has never properly cleaned any of them !! , I'll wager that he doesn't even own a Moving Coil or any 'good wire' ). I have him on YouTube Subscription and appreciate the Jazz education he provides.

I can understand the JAZZ lover needing a rather large collection of Blue Note.

I'm asking:

1.) will all those vintage JAZZ recording ever be widely available via streaming ?

2.). Will a 60 Year Old Person ever have enough time to listen to each of his 10,000+++ Albums?

3.) Will anyone inherit Joe Bussard's 78 rpm Collection ?

Thank you for writing for Stereophile, you are always interesting.

Tony in Venice Florida

ken mac's picture

...cleans his records on my old ProJect machine!! He does indeed play and know his records very well.
People like Chad Kassem and Fred Cohen of Jazz Record Center have been doing this for so many years--they're well jacked-in to the network of buyers and sellers and collectors. But large sealed collections? Never heard of such a thing.

Thank you, Tony.

Pryso's picture

Tony, I agree it makes sense to consider age VS size of collection and time to play them. I'm older so two years ago when I moved 2,200 miles I sold 2/3rds of my collection. I knew I'd never listen to them all so why pay to move that much weight? However I did go through them all first and it was not always easy to decide which to keep.

Regarding sealed records, a friend had a collection of about 5,000 LPs, many of which were still sealed. When I ask him why he admitted he often would buy 5 to 10 at a time. But then open and play only 2 or 3 before shopping again. With that build up he never got back to opening all the sealed albums.

Jack L's picture


This is hoarding, not collecting !

Whatever quantities of LPs one owns, 5 or 5,000 irrespective, the owner should play them to enjoy the music therein.

To show off the 'art' of hoarding or to enjoy the music itself ??

Listening is believing

Jack L