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My Audibly Ignorant & Uneducated Review of the Klipsh Custom 3

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  1. smallcaps
    Please see the following reviews and subsequent discussions in the following threads. They really helped me write this review and should be read before this one as more experienced forum members write them:

    Zhdude’s Custom 3 review

    ka-boom’s Custom 3 Review

    Preamble

    So today I offloaded some old DJ equipment and instead of getting cash I opted for a straight trade and got my hands on a pair of Klipsch Custom 3 IEMs. I was originally in the market for the excellent Sennheiser IE8s but for 350 swiss francs at my local seller here in Zurich, I was happy that I was able to get the Custom 3s and not have to shell out any cash. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I am quite new to the forum and portable audiophile geekery but I will try to best describe my experiences with this IEM. As almost exclusively a portable listener (student life!) I consider my portable rig to be the be-all-and-end-all for personal access to high quality audio listening at home, work, school and commuting.

    Up till now I have steadily refined my sound signature tastes but it is by no means a completed menu. I have only been able to analytically listen to a handful of headphones including the Sennheiser HD590s, the Sennheiser PX200s and the Audio Technica ATH-M50s (oh, and the stock phones that came with my Sansa Clip). I have also had some time to hear the HD600s with Cardas cable upgrades from a Headroom Ultra Micro Amp… but that seems like a dream now…

    My tastes in music include hip-hop, dubstep, electro, indie & folk, classical and jazz. For this review I will be using my Sansa Clip with the Custom 3s playing 320 bit-encoded mp3s un-amped. My amped setup includes the Custom 3s with my Ipod Classic 160gb, Qables LOD connected to a Practical Devices XM4 with the Analog Devices AD8620 Op-Amp upgrade listing to AAC lossless.

    Note: this is by no means a review on sound quality. Gimme a brake, I’m a junior head-fier! All I can humbly offer is my experiences with using these IEMs and how they compare to my current (and slowly swelling – my bank account says thanks, head-fi!) collection of cans and hope to get a little discussion going on a pair of IEMs i haven't read that much about. Not only is this my first review of anything ever, but it’s also my first pair of IEMs owned and used ever. Please take my musings with a heaping dose of lo-sodium, bio-organic sea salt.

    Isolation, Fit, design

    When I took them out of the packaging I had mixed feelings. At first glance the housing reminded me of Shures and I had a feeling that they were going to hurt my ears. I have tried wearing the Shure SE110s and before even hearing a wave of audio through them I took them off and concluded that IEMs were not for me.

    With the Klipsh Custom 3s this was not the case. I was quite surprised how well they isolated and fit onto my asymmetrical ears (when I was a kid I would sleep on one side and subsequently folded my right ear making their asymmetry a hindrance when choosing headphones and picking up ear-fetishist women… I feel so ugly!), and not only that, but they were comfortable too!

    I think the memory wire helps a lot with the fit for my ears. If only the cable was replaceable as they are with the IE8s, I would purchase custom tips as I was planning when shopping for the Sennheiser IE8s. Meh. Saves me a bucket of cash and time with an audiologist – these just fit my ears great, even with my glasses on. I use the medium, single flanged gel earpieces.

    As was discussed in the afore mentioned threads, the cables on the Custom 3s are a mixed bag. The general design is spot on. The placement of the memory cable is good, and leaves me with confidence that they will support and protect the connection between cable and earpiece.

    [​IMG]

    The cable flexibility is questionable and it always scares me to hastily pack the plugs into the provided (and excellent) case. They definitely kink and remember folds. I end up playing with the cables a lot, trying to straighten them which cant be good for the cable. They won’t brake in cold weather though (as tested in the cold temperatures of Zurich, Switzerland) and as annoying as the cable material can be, they feel pretty resilient. I am a bit scared of loose cable housing around the connector, as was experience by ka-boom in his review. Lets hope I don’t engage in the types of rigorous activities as ka-boom does!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Also wish the connector was straight instead of L-shaped, but that is a minor issue unless the connector cable housing goes kaput, then it would become a major issue.

    The actual shape of the earpiece I like very much. The aesthetic is agreeable to me, but more importantly the shape fits snugly into my earlobe, promoting a more secure fit and tighter isolation. With a bit of rotational adjusting of the oval gel earpieces along with adjustment of the memory cable, I was able to get a perfect fit. I can dance like an idiot to drum & base and they will not fall out. Two thumbs up! (no thumbs up for the dancing like an idiot.)

    Sound

    Speaking of drum & base, boy does the base sound good on these! There is just the right amount of base and mids to make these sound warm and a perfect match for base driven music. I was surprised by the detail retained even with the base amped up through my XM4. Highs and upper-mids may be average compared to other IEMs as mentioned in previous threads (I don’t have other IEMs to compare them to, though I can take the word of my fellow head-fiers) but the balanced, lusciously intimate lower frequencies do make me wonder why I wasted money on my ATH-M50s.

    [​IMG]

    Don’t get me wrong, the ATH-M50s are excellent cans for the money, but the isolation is inferior to the Custom 3s. I also enjoy the portability as I am constantly on the move. I thought that the ATH-M50s were portable because they can fold. Compared to the Custom 3s they feel like a snowboarding helmet! With the Custom 3s I get the sound quality of my ATH-M50s minus some of the wideness in soundstage, plus none of the dreaded “fire ear” feeling that comes with closed cans after extended listening.

