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on August 25, 2009
CNET recently released their top 5 choices for best earbuds under $100 and so I figured since I already had the V-Moda Vibes (in need of replacing... the 4th broken pair of em) I would buy two other pairs (Klipsch IMAGE S4 In-Ear Enhanced Bass Noise-Isolating Headphone,Ultimate Ears SuperFi 3 Studio Noise Isolating Earphones (Black))and compare the three. CNET had the S4's at the top and after two weeks of solid use I couldn't agree more. Klipsch's buds seem to trump the other two in every way. The S4's cord doesn't conduct sound from rubbing like the Vibes, and isn't perma-kinked like the Ultimate Ears. The S4's are as stylish as the Vibe's though seem to be almost as durable as the rugged Ultimate Ears buds. As far as the sound goes the S4's have slightly tighter bass than the bass heavy (which I like) Vibes and more crisp highs than the Ultimate Ears. So here's the break down in my opinion.

V-MODA Vibe Earbuds - Flashback Chrome

Bass 8.5
Mids 7
High 7
Comfort 9
Durability 5 (one year warranty)

Klipsch IMAGE S4 In-Ear Enhanced Bass Noise-Isolating Headphone

Bass 9.5
Mids 9
Highs 9
Comfort 9
Durability 8? (two year warranty)

Ultimate Ears SuperFi 3 Studio Noise Isolating Earphones (Black)

Bass 6
Mids 8
Highs 8
Comfort 6
Durability 9

***UPDATE: 10/20/12***

I've owned the same pair three years now, use them everyday and haven't had any durability problems. I don't baby them by any means. I don't keep them in any special case, I just throw them in a pocket in my backpack. I do coil them around my iPhone and carry them in my pocket for short periods of time. I still stand behind everything I wrote originally.
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on December 16, 2009
For starters I'm going to address several key observations that need to be considered when looking at the Klipsch IMAGE S4 earphones and then tackle my "listening experience".

First: These earphones, from my experience, are possibly one of the best values in electronics today. Not just IEM, not just headphones...all electronics. Does that mean they are THE BEST in ear monitors on the market? No. But they are very, very, very good overall and outstanding once price is factored in. Based just on sound quality, comfort and features, the S4 is a 4 star item...based on that and price it's more than a 5 star. I keep seeing reviews where people are saying these are overrated because they don't stack up against model x, y, z and when you check prices on x, y, z they are four and five times the price of these. Would you expect a $20,000 car to stack up against an $80,000 car? No. But if you found a $20,000 car that stacked up against a $50,000 or $60,000 car you'd be thrilled, right? That's the S4, which is easily the best in ear monitor for under $200. That said, there are a multitude of personal preferences when it comes to earphones and the S4 may or may not meet those preferences as I will discuss later.

Second: Do NOT send these back or be upset with the sound of the S4 if you have not done burn in. For those not familiar with what this is, it means playing music through the earphones at approximately 25% to 50% above your normal listening volume (not while you are listening to them of course) for anywhere from 50 to 80 hours BEFORE using them normally. With dynamic earphones like these it is even more important and the S4 in particular seems to require it; out of the box, my pair sounded tinny with no bass and I was pretty annoyed by that (as have been some others in reviews on this site). However, after doing just 50 hours of burn in, they sound incredible.

Third: Fit will be a problem for some and even those its not a problem for due to size issues, it will be a problem because you have wear these differently than other "normal" earphones. The included eargels are, in my opinion, overly small. Even the large eargel seems a tad undersized and the small double flange and small normal (which seems more like a medium) just fall out. It's not like I have huge ears either as with most earphones there is usually an included size that is too big for me so, while I am able to get a seal with the large, I find it disconcerting that I feel like it might fall out. I attribute this to the patented design and the fact that they need to be inserted not straight in like normal earbuds, but at an upward angle; I am going to order the large double flanged eargels from Klipsch in the future in the hope it will help lock them in, but I am a little frustrated that I have to pony up another $13; they really should have included another $5 or $10 in eargels like they do on their Custom 2.

Listening Impressions:

The S4 is incredibly balanced, which seems to both win it fans and alienate others as it doesn't bias any one aspect of the listening experience; it reproduces the mix of the music as it was done in the studio. If you like large amounts of artificial bass, the S4 is NOT for you as its about realistic reproduction which means, if the track wasn't mixed with a lot of bass or doesn't have any, you won't hear any. Otherwise, if bass is part of the track mix it is plenty powerful.

