Klipsch Flexus Core 200 Soundbar Review: Serious Sound for Less

Klipsch’s new Flexus Core 200 is the most powerful and cinematic soundbar I’ve heard at its price. While many of the best soundbars aim to be everything to everyone, Klipsch and its partner Onkyo buckled down to create a simple and skillful Dolby Atmos bar that melds Klipsch sonics with Onkyo electronics for knockout value.

There is a catch, of course. While the Flexus mimics other “modular” soundbar systems, letting you add components like satellite surround speakers and/or a burly subwoofer for a fee, the system omits advancements like auto-calibration to tune to your room, or Wi-Fi support to stream audio from services like Spotify Connect or AirPlay. This limits both the convenience and the quality of streaming music.

That doesn’t mean the Flexus is stuck in the past. You’ll get a modern app that connects over Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) for adjusting EQ and other settings, matched by traditional home theater trappings not found in rivals, like MDF components and a subwoofer out to let you connect any powered sub. However you accessorize, the Flexus Core 200 lives up to its name with fantastic baseline performance that lets you build as you go.

Full Bar

Compared to the growing class of “fun size” Atmos soundbars like the Sonos Beam and Bose Smart Soundbar 600, the Core 200’s massive size is almost startling. Stretching 44 inches across and just over 3 inches high, it looks more like Sony’s $1,000 HT-A5000 than most rivals in its class. Its height also makes it a potential obstacle for those with shorter TVs.

Photograph: Ryan Waniata

It’s got a kick of extra style, trading the usual plastic topside for MDF veneer, flanked on each side by 2.25-inch up-firing drivers designed to bounce sound off your ceiling for 3D sound. Also up top are dual up-firing 4-inch woofers that work in tandem to reproduce remarkably potent bass, again recalling pricier systems like the A5000 or the tubular Sonos Arc.

The Flexus offers fewer speaker channels than those pricier bars, with a more reserved 3.1.2-channel configuration that eschews any side-firing drivers. This limits its ability to throw sound off your walls for more convincing surround sound effects, but Klipsch’s audio prowess still manages to extract fantastic sound out of its minimalist setup.

The bar’s front-firing speakers are cleverly proportioned, including dual 2.25-inch drivers and a ¾-inch tweeter for the center channel and a 2.25-inch driver stretched out to the edges to expand the soundstage. A full-size LED display completes the design, making it easy to check inputs and adjust settings.

Dual Control

Speaking of adjustments, you’ll get nearly everything you need between the Klipsch Connect app and the dedicated remote, though you may need to bounce between each as you set things up. Either option provides control over basics like volume, inputs, and sound modes, including a Night Mode for softening the mood and dedicated Movie and Music modes.

The app adds access to a three-band EQ and control for the surround sound speakers if you choose to add on to the system. Oddly, you’ve got to grab the dedicated remote to raise the height channels for bigger overhead effects, and neither option can raise the center channel volume. Instead, you’ll find a three-level dialog enhancement feature. It works pretty well to pump up dialog in a pinch, but I’d still like to see a center-channel control for balancing between the subtler and more bombastic moments, as I occasionally had to ride the volume to balance things.

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