Lush, speaker-like sound
Potent Dolby Atmos
Oddly limited sound customization
No DTS decoding
Massive, boomy subwoofer
While the singular Sonos and Sony bars (the S brands?) let you add speakers as you go, the Cinema 1200 is a complete surround sound system. Its top competitor is Samsung’s own Atmos giant, the HW-Q950A soundbar. But instead of loading drivers into every nook and cranny like Samsung’s 9.1.4-channel machine, the 5.1.4-channel Cinema 1200 trades on gaming-centric features, “wood material” speaker cabinets, and a brutish subwoofer that’s not only the biggest in the segment, but also the largest cabinet I’ve ever dragged into my living room.
Whether it’s right for you may come down to both its high price and your desire for features like customization and DTS sound decoding (the 1200 doesn’t have it). But if you’re willing to make some compromises there, the payoff is rib-shaking, house-quaking, Dolby Atmos fun.
About the Klipsch Cinema 1200 soundbar
Here are the important specs to know about the Klipsch Cinema 1200:
Height x Width x Depth: 2.93 x 54 x 6.19 inches (bar), 20.38 x 15.63 x 15.88 inches (sub)
Weight: 42 pounds total
Speaker channels: 5.1.4 channels, including 1-inch drivers (3x), 3-inch woofers (6x), 3-inch height drivers (4x), one 12-inch subwoofer
Amplification: 1,200 watts peak power
Wireless connection: Wi-Fi, Spotify Connect, Chromecast
Wired connection: HDMI ARC/eARC, HDMI 2.1 in (2x), digital optical, analog, USB, subwoofer output
Smart features: Alexa and Google Assistant support (require added speaker)
Sound formats: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos (no DTS)
Video support: 4K/HDR passthrough at 120Hz (includes Dolby Vision), 8K passthrough, VRR and ALLM passthrough
The Cinema 1200 arrived in a trio of boxes so over-taped and rigged with cardboard it took about twice as long to unpack as competing bars. Once I got all the pieces free of their foam and cardboard prisons I found all the accessories needed, including a stylish backlit remote and batteries, all necessary connection cables, a manual, and mounting materials.
Connection is simple enough for a setup this size: the wireless subwoofer and surround speakers synced up instantly, and the latter even sport convenient left/right selector switches rather than being pre-assigned. Once I ran the included HDMI cable to my LG C1’s eARC port, I was ready to play. One point to note is that, while the bar’s input says “ARC” it actually supports modern HDMI eARC for uncompressed, high bitrate audio from compatible TVs. The system also includes dual HDMI 2.1 inputs for connecting modern playback devices directly.
The last step, connecting to Wi-Fi for smart assistant and network streaming, requires the rudimentary Klipsch Connect app. The app gave me a bit of trouble at first, seeming to forget the bar for a moment, but eventually conceded.
What we like
Smooth, speaker-esque sound
The first thing I noticed about the Cinema 1200’s sound was just how effortlessly I was able to transition from my excellent KEF LSX 2.1 speaker setup. The bar’s sumptuous detail in the midrange is met with stark clarity up top to enhance virtually any video content, from Frasier Crane’s dulcet radio voice to rich horn and string backdrops in movies. Watching the spooky horror flick Ghost Stories on Hulu was positively symphonic as the orchestral swells rushed forth to ramp up the scares.
At 54-inches wide, the Cinema 1200 is by no means a compact soundbar, but it’s still confined to a height just shy of three inches. Even still, a mix of impressive sound design, Klipsch’s famed tractrix horn tweeters, and wooden cabinet materials in place of molded plastic helps this system sound more like real speaker components than most rivals. And while I’ll get deeper into this below, the absolute girth of the bass provided by its mondo sub is immersive in its own right, filling the room with rumbling force that can’t be ignored.
Having just purchased my first-ever OLED TV, I found the Cinema 1200 an excellent counterpart, bolstering the display’s luscious color and brilliant contrast with its own remarkable attention to the subtleties of sound. The two worked together to create a cinematic presentation that lets you savor the little moments like a gourmet meal. There are a few exceptions: I noticed some content like Seinfeld can come off a bit nasally in the dialogue. But overall, performance is notable across genres.