Instrument definition is outstanding; you can hear the separate percussion instruments and multiple guitar lines. When someone slides their finger up a chord or a singer inhales before a high note, you can hear it. I'm amazed but what I am hearing in my music that I never knew was there before-entire parts and nuances to songs were totally missing with other headphones. Plus, you can HEAR quiet parts...especially at the ends of songs as they fade out. Some reviews speak to the harshness of the upper range with these...but I don't hear it. Maybe I'm just not attuned to that as much, but all I know is that nothing about the music I hear coming out of S4 is "harsh" in any way shape or form.

I listen to a wide variety of music: Classical (Mozart), Jazz (Pat Metheny), Bluegrass and Country (Alison Kraus, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, etc), Classic Rock (Eagles, U2, Boston), Rock (Nickelback, Vertical Horizon, 3 Doors Down, Daughtry) so I can speak to what the S4 is able to do across multiple spectrums of music. While it shines across the board, I feel the S4 is at its best (insofar as sounding MUCH better than the competition) on more complex music. I listened to Tim McGraw's Southern Voice album and Brad Paisley's American Saturday Night album back to back with Nickelback's All the Right Reasons album and Daughtry's Leave this Town album and with the former two, the detailed and intricate instrumentation jumps out of the S4 into your ears in a way I've never heard before. With the latter two, the sound quality is certainly better than others I've listened to...but its not like the "hearing the music for the first time" of the other albums because the musical arrangements are pretty simple and singular (just a lot of guitar, drums and bass all smashed together).

Finally, for a few final recommendations if you choose to purchase the S4:

The tin they come in is a little goofy. If you really want to fit the earphones in it, you have to pull out the padding that is inside or you will crush them. It's compact and its sturdy (more so than an unreinforced zippered case would be) so that is excellent, but its like they needed to make it bigger but didn't out of fear that it would be too bulky.

There have been a multitude of comments about the wires on these in that they seem thin. I agree...they seem a little thin; emphasis on little. Its not like they are the size of fishing line--they're just not fat. I will say this though...the wires, while thin, seem very sturdy. They don't bend in your hand like other lower tier wires do so I don't think breakage will be an issue if you treat them well (as you should if you are paying this much for earphones). Plus the wires are long enough without being too long so that they get tangled in everything. One last thing with the wires: they are really tightly wound in the package and, due to the sturdy material they are made of, they take awhile to naturally straighten out. I would advise you hang them from a safe place at night for a week to hasten that process along.

Finally, though this is not directly related to the earphones themselves, I feel the need to throw out some advice with regards to music quality and the S4. The S4 was specifically engineered for compressed music and it works well with it (whereas higher end phones like even the Klipsch Custom 2 make compressed music loss more evident)...BUT: please, PLEASE, if you have large amounts of music compressed BELOW 160 MP3 or 128 AAC, don't buy these-you are wasting your money. You will not be able to experience the fullness these provide with compressions that high and, in some cases, I found the S4 picked up artifacts in highly compressed music that ruined the listening experience. I had a lot of compressions in my music collection, but when I go these, I re ripped everything I had on CD to 196 AAC with VBR and it's a HUGE difference over 128 MP3 (and a pretty good difference over 128 AAC). I still have a mix of 128 AAC, 160 MP3...but the collection is 80% 196 AAC.

In the end, if you are primarily a compressed music listener (MP3, M4A player, iPod etc) who wants more clarity and definition in your music and you have (or can have) less compressed music files, then the Klipsch IMAGE S4 is, bar none, the best value in ear (and possibly the best value in any headphone) phone on the market today. I would recommend it above ANY other currently retailing under $200 today.
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on January 29, 2010

Burning in a dynamic-driver based earphone means that a period of use (usually ranging from 80-120 hours) is required for the dynamic drivers of earphone to achieve the best sound quality. You can do this by programming your ipod or whatever to play a wide range of music at a little louder than normal listening volume and leaving it to play overnight for a few days before you really listen to the earphones to evaluate their sound quality. This works by allowing the sound producing diaphragm of the earphone to relax and break-in a bit. Balance armatures, another type of earphone driver, don't benefit as much from burn-in, but it doesn't hurt, either.

