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Customer Review

182 of 211 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another casualty in the earbud wars, April 30, 2011
This review is from: Klipsch IMAGE S4 In-Ear Enhanced Bass Noise-Isolating Headphones (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
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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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 9, 2012 12:08:21 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 4:34:31 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2012 3:31:35 PM PST
Gee Jay says:
@don scarborough
Unfortunately the "burning in" is a common superstition in the audiophile world. See for yourself on the numerous reviews, especially for headphones. Like the audio equipment somehow magically changes its sound (and therefore its electro-mechanical characteristics overall) during the time of use and adjusts itself to the listener's perception.

It's actually vice versa - our psyche slowly adjusts to the peculiar coloration of the sound presented by the audio equipment. The audio companies are very well aware about this superstition, but do a little to debunk it, and some even bolster it. This superstition helps to sell overpriced but otherwise mediocre sounding devices they make.

Posted on Apr 22, 2012 4:47:35 PM PDT
Very true! I had the same experience!

Posted on May 4, 2012 1:05:31 AM PDT
Phillip says:
I've owned these for 3 years and have used them regularly for working out, casual listening, road trips, flights... They have weathered the storm unbelievably well. I've lost them a 4 times only to find them in the a cargo pocket of a pair of shorts that I've washed and dried since. YES, they have been washed AND dried 4 times and they're as good as new. Instead of approaching these headphones with a "I just paid $80 for these so they better hold up through my abusive punishment" attitude, it might be better to approach them as though "I just paid $80 for these headphones so I'm going to make an effort to take care them". If you make any effort to take care of the things you buy then these will last you for years and years. They sound pretty fantastic by the way.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2012 5:25:27 AM PDT
"If you make any effort to take care of the things you buy then these will last you for years and years."

Sounds good, I'll start taking better care of the products I buy by losing them and washing them in my cargo shorts...four times.

Perhaps you missed the part of the review where I mentioned how careful I was because of the flimsy wire / cheap construction.

Posted on May 27, 2012 8:28:39 PM PDT
Liza says:
I wish this review had been written earlier in April when I bought a pair! They only worked for 1 month. No sound from the right ear bud. I am really disappointed.

Posted on Jun 23, 2012 8:39:02 PM PDT
Barnyard says:
I haven't found any ear bud type headphones that don't start to go at the flexible part where the wire attaches to the jack. I'm active and use them while cycling. It's seems like when I start using the headphone a lot and enjoying them, that there on their way out. I recently noticed that my bose headphones are having the same problems. I've sent my Jbuds back if they've had a problem within a year of purchase and they've always replaced them.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 18, 2012 6:10:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 18, 2012 6:16:38 AM PDT
Marine Biker says:
I have a pair of S3's that I bought w/my 1Gen Zune and I've had a set of S4's for about 2 years. They still sound great and I've had no problems with the sound or wires. As a matter of fact I'm buying a pair of Reference S4 In-Ear Headphones today. The only problem I find is that depending of your ear shape they might be a bit uncomfortable for some.

Posted on Jul 29, 2012 11:24:56 AM PDT
I agree that the companies that make earbuds can do a better job making them durable. But can someone recommend earbuds for under $100 that actually hold-up to daily use? I've gone through so many. These have lasted the longest because of the two year warranty! After $80, you will at least get two years of use. Klipsch is super-friendly when you call them to ask for replacement. I've swapped mine-out twice so far. I love them, except when I have to send them back.

Posted on Aug 10, 2012 8:05:38 AM PDT
I totally agree. I purchased these in April and they failed last week.

Did Klipsch send you a new pair since they have a two year warranty?

I just emailed them.
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