When it comes to horn based speakers there is one name that immediately pops to mind and that is no other than Klipsch which has made a name over the years for manufacturing great looking and even better performing horn based speakers. But what many may not be familiar with is that Klipsch also has a stellar soundbar lineup that may not be as extensive as LG’s or Samsung’s ones but still there are many options to choose from depending the budget and needs. And so in our Klipsch Cinema 1200 review today we will be looking at the flagship unit Klipsch has on offer for 2021.
Klipsch has four soundbars currently available consisting of the Cinema 400, Cinema 600, Cinema 800 and the one we have here, the Cinema 1200. And although you will probably see the tag of Dolby Atmos on the Cinema 800 also, the Klipsch Cinema 1200 is the only true Dolby Atmos capable one as it is the only one Klipsch has equipped with actual up-firing drivers. Looking at the specs it was pretty obvious from the very beginning that with its price tag and overall channels configuration the Cinema 1200 was aiming pretty high and very well into Samsung HW-Q800A territory.
But before we go more in detail comparing these two let’s see what the Cinema 1200 does actual offer. Klipsch is rating the Cinema 1200 as a 5.1.4 channels Dolby Atmos system with a total power output of 1200 watts which is pretty impressive for any soundbar no matter how you see it. It comes with a subwoofer and surround speakers, it can pass-through, according to Klipsch’s claims, 8K (even though HDMI 2.1 is not mentioned) and Dolby Vision, it can work with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa and support the Klipsch Connect app.
From looking at the general specs above we are sure you did notice one thing. The Klipsch Cinema 1200 is extremely light on features and this is indeed true. While many other soundbars come fully packed with technologies and streaming features it seems that Klipsch decided to keep only the basics and focus on what they know best. Offer the best audio quality possible. But even for a company like Klipsch is this enough when talking about a top of the line soundbar? Let’s find out…
Design, Inputs and Features
Klipsch always made their products have this characteristic look that you would immediately identify them, and it seems that they couldn’t do differently here. But before we talk about its looks we need to mention its size as the Cinema 1200 is one huge soundbar to begin with. In fact, from those we have reviewed so far, only the mighty LG SN11RG seems to be longer than this one as even the Samsung HW-Q950A comes at a smaller size.
Measuring 54 x 3 x 6.2″ (137.2 x 7.5 x 15.7 cm) and with a weight of 42 lb (19.1 kg) this is not a soundbar to play with and you have to make sure you have the space or furniture to place it on. Also with a height of about 3″ we would suggest you to measure if you have the clearance under your TV in order not to obstruct the TV’s IR sensor.
In terms of build quality with such a high price tag you would expect the best but to be honest you will not see that. Unlike many other premium units the Cinema 1200 is using a black cloth grille to cover most of its front and top sides. Using cloth instead of a metallic grille may suit more the style Klipsch is aiming for but surely is harder to clean as it collects dust easier, it is more sensitive as it can be ripped apart and in general it doesn’t give you a sense of a high quality product.
At the end of each side we find two horn based tweeters covered by what seems to be a wood exterior which gives the Cinema 1200 a bit of a style to its otherwise uninteresting boxy look. Both side facets are detachable in order to use different colors but we fail to see how this makes the unit look any better as it is such a subtle change to begin with. On the right side, above the horn we find the built-in buttons providing some basic control while there are two metal rings on top where the two up-firing Atmos drivers are located.
One thing we constantly criticize many soundbar manufacturers for is the kind of displays they are using. We absolutely hate when there is a soundbar with LED indicators showing what the unit is doing forcing us to remember each LED combination. Thankfully Klipsch not only provided a full functions display but it must be the biggest soundbar display we have ever seen and kudos to Klipsch for adding such one. The display can be dimmed or turned off completely after a few seconds if it bothers you.
In the box the Cinema 1200 also comes with special wall mounting brackets but to be honest with such a size and depth it will surely extrude much more than what we would like it to be and surely it will look better if placed on a furniture. The back is a fairly standard sight as we find a couple of insets housing all the connection ports which we will analyze in the appropriate section.
The surround speakers on the other hand feature a more compact and minimalistic design. Klipsch has covered both of them in black fabric grille all around and only the very bottom is exposed with the Klipsch Reference logo attached on it. The surrounds are wireless meaning less cables but they still need to be connected to a power socket so you cannot say they are entirely wireless. Also remember that since these come with up-firing drivers for the Atmos effects the top must be free of obstacles so don’t place them in between selves or something.
But the main unit is not the only one that really impresses with its size. The subwoofer that comes with it is also one of the biggest we have seen in a soundbar measuring an impressive 15.6 x 20.3 x 15.9″ (39.6 x 51.6 x 40.3 cm) in order for the housing to be able to include a 12″ driver which is unheard of in the soundbar world. The subwoofer is using a down-firing design and its ebony-wood cabinet looks like an oversized cube.
