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KLH Nine’s

Norman Nicolai

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I got to listen to a pair of KLH Nines for the first time a few days ago. They had been on sale at a NJ audio store for almost a year and someone purchased them last week. Thanks to Thr33p4c, his CSP handle, I was able to get a brief listen.

The Nine’s did not disappoint. The rap on KLH Nine’s is that they lack just a bit on the lower end. That’s true, but they more than make up for it with their superior soundstage and transparency. I think they were probably the best speakers I ever had the pleasure of hearing. Listening to recorded music through the Nine’s was the closest I have ever come to approximating live music. The music did not sound like it was coming from the panels, but from somewhere behind the panels on a large stage. Full Disclosure: My opinion was formed by a quick 15 minute listen, so it wasn’t like I spent hours listening to a great deal of music before forming an opinion. But based on that brief preview, if I had a house with an extra room that was large enough to display their potential, (…or if I did not have to worry about WAF…) I would probably look for a pair and purchase them immediately. Unfortunately, I would also need a significant upgrade in amplifier power. KLH Nine’s are power hungry. I heard them driven in a medium sized area at a moderately high volume level through a SS amp delivering 200 WPC.  I was told by Thr33p4c that the amp was cranked during my short listening session. 

Arthur Janszen, the Nine’s designer, originally envisioned them being used optimally in two sets of three panels. Three for the left channel and three for the right. I can’t imagine a power source existing in 1961 capable of driving them to their true potential. Plus, they sold for around $1,200 a panel back then. Purchasing six panels of KLH Nine’s for $7,200 was really serious cash in 1961. It’s equal to approx. $75,000 today. You could buy two brand new Chevrolet Impala’s for that kind of money back then, and still walk away with over $1,000 still in your pocket!

Henry Kloss once stated that he always designed audio equipment to a specific price point at KLH, but the KLH Nine’s were the one exception to that rule. Henry said that the every possible resource went into their design, and no expense was spared in their production. I think that he and Arthur Jantzen hit a home run with these speakers. IMHO, the Nine’s are on a par, if not better than, some of the very best speakers available today. At least to my ears. 

If not owning, at least listening to a set of KLH Nines was always on my “bucket list”, so I can now check that off. To me, KLH Nine’s were always the “Holy Grail” of vintage audio. I’m glad that I finally got a listen, if only a brief one.

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3 hours ago, JKent said:

I am familiar with this site, JKent. I’m sure the Nine’s I heard probably needed some work. Even so, they were impressive.

Another link, describing the Nine’s:


Did you ever hear the Nine’s, JKent, and if so, what did you hear?


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