Review: Klipsch Hp-3 Heritage

Klipsch HP-3

The Klipsch HP-3 isn’t the fastest sounding headphone but it certainly isn’t slow either. The HP-3 goes to the warmer side, with a smooth and liquid delivery. This isn’t a neutrally tuned headphone and the HP-3 focuses on musicality but with the richness of a high level headphone. You get a good level of precision but compared to the earlier mentioned headphones the sound isn’t as clear, clean or the background as black.

Klipsch HP-3

Klipsch HP-3

Separation wise the HP-3 does fairly well and you get a spacious sound (semi open construction) but for some the HP-3 might sound a bit too airy and unclear (like the AudioQuest NightHawk but to a lesser degree). Klipsch does say they wanted the HP-3 to sound speaker-like and that’s probably the reason for this airy tuning. Isolation wise, sound logically leaks in and out of the headphone and this really is a unit to be used inside, at home or in your office.

To me, the HP-3 is more of a high level musical and fun sounding headphone, than it is a typical audiophile tuned headphone.

Bass, Mids, Treble

One of the reasons for that is the bass presentation. Bass certainly I far from neutral and you get a big, full bodied bass that has a large impact. Bass doesn’t blend in to the mids or overpowers them but bass is omnipresent. Bass reaches down fairly low but it isn’t the most tight bass, it’s more of a fun kind of bass and if you don’t like a good amount of bass than this HP-3 certainly isn’t the headphone for you.

Bass really is about the body and impact and while it goes pretty deep and has good rumble down low, it isn’t the most detailed or layered bass. It’s fun and presence over top quality.

The mids section, especially compared to the bass section is thinner and it has less body. So you could say the HP-3 has a more v-shaped presentation. If you google for the HP-3’s frequency response curves you’ll find some measurements from SBAF confirming this tuning. The level of detail in the mids and the separation is good but it’s more in the back with the lighter body. The upper mids, especially the vocals are a bit more in front but I quite like the way Klipsch has done this.

Klipsch HP-3

Klipsch HP-3

As said, the HP-3 is a very airy sounding type of headphone and this is most notable in the mids section. You either like it or you don’t but I have to say I’m a bit surprised to see a reference level headphone with this kind of tuning, I can’t imagine another high end headphone with this mid tuning.

Treble is nicely detailed and energetic but it, like the bass part, is more present than the mids. Treble is rich and extended but it on several occasions went to the harsher side from different amps. Sibilance was there especially with female vocals when the typical “sssss” or cymbals came up. I like my treble and I appreciate the Klipsch treble as well, but yeah, treble can be sibilant. If you like soft and easy, rolled off treble, you better look elsewhere.

Sources / Amplification

The Heritage HP-3 was developed to work with any type of source, from smartphones to desktop amplifiers and integrated receivers.

Compared to other audiophile-grade headphones, the Heritage HP-3 is vastly different because of its high efficiency, one of Paul W. Klipsch’s original founding principles in loudspeaker design. During the headphone’s acoustical development, it was vital that it could be driven by virtually any source playing any content. With a flat, low impedance, the Heritage HP-3 will pair well with both high-end amplifiers as well as standard smartphones.

Klipsch HP-3

Klipsch HP-3

The Auris Audio Headonia is my main tube amplifier at the moment and the HP-3 sounds very controlled from is. Bass is logically still bigger but the Headonia keeps it in control and it’s not as overpowering compared to other amps and sources. The mids are rich, smooth and musical, and the treble is softer without any signs of sibilance. The sometimes overly airy presentation also isn’t really noticeable here. That all comes down to the (Philips) tubes really but it this combination is so wonderful and musical to listen to.

From the AudioValve Solaris, yes another of my fav tube amps, the HP-3’s bass reaches down very low. You get an incredibly rich sound from bass to treble with the most lovely timbre. This amp gives the HP-3 the biggest body (also in the mids) and for some this, in combination with the big bass, might be too much for a high end headphone. The result is a very musical, yet detailed sound, delivered in a smooth way. Treble is softer and there’s no harshness to be found here either. Tubes really do calm down the HP-3’s treble section but this combination, while very musical, for me personally is  a bit too thick sounding.

Klipsch HP-3

Klipsch HP-3

The warmer sounding solid state Violectric V281 makes the HP-3 tighter and faster. Bass body-wise isn’t as big as with some other amps but it goes really deep. The v-shaped signature is immediately and very audible with this amp however. With the V281, even though it’s a softer ss amp, the HP-3 does get more to the harsher and sibilant side again. The mids sound airy and all in all this isn’t the best combination for my ears. It might be for you though.

Of course the combination with the Klipsch Heritage DAC/AMP works great. It’s as if they were made for each other, and well they probably were. The result is a rich and musical sound, a v-shaped signature where the voices are somewhat more upfront and an energetic treble as with the rest of the solid state amps. (Possibility of sibilance). Bass isn’t the biggest (still big) or deepest but it’s still very present. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to test my full headphone collection with this amp but this combo just works. You get a liquid, rich, maybe slower but very musical presentation. To me the combo produces the perfect signature for relaxing at home after a long day of work. Just watch out with those cymbals and sss’s.

