It is fair to say that there is hardly any harder task than trying to weigh two products made by the same manufacturer side by side. The difficulty is primarily due to the fact that you’ll find quite a lot of similarities between the two products, and differentiating them usually comes down to the subtle features. The same scenario plays out when comparing the Klipsch Cinema 400 and the Klipsch Bar 48. Obviously, there are quite some differences between these two soundbars even though the same manufacturer made them. However, the question on the mind of many people is whether these subtle differences really matter. Read on to find out more. Although Klipsch has not been able to replicate its speaker-making expertise to soundbars, these pair of soundbars are of the highest quality. Essentially, the new set of soundbars signal Klipsch’s newfound status as a force to reckon with in the world of soundbars.
Klipsch Cinema 400 at a glance
The Klipsch Cinema 400 soundbar is a 2.1 channel soundbar designed to be a simplistic addition to your living room. The marketing team at Klipsch claims that the Cinema Series soundbars, including the Cinema 400, have the biggest wireless subwoofers currently available in the market. This claim is no marketing gimmick, as the Klipsch Cinema 400 comes with an 8-inch wireless subwoofer.
Klipsch Bar 48 at a glance
The Klipsch Bar 48 soundbar is a 3.1 channel soundbar. With the Bar 48, Klipsch clearly placed more premium on performance over features. The soundbar features Klipsch’s signature horn-loaded tweeters that deliver excellent sound and an 8-inch wireless subwoofer, partly making up for the lack of features.
I’m pretty sure you can’t wait to get the breakdown of how well these soundbars fare under various metrics. In the following sections, we’ll present an objective analysis of each soundbar and how it compares to the other one.
Appearance and dimensions
When checking out two soundbars made by the same manufacturer, there is more than a ninety percent certainty that they will look alike, and these soundbars do not disappoint. Apart from their respective widths, it is hard to pick the two soundbars apart. Unlike most soundbars you’ll find out there, the two Klipsch soundbars are made of sealed wood. Thus, you’re assured of not getting a product with a flimsy feel. A mesh-like fabric covers the front and top of the two soundbars. Also, the two soundbars have speakers at their extreme ends. The control buttons and an array of LED lights (which we will discuss later) are found on top of one of the speakers.
On the back of the two soundbars, you’ll find an opening where the input ports and power cable are located. Also, there are holes at the back for mounting the soundbars with the mounting kits included. On the dimension front, the Klipsch Cinema 400 soundbar measures 39.9 x 3.0 x 3.4 inches. As you might have rightly guessed from the name, the soundbar of the Klipsch Bar 48 measures approximately 48 inches; the full dimension is 47.8 x 2.9 x 3.3 inches. As a result of its size, the Klipsch Bar 48 is best suited to televisions that are 55 inches and larger.
The similarity does not end there as the two soundbars both have 8-inch ported subwoofers enclosed in a wooden cabinet. The subwoofers do not sit on the ground directly – they are elevated by four wooden legs. The elevation is probably due to the fact that the speaker and the port are located on the underside of the subwoofers. Cinema 400’s subwoofer cabinet measures 11.87 x 16.12 x 16.12 inches. The subwoofer cabinet of the Bar 48 soundbar is not far behind as it measures a similar 11.89 x 16.1 x 16.1 inches.
Overall, the two soundbars look evenly matched in terms of appearance except for the extra bit of width that the Bar 48 has. They both have a subdued appearance and will seamlessly fit into your existing living room setup.
The Verdict: draw
Control and connectivity
On the connectivity front, one thing that strikes you immediately in these two soundbars is the fact that they both connect wirelessly to their respective subwoofers, courtesy of the built-in wireless 2.4Ghz technology. Essentially, this means you have one less cable cluttering up your living room. You also get to play media from your Bluetooth-enabled devices. Apart from the wireless soundbar to subwoofer connection, the Klipsch Cinema 400 and Klipsch Bar 48 also have other input options like HDMI-ARC, 3.5mm analog, and optical digital.
Another input option found on the back of the two soundbars is the subwoofer output. This output allows you to connect an extra subwoofer to your setup. Alternatively, you can also use the subwoofer output to connect to an entirely different subwoofer if you don’t want to use the subwoofers that came with the soundbars.
Controlling the two soundbars is pretty straightforward. You can use the control buttons on the soundbar or opt for the remote control included. As stated earlier, the control buttons are on top of one of the speakers located on the extreme end of the soundbar. A power button, a source button, a volume down button, and a volume up button are what you’ll find on both soundbars. Directly above the buttons is the LED panel, where a variety of LED colored lights represent different audio sources (blue for Bluetooth, green for analog, etc.). The LED light options on the two soundbars are pretty much the same, except that the Klipsch Bar 48 has an extra LED for DTS.
The remote controls are also pretty similar, offering the same range of functionality; a core difference is that the Cinema 400’s remote uses AAA batteries, while the Bar 48 remote works with AA batteries. The Bar 48 remote also has a backlight feature. With little to separate the two products, the Klipsch Bar 48 narrowly edges out the Klipsch Cinema 400 because of its backlit remote.
Performance and sound modes
To fully understand the performance metrics of the soundbars, one needs an in-depth understanding of the various drivers found in the two products. The Klipsch Bar 48 has three one-inch soft dome tweeters mated to their trademark Tractrix horn. On the other hand, the Klipsch Cinema 400 has two one-inch soft dome tweeters mated to Tractrix® horn.
The Klipsch Bar 48’s midrange is powered by two pairs of three-inch oval fiber composite cone woofers, while the Klipsch Cinema 400’s midrange is powered by a pair of oval fiber composite cone woofers. Thus, it is unsurprising that Bar 48 has a maximum acoustic output of 103 dB, while Cinema 400’s acoustic output is capped at 99 dB.
However, Cinema 400 has the edge over Bar 48 in terms of frequency response. The former has a frequency response of 35 Hz -20 kHz, while the latter has a frequency response of 40 Hz-20 kHz. These figures mean the two are evenly matched in terms of higher frequencies, but Cinema 400 performs better than its counterpart on the lower frequency end.
For a versatile listening experiment, the soundbars have a couple of sound modes to suit various situations. The first is the virtual surround mode that delivers surround sound without the hassles of mounting additional speakers. The “dialog enhance” mode adds more clarity to TV dialogue. The last sound mode is the night mode, whereby the dynamic range becomes reduced, and the subwoofer turns off. It allows you to use your soundbar at a moderate level without disturbing those sleeping. The two soundbars also support Dolby audio.
With the two bars matching themselves in most aspects, Klipsch Cinema 400 narrowly nicks this category because of its wider frequency response.
After extensively comparing the two soundbars, there is hardly anything to separate them. This stalemate is mainly down to the fact that they are from the same maker and share almost the same features. However, if we are to settle for a single one out of the two, our choice will be the Klipsch Cinema 400 because of its wider frequency response. It produces thick sounds and low-frequency energy you’ll not find in your regular TV speakers. On the other hand, the Klipsch Bar 48 has the advantage of a dedicated center channel because of its 3.1 design which is an upgrade on the Bar 40.