114 of 137 people found the following review helpful
A Bit Pricey, But Definately Worth It For the Sound and iPod Controls,
This review is from: Klipsch Image X10i Audiophile Noise-Isolating Headset with 3-button Apple Control (Copper) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I've probably been using portable music players for at least 20 years now. First it was cassette players, then CD players and now MP3 (or other music/video file type) players. Progressively as I upgraded from one type of player to the next, I wanted an even better (i.e., not cheap) kind of player(s) which would give me more features and of course, better sound. It wasn't until more recently that I discovered it wasn't so much the player, as the headphones that made the big difference in sound. (Duh!) I don't know why I didn't bother to get better headphones until recently, but I guess it was because I didn't understand that the type of sound I was hearing wasn't nearly as good as what the source material was capable of giving me. (Especially for CD's) So I finally decided to stop using el cheapo's and plunk down some coin for a decent pair of headphones.
The first pair I bought was a few years ago and were the Bose In-Ear earbuds. The player I was using at the time was the Apple Ipod 5G video. Compared to the Skullcandy earbuds I was using before, they sounded like THE BEST sounding earbuds I had ever heard. (That I had heard, not that existed). I quickly became disillusioned with these, especially when wearing them as I worked out at the gym and they would constantly fall out of my ears as I worked out. Surprisingly, this would also happen when I wasn't working out, although far less frequently. I tried all the different size ear tips, but made no difference. I knew there were far better (more expensive) buds out there to try, so after doing some research and comparing, I next went with the Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 pro earbuds. These had a bendable wire built-in to allow wrapping around the ears and fits deeper into the ears, which they did. Also, the sound was MUCH better! In fact, while waiting to get the X10i's, I sold my Super.Fi 5's and reverted back to the Bose to see how they measured up and after listening to them again, I can't believe I ever thought the Bose sounded good! The bass they give is so overpowering and muddy that it drowns out some of the mids and highs, making for a poor listening experience when compared to the Super.Fi 5's.
A little over a month ago, I finally upgraded from using some of the Ipod Nanos to the 64GB Touch (3rd Gen). This model has an in-line/voice control feature which I wanted to use immensely, but I didn't want to use the craptacular earbuds that came with the Touch. After doing a little research, I found that the Klipsch were the only game in town that had some in-line controls/microphone earbuds that work (mostly) with these features. I know there is the cheaper S4i model, but after reading some of the reviews, I was afraid that they would be a lot like the Bose I had (i.e. strong bass drowning out the mids and highs), so I decided to go all out and go for the brass ring and get the X10i's.
I was definitely weary about paying the $350 price tag these things have, what with buying them online (harder for exchange/refunds) and not knowing how well they work. For the price though, they had to be good! And luckily, the gamble paid off. The X10i's sound every bit as good, if not better than, my old UE Super.Fi 5's! The earbuds are definitely smaller as well and fit much more comfortably in the ears due to the oval shape of the ear tips. This makes quite a lot of sense, considering how oval-like the human ear canal is shaped. It is surprising how much research Klipsch (and others like them) put into making their earbuds; the micro technology, form, design, etc. The medium size tips are what 60% of users find the most comfortable, so those are the ones that are already attached to the buds. I guess I'm one of the 60% because I just left them on when I tried the X10i's out for the first time and they fit comfortably and securely. I bought these for 2 main reasons: 1. The awesome sound. 2. The in-line/microphone controls. So I will review these 2 aspects of the earbuds.
1. The sound: Again, this is a major pro! Unfortunately I had already sold my Super.Fi 5's before I got the X10i's, so I couldn't do a sound check and compare the two. I can note that when using the Super.Fi 5's VS the X10i's with my iTouch I had to turn the volume back up a bit when using the X10i's to get the same volume level. I don't know exactly what this suggests; maybe that the X10i's need a little more power (volume) than the Super.Fi 5's did? Nonetheless, I get all the sound flavors. The sound is very clean, vibrant and reproduces the source as well as it can be done. Knowing how well these reproduce sound, I went ahead and re-ripped my music library from the AAC (.m4a) file format @ 150Kbps VBR to the same format @ 300Kbps VBR. This is about as high as I can go in the AAC format before it becomes too high a bit rate for the iTouch. I'm also not ready to go lossless just yet, but someday. (When there's more memory for PMP's like the iPod.) Anyway, I'm hearing some sounds in my music that I never have heard before. Some just small, background sounds; others have become more distinct and vibrant. I don't know if this is because of the earbuds, the fact that I doubled the bit rate of my music or a combination of both. (Probably both.) The highs and mids are where these really shine. I listen mostly to Alternate rock, industrial, electronica, techno, etc., so nothing too bass intensive like R&B. Don't get me wrong, you still do get some tight, relatively strong bass, but I've heard headphones with more. This may be the way they were designed, so the bass won't be too strong and over power the rest of the music spectrum. Still, I think the lows could be a bit stronger, so I'd have to list this as a small con.