On a hi-fi forum, a man and his friend put this idea to the test by buying two pairs of Klipsch Image S4 earphones. One was left unused (the control pair) and the other was burned in as described above. At the end of the burn-in period, they compared the burned-in earphone with the unused one and found that there was a very clear difference in sound quality. The treble had become much fuller and lost any tinny quality, while the bass had relaxed and the overall sound was more cohesive. The sound of the burned in pair was much better.

So, give your Klipsch Image S4 earphones a chance to burn-in and remember that their sound quality will reach its best after about 120 hours of use.

THE MORE YOU KNOW and all that.

(And mark this review helpful so others can see this before they buy these (or any dynamic driver based earphones)

Okay, on to the actual review.

These are a very fine sounding pair of earphones and a good value for the price.

Sound Quality: These have a strong and robust (but not overdone) bass kick and (after burn-in) the treble and mids are quite good. The Klipsch sound signature seems especially well suited to vocal music, they come out warm and clear. I think these earphones are aimed squarely at the largest audience who listen to pop, rock and dance music, as I think these earphones are more or less perfect for what old people (ha ha, sorry!) would call "rockin' out". Having said that, they play Bach's Easter Oratorio beautifully, with all vocal and orchestral voices articulated clearly.

Comfort: These are very light (which is important) and they are very comfortable if you fit them correctly (they come with several ear tips and you should take some time and find what works for you--if you really want you could even buy comply foam tips as these fit Klipsch earphones). It's important to take the time to fit them correctly not only for comfort, but also for the sound quality. Any of the crybabies who 1-starred these earphones for having a lack of bass (which is ridiculous, these earphone pump out great bass) clearly didn't take the few minutes necessary to fit their 'phones.

Also, you'll need a good fit for sound isolation. These can be great for air travel, subway commutes, snoring husband (they should see a doctor!), etc.

One important note is that Klipsch noticed that the human ear canal is not circular, it's typically an oval shape. So, their ear tips are oval-shaped. Now, an oval is different if it's upright versus sideways, right? Make sure your Klipsch ear tips are oriented the right way to fit your ears (doesn't take long and it's not hard) and you'll find these are very comfortable earphones.

One other thing: Here's a trick that works for these earphones and a number of other ones for reducing microphonics (sound from touching the earphone cord) and for some people, a more comfortable fit. You can switch sides--taking the left earphone and putting it upside-down in your right ear, looping the cord over your ear and doing the same with the right earphone in the left ear. Take a moment a get a good fit. It really works to eliminate microphonics. Neat, huh? Something to try if you want to work out with your earphones in. Again, not only for these earphones, but it works for some other ones, too. I ran today through the streets of NYC with these earphones in this way and it was great.

Quality: The plug is reinforced and L-shaped, which is good because that's where a lot of problems can happen otherwise. There are stress-relievers in the cord at the Y-junction and at the earphones. So, it's actually pretty well-built. Just because earphones are light doesn't mean they won't last with proper care. There's also a 2-year warranty with Klipsch (just keep your receipt!) and they are pretty good with customer service--did I mention you should keep your receipt? Oh, okay.

Bottom line: These are a fun sounding, comfortable pair of earphones and they are a good value for the price. If you take the time to fit them and give them time to reach their best sound, you will be happy with these earphones.
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VINE VOICEon June 7, 2009
After seeing a glowing review of the new Image S4 headphones on Cnet, I had to dive in and purchase the day of release from Amazon. I have Bose In-ear headphones and these just flat out blow those away. At $75.00 I cannot imagine that anything can compare to this sound quality. The sound is incredibly well balanced and the fit and comfort is perfect.

1) Price/Sound Quality Ratio. Great full sound with excellent bass, but not too deep like the Bose. Great mid and high level's excellent for all different types of music.
2) Comfort: They come with a case and several different sizes of in ear plastic. The Bose headphones had plastic that came off all the time and if you lost them, you would have to find replacements. These will not come off unless you want them too. They feel good in your ear and comfortable.
3) Noise Isolation: Indeed these do an excellent job of isolating outside noise based upon the precise fit of the ear pieces.
4) Cord length: The cord is the perfect length for me. Not too long, not too short. The Bose headphones have a cord that is just too long and cumbersome.

1) Not really a true negative, but if you are not looking for a sound isolating headphone, do not purchase these. I walk the dog outside quite a bit and have a hard time hearing things around me like traffic or trail runners, which at times can be dangerous. Just something to think about.

