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Klipsch X20i Earbuds with Mic and Playlist Control for iPod/iPhone/iPad-Silver/Black

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. DivineCurrent
    Warm speaker-like IEM that beats even some over-ear headphones
    Written by DivineCurrent
    Published Jun 16, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Amazing treble detail and extension for an IEM, great bass extension, balanced warm tone, eartips fit any size ear.
    Cons - Retail is a little bit overpriced, wish it came with a different cable.
    EDIT: 
    9/12/16
    This review was done before I realized I may have gotten a defective pair, and that is why I was experiencing almost a veil like sound from these that makes cymbals and high hats sound distorted. Once I try another pair of X20i's, I will update this review to confirm if I really did try a defective pair. 
     
    The Klipsch X20i is Klipsch's flagship IEM, which has a dual balanced armature driver system packed in. Klipsch claims that the addition of a dedicated BA "super tweeter" driver makes these sound like over ear model headphones. That is a bold claim, but I definitely agree these compete with many over ears around this price. 
     
    I find the sound of headphones the most important factor above anything else, so if a headphone is ugly but sounds amazing, I will still keep it. However, with Klipsch, these IEMs look stunning, and really look more like a piece of art than an IEM. Build quality alone, these are reflective of their $500 price point. The "surgical grade injection molded steel" according to their website feels so high quality, it feels like a tool. I won't go too much into detail about the build quality, but it is very impressive.
     
    When it comes to the sound, I had an interesting experience. At first, I could have sworn they sounded worse than the Klipsch X10. I was very sad if this was the case, as I thought maybe I got a defective model. But no, what actually happened, was a seal problem. The stock ear tips that were on the X20i's where too big for my ear canal, and didn't get a solid seal, and therefore the treble extension suffered drastically. However, when I installed the small ear tips and got a proper seal, my goodness these sounded fantastic. So make sure you get a good seal well within your ear canal for the best possible sound. The treble extension really does sound like over-ear headphones. And they blow both the Klipsch X10 and the Shure SE-425 out of the water when it comes to detail and realism. The bass is very extended and present but not to the point of being super rumbly and overbearing. These sound very fast in the bass and are very punchy. These honestly sound like a typical monitor speaker frequency response. I guess this is what Klipsch intended, as they are a speaker company. I would characterize these as warm sounding, with neutral mids and treble, and very flat above the initial warmth of the bass and lower mids. According to the frequency graph at Innerfidelity, these extend all the way to about 17 Khz before rolling off. http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/KlipschX20i.pdf
    These have incredibly low distortion too, only bad 5% distortion occurs after playing at 100 db, but who the hell would play that loud unless you want permanent hearing loss?
     
    Comfort wise, they are just as comfortable as the X10s, if not more so. The steel housing is shaped like the inside of the ear, and feels much more comfortable than the typical IEM design. They come with 5 different tips including the ones already installed on them. They come with the same tips as the X10: small, medium, and large oval tips, and a small and large double flange tip sizes, except this time they are black colored. For me, the small fits the best, as I have smaller than normal ear canals. Anyone should be able to find a nice fit with one of these tips. 
     
    Compared to my Sennheiser HD 650, which are open over ear headphones, the Klipsch X20i is not as open or airy, but that is a typical limitation of IEMs. Given the HD650 and X20i are both around the same price point, the Klipsch's compete very well against open back headphones around their price. For example, these sound more natural and real to life than the Beyerdynmaic DT-880, and the Audio Technica ATH-M50, at least to my ears. In fact, I would say these sound a lot like the Sennheiser HD650, but in IEM form, and they have more bass. However, $549 is a pretty steep price even for the excellent sound these give you. Another con is the cable, which has a volume control that I never use, so it just gets in the way. Luckily, the cable is detachable, and Klipsch has stated there will be more cables available from them in the future. All in all, they are the best IEMs I have heard so far, definitely better than the X10 and Shure SE-425. If you love the X10s, you will definitely love these. At the time of this review, they are on sale for $439 on Amazon and Ebay, and I'd say that is a very fair price for what you are getting. Great job Klipsch!
    1. BartSimpson1976
      Don't understand why Klipsch always comes up with "i"-version and is so obsessed about compatibility with obscure niche products and neglecting 95% of the market,
      BartSimpson1976, Jun 17, 2016
    2. Voyageur
      Nice review! The detachable cable system on the X20 is really, really weird though.
      Voyageur, Jun 17, 2016
  2. BloodyPenguin
    Reference Flat for Audiophiles
    Written by BloodyPenguin
    Published Dec 7, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Analytical Neutral Flat Sound Signature, Easy Fit, Fancy Tough Cable, Microphone,
    Cons - Strange Designed Detachable Cable
    --
     
    For my 50th Head-Fi Review, it is my pleasure to introduce the X20i, Klipsch’s newest IEM Reference Flagship.
     
    http://www.klipsch.com/products/reference-x20i-in-ear-headphones

    P1050736.jpg
     
    ***All photos taken by me, no stock photos from Klipsch were used***
     
     
     
     
     
    *Specs*
     
    Driver Design: KG-2625 AcuPass(R) Two-Way
    Driver Components:  KG125B Balanced Armature Super Tweeter & KG-926T Balanced Armature Woofer
    Mic/Remote:  Mic + 3 Button Remote
    Frequency Response:  5Hz-40kHz
    Sensitivity (1MW):  111dB
    Impedance (1KHZ):  50 ohms
    Noise Isolation: -26dB
    Input Connections:  3.5mm
    Weight:  22 grams
     
     
     
    *Packaging*

    Klipsch does not disappoint with the unboxing.  The wood box itself is high end in both presentation and quality. The top is snuggly fit with magnets and takes a bit a pressure to pry it off and once you do you are quickly greeted by a treasure chest of goodies.  
     