2. The in-line/voice control: This is actually the main reason I decided to get the X10i's. There's a lot of things I like about the iTouch, but its auto-lock feature is not one of them. Having controls that allow me to have some basic functionality without having to unlock the iTouch every time I want to pause/play, go to the next track or listen to a different album is VERY handy. Unfortunately, not all of the controls work properly or at least not all the time. I'll give a bullet point of each control and how well it works (or not) with my iPod Touch 3rd Gen.
- Volume +/-: These controls work flawlessly every time. They will turn the volume up or down in about 10% increments across the volume bar.
- Pause/Play (middle button press 1x): This works every time as well. Press it once to pause, press it once again to continue play.
- Next Track (middle button press 2x): This only works about half the time. I don't know why, but it's not fully compatible with the iTouch for some reason. The specs for the X10i's give a compatibility list and it has the 2nd Gen iTouch listed, but not the 3rd, so maybe the 2nd Gen is more compatible? Other reviewers have stated that this feature doesn't work all the time for them either with different model ipods/iphones. I have noticed that when I do double tap to go to the next track and it doesn't work, the song will skip for ½ a second like it's trying to go to the next track, but can't. Sometimes I can get it to skip to the next track by trying multiple times, but it doesn't work every time.
- Previous Track (middle button press 3x): Same problem as the next track incompatibility.
- Voice Control (middle button press, hold down 2-3 seconds): So far, I have had little to no trouble having this work, thankfully. I've only used it about half a dozen times or so, but I've tried playing a few of my playlists by saying, "Play playlist Powerman 5000" or albums by saying, "Play album Thirty Seconds to Mars" and every time it played the exact album or playlist I asked for. I did once ask it to play a playlist and it misinterpreted what I said and started playing songs by a certain artist instead, but all I had to do is restate my request more clearly and it played the proper playlist. SO MAKE SURE YOU SPEAK CLEARLY WHEN USING THIS FEATURE! There are many other voice commands besides the ones I mentioned, but haven't tried them all yet. Also, you don't have to say the full name of whatever it is you are requesting, as long as it's close enough. For example, when I said to play my Powerman 5000 playlist, the full name of the playlist is actually Powerman 5000 Mix, but I left out the "mix" part.
One last thing I have to say about these. Some reviews (both amateur and professional) have said that these are mainly for serious audiophiles that mainly listen to lossless music because these buds will uncover any flaws in lesser quality music. That's somewhat true, but with a little BS sprinkled on top. These are for anyone who really cares about getting the best sound out of their music (whatever the source may be), want ipod/iphone in-line controls and can afford them. The truth is these earbuds will only let you hear flaws in your music if they actually exist. Let's say you have your music ripped at a standard .mp3 @ 192Kbps. You listen to a song with your old, cheap earbuds and then listen to that same song using the X10i's; it's not going to make that song sound like crap. It will make it sound better than the cheap buds you were using, but only as good as that file format/bit rate will allow. The X10i's may make your music sound inferior to higher quality versions in comparison, but that's only if you ACTUALLY compare them. If, for instance, you're use to listening to your music as audio files and not straight from the CD's you ripped them from, then you're not going to be aware of any possible deficiencies in your music. Audiophiles may say that music at anything less than lossless quality IS a flaw, but that's a matter of opinion.
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 17, 2011 3:01:44 PM PDT
S. McCandlish says:
Skipping to next track is obviously failing because you're not double-tapping fast enough (thus the "skip" in the currently-playing track - you've actually paused it very briefly then played it again). In fairness to you, it is quite possible that its double-click speed expectations are unreasonable.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 18, 2011 9:28:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 18, 2011 1:56:17 PM PDT
In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 3:11:26 PM PDT
Michael Calmenson says:
Posted on Aug 4, 2011 10:44:43 AM PDT
A. Bush says:
Wow, after you provided such a great review you would think that people would have more constructive things to say than assume you are too stupid to figure out the in-line controls and criticize your spelling.
THANK YOU for providing an EXCELLENT review on these headphones. I agree with the "craptacular" nature of the ill-fitting, tinny, uncomfortable and poorly built Apple earbuds, and have been using stuff in the $40-50 range for the last several years (Sennheiser, Sony, J-Labs) all of which have been decent but broke within a year (or less). Now that I have a professional career I am looking to upgrade and was originally considering the Klipsch S4 as I have a Klipsch Promedia speaker set and have found it to be the most excellent 2.1 system that I have ever heard. I then ran across Logitech's "Ultimate Ears" earbuds and read great reviews, but I had a feeling that Klipsch made something better than the S4 (which was denounced in the UE reviews) and I was right.