Music streaming is a slight step down. The subwoofer, while powerful and overall well-tuned, is forced to do too much heavy lifting in some tunes due to the frequency crossover point (i.e. the point in which the sub takes over for the bar). A 12-inch cone should not be asked to do a run of 16th notes, and it falls behind the beat in moments like the counterpart bass melody in the Raconteour’s “Carolina Drama.” With a sub this enormous, it would have been nice for Klipsch to include a crossover dial to account for this.
For most music, though, I appreciated the same sound traits applauded above, especially in the bar’s Direct Mode which plays the music as intended rather than forcing a surround upmix. Vocals are sweetly drawn, stringed instruments are clear and organic, and horns burst with symphonic glow.
Thunderous lows meet Atmos heights
The Cinema 1200’s 12-inch subwoofer deserves to be called out again here because it is an absolute mammoth machine in more ways than one. Before I’d turned it down via the remote’s Sub button (I recommend at least -3 in smaller rooms), I reveled in its power even as it overwhelmed the higher frequencies to some extent. In fact, a rattling sound on my console seems to have been my TV’s ultra-thin display; I’m not sure that’s exactly a compliment, but for bass heads it’s a badge of honor.
Once tamed, the thunder below pairs well with the lightning overhead (literally in some cases), as the Cinema 1200’s four upfiring drivers beautifully reproduce Dolby Atmos height elements. While sound doesn’t zing around the room as fluidly as what you’ll hear from Samsung’s zillion-driver machine, it's very immersive, including effects like rain drops that really feel like they're falling directly above you, or strafing jets that zoom past your ears.
Even outside Dolby Atmos content, the Cinema’s large surround speakers offer impressive quality and immersion for a soundbar. For events like NFL or MLB games, it’s fun to ramp up the surround a bit (easily done with the remote’s dedicated button) and let the crowd noise place you dead center in the action.
A design that bucks the plastic trend
Though this may well be the biggest system of its kind, the Cinema 1200’s wood-material cabinets not only allow for smooth and sweet resonance, but they also make the system look pretty dang classy. Those yearning for a traditional multi-component system may find the Cinema 1200 a worthy compromise—as long as you can find room for that subwoofer, of course.
Ample next-gen connection options
Added via a firmware update, the Cinema 1200’s HDMI eARC makes getting the highest quality audio much easier from any eARC-ready TV (including most TVs from 2020 on), as it allows full-bandwidth audio transference. This lets the soundbar do the decoding rather than your TV, and also eliminates sync issues. Like regular HDMI ARC, you can also control volume and power on the bar with your TV remote.
HDMI eARC is standard for modern soundbars, but the Cinema 1200 goes further with dual HDMI 2.1 inputs, allowing 8K video passthrough, 4K HDR (including Dolby Vision and HDR10+) at 120Hz, and even support for gaming features like Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate (the first bar I’ve tested to add them). What’s all that mean? You should be able to plug in your PS5 and Xbox Series X/S into the bar directly without sacrificing either your TV’s inputs or its gaming optimization features.
What we don’t like
Limited sound customization
I love that you can easily tweak the sub, surrounds, and even the height channels from the remote. The oversized LED display helps make the process simple and intuitive (though you’ll want to turn it to “Off” mode or it stays on constantly). Still, with a bar like this, I’d expect a full menu for digging deeper into the sound settings, and that’s simply not provided.
The biggest miss is a lack of center channel adjustment, which means dialogue can occasionally get a little buried in the chaos of major action scenes. There is a three-level Dialog Mode key that helps, but it’s not as effective as center-channel control.
You also can’t adjust the left/right front or height channels individually (though that’s less of an issue for most rooms). And while there are multiple sound modes, apart from the Direct Mode (which will play the exact signal unaltered) and Party Mode (which plays stereo out of all speakers), they all sound pretty similar. There’s also no form of EQ control, and no way to tell what sound format you’re receiving.