Klipsch HP-3

Klipsch HP-3

From Chord’s Hugo 2 you get a snappier and faster sound. Of course the H2 won’t change the v-shaped signature and the treble is more prone to be sibilant. Bass is reasonably tight but it body-wise of course is bigger. I do really like the mids from the Hugo 2 though. From its little brother the Mojo, you get good speed and big bass but a very v-shaped curve. Unfortunately bass here to me is a bit too overpowering and I just don’t really dig this combination all that much.

From the Lehmann Audio Drachenfels desktop amplifier you get a detailed, musical and easy to like sound with of course impactful bass, really nice qualitative mids and a tad softer treble. I haven’t really experienced any sibilance on this amplifier and this combo works really well.

DAP and comparison on the LAST PAGE of this review, click HERE

Review: Klipsch Hp-3 Heritage
3.9 (78.14%) 43 vote[s]

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

11 Comments

  • Reply March 25, 2018

    M Girvan

    Nice review, qualified well and allows me to get an idea what the HP-3 is all about. It sounds like I would very much like it, but would prefer better control and bass layering ability. I would like to suggest that you consider reviewing the Pioneer SE Monitor 5. I would be really interested in knowing how you hear it. Based on your take of the HP-3 I would predict that you would find in as much as a closed headphone can, that the Monitor 5 moves much closer to neutrality while still being a crafted signature with some pretty solid bass chops.

    • Reply March 25, 2018

      Lieven

      Thanks. The problem is you just can’t get Pioneer review samples :/

  • Reply April 15, 2018

    Mark

    Simply the VERY BEST headphone around.
    Not an headphone for the useless surgical audiophile but for the REAL Music lover!
    Thank you 🙂

  • Reply July 15, 2018

    March

    I’ve had these for a while, and while I question your assessment about the bass (not that it’s a bit overblown, but that it’s got poor texture), I generally agree with your impressions. As someone who listens to a lot of different genres I feel I’d be hard-pressed to use these as my sole HPs, but what the Klipsch does it does very well. My only regret is that there’s a tad too much energy in the treble for my liking, but I expect to become less treble sensitive in about a decade or so— I could consider these an investment until then.

  • Reply September 6, 2018

    plouplou

    Merci beaucoup pour ce test. Il m’a été d’une grande utilité pour me décider à acheter ce casque dont je suis pleinement satisfait. Néanmoins, j’ai une question.

    En effet, je suis à la recherche d’un ampli casque pour l’associé (budget 600 euros). J’utilise mon HP3 en ce moment avec un fiio Q1 ii avec un résultat très satisfaisant pour le prix.

    J’ai essayé le casque avec l’ampli klipsch de la même gamme, j’ai été très déçu du résultat. L’ampli était relié à un mac par usb audio. Je ne suis pas le seul à être déçu de ce branchement usb audio.

    Pour vous, y a-t-il une différence de qualité entre un branchement en usb audio et un branchement en RCA ou optique concernant l’ampli Klispch ? L’ampli Klipsch Heritage mérite-t-il que je le réessaye avec d’autres types de branchement?

    Merci d’avance,

  • Reply September 6, 2018

    Lieven

    I always seem to prefer coaxial over USB, but in this case I don’t think it will make much difference…

  • Reply September 6, 2018

    plouplou

    Je vais réessayer l’ampli Klipsch une dernière fois. Auriez-vous des suggestions concernant un ampli qui se marierait bien avec le HP3 dans cette gamme de prix (600 euros)? J’aime beaucoup la signature sonore en V.

    Merci pour votre travail.

    • Reply September 27, 2018

      Mike I

      Ampli seul ou ampli-DAC ?

  • Reply October 9, 2018

    plouplou

    I come back to you because I received the dedicated Heritage amp that I could try a lot this weekend. I do not regret my choice. I had the impression to clamp my HP3 headset in use with the Fiio Q1 ii even if it does not go wrong. The advantage is that I could feel the difference from Q1 to Klipsch amp, having been used to the first.

    And there is nothing to say. If there are sedentary amps is that it serves something: more power, width of scene, simply. In the end, after being seen as budget helmets, this association is the one that gave me the most pleasure. Not to mention the aesthetics and the quality of the materials used.

  • Reply December 22, 2018

    Shane D

    Nice review. It sounds like I would like these ‘phones. I prefer Fun over Neutral. I am not wowed by Audeze and I bought and then sold Senn HD6XX.

    There is a dealer that has a demo pair on sale…still at the high end of my budget. Especially when you can’t hear them first. I use the Sony NW-ZX300.

    What to do, what to do…😊

  • Reply September 3, 2019

    andrew ganley

    Good review,i recently purchased the Focal Clear and while loving the sound and build,not overly pleased with the finish.
    I first came across these HP3s online at YouTube and fell for the drop dead gorgeous look and box!
    Wether they are better sounding then my Focal’s is some thing for me to audition
    but if looks can kill these maybe for me!

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