With your great experience-based review and logical statements about audio quality and "enthusiast vs. audiophile" notions, I have all the info I need to make an informed choice and I believe I will be picking up a pair of these soon! Once again, thanks for the great review and don't be too worried about these other people who are too bitter to accept something good when they see it.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2011 1:28:12 PM PDT
THANK YOU for YOUR comment A. Bush. I'm glad my review helped you out, which is exactly what I'm trying to do with any review I publish (whether it be a good OR bad review). I can take constructive criticism, but apparently some people just can't help but be know-it-all's and leave comments like the other commentators did. (I'm guilty of that from time to time too though!) Sometimes I can't help but to respond, but other times I'll let it go. I was tempted to respond to "Sweetandlow" up there and give some quip, asking him if he'd be interested in becoming my official spellchecker for all my reviews..., but decided not to. (Oh wait, does that count? No, no. I didn't directly aim it AT him.)
Posted on Mar 21, 2012 5:25:30 PM PDT
S. Ruth says:
Do you mind telling me what you used to rip the lower kbps music to the higher one? I really want to do that because I am buying one kind of Klipsch or another, probably this one and would like to get the most out of my music. You seem like you know so much, have you ever heard of software that restores your compressed music collection somewhat?
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2012 7:14:11 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 22, 2012 1:58:31 PM PDT
Well, in my review when I said I re-ripped my music from a lower bit-rate to a higher one, I meant that I re-ripped the CD's themselves. Technically you can convert lower bit-rate music to a higher bit-rate, but it won't increase the quality (you can't get more out of less, in other words). To my knowledge there is NO software that can put quality back into compressed music. Once you have your music compressed to a certain bit-rate, you can't "un-compress" it back to a larger bit-rate for more quality because it simply isn't there. What we are essentially talking about here is "lossy" formats (MP3, AAC, etc.) which compresses the music to such a degree that bits and pieces of the music data are removed so the music can be highly compressed to cut down on the file size; which in turn cuts down on the quality. On the other hand (and I mentioned in my review), there is also the "lossless" format (FLAC, ALAC, etc.) which I'm in the process of switching over to. These lossless formats keep ALL the music data (quality) and is only slightly compressed (not to such a degree as the lossy formats), but the tradeoff is that they take up a lot more space. (Which is why I'm getting an iPod Classic later this week for more carrying capacity.) For example, one of my albums in AAC (@ 300kbps) takes up 110MB while the same album in ALAC takes up 376MB, so that's over 3x the space. For most people, lossless isn't necessary and most people are satisfied with lossy formats at a sufficient bit-rate and can't hear a difference. It all depends on an individuals ears and what they hear, the equipment used to listen to the music, etc. I was able to hear some difference, which is partly why I want lossless, but also because I want the highest quality I can for my music. I mean, why not?! Now-a-days storage space for your computer to store stuff like music and video really isn't an issue any more. (Except for maybe the PMP you're using to take it all with you and play it on!)
If you download your music instead of ripping it off CD's (which I do occasionally if I don't care about the quality as much) you'll have to get it in the lossy formats since most music download sites such as here on Amazon or iTunes, etc. only offer one format (lossy) and bit-rate. There are a few sites that do offer lossless quality downloads, but usually they only specialize in a certain genre and don't offer a wide variety.
The software I use to rip all my discs or to convert between formats, etc. is called dBpowerAMP digital music converter. I bought it years ago when it was slightly cheaper (I think I payed around 25 to 30 bucks), but now it's closer to 40. It's a pretty good program and you get free upgrades to future releases; it's worth the $.
Well, that's enough of me prattling on. Hope that helps and if you have anymore questions, just post a reply.
Posted on Jun 21, 2012 1:44:41 PM PDT
Ryan Rusnock says:
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2012 2:37:29 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 10, 2012 5:04:27 PM PDT
A. Bush says:
His novel was a lot more helpful than your comment. Some people actually want to learn about the product before they buy. "This product is good" is the most WORTHLESS review out there. I'm sorry your attention span doesn't permit you to actually read an entire quality review.
Posted on Oct 1, 2012 8:35:17 AM PDT
You mentioned gym use with your previous earphones and that it would suddenly come off out of your ear. How are the X10's for gym use? Can they stay on securely and be durable enough while performing exercises such as running on the treadmill or deadlifting? I ask because I am a gym addict.