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The best on-ear headphones for under $100

A Review On: Klipsch Image ONE Premium On-Ear Earphones

Klipsch Image ONE Premium On-Ear Earphones

Rated # 89 in Over-Ear
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $50.00
phillyd
Posted · Updated · 3487 Views · 2 Comments

Pros: Inexpensive, durable, lightweight, good sound, bass, in-line remote

Cons: A bit small for over-ear, a bit big for on-ear, thin cable/connector

These are my favorite headphones of all time. They aren't the best sounding or looking or the best quality build, but they aren't lacking and can be found for VERY cheap.

 

Quality and looks

The looks are very good. I would prefer a matte finish but the leather-texture on the back of the ear cups looks very nice. The chrome also looks nice. They are small and look completely non-pretentious. The build quality is shocking. While very thin, small and light, these headphones have survived about 2 years of abuse from me with no issues. The cable is thin and small but the connectors and in-line mic/remote have not worn down. I could not be happier in this category

 

Sound

The sound is very impressive. They are 32 Ohm, so they can easily be driven by a phone or iPod. However, they scale VERY well with a good DAC and AMP.

 

The bass is a strength for these. The extension is very impressive. Low-notes in trap songs like Trap or Die 2 by Young Jeezy or Lost by Gorilla Zoe are the only things that give these headphones any trouble. The bass does lack accuracy a bit this low, but it is still impressive. Hard hitting bass like a good kick drum sounds great too. They hit hard without dampening the mids. When amplified, the bass sounds very juicy.

 

The mids are well balanced, though a tiny bit warm. Personally, I very much like this. They are definitely not as good as you would expect from an audiophile headphone, but for a portable headphone, especially with the price in mind, these are very good in the mids.

 

The highs are not terribly sharp or at all fatiguing, but still clear and even a bit sparkly. Sound great for all genres. They become more present when amplified

 

The sound stage is lacking. Without a good DAC and AMP, they do sound very compressed. However, when paired with a Schiit Vali/Modi or a Fiio E17, they do open up.

 

Genres

With rock music, they do well, but are a bit imbalanced without amplification. After being amped and paired with a good DAC, the guitars come through very well, and all kinds of vocals sound good. Cymbals are not too bright, but can be a tad sharp if not amplified. the drums are a bit recessed, as the upper mids are not these headphone's strong point. However, bass guitars and kick drums sound very good.

 

With metal, these cans are quite good. The only complaint I would have is a tiny bit of sharpness with cymbals at high volumes. The heavily distorted guitars don't muddy up the rest of the sound, and clean guitars sound very detailed. They don't do anything for the lack of bass and low-mids that much metal suffers from, but that isn't the fault of the headphones and can be helped with EQ. Snare drums sound very good, but don't overpower any of the sound.

 

With rap, these things are fantastic. Vocals are forward and balanced. High electronic noises are clear but not overbearing, and the bass is very impressive. Nothing stands out, and nothing is lacking. This is the best genre for these headphones when unamplified without a doubt. They do very well when amped as well.

 

These sound good with other genres such as orchestra and jazz, but I don't listen to them enough to comment about how they do.

 

Value

This is the shocker. These can easily be found for under $50 lightly used. Even at $100 new, I think they sound better than ATH-M50's or any other offering. They often go as low as $30-35 for lightly used models, and at that price, they are stupidly good.

 

Conclusion

Though they are not perfect, they have proven to keep me interested for 2 years. They brought me out of the dark for audio (I upgraded from skullcandy) and they still are enjoyable to listen to. I highly endorse these headphones!

2 Comments:

General opinion on these is that they're seriously bass-heavy, so either Klipsch has made a revision or you're quite the basshead. I had a pair of the Reference One, and couldn't listen for more than thirty minutes without serious bass fatigue.
Even at $100 new, I think they sound better than ATH-M50's or any other offering.
 
You lost me there.
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