    And though not as airy and crystal-clear sparkling as my HD590s, the Custom 3s do give them a run for the money. I didn’t even notice the SQ differences when I compared the two phones listening to Charles Mingus AAC’d. I did notice the comfort of the HD590s though, but out in public the HD590s are almost rude to wear. Oh how I hate people telling me to turn down that “rap” music. The sound leakage is unacceptable for me as I am a portable user, not to mention they are open so there is a lot of ambient sound leakage.

    [​IMG]

    Listening to Glens Gould’s first recording of the Goldberg Variations, I was slack jawed at the detail and intimacy of the Custom 3s. Their warmth enhances the generally narrow soundstage and I felt like I was sitting on the piano bench with him, felling every pedal pushed and hearing every mumble mumble. This must be the effect of IEMs my nubile ears have not experienced. If I was riding my bike I would have crashed focusing on the detail being such completely isolated IEMs.

    I wont even waste your time with comparing them to the PX200s. No contest. Period.

    Conclusion

    Well there you have it folks: my completely n00b review and mismatched comparison of the Klipsch Custom 3s against my meagre can collection. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I can whole-heartedly recommend the Klipsch Custom 3s for base-driven music if you have some old equipment to trade or can find them for below list price.






    I wonder though how the IE8s sound…
     
  2. walkingman
    Nice review, but you didn't have to to bump the other Klipsch threads just to promote something that is already on the front page...

    Anyway glad you enjoyed it. I really enjoyed my Custom 3 before I sold it to another head-fi'er.
     
  3. smallcaps
    Ah, so that's what a bump does! my bad [​IMG] will remember that when i post again!
     
  4. mark2410 Contributor
    nice review, randomly i happend to have mine on this evening, which is something very very rarely do.

    i suggest you think about trying some shure olives on them, for me it turns them into the best fitting IEM i have.

    just a shame about the cable, i dont think i dare take mine outside my front door
     
  5. smallcaps
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mark2410 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    i suggest you think about trying some shure olives on them, for me it turns them into the best fitting IEM i have.



    will have to give the Shure olives a try and compare. do they fit on the Custom 3s without modding?
     
  6. ka-boom
    Cool review man, glad you like them. The Custom 3's often get overlooked when discussing quality IEMs amongst the Shure's and Phonak's. The Custom 3's really shine.
     
  7. mark2410 Contributor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by smallcaps /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    will have to give the Shure olives a try and compare. do they fit on the Custom 3s without modding?



    yep they just go straight on fine. a vast improvement for me over the normal tips
     
  8. mark2410 Contributor
    actually someone needs to tell klipsch to make their tips round instead of oval

    no mater what i do if i smile or open my mouth too wide i loose the seal with their tips
     
  9. ethan961
    That's the exact same case that comes with the atrios.
    Where are the custom 3s made - Korea? I'm thinking that they may be made by the same OEM.
     
  10. smallcaps
    i enjoy the sound out of these so much, i can't take them off. last night the girlfriend was asking why i was going to bed with them on [​IMG]

    as for tips, the oval ones are working surprisingly well but i will go out to look for some shure olives to compare. it will be my first time out of the house with the Custom 3s and i hope i don't ruin the cable.

    there must be some way to re-cable them. any suggestions? maybe there is a good company, service or forum member that would be up for it? would love to preserve the Custom 3s for as long as i can and would pay good money for the opportunity to add some cardas cables [​IMG]
     
  11. GosuEric
    Gah, I love my X10s, but I really want to try the C3s. It's insane.

    I have to agree with the cables though, they do seem a bit like they enjoy remembering how to tangle themselves.

    The black part near the casing (it's like rubber, I think, not sure) has ripped a bit for me too. Doesn't affect the sound at all, but it makes me feel like they'll die on me any time, and with a price of $175 (with the November sale), lasting less than a year is hardly ideal.

    Back to the C3s though, as I said in another thread, the only reason I went with the X10s over the C3s was because someone said the C3s had no bass compared to the X10s, though I guess that might be true due to how incredibly deep the X10s bass extends. I assume the C3s have better mids while giving up the incredible low end that the X10s have though.

    Argh, so many headphones, so little money...
     
  12. ka-boom
  13. smallcaps
    I nave not heard the Image X10s but i can imagine the base levels are comparable. where i suspect the difference is would be in the base frequency range and detail.

    on another note, i went for a walk in the city and stopped at Hug Audio here in Zurich for a meander. walking through the piano section, i could hear next to nothing except the music being pushed by the Custom 3s. at one point a sales assistant followed me as i admired their collection of AKGs and when i turned around i was actually shocked to find him waiting for me like a ninja!

    these puppies do isolate very well, although i am starting to notice the microphonic discrepancies even when i am casually walking. because they are so isolated on my ear, i hear every rub, twist and turn of the cables. annoying!
     
  14. smallcaps
    i hate flickr.
     
  15. Zalithian
    photobucket for the win
     
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