If you are looking at purchasing a replacement for a lost or broken pair of iPod headphones, save your money and purchase these. The difference in sound quality between these and stock headphones is clear and vast. I really liked the Bose in ear headphones when they were first released, but these just flat blow those out of the water for overall balanced sound quality and comfort.
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VINE VOICEon May 28, 2009
This review is for the new IMAGE S4 Model.

I've used many different kinds of headphones and ear plugs in the past, including some that cost many times more than this set, and some that cost less than half. To say I'm addicted to headphones would be an understatement.

The reason I was interested in the S4s was because they were supposed to be comfortable, and have nice bass (was really interested in this). The isolation effect is sometimes appreciated, but for me, not a real requirement.

I have a very wide taste when it comes to music and my use of these earphones. I enjoy listening to brainwave beats, soundtracks (like battlestar galatica), as well as rock / metal and some rap on occasion.

Since these phones say they are good at bass, the first thing I did was put in some rap. I could honestly tell no bass. They sound quite weak (but not really any weaker than any other plugs I have, like the shures). I mention this because I don't want you buying these thinking you might get some decent bass response over what you are already getting (you wont).

The next major thing about these headphones are how comfortable they are. So I was looking forward to putting them on and seeing first hand...

3 minutes in I was sold, it's like nothing is in my ear. You feel no pain, your ears dont feel like they are getting "decimated" by the overly large plastic pieces found in some phones. In fact, the whole time I had them on I felt quite comfortable.

When listening to brainwaves, audiobooks, and soundtracks, I really did enjoy these phones. It's like the sound was just emanating from my mind and not from a set of phones. It's like you're "there".

The fact that these phones can put you in that state with that level of comfort is something to behold.

However, there is one thing I Must mention. Since these are noise isolation phones, when you put these on, you will not want to do much moving around, as every step, every swallow, etc, is amplified throughout these phones. Meaning you hear some things more clearly (they do block out some of the external noise).

For the gym, I still use my sports headphones that wrap around my head (and hurt my ears!), but now at home I use these phones over my larger sennheiser's (I find it easier to lay down with these than with large phones).

Bottom Line:

Incredibly comfortable set of phones
Great sound, they put you "in the music"
Comes with a carrying case
Include additional pieces for your ear

The Bass is not that strong (didn't get these for that "feature")
Noise isolation phones can be "uncomfortable" when you're out jogging or running making these phones great for stationary use.

As long as you're not buying these for the gym, and plan on using these at home or on the go, you will love them. I do recommend them, they are much cheaper than other plugs with similar prices.

The fact that they put you in the center of the music, and are so very comfortable (can't begin to tell they are there (except for the somewhat short cable)) you will NOT be disappointed.

Please Note, When I talk about how noise isolation headphones are, what I said might be somewhat over stated (just trying to be thorough), I don't want people turned off because of it, but if you have not experienced this before, it can be off putting. I still recommend these plugs.

The comfort and spatial qualities are beyond belief.
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on June 23, 2010
I'm sitting here listening to my SanDisk Sansa Clip+ 4 GB MP3 Player (Red) with these headphones attached as I write this review, so the sound profile of these earbuds is quite fresh. I also believe I have good hearing as a musician of 12 years, so my review will be in a technical, but graspable, format.

To me, there are three main categories to rate any listening device, and across four ranges. The categories are Detail, Presence, and Coverage. The four ranges are Bass, Low Middle, Middle, and High. I think this way of describing can make the idea of audio equipment accessible to lots of people who don't yet understand esoteric and obscure ways of describing audio equipment that some people tend to make up off the top of their heads. Then of course there is build quality, but that is separate.

The four ranges are fairly self explanatory.
"Detail" means how much of your music you can hear, like a light crash of a hi-hat, faint bass guitar notes lost in a sub-par mix, or the sound of a backup singer behind the instruments and lead singer. On good audio equipment, you'll hear things you've never heard before.
"Presence" is how well that range stands out by itself. Ideally all four ranges should be balanced so that each stands out equally, and so that for example the high guitar and cymbal sounds don't drown out the lower bass or vocal notes.
"Coverage" or 'attack' is how smoothly the music comes onto the soundstage, which is a function of how responsive and high-quality the audio drivers in the audio equipment are. If they're low-quality, things will sound very "fast" or "sharp" and end up giving you a headache. Many of the instruments will sound like they came out of nowhere and you'll get listening fatigue very quickly.