Overall the Klipsch Cinema 1200 is a huge monster. It’s big and certainly is not aimed for those looking for a compact soundbar to fit their limited space. Klipsch seems to aim this one to those that have the space but for various reasons they don’t go the separates way and prefer the simplicity a soundbar provides. Quality wise the Cinema 1200 is not bad but certain design decisions by Klipsch finds us against such as the cloth grille or the questionable detachable sides.
The Cinema 1200 is rated as a 5.1.4 channels system so what we have here is the three main channels in the soundbar itself along with two up-firing channels from the front Atmos, two rear speakers for surround activity and also for the rear Atmos effects and lastly the subwoofer for the low frequencies.
This being a Klipsch product it means that horns is in the menu and the Cinema 1200 utilize them for the main channels. As such each of the three main channels utilize two 3″ (76.2 mm) fiber-composite cone woofers along with a single 1″ (25.4 mm) linear travel suspension tweeter that is placed on a proprietary 90 x 90 tractrix horn.
The rear speakers use a 3″ (76.2 mm) fiber-composite cone woofer each while for each of the four Atmos channels there is a 3″ (76.2 mm) up-firing fiber-composite cone woofer.
Lastly for the subwoofer Klipsch decided to go with an enormous 12.01″ (30.5 cm) down-firing cone.
The whole system has an impressive power rating of 1200 watts with a frequency response of 22 Hz to 20 kHz and max SPL of 109 dB.
Let’s see next what connections are offered in this one. As we said above all inputs are placed on two insets at the back of the unit making it a bit hard to reach them all the time. It is mostly aimed to make all connections one time and leave it be.
The one on the right is housing three HDMI ports, with two inputs and one output, which makes the Cinema 1200 capable of being a hub for a couple of your source devices. On the left inset we find the usual Ethernet port, a digital optical input in case your source does not have a HDMI port and a couple of ports that are not so usual to see in a soundbar. An analog input where you can connect the headphones output of your TV or any analog output for that matter and a subwoofer output in order to add a 2nd sub in your setup.
This last one is an odd one really as the Cinema 1200 already has a very powerful subwoofer to begin with but there are certainly some advantages of having two subwoofers in your system although we fail to see how anyone with a soundbar would go for this route. Lastly the power connector is separated from everything else on the right side just by the HDMI ports.
As for the HDMI ports, Klipsch says they can support up to 8K video and also allow for Dolby Vision pass-through. This is where things get a bit messy. With this claim many will surely believe that the Klipsch Cinema 1200 comes with HDMI 2.1 ports. In reality Klipsch nowhere mentions that the unit comes with HDMI 2.1 ports as 8K video can also be passed through from the older HDMI 2.0b if certain criteria are met.
And it’s very puzzling why would Klipsch mention 8K, when there is no such content available, and not promote 4K/120Hz which is very popular at the moment for gamers that seek devices with HDMI 2.1 connectivity. In reality this happens because the Cinema 1200 comes only with HDMI 2.0b ports and it’s a shame that Klipsch is not clear on this. Many have complained about the lack of clarity here and we hope Klipsch will rethink their promotional strategy on this matter.
There is also eARC support which means that if you don’t want to pass the signal through the soundbar to your TV and go the other way around you can do it without loosing Dolby Atmos through Dolby TrueHD audio.
The 2nd subwoofer port is a nice addition if you are a bass freak and adding two HDMI inputs allows for some flexibility but the confusing nature of the HDMI ports leaves a bitter taste to the mouth.
Next we will be looking in the ways you can control the soundbar. We already mentioned a couple of built-in buttons but these provide some very specific functions and for full soundbar control you will certainly need the remote. Being placed on the top right side above the horn tweeter we find a power button, an input selection button and volume controls. These buttons are physical which we vastly prefer as it makes it easier to find them in a low lit environment.
As for the remote this is nothing impressive to talk about. It’s the usual plastic dongle with rubber buttons and uses IR signals for its commands. Buttons are big enough and have good spacing between them and in general its layout is very simple and will not frustrate you trying to find the correct button.
One thing that we loved about it is its backlight function as it is motion based and you don’t have to press a key and this is how every remote for a premium audio device should be.
But except from the remote there is also a dedicated mobile app called Klipsch Connect which lets you control the soundbar in almost the same way the remote does. Unfortunately you would expect the app to come with a few extras that are not available with the remote, as many other brands are doing, but in general we found the app experience to be lacking in comparison.
There are many complaints with Klipsch’s app in general and we can surely agree with them. And it’s not only features missing, the app in general is sluggish and many times it fails to connect. So there is a lot of work that needs to be done in that respect.