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    *Contents*
     
    Inside the fancy wood box you will first see an equally fine leather pouch that is hiding something extra special, the X20i.  The leather pouch is clasped by a magnetic button that snaps perfectly into place.  While you continue to dig, you will find an owners manual that instructions in a plethora of languages. Plethora, a word I just do not get to use often enough.  As you hit the bottom, you will come across the a clip that contains 5 more sets of various sized and shaped ear-tips.

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    *Build*
     
    What amazes me is the quality and attention to quality at this small size.  The X20i takes a different approach to the overall design, you can tell that Klipsch first and foremost cared about functionality and second about looks.
     
    The cable is one of beauty, as a clear casing gives a spectacular view of the braided wires inside.  The cable is soft and produces no sign of any microphonics.  A design feature that did catch me off guard and that I did not honestly notice at first is the function of being detachable.  The odd thing here is that they do not detach at the earphone housing, but instead detach a few inches down.  There is no quick release either, each attaching section is screwed into place.  I am not sure at this point of Klipsch intention with the detachable cable, if other options will be added in the future.
     
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    P1050677.jpg
     
     
     
    *Fit*

    The earphone housings having a very small footprint inturn lead to a easy fit for almost any ear canal, they slide in with ease.  The only small issue can be that the cable is quite hefty compared to the earphone, so it can tug a bit when trying to insert properly.  Once in, the X20i is very comfortable and can be worn for extended periods with minimal discomfort.
     
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    *Sound*
     
    Lows - Bass is dealt with in a pure analytical manner. Lows are controlled on the tightened leash, NEVER getting out of hand.  Hints of sub-bass and mid-bass stay in the background as recorded, never to be exaggerated or diminished.
     
    Mids - The middle frequencies are nothing short of perfect.  Vocals are so real, so exact and honest.  There is no detail that is hidden, as it all comes through crystal clear.  There is no coloration to be found here.
     
    Highs - Monitor reference highs.  So insanely accurate and silky smooth.  Klipsch keeps every note at the edge of perfection, while never coming close to being sharp or bright.  Tuning in the upper range is of the highest audiophile taste.  

    Isolation - It is amazing how well the X20i isolates.  Outside noise is blocked better than any IEM I have used before.  The great isolation has a lot to do with the minimal sized housing that fits so perfect into the ear canal.  The seal is airtight, with absolutely no driver flex.  Zero leakage as well.
     
    Soundstage - Being reference IEMs, soundstage is also neutral, neither wide or narrow.  Staying precisely in the middle ground where the best results can be found in audio playback.
     
    Scaling - Something I was not expecting to find with the Klipsch X20i was a microphone.  Being Reference IEMs, I never dreamed of using it with my cellphone, but to my surprise, they can be.  While the quality of your phone's internals will decide just how accurate and powerful they can be, the X20i is more than accepting of any source.  While trying these with the VERY inexpensive LG Optimus Exceed 2 that I paid only paid $15 for, the X20i produced a wonderful, borderline fun sound.  The quality becomes stronger and more analytical as I moved up to the TEAC HA-P90SD where the X20i can really shine and show off its high end playback purpose.
     
    Microphone - As mentioned just above, the microphone is not only an added bonus, but performs quite well.  The whole fob is solid with a pleasing click when used.  Playback from the microphone is of the highest quality.  
     
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    *Overall Thoughts*

    I’ve never heard an IEM that is so accurate, neutral but still stays so smooth.  Klipsch did something quite amazing with the tuning of the X20i.  They are monitor quality in their presentation, yet still have zero fatigue or harshness.  Easy to listen to and detailed throughout the range.  

    Also taken back by the X20i’s ability to be driven by such low end devices and still produce a sound that is not only accurate, but almost fun.  As mentioned before, when pushed by higher end devices, the fun is replaced by an Audiophiles dream sound signature; flat, neutral and extremely detailed.  Klipsch gave us many of what us Head-Fiers have been seeking.  A monitor quality IEM that stays true to original recordings with no low, mid or high bias.  
     
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    **As an added bonus, you can use the box cover as a refrigerator magnet.**  [​IMG]
     
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    --
    1. View previous replies...
    2. BloodyPenguin
      @JPizzzle, thank you for your kind comments.  I worked very hard on providing a detailed and thorough review, not to mention having to re-shoot the X20i a few times to get the pictures just right. I also appreciate hearing your opinion of the q-Jays as well.

      @AlanU, I hope to have the X11i very soon so I can compare the two, at which point I can post more about them and the X20i.
      BloodyPenguin, Dec 8, 2015
    3. AlanU
      BP,  Thank you for your great efforts in the review :)
      AlanU, Dec 8, 2015
    4. bolmeteus
      Good review. The detachable cable seems so peculiar to me. Usually cables break at the roots, if these ever break replacing them will be near impossible. Aesthetically it looks nice, albeit they look a lot like frog larvae or male reproductive unit :wink:  
      bolmeteus, Dec 10, 2015