These earbuds have some of the best Low Mids and Mids -- where the majority of frequency response in music lies -- that I've heard out of any earbuds in my life. They may even beat out my $250 Etymotic buds that I no longer have. Detail is fantastic: guitar solos are clear and crisp on every note, vocals come out like the person is singing right next to you, and synth work is vibrant and full of life. Presence is perfect, everything across the Low Mid and Mid range is easy to pick up on and distinguish. Coverage is also spot-on in this range. You hear the rise and fall of every note properly just like you were playing the guitar yourself. You can even distinguish what kind of pick and picking technique is used on a lot of songs!

The Highs and Bass are where these earbuds start showing why they're priced the way they are. Both are good, but not excellent like the Low Mids/Mids. The biggest problems with the Highs are the Presence and Coverage. Many of the cymbal crashes come out very loud and overpower the rest of the music for their (fleeting) duration. If there are many crashes in a row, it can make you want to take the earbuds out of your ears. The Detail is also lacking on the Highs. Some higher guitar notes and many cymbal crashes again seem to disappear without warning upon resolution. The Bass is also severely lacking in Presence and Coverage. The Detail is good, notes are distinct, but there is not much Bass response. The Etymotics I had sounded like I had a tiny subwoofer in my head. These sound like I have sub-$100 earbuds in my head. The Bass is cutoff somewhere between 80Hz and 120Hz, and there's no response beneath that. It's disappointing when you're trying to figure out a bassline. It's still pleasant to listen to and isn't harsh like the Highs can be, but the Detail just isn't there.

There are also some build quality niggles. There is a moderate amount of cord noise whenever it's moved, which makes them a poor choice for exercising. These are best suited for car rides, slow walking, trains and planes, etc. The cord also is pretty low quality, and tangles a lot, and also seems like it will eventually break. So far so good though. The earbuds do fit well in your ear, and are generally a pleasure to wear.

However, again, the whole middle range of music is astounding. They are definitely worth keeping just for that. They make it very easy to get over the lacking Bass response, and perhaps just turn down the treble in your mp3 player's equalizer to take care of the harsh Highs. To note, these are trends I noticed over about 10 entire albums, from different artists, so it's not a problem with just one band or kind of music. Luckily, that also means the great mid response will come through with anything you listen to.

I know this is a longer review and I hope I really helped you if you made it this far. These are excellent earbuds for general listening and overall outclass their pricetag by multiple times. Just take the boat load of 5-star reviews with a grain of salt and don't expect monitor-quality earbuds, and you'll be extremely pleased as long as you don't torture-test their build quality.
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on April 30, 2011
One would be wise to read the lower reviews for these ear buds, as they speak to issues I also had with the product.

Simply put, I bought these after reading the hype and was excited...until I opened the box and saw the flimsy wires. These will break in six months, I told myself.

More like three months.

My biggest problem is the durability. Yes, the wires are very thin. Worst of all, and this one really mystifies me, is the actual connector plug that goes into your earphone jack. Most headphones have a curved/L-shaped, hard plastic piece that goes into the jack, which allows for the wire to bend and makes the equipment more flexible (especially when you're carrying your iPod/music player in a pocket). For whatever reason, they've made these babies with a very flimsy wire that goes straight into the ear-phone jack, meaning the (thin) wire will always bend and ultimately become frayed since most people are probably carrying a music player in a pocket.

After less than three months of pretty regular usage, the sound on these ear buds is now dropping out due to this design, and without any real visible fraying of the wire. Just touching the wire now will change the sound drastically, causing it to drop out, dip in volume, etc. I thought this was an issue with the actual (gold-tipped) plug, but I confirmed it on other iPods, so it's the Klipsch buds. If you're walking along and using these, the sound could be all over the place. I expect one of the ear buds to completely stop working any moment now.

Severely disappointed, especially given all of the hype. The salesperson told me these were the best ear buds under $100. The lousy design alone ensures this is not the case. They might be ideal if you listen to music at home, sitting in one place, never moving around, never putting the player or the wire in a pocket or a backpack or a bag, and then putting these things back in the silly tin case they come in. Even that---other companies include a nifty and flexible siicon bag or a cloth bag, but I guess these sensitive things needs a full tin case. Ridiculous. But if you're going to listen to these at home in a sterile environment...go get a set of headphones. Otherwise, if you use ear buds to walk around with your music like a normal user, avoid these.

