Pros: Comfort. Isolation. Solid build. Okay sound.
Cons: Cable noise. Straight plug. Tips may not fit everyone. Sound quality could stand to be better.
I have seen these recommended by many, reviewer and consumer alike. It' has been given praise for being an excellent replacement, and even a step up, from those iBuds and Earpods that are included with every iPod and iPhone. Some have even said that these make a great starting point for anyone interested in better audio. So, do these live up to their reputation?
Well, as always, I will start by listing the listening material used to test this pair of earphones. Please note that these have been burned-in, if you are the sort of person that cares, and believes in such a scenario.
- Radiohead: Ok Computer (ALAC)
- Radiohead: In Rainbows (ALAC)
- Drake: Nothing Was The Same (ALAC)
- Michael Jackson: Dangerous (ALAC)
- Michael Jackson: Thriller (ALAC)
- Gorillaz: Demon Days (mp3)
- Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (ALAC)
*Please note that these were not in anyway amped. They were driven straight out of each device. Though, surprisingly, these are pretty hard to drive. I found myself turning up the volume a bit more than normal on every device I tried.
- Dell Inspiron 15
- iPod Nano 6th Gen
- Sony Xperia S
Build Quality and Comfort:
The S3's housing is made entirely out of plastic. Though that may seem worrisome, I wouldn't put too much stock in it. They are built well enough that the predominantly plastic build should give no worries. What will, though, is the “tangle resistant” wire. It has a nice, if somewhat annoying, rubber feel to it. The problem though, is that it's thin, terminates in a straight 3.5mm jack, and causes plenty of cable noise - more than any other IEM I have ever heard in fact. Even little touches and rubs against clothes are audible. Using these outdoors with out a shirt clip, and perhaps (if your so inclined to do so) worn over the ear, is near impossible. On the plus side, these are some of the most comfortable earphones I've ever shoved into my ever so eager ears. Along with those ~patented~ Klipsch eartips, these just disappear into the ear. Even better, is that these can be comfortably worn over the ear, all but eliminating the cable noise issue. Hats off to whoever designed the eartips, as they are simply amazing. All this, however should be taken with a large grain of good 'ole NaCl, as everyones ears are different and thus, the fit and comfort will be too.
Bass: Well, it's there, but not much of it. Unfortunately, it's also a bit one tone – every thump, every strum sounds too much a like. This also depends on the seal. Some have complained that the tips aren't big enough, and thus hear almost no bass. Be sure to watch out for this, though I had no such issues.
Mids: Definitely on the warm sound, voices are pretty good, if a little artificial sounding. I found male singers sounded better than female singers, as the higher pitch singing brought out a wired shrill about it.
Highs: Aaaaaaaand this is where it all goes down. Everything sounds incredibly fake. It's as if it's there, but completely devoid of any life and energy.
Soundstage is as small as you would expect from a $40 budget earphone. Don't expect any miracles and you won't be disappointed.
It comes with a nice zipper case with a compartment to store your choice for tips (3 of Klipch's tips are provided, one of which is a double flange). It should be enough to protect the earphones when travelling, or in a pocket.
For $40, you can certainly do a lot worse. Though I find that these are a bit over hyped, not being much better than the Earpods, I can recommend them to anyone looking to replace their broken or lost stock earphones that came with their phone or mp3 player. Though, do keep in mind that there are better products in this price range, such as the JVC FX40, that can be had at any electronics retailer.
Thanks for reading :)