OK, brass tacks time. How does it sound? After listening to a variety of music, at a variety of listening levels, there's some obvious differences. We used music from hard rock like AC/DC, Queensryche, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters as well as softer fare like Jennifer Wells, Vienna Teng, Alison Krauss, etc.... we listened to a LOT of stuff. Stock Speaker Impressions
Before the changes, as I mentioned several times already, the stock Forte III was great. In fact it was my favorite Klipsch speaker of all time. Sure, it didn't go quite as loud/dynamic as the Cornwall or the Klipschorn, but on the other hand, it's a lot smoother than those speakers and more of a refined, audiophile presentation. So for me the Forte was a first re: Klipsch - a speaker that could rock, but also a speaker that could play a string quartet, solo piano or a girl with a guitar well.
When we hooked them up to Danny's system, they sounded great on all the standard audiophile fare, which was surprising to Danny but less surprising to me as I'd lived with them for several months already. There was a bit of aggressiveness to some of the vocals and a few of the guitars but overall it was quite nice.
Then we put on some rock and they sounded great, again! Kick drum, bass guitar, male vocals, all sounded good. Except on one of the tracks from AC/DC, Hell's Bells - there was a weird thing that happened with the electric guitar - it shrank and sounded like it was coming from an AM radio. Very odd. And of course the speakers are generally so fast and clear that they just beg you to turn them up. So we did. But when we got it even to moderately loud levels, things got muddy. Short Summary of Changes Made
Based on the measurements, the crossover had to be re-designed from scratch as I mentioned before, but after the re-design, the small peak at 1khz was gone. And after thoroughly bracing the cabinet, adding norez everywhere and putting fiberglass insulation at the top and bottom of each cabinet, we got an even cleaner spectral decay. The low bass was now tuned to 40hz, perfect for my needs. Re: part used, I decided to use Danny's capacitors and speaker wire for this upgrade so I could give impressions that would align with whatever kit will be made available. Upgraded Speaker Impressions
Even with zero burn in on the crossover it was immediately apparent that the changes made a big improvement. Bigger than I thought they would. Honestly I really liked the stock speaker and was just hoping for something 'somewhat better', that would have made me happy. What I got was something a LOT better.
Putting on some hard rock, we noticed that the clean/fast/dynamic presentation they had before was even better. Quite a bit better. The sense of energy and engagement from the musicians just leapt out of the speakers. Wow, that was amazing. But what happens when we turn it up, what about that muddiness? Well, over the next few songs we turned it up HELLA LOUD and no muddiness at all. They were like these inert, still boxes unleashing holy hell and just didn't even blink. That was a major, major improvement. And the bass, ah, the bass was exactly what I wanted. Deeper, more punchy, more detail, more energy, and clean as a whistle. And male vocals? Oh man, there's just something special about a large paper woofer producing male vocals - there's a heft and authority to it that other types of drivers just can't really match.
Back to some more sane level music and Jennifer Warnes, Vienna Teng, Alison Krauss - sweeter and more beautiful than I've ever heard through these speakers. Compared to my $20k Super7 speakers in my main system in my dedicated listening room in my garden level basement, they didn't soundstage layer or have the uber finessed detail. But the Forte's were a LOT closer to the Super7s now than they were before the mod. Way more resolution and delicacy than before. Based on the change in frequency response, I expected a smoother sound (which we got), but I didn't expect the increase in sheer resolution that we got. The other thing I noticed was that the other members in the band all seemed to step up in personality and style. In other words, they sounded less like a bunch of generic backing musicians and more like a BAND that had played together & knew each other well and played in a very individual way, but together, if that makes any sense.
OK, so that's it for impressions. Was it worth it? Hell yeah. It didn't fundamentally change the speaker, but it took what the Forte III was already good at and made it much better. It didn't lose any of that "Klipsch Magic", in fact it seriously increased the Klipsch Magic.