Just a note on usage, too. Realizing the wire was flimsy, I took special care with these not to leave them all coiled up around the iPod, or stuffed into a pocket to tangle. When not using, I either put them in the tin case or I lay them out so they don't get tangled. Still, the ridiculous design on the jack plug itself is mind-boggling and probably lead to my (and most low reviewers') broken ear buds.

My old Sennheiser sports ear buds---the CX 380s---sounded better, and also lasted longer. While one of those wires did fray eventually, it was a lot tougher, took a heavier beating, and could better last in the rain/wet conditions. The sound on them was also heavier, deeper, and could better handle bass and high frequencies. If you can find those today, they're probably half the money of Klipsch and they're better.

The sound on these is very good, though it didn't blow me away, especially compared with Sennheisers that I've owned. The bass was good, but I noticed they struggled on heavier bass tracks (would get distortion/fuzz). Also, very high ends became too piercing. Overall, they were good, the volume was solid, but I just don't believe there aren't better ear buds for the price. As for comfort, they are good, however if you're interested in slinging these behind your neck, the wires are the same length, so it tends to stretch on your far ear (depending on where you keep your music player).

Is it really too much to ask for a great set of ear buds for under a hundred dollars? Seriously...something durable, because let's face it, most people using these will put significant wear on them. Tons of people (like me) commute every day, use them regularly, coil them up, throw them in bags / on desks / in pockets. What Klipsch likely considers "misuse" of their precious earbuds is probably what a normal considers normal "use" (like actually commuting with a set of earbuds on an iPod). As for "burning in", which means playing music through these babies for 50-80 hours BEFORE using them in your ears so that they're properly broken in, what's the point when the ear buds themselves won't last too much longer when you actually use them?

I know I can send these things back to Klipsch and they can replace them (if I can find the receipt), but the cheap design of the wires is infuriating. Personally, I'm going back to Sennheiser. Even though I've had pairs that eventually wore down, they lasted longer, took way more abuse, and frankly sounded better (or at least as good) as these did. Take your $80 or hundred bucks elsewhere and avoid these. Three months of usage and they crap out----infuriating! Why bother getting another pair except as another backup / sub-par set?
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on August 24, 2009
Bla part:
First thing's first - I don't consider my self an audiophile, whatever that expression actually meant.
Second - I believe these aren't the intended to provide finest quality out there which is very obvious when you look at the price tag.
Third - I know a good thing when I see one, and this is one of them so here we go:

Intro part:
I owned Sennheiser CX300, the best selling in earbud headphones out there. Reason for that is price and good sound that goes with it (much nicer than any pair that came with your player). However, after some time it is easy to notice they have much flaws of their own, so you are start to look at better alternatives.
Google this, Bing that and viola... You come across S4 who rocketed into mainstream by one editors choice award (Cnet's), and some other guys out there also gave it thumbs up but you still crave for more - and tension gets higher since you cannot actually buy one, yet only preorder and hope for the best...

In the box part:
Simple packing from one piece follows direction of "smaller-better" logic: Easier to ship, cheaper to produce and not so heavy on environment.
Works nice and after all, we are not here for the box but are searching within:
1 Headphones (Klipsch Image S4 if you didn't know)
3 Pairs of oval silicone ear tips (small one have double "heads")
1 Cleaning tool
and box made from aluminum to put it all in.
Oh, and there's also a piece of paper which pretty much states: don't listen to your music too loud!
That's it.

