I spent a long time reading here before committing to a pair of klipsch s4 for my girlfriend. I read a lot of posts recommending them as a decent budget iem. up until 2 weeks ago i've never used anything but sennhesier cx300, and now i can compare these directly to the klipsch s4 for people who are now in the position that i was a few weeks ago.
the klipsch s4 wins here no doubt. they come in a metal tin whereas the cx300 just come in a blister pack.
the klipsch s4 came with one medium set of buds already attached, along with a slightly larger set and a set of the 'ear plug' style buds that you get on some shure iems. the ones that were attached fit just fine. i'm sorry but i can't remember what buds come with the cx300s but i do know that they fit me just fine from the off.
this is where i start to frown. the cables on the klipsch phones are absolute rubbish. they are coated in a cheap shiny plastic that does not bend with ease at all. the cables are easy to get tangled and rub on your clothing when you walk. i can't imagine what they were thinking choosing a cable like this for some semi decent phones. the cabling on the cx300, by comparison, is rubbery and maliable and good at not tangling itself up. the sennheiser cabling wins hands down.
the important stuff i guess. now, i'm no audiophile but my ears work well and i am very particular about the kind of sound that i like. i am impressed with the sound of the s4 but after a burn in period i did some back to back comparisons with the cx300 and found the following:
compared to the cx300 the treble on the s4 is clearer and sounds sharper by a small margin. this is nice in some music but i found that it begun to sizzle in some metal and dance music (rage against the machine, fear factory, corrupt souls, black sun empire) and i found myself reducing the treble on my EQ to compensate.
the mid tops are better on the s4, the cx300 seem to lose some clarity around here and in complex metal music with a lot going on you suffer a murky mess in the mid tops. the s4 cope with it marginally better and i enjoyed fear factorys "archetype" a little more because of it.
mids i found fairly hard to distinguish between the 2 sets. both represent them well.
the bass on the s4 is sadly lacking. i find the bass on the cx300 too heavy and muddy at certain frequencies but i prefer this to the lack of kick that the s4 provide. whilst the bass that is present is clear, sub basses found in dance music are not represented well in the s4.
i do like the s4 but given the price difference i would not purchase them over a pair of cx300s. after reading threads here i was under the impression that the difference between them would be immense. colourful descriptions of the s4 and a "look down your nose" attitude towards the cx300 lead me to believe the s4 would blow me away compared to my "ultra budget" cx300, but i was wrong. whilst i don't regret the purchase, and my girlfriend likes them a lot i would not recommend them over a pair of cx300. perhaps if they were £5-£10 more expensive than the cx300 i would consider it, but not at £60.
high end is sharper almost to a fault on the s4 for most music. you may suffer sizzling effect in some (this is not an mp3 compression issue, i tested all with flac) which begins to fatigue after a while.
mid tops are clearer on the s4. they don't get muddy in some music like the cx300 do.
mids are pretty much even on both sets of phones. can't really fault either pair here as i have never used anything that can show me a better representation of mids.
bass is preferable on the cx300 if you enjoy dominant bass. the s4 fails at reproducing sub bass levels very well and overall bass level is too low for me, but the cx300 i sometimes find too much.
all testing was done on my meizu m6 ts.
Edited by mammoth1981 - 12/29/10 at 4:00am