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Klipsch Image S4A II headphones

PC World Good Gear Guide | April 19, 2013
These in-ear headphones are comfortable to wear and they produce excellent quality sound for all types of music

The Klipsch Image S4A II in-ear headphones have a patented design that is supposed to make them more comfortable to wear and easier to fit than many other in-ear designs on the market. Instead of being round, the silicone tips that are attached to the ear buds are oval, which more closely resembles the shape of an ear canal. But do they sound any good?

In fact, they produce exceptional sound and we think they're great for any type of music. They are clear at high volume, and they supply a full, well-rounded sound. We didn't notice any bias in the music at all when we played it back without the aid of any equaliser settings; highs were crisp, low frequencies were deep and rich, and voice didn't get cluttered in between. We were particularly satisfied by the bass response of these little buds at high volume, but low-volume listening also allowed us to here subtle low-frequency sounds.

We listened to a wide variety of music through these headphones: trance, folk, scratchy-sounding hip-hop, Greek popular music, guitar-heavy rock, and also live performances. File quality ranged from 192Kbps to 320Kbps in our tests, and we also did a lot of streaming from Google Play Music and Amazon Cloud Player over Wi-Fi - both services sounded just as good as our local files did. Klipsch says it tries to create products that recreate the live music experience, but all of the music we tried, live or studio-recorded, polished or grimy-sounding, was a joy to listen to through these buds. Tracks with heavy bass (such as the GZA's Auto Bio, for example) sounded tremendous, with the bass hitting heavily and, most importantly, with the clarity we expected of the track, even at full blast on our Samsung Galaxy II Note.

To get the best sound out of these headphones, you have to make sure that you use the appropriately sized tip for your ears. The most common size is medium, according to Klipsch, but the headphones are supplied with small and large tips, too. The tips need to form a seal around your ear canal in order to give you the sound response they are designed for, and we found them to be easy to insert and comfortable to wear. They didn't feel harsh on the ear, and they also didn't feel heavy.

However, we did have a problem with them falling out easily. Excessive movements while walking, or accidentally tugging at the headphone cord, made the ear buds pop out. We made sure that the line on the tip was aligned with the line on the bud's nozzle when we attached the tips, but the way the buds sat sticking out slightly from our ears made them a little unstable. If you use them while sitting, or while walking slowly, they should stay in place. Basically, don't use these while performing activities.


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