Actually useful part:
By my observation, the best comparison between CX300 (or some other "simple" pair of earphones) and S4 is clarity, best described in flowing example: Imagine you are standing in front of the room and hear music from it. It's pretty loud and you can hear it well. After a time you get so comfortable with it and start accepting it as "normal". Then somebody opens the door and you step inside. Finally, you have a feeling there is almost nothing between you and the sound. It's much clearer and you can enjoy much detailed sound without anyone telling you what is it you should be hearing. It is very obvious.
This is like going from VHS to DVD. And don't go japing about Blue-ray now - if you have "vhs", you gonna love this.
I can only guess that moving higher from this kind of quality is never that much of a difference.
Although, to be honest, first time I listened to them was some kind of disappointing. I was a bit nervous and didn't know what to expect. First thought was: they're ok but i guess i could of saved my money. It was only the day after that I begun to realize the benefits of S4.
S4 sounds very nice, clarity is good (no mater what is playing, Fleetwood Mac or AC/DC, richness of the sound stays preserved) and I find them precise, meaning you can determine position of every instrument/sound. They are without a doubt on warm side of sound spectrum and are pretty universal if we talk music genres. I wouldn't recommend listening to much electronic music with them (or any other headphones for that matter). Bass is decent but not overwhelming. Some prefer more of it but I think to much bass will choke your music and it is only but artificial way to create atmosphere. Balance is needed and balance is achieved.
Apart mentioned above here are few other bands I listened with these: Bon Iver, Beastie Boys, The Postal Service, Kings of Leon, Devotchka, Final Fantasy... and many others in self-made compilations. Point is - they all sound great on S4

As many before stated, one of the biggest surprises was how many songs sounds differently and one starts hearing sounds that were not there before. Of course, when earphones are new you are hearing music more analytically, but even now, almost month later I find myself turning of my ipod just to check does the sounds I'm hearing come from the music or outside.
Then it gets me - you can't here the sounds from outside with these on :)

Here we come to the other very important point which some will appreciate even more than quality - their fit.
Using oval ear tips is common sense and it is pretty sad truth that no one thought of this before (I don't mean you, you and you, but the guys who actually work in industry). Klipsch has them for some time now and this was my first experience with them. I am thrilled! They work flawlessly and are by far most comfortable I tried to date (haven't tried my Comply's though (made from foam)). I needed few days to make friends with them but now I can have them in my ears for 2 hours with almost no discomfort at all (for me, this is a lot).
Very important thing almost no one mentioned is you can ware them behind your ears!
Since they are oval, all you have to do is take them out, turn for 180 degrees and put them in again. Now you'll have your wires up instead down and all you have to do with them is put them behind your ears. This position is much more practical for running since you cannot feel the pull from the wire.
One more thing I would like to mention is they are smaller then they look on the pictures, yet they feel very nice in hands and are ridiculously easy to put in ears!

Accessories part:
One more detail to expand fanciness is cleaning tool which is basically nothing else then piece of plastic with a little bent wire on the top, but nevertheless it keeps one happy (there's a Klipsch logo imprinted on the plastic) and does the dirty job well (but you have to clean the space between wires with a toothpick afterwords).
Finally, the box.
People seem to dislike it and call it unpractical, yet I find it rather good. Since made from aluminum, it will keep your S4 safe from harm. Therefore i find it better than some small case made from polly or lather. One thing that should be better is closing system since case can easily open by itself, especially if earphones are not inserted correctly. In my case it is stored in little bag that goes around waist and there is not enough space in there for it to open.

Conclusion part:
I was never so happy to listen music, it's if I'm waiting for some excuse to put these earphones on. I find them excellent buy for everything they are: good sounding (clear, warm, precise), comfortable (silicone oval ear tips, can be worn behind ear, great for running, easy to put in), nice (fine design yet securely robust) and practical (safe aluminum box and cleaning tool).
At the end I just want to state I bought these from and didn't receive them from Klipsch as a demo (in case you find my positivity fishy ;))!
22 comments| 103 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 7, 2009
Where do I start? First let me explain my situation - which you'll probably think is a joke, but I assure you, it's not: if you got a few minutes to read and can understand my situation, you'll understand why I've fallen in love with these earbuds. If you don't wish to read the story - jump down to the *******s.

I work in an office setting, IT to be precise. I'm in a cubicle about 15 feet away from another guy in a cubicle. Now - this guy has a bit of a problem. He coughs, huffs, and clears his throat... a lot. Normally it wouldn't be a problem - some coughing here and there... oh well. Not quite. This guy has got some sort of problem (a "tick" maybe?) or has it set out to drive me absolutely *insane*. He coughs/huffs/and puffs sometimes up to 30-40 times a minute. That's right, 30-40 times A MINUTE! He has his good days where it might be 30-40 times in a single day and then he has some bad days.

With this said, I've had to deal with that for almost 6 months. I've practically lost my mind... I mean, honestly, I've daydreamed about doing terrible and violent things to him. It's essentially what I'd expect CIA torture is like.

