Lust List: Reference X20i In-Ear Headphones by Klipsch
Have you ever wondered whether a pair of $550 earbuds is worth the price? I have, but never really had the scratch to put it to the test.
Klipsch, however, sent me a pair of their high-end earbuds, the Reference X20i In-Ear Headphones, to test. When I opened the wooden box and slid the headphones out of their leather pouch, then slipped their oval-shaped eartips into my sound holes, I went to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens soundtrack. The orchestral music seemed like a great way to see if these really expensive headphones match their price tag.
Lust List: Reference R6i On-Ear Headphones by Klipsch
Sometimes you just need a solid, great-sounding set of wired headphones. They don’t need to charge up like my Bluetooth favorites do, nor do they require pairing (or repairing, like several models I’ve used).
Earbuds are great, too, but for extended listening sessions, I prefer on-ear headphones. They are less sound-isolating — I don’t need to hear my own breathing all the time.
Noise-cancelling headphones are suddenly all the rage. It certainly seems as if every big player in the audio game has at least one model that features active noise-canceling, usually accompanied by other luxury features — and with a corresponding luxury pricetag. Even manufacturers who’ve only recently begun making cans, like Logitech UE and Klipsch, prominently feature active noise-canceling in their model lineups.
It may even seem as if the technology has been added to some models simply because it’s become the feature du jour — an impression strengthened by the fact that not all noise canceling is the same. Not even remotely.
Let me count the ways that I have killed so many successive sets of earbuds, whether from Apple or otherwise. Rain, sweat (ears), sweat (general, dripping), wet ear canals from insufficient after-shower toweling. More rain.
You get the idea.
If only I’d had a pair of Klipsch’s new rugged S4i earbuds, which are rubberized against both the elements and also my deadly perspiration.
The earbuds are also fully iReady, with a mic for calls and a three button remote for play/pause/answer and volume control. The specs say that the sensitivity (a good measure of how loud they are) is 110dB and the frequency response goes from 10Hz to 19kHz – a respectable range for a ‘bud.
But the toughness is the thing, and these multicolored cans can put up with most exercise and outdoor activity.
I doubt they can resist my single most common way to break a pair of headphones though – the Tug. The Tug can be achieved in many ways, but has one common element: you forget about a dangling cord and catch it fatally on an immovable object, or your own body. I have ended the life of a pair of Porta Pros by standing from a crouch and catching the cable on a knee. And I butchered a pair of retro Panasonic over-the-ear headphones when the cable snagged on a post in the street.
While other manufacturers might tart up their headphones with loud colors, obnoxious logos and frills, the Klipsch Image One ($150) drops all extraneous nonsense in favor of making you happy through its three impressive strengths: perfomance, comfort and portability — a triple threat that makes these headphones a contender for best traveling companion.