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[REVIEW] Klipsch S4

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Klipsch has been a big name in the speaker world. So when they decided to enter the IEM world with the ‘X’ and ‘Custom’ line of products, they indeed made a big splash. However the really “big” thing sale wise for them is probably the introduction of their “S” series, which is more of a budget orientated dynamic based IEM line. For a while, it almost seems like there must a mention of Klipsch S4 in every sub-$100 IEM discussion. While it is a bit late in the game to make much impact with this review, I guess it can still serve well as a good reference point for those who have heard or owned a S4 before when compared it to other IEM.

 

S4-01.jpg

 

S4-02.jpg

 

Spec

Transducer: Dynamic Moving Coil Micro Speaker

Frequency Response:  10Hz – 19kHz

Sensitivity: 110db SPL/mW

Impedance: 18-ohm

Weight: 11.9 grams

 

S4-03.jpg

 

S4-04.jpg

 

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality

S4 used to come in a black and silver box, but they have changed to a blue packaging in recent months. Overall it is what you would expect from a big brand – well designed and well packed. Accessories wise, you have three pair of the ‘oval’ eartips that are unique to Klipsch. They work very well and very comfortable to the ears, which is why we begin to see other manufacturers starting to adopt similar eartips design. To help user to place the eartips in the right angle, there is even a line on the eartips for proper alignment. The smaller sized of the eartips are also bi-flanges, presumably to help getting a better fit for those who have small ear canal. Beside the eartips, there is also a pretty good looking aluminum hard case - much resembles the mint tin Head-fier has been using for IEM storage or DIY’ed cmoy amp housing. Build quality is quite good, but not above and beyond IEM of its class. However, the two years replacement warranty does help on sweeten the whole deal. One thing that I couldn’t really figure out is the placement of the logo. While S4 is almost always showcased with the logo (on the earpiece), that is actually the backward facing side of the IEM. That’s a little misleading especially for people who don’t pay attention to the L/R marking on the housing.

 

S4-06.jpg

 

Sound Quality

A standard 50 hrs of burn-in is carried out before the review. I had heard the Klipsch X10 quite some time ago but if my memory serves me right, it is quite an impressive IEM, especially consider it is a single driver balanced armature IEM. So my expectation is a little high for the S4, given that it does gain a lot of popularity in the first few months after launch. While not being totally disappointed, I’ll have to say the overall sound doesn’t really impress me much, from a big brand name offering’s point of view.

 

The overall sound is warmish and bass driven. Bass is the strength of S4. It is deep and well bodied, quantitatively abundance but retains decent quality, just a tad slow on the attack. However, everything goes downhill from this point forward. Mid has a sense of warm in it, but lacks forwardness and resolution to almost the point of being thick and gluey on the back ground. While treble does extend to 16kHz, there are some uneven peaks on the upper vocal as well as around 12kHz that makes it rough, dry and lacks refined detail. Soundstage is surprisingly decent, perhaps more of a side effect from the slightly hollow out mid presentation.

 

S4-05.jpg

 

Verdict

While S4 gives a decent impression on first listen, the overall lack of refinement slowly wears away any plus side it might have and being to make it a fatigue, and somewhat unrest presentation. Much like the previously reviewed Etymotic MC5, this is a physically decent IEM that doesn’t quite have the sound quality to match, unless you don’t mind the scratchiness.

 

Check out the Concise Multi-IEM Comparison in my sig. for a quick sum-up.


Edited by ClieOS - 3/1/11 at 8:13am
post #2 of 28
Pretty much sums up my impressions of the S4 (ProMedia actually). Impressive at first, but quickly disappointing. I prefer the MEElec M6 honestly. And since it is quarter of the price and has a better cable IMO, I think that is a good thing.

The backwards logos confused me as well.
post #3 of 28

Is that from a newer batch of s4?

I am surprised Klipsch went from right-angle connector to straight one.

See old pics here: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/435882/#post_5868716

 

My Klipsch ProMedia IEM has straight connector too.  I was surprised by how the logo is pointing inside when worn straight down as well - I was actually wearing them on the wrong ears with logos outside for a little while without realizing it (they are that comfortable).  But the logos do point outside when worn over the ear.


Edited by jjmai - 3/1/11 at 8:03pm
post #4 of 28

Having used the S4s at one point for 6 months as my main IEM I can say that most of this review is accurate.  I think they're what $40 IEMs should sound like, which is what I sold them for eventually.  They were fun, but they are a bit harsh, those upper-mid / treble peaks are a reality.  Comply tips (read: harshness-taming tips) are highly recommended.

 

 

post #5 of 28

As much as I love the S4s,  I must agree with some of the above.  However, I think they are good for the price, I'm happy to have owned them for so many months.  However, I am also happy to have replaced them with the Atrio M5, which should arrive any day now.

 

But I like it, overall.  It's a "fun" headphone, not accurate, not detailed.  But I think that that is a better way to go in the $50-100 range.

 

EDIT: right angle plug to straight?  Why did they do that?  I refuse to buy IEMs with straight plugs, that's asking for trouble IMO

post #6 of 28

Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post
 but they are a bit harsh, those upper-mid / treble peaks are a realit

 


I agree that the S4 is harsh plus muddy bass.

 

post #7 of 28

Thanks for the review, ClieOS. Impressive, as always :)

 

Only thing: I had heard that the highs on the S4 were crispy, but not harsh. Maybe using foamies will help?

 

Anyway, I'm more interested in the S2 than in the S4.

post #8 of 28

yea I also couldn't get past the dips and hills in the treble

post #9 of 28

your take on them pretty much matched my views on them except i was less forgiving on the bass.

post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnhardwick View Post

Pretty much sums up my impressions of the S4 (ProMedia actually). Impressive at first, but quickly disappointing. I prefer the MEElec M6 honestly. And since it is quarter of the price and has a better cable IMO, I think that is a good thing.

The backwards logos confused me as well.


+1 to this.  I ended up returning my S4 as the more I listened, the less I liked them.  They were also uncomfortable for me as they were wide and sharp at the point just past the tips.  I prefer my M6's also, though they are just a stopgap as the mids are too recessed for me to enjoy all music.  Great for the booming stuff though.

 

post #11 of 28

BTW, Klipsch has been bought out by Audiovox; deal finalized last wek. Don't know what that means, so I guess that's a FWIW.

If news like that belongs elsewhere on the site, my bad.

 

I doubt it will affect products in the short term; Audiovox has a history of collecting and continuing strong brand names.

 

Linky:

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/audiovox-completes-its-acquisition-of-audio-leader-klipsch-117228498.html


Edited by JackKontney - 3/11/11 at 3:01pm
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 

I only hope Audiovox won't do to Klipsch the stuff Logitech does to UE.

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RecklessFable View Post




+1 to this.  I ended up returning my S4 as the more I listened, the less I liked them.  They were also uncomfortable for me as they were wide and sharp at the point just past the tips.  I prefer my M6's also, though they are just a stopgap as the mids are too recessed for me to enjoy all music.  Great for the booming stuff though.

 


Yes, the mids have always been my biggest quibble with the M6. I can over look it some music, but for others (especially female vocalists) it is unbearable. I got a pair of MEElec CW-31 this week though and suddenly remembered why I like female fronted rock bands. Haha.
post #14 of 28

Anyone know how these compare to a-Jay fours?

post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 

a-JAYS Four is just a-JAYS Three with mic support. It doesn't sound quite as good as S4,

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