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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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