The Belle Klipsch Project – Thank you!

This is my first post and I wanted to thank this group for helping me through a project of passion.

Around 5 years ago my friend traded me 2 pair of speakers for his pair of 1978 era Klipsch Belles. I have been a Klipsch fan since the 70s so the 1978 era Belles were a welcome addition to my 1960’s – 1970’s vintage set-up.
He had inherited the pristine pair of Belles from his aunt who owned a Motel in Hope Arkansas. She hosted a parade of Japanese and other guests interested on what was going on in Paul Klipsch’s factory. Paul eventually “gifted” her this pair of Belles in appreciation, according to my friend. The reason I say “gifted” is that there are no serial numbers anywhere on the speakers, not even on the sticker still pasted to the back.

The speakers were all original and I was driving them with various Nakamichi amps and an AR XA, and Thorens TT. Once COVID hit in early 2020, I was spending much more time at home and began pulling the trigger on some upgrades that I had been thinking about. One item at a time I began replacing components and listening to the amazing results. All changes were made to make the Belle’s sing better, and as MC and others love to remind us each change made a difference. Thankfully, the differences were all positive. I also bought Robert Harleys book to help me understand the interplay better.

I understand I may not find audio nirvana until I shed the Belles, but now I am emotionally attached to them, so they stay.  The project was to make the Belles sing without losing the integrity of the original design.

By reading your feedback each day for the past year, I began making one change at a time. Below I have listed my changes in 2020 in order of appearance:  

•  Replaced original crossover with ALK Extreme Slope Crossover – WOW… Harmonica now sounds like a harmonica instead of a recording of a harmonica. Bass is upgraded and falls into place.  

• Wrapped Horns in Dynamat – OK nicer at higher volumes.

• Replaced Nakamichi 730 with McIntosh MA 8900. You can imagine! I have now entered the 21st century. I got a deal I could not turn down on a floor model at a local dealer. Had to see for myself if the McIntosh-Klipsch relationship was really all that. Yes SS not tubes, but I love it!

• Had Soundsmith re-tip my Denon DL-160 cartridge: More detail better bass (am still using my Thorens TD-150. I feel that this little guy punches way above its weight compared to other sub $1K TTs)

• Put a decorative floor-to-ceiling hinged blind (part wood part fabric) in the close corner to help focus bass. Noticeable improvement, still muddy on the edges.

• Covered hardwood floor with more carpet and purchase curtains for the windows. Happier…

• 2 sets of NobSound springs under TT. It progresses from Springs to Maple Cutting board to Springs directly under the TD-150 – THIS helped crisp up the highs and unmuddied the bass some more.

• Replace Monster cable with Blue Jean and Cable Elevators: Things REALLY came alive. Eventually I will invest in high-end cables, once I get the $$.

• Synergistic Research: Orange fuse (as a Christmas gift) – It does make a difference, even unknowing /blind listening sessions with guests.  They noticed when I played one song with and without.

I went from loving the “Idea” of my Belles to loving their sound. I can now sit in my sweet spot and turn up the volume to 80+ db and not cringe, the SQ is more balanced. Now, each morning I wake up looking forward to which of the 2500 albums I should listen to before work. I sit with my coffee and listen to the music in a new light. Each evening it’s the same ritual, and on days off I can get lost in it. 

Next I want to play with putting the Belles on Pavers and Isolating them more.  

Am I “there” yet? Hell no! But I love the process and the results, so thank you all for your knowledge and thoughts.


"...I understand I may not find audio nirvana until I shed the Belles, but now I am emotionally attached to them, so they stay..."  

It sounds like you have. 
Good work. No wonder you are pleased. For your next act, upgrade amp again, as there is a huge disparity between current amp and potential.  MUCH more to get from those speakers,  perhaps more than any change to date. Don't doubt me on this.  :)  send me a message if you want my recommendation.  
 WOW you super charged them Belle's, very nice. can you share with us what Model ALK Extreme Slope Crossover did you go with? and why.  had you heard them before? I may go in that direction with my Belle's.

Thank you, I am sure giving it a try. 
While the new crossover is pricey and you do have to wait as Al builds them to order, it is absolutely worth it.  Everything came much more into focus and the speakers seemed to blend into the background as as the soundstage broadened. 
With his crossovers you also have more control as you can attenuate (control the levels) of both the tweeter and midrange.  I ended up backing off on the squawker 4 db and it really helps. 
To answer your question, I had not heard them before, I just took the leap.  I am very happy.   Here is the link to the crossover that I have
I have the ES500, you will also need the companion ES5800 if you are keeping your Belle's stock.  Just give Al a call if you have questions, he is no BS, but very informative and will guide you well.  
Don't forget to Dynamat your horns.  Some say to double wrap the mids.  I did not do this.  

Let me know how it goes, not much info out there for us Belle owners, even on the Klipsch forum.  I'd love to hear about your adventures with these iconic speakers.  
Yes, put as much Dynamat ( equally between pairs ) as you can, on the horns ( tweeters, woofer frames and between the crossovers and doghouses. ). Another area to improve, is to dampen the " bracket " at the driver end of the mid horn ( when music is playing, put your hand on the bracket, as it will be vibrating to the music ). The job of the bracket is to help support the weight of the mid horn with the front baffle ( using the top of the doghouse ). Now, if you accept an equipment change upgrade, I feel your turntable and tonearm are mediocre, at best. I am no longer doing vinyl, because my ears could no longer afford the vinyl front end required to bring me, to " listening to the music ", and not the " vinyl / stylus " interaction. Anyone into high end vinyl playback, might know what I am speaking of. Just an opinion based on my own experiences.
 I will have to try more Dynamat.  It can't hurt!.  I'm wondering if I should have the crossovers sit on Dynamat too???? Or should they be directly attached to the doghouse?  I agree on your upgrade path suggestion.  I have been doing mucho research and am currently looking looking at Dr Feickert and Acoustic Signature due to the quality and ability for more than one arm.  I am of the mind "Buy once buy well".  I have spent a lot of time dabbling in the low to midfi range.  Time to step up.  Just need to save the $$$$ to get it done.  Also leaning toward Origin Live for the initial arm.  Haven't listened to any of it yet, but I intend to before purchasing.  Thanks for your thoughts!
Absolutely, between the crossovers and the doghouses, as I mentioned above. I miss my vinyl, for sure, but I was in it at such a high investment already, and still, always heard imperfections in the vinyl playback, it drove me nuts. Enjoy and be well ! Always, MrD.