The Cinema 1200 does lack a microphone array and thus there is no built-in Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa support. But not everything is lost as the soundbar does support both of them in case you use an external voice control device for either of them.
Extra Features and Services
Looking at the specs sheet one thing becomes immediately obvious about the Cinema 1200. Unlike other premium soundbars this one is rather slim on extra features and shows that Klipsch wanted to focus mostly on its performance rather than adding many extras that ultimately would up the price even more.
First of all let’s see what kind of audio formats are supported and here we find the first big omission. There is Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, LPCM and PCM. No DTS and obviously no DTS:X which is a shame really. With such a hefty price tag DTS should be a given and just for this the Klipsch Cinema 1200 surely will loose a few precious points. If your source supports multi-channel PCM then this is what you get when you try to pass DTS to the Cinema 1200 but this vastly relies on the capabilities of your source device.
As per usual the unit comes with a standard set of sound modes with Standard, Direct, Movie, Music, Game and Party the ones available. There are also Dialogue and Night modes available with each of them offering a few different presets to try from.
Now in terms of calibrations you can adjust the various channels independently but for some reason there is no center channel control! Also you cannot adjust the two main channels while for the height channels there is no individual control for left and right and both of them are adjusted at the same time meaning you will need to place them in equal distances for them to perform the same.
Up until recently one of the main complaints was the lack for better EQ settings adjustments. This seems to have been rectified since the beginning of November as an update has added virtual remote capabilities along with EQ control. Even after the update the app has trouble connecting to the soundbar and although it seems that Klipsch is on the right path we would say that they have to try harder to bring their app quality on par to other brands.
As for any online features the list is rather thin. We do get Bluetooth streaming if you have a Bluetooth capable device or one with Google Home installed and also there is Spotify Connect support.
Any soundbar, either cheap or expensive, should offer an easy to setup and control environment and the Cinema 1200 is no different. In our case we decided to connect our source to the soundbar itself and run a HDMI cable from the HDMI out to our test TV.
Both the surround speakers and the subwoofer connect through a wireless signal which was done without trouble while we also connected the soundbar to our wireless router which was close by. For sound mode we decide to go for Direct although you may also like the Standard or Movie ones. As for the others we cannot say we were thrilled with what the unit did and so we rejected them altogether.
The soundbar doesn’t come with an automated calibration system so everything needs to be done manually. Adjusting the channels levels can be done easily by downloading a decibel meter to your mobile phone and trying to level everything equally. It may not be the most accurate way but we found this to be efficient and easy to do without more professional equipment.
As for the EQ settings we would suggest you tackle these only if you know what you are doing and want to tailor the sound output to your needs. Otherwise you can leave them at their default settings.
And that’s all in terms of setup. Not much else to do here and if you are the kind of person that really wants everything as easy as possible then the Cinema 1200 will surely please you.
So with everything ready we decided our first test to be Greyhound which comes with a really impressive Dolby Atmos mix and has become somewhat of a reference movie for many of our test reviews.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. In terms of dialogue the center channel of the Cinema 1200 makes sure that everything is kept front and center and at the same time clear and easy to hear even when all the action is at full swing. And Greyhound is a film particularly busy with dialogue during most of its action scenes as the captain is issuing his orders to his men constantly while cannon fire is all over the place.
The Cinema 1200 doesn’t hold anything back and when it comes to pure Atmos performance it really stacks up high in the performance ladder. It’s loud, it’s noisy but also knows how to handle more delicate notes and finer details. The horn based tweeters of the main unit do bring slightly more energy on the higher frequencies that some may find a bit excessive but if it didn’t bother us, that we prefer a more balanced output toward the mid-range, then we believe it will be fine with most.
Having surround speakers is huge as this is the only way to really have a real 360 degrees experience and oh boy, the Cinema 1200 knows how to deliver. Cannon projectiles could be felt passing right next to our heads, bullets would fly all over the place and even when some friendly fire ricochet you could sense the level of precision as it passes right in front of the screen and hits the American destroyer.
Important role in all this play of course the Atmos effects and although Greyhound doesn’t have a particularly busy top layer it certainly adds a little bit of depth in order to provide the necessary boost in immersion. Certain effects like rain or underwater scenes, when showing the U-boats, feel much better with more height extension being added.
Now here we need to mention that our ceiling is about 9 feet high and this is the maximum for most up-firing Atmos systems to work properly. If you ceiling is more high or it is not straight then the performance of the Cinema 1200 will greatly vary on that front. With our straight ceiling we got some nice elevated effects although the height these will be heard is not the same as a true Atmos with Height or Ceiling speakers can do.
And with the soundbar providing four Atmos channels the end result was much more fulfilling than just having the two front up-firing speakers that many soundbars only come with. Also we did increase the height channels volume just a notch to make the effects even more distinguishable and we could not be happier with the result.
