Love them or hate them — soundbars are one of the most popular products in consumer A/V. Home theater purists deride their questionable sound quality and plastic construction, but the sales figures prove that consumers have adopted them by the millions around the globe. They may not be our first choice when it comes to two-channel audio, but the category has taken a huge leap forward in quality with the Sonos Arc, Sennheiser AMBEO, and Theory Audio Design 5.2.2 soundbar systems. The new Klipsch Cinema 1200 Soundbar system aims to elevate the brand into that esteemed group of products.
Support for Dolby Atmos has become a marketing term in 2021 as opposed to any actual explanation of the technology and whether or not it actually works that well in soundbars; having reviewed around 20 with the technology, I can tell you with some degree of confidence that most get it wrong.
I was a guinea pig for Dolby many years ago during the development of Dolby Atmos and was present during some of the private sessions when the format was rolled out in the commercial theater world; the home theater experience unless we’re talking about dedicated in-ceiling and in-wall speakers does not come even close to what the technology is capable of.
Soundbars that support Dolby Atmos are a ‘3’ if the best commercial movie theater systems are a ’10’ from a performance perspective. The Theory Audio Design 5.2.2 system that we just reviewed would earn a ‘7.5 – 8.0’ in a dedicated room using Atmos and the Acurus Muse.
There’s a huge gap between these products — and there should be considering the difference in price.
The Klipsch Cinema 1200 Soundbar system does pack a lot of technology in 4 loudspeaker enclosures so it will be interesting to hear how it compares for $1,500.
When Dolby Atmos first launched as a home theater format, loudspeaker brands rushed to launch speakers with the height modules integrated into their front and rear channels. Very few of them sounded very good. Not a shock when one considers that Dolby has very specific setup guidelines in regard to the height channels and where they need to be placed.
The Klipsch Cinema 1200 Soundbar system integrates 4 upward firing 3-inch Cerametallic drivers (2 in the soundbar, 2 in the rear channel speakers) to recreate the Dolby Atmos height channels.
The Cinema 1200 Dolby Atmos Soundbar system features HDMI eARC and 8K HDR video pass-through which makes it compatible with an HDMI cable with almost every new HDTV in that regard.
The 54-inch width of the soundbar will make the system more visually attractive to consumers who are already using or contemplating a 65-inch 4K TV in 2021.
You can read more about the system features and specifications below but there are a few items that will be front and center during our review later in Q3.
- How does the current generation of upward firing drivers improve the Dolby Atmos height experience? Klipsch tried this before with separate height modules and we’re hoping it works better.
- How does this system handle music?
- How does the new wireless subwoofer compare to Klipsch’s existing passive models?
- How does the Cinema 1200 powered soundbar system compare to the Sonos Arc/Sub/One SL wireless soundbar system which is $350 more?
Klipsch Cinema 1200 Soundbar System
- 11 speakers with built-in amplification
- three 1″ soft dome tweeters mated to Tractrix horns for wide dispersion
- six 3″ high-output oval fiber-composite midrange drivers
- two 3″ up-firing Cerametallic cone woofers
- wraparound grille cloth and premium black wood endcaps
- interchangeable walnut endcaps included
- low-profile bar can be wall-mounted or placed on your TV stand
- Dolby® Digital and Dolby Digital Plus decoding
- dialogue mode for enhanced vocal clarity
- 54″W x 2-15/16″H x 6-3/16″D
- 12″ fiber-composite cone woofer in wood enclosure
- ported enclosure for enhanced low-frequency response
- syncs wirelessly with sound bar
- 15-5/8″W x 20-3/8″H x 15-7/8″D
Rear speakers (each):
- 3″ high-output oval fiber-composite midrange driver
- 3″ up-firing Cerametallic cone woofer
- 4-13/16″W x 8-7/8″H x 4-15/16″D
Connections and general info:
- 2 HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI output (one cable included)
- supports eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) and ARC (Audio Return Channel)
- features HDCP 2.3 for 8K HDR video passthrough
- optical digital audio input
- 3.5mm minijack analog audio input
- mono RCA subwoofer output for adding second sub or replacing included wireless sub with a wired sub
- keyhole brackets for wall-mounting (wall template included)
- backlit remote control with subwoofer volume adjustment