Klipsch The One Plus vs. The Three Plus, small and light noise-cancelling headphones (Week 2, 2024)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 02, 2024

Q. Back in 2018 I took your advice and got the Cambridge Audio Air 100 speaker for $144.99. It is fantastic! (I tried to get the bigger Air 200, but missed out.) Today I read your column about the Klipsch The One Plus. Intrigued, I went to their website and saw they also offer a bigger speaker, The Three Plus, for $399. Is The Three Plus a worthwhile upgrade from my Air 100? Would there be another possible upgrade? My main source for music is Spotify from an iPad or S20 Samsung phone.

-B.O., Santa Clara, CA

A. I anticipated questions such as yours after writing about my positive experience with the Klipsch The One Plus, so I went on to check out the $399 The Three Plus. Both the Air 100 and The Three Plus are fine speakers, but your Air 100 is more analogous to The One Plus than to the The Three Plus, which is a larger speaker. The Air 200 would be a more suitable comparison to The Three Plus so if you are looking to make up for missing out on the bigger speaker last time around, you are on the right track.

The Air 100 dates all the way back to 2013 and the design and construction reflects the aesthetic of those times. The Three Plus looks and feels like fine furniture with its real walnut wood finish, luxurious grill cloth and aluminum volume dial. I would consider this an upgrade in itself. Sonically, the midrange and treble are similarly excellent on both speakers but the larger Klipsch excels with openness and dynamics, with a punchier overall presentation. It is warmer sounding and fills the room effortlessly, with fuller and deeper bass by virtue of the 5.25-inch woofer. The more substantial bass is a big part of what you get when you purchase a larger speaker. It also has a wide range of adjustments via the Klipsch app to tune the sound to your taste, though it really does not need any tweaking.

If The Three Plus appeals to you I suggest trying it yourself. Klipsch has free shipping and a 90-day return period so you will have plenty of time to evaluate and decide if it is right for you. Besides, I am sure you have more than one room that can use beautiful music!

As for another possible upgrade, if you want a surefire and dramatic step up that would be the Technics SC-C70MKII for $1,099. It has a built-in CD player, high resolution network streaming over Wi-Fi, Spacetune to match the sound to your room acoustics, and is chock full of Technics’ advanced amplifier and speaker technology. Despite the compact size it sounds like two very good floorstanding speakers driven by high quality electronics. I was enthusiastic about the SC-C70 when I first heard and wrote about it, and despite the price it found a lot of fans in my audience who were thrilled with their purchase.

Q. I am considering noise-cancelling headphones but I’m specifically interested in a pair that are small and light so that I can use them when traveling. All of the ones I see pictured appear quite bulky. I would prefer to spend $200 or less if I can get something satisfying for that amount.

L.T., Los Gatos, CA

A. My favorite under $200 is still the Soundcore Space Q45 for $149.99. They are not bulky for a noise-cancelling model and besides the fine sound, the noise cancellation is extremely effective and eerily quiet. The $99 Soundcore Space One headphones are worth a look, too.