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Klipsch’s latest portable Bluetooth speaker, the Gig, is a well-designed $199.99 (direct) option that features a swiveling kick stand so you can angle the drivers to face various directions. The Gig can get quite loud for its size, and delivers a more powerful sense of bass than most wireless speakers in this price range. However, on tracks with seriously deep bass, it can often distort at top volumes, which is a bit disappointing considering its pricing. Regardless, at moderate to high volumes, the distortion can be avoided, and the portable Gig provides a very sculpted listening experience that will appeal to fans of rich lows and crisp highs—though it may be a bit too sculpted for purists to enjoy.
The Gig is offered in a cream-colored motif as well as a black-and-silver model; if those two schemes are insufficient, Klipsch sells a range of additional color bands for $24.99 each. Measuring 3.6 by 7 by 2.1-inches, the 1.4-pound speaker, like the Bose SoundLink Mini, is on the larger end of the portable Bluetooth speaker scale. In other words, the rounded rectangular contour, with its built-in, swivel stand that allows for various speaker angles, is portable in the sense that you can move it around and it runs on an internal lithium ion battery. But its size might overwhelm a purse or small bag, and it’s not a pocketable option.
The stand, which is easily removable, makes it possible for the Gig to sit flat on a table top and project sound upward, or sit at multiple angles, though not all of the angles seem to stay in place. There’s a locking mechanism that holds the speaker in place only when sitting at a perfect right angle, projecting sound forward, toward the listener instead of up toward the ceiling.
Behind the speaker grille, two 1-inch drivers and two 2-inch passive bass radiators combine to output a hefty audio signal. A volume dial is located along one of the side panels, and it houses a multi-function button in its center that controls Play/Pause, Track navigation, as well as answering calls and ending them, and putting a call on mute. This button also doubles as the status indicator, telling you whether you’re paired or not, and how much battery life you have left. Along the back panel, there’s a 3.5mm aux input (a cable is included), the USB port for charging (a cable is included for this, as well), and the Power/Pairing switch. Klipsch Gig inline
In addition to the two cables, the Gig ships with a wall charger that the USB cable plugs into, and international outlet adapters for it. These accessories get their own carrying pouch, and the speaker itself gets a larger carrying pouch, both of which are black cloth drawstring bags. Klipsch estimates the Gig’s battery life at about 12 hours of standard use, and 4 hours of use at maximum volume.
Audio cues let you know when you’re in pairing mode, paired, or powered up—and they are guitar strums, which will either make you smile or annoy you. Regardless, the pairing process with an iPhone 5s was simple and quick. If you have an NFC-enabled device, you can also pair with the Gig using this function—the NFC sensor is near the volume dial.
The Gig employs digital signal processing (DSP), which typically ensures that there will be no distortion by limiting a track’s transient peaks at higher volumes. On the Gig, however, the DSP can’t quite restrain tracks with serious sub-bass content, like the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” from distorting. At this price, that’s a bit of a disappointment—distortion shouldn’t be part of the equation at $200. It’s not shocking when you see the size of the Gig, however—it’s bigger than many portable Bluetooth speakers, but a boom box it is not.
Despite the distortion at higher volumes on deep bass tracks, the Gig does manage to pump out a hefty amount of bass response at moderate-to-high volumes. The Knife track that distorts sounds full and clean, with a thumping beat, at moderate volume levels. Basically, adjusting either the max volume on the speaker or your device will solve the distortion problem on deep bass tracks, so it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, especially considering how loud the speaker can get at medium volume levels to begin with.
On Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” his vocals receive a nice, smooth low-end presence, complimenting his rich baritone delivery nicely. The crisp highs give his vocals and the guitar strumming enough treble edge to standout, despite the bass presence. And the drums get a nice dollop of low-end presence, as well, but the Gig keeps the bass boosting on this track fairly subtle.
Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” manages to almost completely avoid distortion—at max volumes on both the speaker and the sound source, the vocals start to waiver a bit whenever the sub-bass synth hits come into the picture, but at just slightly lower levels, there’s no distortion. The kick drum loop’s attack gets plenty of high-mid presence, allowing it to slice through the mix, while the bass radiators provide a convincing sense of the kick drum’s low-end sustain, and a laudable amount of heft for the sub-bass synth stabs.
Classical tracks, like John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances,” also receive a subtle boosting in the lows, allowing the lower register strings to have a bit more body and life, but the spotlight still belongs to the higher register strings, brass, and percussion, which take advantage of the sculpted highs.
The comparably priced Bose SoundLink Mini doesn’t suffer from the distortion issues the Gig has at maximum volumes, but it arguably has less low frequency push at moderate levels. If these options are out of your price range, the Panasonic SC-NT10 and the Skullcandy Air Raid are both solid portable Bluetooth speaker options, but obviously, they’re going to deliver a less intense, powerful audio experience. For $200, the distortion is disappointing, but the Gig can be used at high volumes without the problem rearing its ugly head—and it delivers a better sense of bass than most portable Bluetooth options $200 and under.
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