For last we left the bass and not without reason. The subwoofer coming with the unit is not only huge in size but it can indeed output impressive low end power. So much so that we are sure many will find it more bothering than exciting. The Cinema 1200 does provide some control over the subwoofer output but even that seems to be too little to tame the power of this beast. Now, in our honest opinion with some calibration we found the subwoofer acceptable and within the limits that would allow us to enjoy any kind of film.
But here is the problem. If you don’t like such excessive bass output then the subwoofer volume control will do little to rectify this problem. The only solution, and frankly not so good one, is to set the soundbar in Night mode 1. This will bring down the subwoofer level by as much as 50%. Now why Klipsch would not allow to do this without the need to use the Night mode is beyond our comprehension.
Next test and this time we chose the 4K UHD of Deepwater Horizon which features a reference Dolby Atmos mix. Once again the Cinema 1200 proved to be very consistent with its surround performance. When the oil platform starts to break apart you can hear all the explosions, debris falling and metal breaking in the distance as the hero is trying to escape.
Dialogue was once again very clear and we had no problems at all during our review time. Keep in mind that with no center channel volume control we were a bit concerned if this would pose a problem but ultimately it didn’t, not at least from all the material we threw at it.
The front soundstage came to life as the unit filled almost each inch of our test room with sonic information. The level of directionality was great throughout the running time and the Atmos effects did add this little bit of extra to make the whole experience just a little better.
The bass once again was powerful and sometimes it would be overpowering the rest of the effects but this was only momentarily. Overall the sub had the authority and prowess to bring the destruction to our room but a few moments of boominess were there and can distract if you pay too much attention.
Overall the Klipsch Cinema 1200 felt like a drag racing car. It is big, rough around the edges, noisy as hell but ultimately it was created for one reason only. To put the pedal to the metal and keep you at the edge of your seat for as long as possible. It certainly succeeds in doing that and as a result viewing a movie with it is certainly an experience not easily forgotten.
For our music testing, since there is no USB playback support, we decided to use a wireless connection for streaming which is not the best way possible but the soundbar lacks many options in this respect and this shows that the Cinema 1200 is mostly aimed for movies rather than music.
Also we did try various modes with music and we found the Direct mode to be the best as the rest would alter the music in ways we were not very fond of. So how does it performed? Really nice, for a soundbar. Obviously no soundbar, no matter how expensive it is can compete with fully featured speakers. Their size certainly limits their capabilities but what we actually heard was really nice in comparison with some cheaper offerings.
The front was pretty energetic with the horn based tweeters doing excellent work. Transparency was good and the sources were rendered with good accuracy in space. Some nice stereo panning effects were enhanced due to the extreme length of the unit which also helped with channel separation at the front.
The vocals had a lot of life, energy and emotion although certain moments there were more exciting than what we would like. This very much depends on if you like horn based systems or not and its a totally a personal taste. On the low end once again the 12″ subwoofer made sure its presence was felt. Some very intensive songs on the bass would make the outcome a bit too much even for us but we can certainly see many liking it. It has the power to shake your room and then some.
If you are going to use the Cinema 1200 just for music we can say that there are other, cheaper options to consider. The unit was seriously designed for movies immersion and it shows. Not that it was bad with music, but you are not going to get the same level of excitement as when watching an Atmos film. But if you plan on using it mainly for movies and from time to time get your casual music fix it can do this without any issues.
When you consider buying a soundbar we are sure that the name Klipsch is not the first that comes to mind and not without reason. The Cinema 1200 feels like a bold move on the manufacturer’s part and while they do succeed in many areas they slightly missed the mark in a few others.
On the one hand the kind of surround performance you can get out of it can only be compared to some of the other top rating soundbars like the Samsung HW-Q800A, the LG SN11RG or even the Vizio Elevate. If you have a boxy room with low ceiling then the Cinema 1200 will fill that room in all axis. Initial setup and use experience were great as any soundbar should be. It was like the unit was designed in such a way in order to provide you with the best Atmos performance possible and indeed it does. Lastly the inclusion of two HDMI inputs allows the unit to act as a hub adding some short of flexibility.
But then there are a few areas where Klipsch really missed the mark. With such a high price we believe it is unacceptable not to include DTS and DTS:X support. Also the app is an area where Klipsch needs to improve a lot in order to even compete with the other brands. The subwoofer excessive output may be disliked by many, extra features are on the light side while we urge Klipsch to be more clear when it comes to what kind of HDMI ports the unit comes with as it may seem it comes with HDMI 2.1 when in fact it does not.
Closing we will say this. The Klipsch Cinema 1200 is one hell of a beast. It has its flaws and weaknesses and certainly is not an all around unit as some competing soundbars are but if your main goal is using it for movies then this one ranks pretty high in our recommendation list.