So I went out and bought some $10 earbuds from OfficeMax or somewhere like that - hoping to drown out his insanity with some music - maybe even calm my nerves so I don't violently swerve off a cliff or drive through a playground laughing hysterically over lunch. These cheap earbuds worked great - except after a few weeks I had to turn the volume up because his "crazy coughs" got louder. By the end of the day - my ears hurt because 8 solid hours of blasting music was becoming excessive. So I knew I had to look for a change.

I started doing my research - extensive research mind you. There was a very in depth review for "high end" earbuds - you know the type $100 - $1000. The Klipsch Image S4's were the cheapest on the list of 5 or 10 tested - going up against the "best of the best". Long story short - the Image S4's took 1st or second. They claimed there was no major difference from these compared to the $500+ set.


Storytime is over, now on to my actual review. Very easily a 5 out of 5. I've been getting more and more into *quality* sounding music and these have set my standards high. I listen to music on other speakers/headphones and it sounds flat, dull, and boring. I'm addicted to these earbuds and I can hardly live without them anymore.

Bass: enhanced and very solid. A little higher than I expected - especially since my previous earbuds had literally next to no bass. However, it's a good feeling bass - not "fuzzy".

Highs: precise and very crisp. I sort of expected the highs to be slightly louder but this is nice because I can actually "feel" the music now with the more defined bass.

Lows: very prevalent. I couldn't even hear certain lows with the other earbuds. I remember noticing there was wind blowing at the end of one of my songs that I've never heard before.

They fit very well, I can't even feel them once they're in. However, I wouldn't recommend them for exercise. Since they are noise cancelling they fit snugly inside of the ear canal. Jumping around or active movement may continuously wiggle them loose.

The noise cancelation is seriously impressive. I actually turned my music down from what I had it before and haven't heard one single keystroke in this review yet. Better yet, I know the kid next to me is firing off coughs at a rate and decibel level that would put most military grade weapons to shame and I can't hear a sound of it.

Worth the $80? Yes. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Not to mention, I believe this actually raised my quality of life in the workplace. Thank you Klipsch - you've done great things for me.
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on March 28, 2010
I am a frequent traveller (13 hr trips from Toronto to Shanghai every month) and noise reducing earphones are my number one travel accessory required to go along with my Ipod. In addition to the Klipsch Image S4 earbuds, I also own a pair of Bose in-ear phones and a pair of Shure E2Cs. This review will compare all three. I'll break the review down into the usual categories :

Comfort : A tie between the Bose and the Klipsch. Both are equally comfortable for many hours, but the Klipsch trumps the Bose because the Bose is not designed to seal tightly to the ear and eliminate external noises.The Shures are third because they will cause discomfort after a few hours. The oval shape of the Klipsch units really makes a difference here.

Sound Quality : The Klipsch is the clear winner here, but only by a slight margin over the Bose. Of the 3 , the Klipsch has the best overall tonal balance, with very deep bass that is not muddy or overpowering, just awesome. the Bose bass can be a bit overpowering, the Shure has a lack of deep bass that is immediately noticeable. All 3 have very good mids and highs.

Noise reduction: the Klipsch wins ,hands down. The oval shape of the earpiece does a superb job of sealing out external noises. On a airplane, you cannot even hear the cabin announcements when using the Klipschs and listening to my Ipod at about half volume. Wonderful! The Shures rate second place, they don't fit the ear as well as the Klipschs. The Bose do not seal out external noises at all, nor are they designed to, so do not expect them to act as noise reducing earbuds.

Overall value : The Klipsch's rate number one here, no question. For the $80 I paid for the, the value they represent is almost shocking. The Bose and the Shure were both about $100 each, and the Klipschs blow them both away.

Downsides: The cable on the Klipsch units looks a bit flimsy, giving the impression that it may not be as durable as the Bose or the Shure units. Also, you might want to order spare earpieces for the Klipsch units, the design of the metal box that holds the buds and the extra earpieces tends to allow the little fellows to fall out and be lost in between airplane seats !

My recommendation : Buy the Klipschs before they realize the mistake they made by pricing them this low. These are hands down not only the best value today in earbuds, but maybe the best overall noise reducing buds you can buy.

Bottom line: I recently took all 3 sets of earbuds on a trip to China again in March. I started off with the Klipsch units. During 34 hours of air travel, I just so thoroughly enjoyed the Klipsch units that the Bose and the Shure units never made it out of their carrying cases.
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