Finally, there’s no form of automated room calibration. While I always like to make my own adjustments, room calibration is a great starting point and something I expected to see. For a system seemingly designed to mimic a traditional surround setup (price point included), the lack of customization options is somewhat baffling.
An app that barely counts
The lack of customization is also mirrored in the app experience. I’ve gotten after a few bars in the past, including Sony’s HT-A7000, for not offering enough features or options in their accompanying app. But while Sony’s bar has a full on-screen menu to make up for it, the Cinema 1200 really has no equivalent to fill in for its near barren app.
Connecting to the internet, sourcing smart assistants, and Spotify control; that’s all you get. The app offers none of the settings adjustments lacking from the bar’s main interface mentioned above like EQ or channel adjustment, let alone input swapping or other settings options. Klipsch says these features are coming, but I can only judge the system on what I see and, at when it comes to the app at the moment, that’s not much.
Some sizeable feature omissions
Alongside a lack of customization options, the Cinema 1200 skips out on a few other notable options expected at this price. Those include Apple AirPlay 2, a nice addition for Apple Music fans, and most notably, DTS decoding. As in the bar doesn’t have it at all.
That’s surprising for a system like this, though not debilitating. As Klipsch points out, DTS sound isn’t used on any streaming service I’ve seen (Dolby holds court there), and for DTS Blu-ray mixes like The Lord of the Rings you’ll likely have the option to let your Blu-ray player do the decoding and send out up to 7.1 audio via multi-channel PCM (rather than sending out Bitstream for the bar to decode). But if you’re a fan of DTS:X, the biggest Dolby Atmos rival on hard disc, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
A sub the size of an ottoman
While it’s been something of a theme, it’s worth noting that the Cinema 1200’s subwoofer may be grand, but it also makes my 8-inch Pioneer Elite sub look like a Mini Cooper in comparison. It is massive, folks, and you’ll need to stake out a fair bit of living room real estate for it.
Should you buy it
Maybe, if you crave thunderous bass over home theater extras
Klipsch’s Cinema 1200 is a gorgeous machine that makes easy work of turning your living room into a potent, almost-at-the-theater experience. With catastrophic bass, immersive overhead effects, and a smooth and sweet sound signature, it’s a formidable one-stop Dolby Atmos sound system. It also offers ample connection options and excellent support for gaming features.
That said, at the moment, it’s missing some home theater features that could make Samsung’s HW-Q950A a better fit for those seeking a more well-rounded experience. While it doesn’t have the same gaming options, the Q950A offers full DTS decoding (including DTS:X), as well as convenience features like an automated sound-mode analyzer, auto-room calibration, and a well-stocked app to fine-tune its many channels. And it does so at a lower price. If you don’t mind wired surround speakers, Vizio’s much cheaper Elevate soundbar also provides DTS:X decoding, plenty of features, and impressive Dolby Atmos sound, though its performance can’t quite match up with those pricier bars.
Sony’s standalone HT-A7000 is also better stocked when it comes to convenience features and surround sound decoding. While expensive, it allows you to build your system piece by piece, starting at a comparatively lower starting investment of $1,300. The one notable caveat is that, while the A7000 does offer 8K and 4K/HDR passthrough at 120Hz, it currently does not offer VRR or ALLM passthrough for next-gen gaming consoles. As we've stated for other bars, at this price you're also close to investing in a discrete, fully decked-out traditional surround system.
The Klipsch Cinema 1200’s high price point is somewhat a victim of the times. Originally priced at $1,699, Klipsch says the new MSRP is due to the rise in material costs and supply chain issues. If you can stomach the high cost, this is a fun (and powerful) Atmos machine, with some future-facing features and fantastic sound quality. Once Klipsch adds more customization, it will be all the easier to recommend. In the meantime, if you want the thump of thunder that only a 12-inch sub can provide, the Cinema 1200 really is the only soundbar that fits the bill.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Managing Editor - Electronics@ryanwaniata
Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2013. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.
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