Customer Review

298 of 332 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extensive Klipsch X10i review and comparision, March 22, 2011
This review is from: Klipsch Image X10i Audiophile Noise-Isolating Headset with 3-button Apple Control (Copper) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
If you read my wordy review of the Klipsch S4i headphones back in July, you already know how impressed I've been with Klipsch's headphones. Sadly, after around 800 hours of use, I managed to short out the left channel. Legendary for their customer service, Klipsch of course was ready to send me out a replacement pair. However, I had another idea. Instead of replacing my Image S4i headphones with another pair, I decided to upgrade to the Klipsch Image X10i, the S4i's big brother only, some how, much MUCH smaller.

These being the world's smallest headphones, they're also amongst the most comfortable. They are, in fact, the most comfortable in-ear headphones I have ever owned, beating out even the Klipsch S4i. The five, unique ear tips include three single flange, small, medium and large tips and medium and large double flange tips. The S4i includes the same tips but not the larger double flange ear tips.

The ear tips have an unique oval shape for both easy insertion, comfort and exceptional noise isolation. I use the medium, double flange ear tips and by the third track I've forgotten they are even in. They are just that comfortable.

Pretty enough to propose

You can tell these are luxury headphones, if not by the price or performance, by the exquisite packaging. While the display box may be a bit superfluous, after $350. Possibly the greatest bit of luxury in the accessories arena is the carrying pouch. Calling it a pouch is like calling a Mercedes a car. It's much more than the fabric pouch provided with the S4i, this is a hard, faux-leather wrapped rectilinear box with magnetic locking flap. I'll have to take a picture of it. It's large enough to carry the headphones, the ear tips, the airline adapter, the 1/4 to 1/8 headphone adapter and the cleaning tool, yet small enough to fit in your pocket.

After you open the retail box and the display box, you'll finally get a look at the headphones themselves. Did you ever see a more beautiful set of in-ear headphones?

Enough on how comfortable and beautiful they are, how well do they perform?

One thing that constantly goes through my mind as I listen to these headphones is the feeling I get while wearing them. I like to think of a concert experience.

Most headphones, especially those that come with your MP3 player lack bass, definition and simply strip nearly any semblance of fidelity from the audio experience. They are the equivalent of standing outside the concert, listening in through the loading dock. No sound stage, no thumping bass, nothing to write home about.

Then there are the slightly higher-end headphones, $20-50 like the Sennheiser MX and CX series or Sony's Sport series. These provide the experience of sitting in the balcony. You get to see and hear the band, but this far back the bass is more or less lost and soundstage weak. You might be able to tell one instrument from another but close your eyes and you'll find yourself amiss a flood of cacophonous loud.

The next step up is a big one. You've now spent $50-150 (or $35 for the Koss PortaPro) and are really enjoying yourself. Lower level access, great sound stage, separation and transparency all at once. You're marveling at the bassists ability to blast through thumping beats, nuances of the percussionist's light rapping on the ride cymbals and the piercing vocals of the lead. It's an experience to behold. The Koss PortaPro, Klipsch S4i and UltimateEars Super.fi 5 Pro provide this experience.

And then there's the Klipsch Image X10i headphones. This is front row at a Muse concert, Undisclosed Desires begins, the bass pounds your chest, the massive speakers to never fatigue no matter what volume, no matter what frequency. Soundstage? You're nearly only the stage. You can't help but tap your feet, raise your voice to sing along. You close your eyes and you've become part of the music. It's an ineffable experience.

The only experience I've had better than listening to the Klipsch Image X10i with their supreme comfort, best in class sound isolation (especially with the Comply memory foam ear tips) is when I put on my Sennheiser HD600s powered by my dual-monobloc hybrid amp or sitting in front of my Klipsch Heresys with Klipsch RSW-10. To out do the Klipsch Image X10i at home you will have to use something like the Sennheiser HD600s with an amplifier, or to build a really fabulous Klipsch speaker package. There you will get even better sound stage and transparency, you'll get to feel the bass in your chest and share the experience with a group of people. However, you cannot do this and walk down the street, block out the guy next to you on the subway. Escape a twenty-four hour flight to visit your parents back in Saudi Arabia.

The Klipsch Image X10i is your portable hifi system. How a single-driver headphone that is more narrow than a pencil, shorter than a quarter and the weight of two nickels I don't know. Personally I think one of the engineers at Klipsch made a deal at the crossroads...

You'll read reviews about these headphones all over the net. Some say the bass is weak, the sound is balanced, the bass is too strong, the treble is fatiguing, the treble is under-expresses... If you want to trust someone who's owned dozens of headphones, knows how important a proper seal and placement of a headphone is, that amplification is more than watts or mW, here I am.

These headphones have better bass than the Klipsch S4i. Yes, it s more balanced, it is not as exaggerated as the stuff coming out of Monster. There doesn't seem to be an end to the bass. These will go louder than you can handle and do it with such grace. Anything beyond 50% power on my iPhone is LOUD. 75% and you're just being silly.

The efficiency of these headphones allows you to play with at low volumes without sacrificing the full spectrum of sound. You don't have to be at 75% volume to get bass as you do with many other headphones. The treble might be a bit reserved for a Klipsch product but is by no means muffled. The vocals of Vittorio Grigolo and Anthony Hamilton are rich, thick and effervescent. Mary J Blige's Be Without You performance at the 2007 Grammy Awards is rich with emotion, luscious bass and soaring vocals that the Klipsch X10i recreate with every intention of the night it was originally performed.

It seems like I can't find fault in these headphones. Part of the experience, glory and wonder come from the amazement that something this small and this comfortable can sound so good. It's like a spinal tap into your musical collection.

The microphone and controls are spot on, exactly the same as the Klipsch S4i. No complaints whatsoever on it's implementation or functionality. Love that the controller also works on my MacBook Pro and iMac.

I might say slightly warmer female vocals and brighter highs would be nice, an L-shaped headphone jack instead of the straight jack just waiting to be bent if you put your iPhone or MP3 player in your jeans pocket.

You have to admit, $350 for a pair of portable headphones for your iPhone is quite a chunk of money. They cost more than the phone itself! That being said, these headphones aren't for everyone. For those who want a nearly identical experience at the sacrifice of a tiny bit of fidelity and comfort, the next best thing are the Klipsch S4i headphones. For around 1/3 the price you'll get a really incredible experience that seems to only get better with time.

Physical -
Comfort: 10/10
Build: 9/10
Remote: 9/10
Mic: 10/10
Overall 9.5

Sound -
Bass: 9/10
Mids: 9/10
Treble: 8/10
Soundstage: 9/10
Overall: 8.75/10

Blind A/B testing with the Klipsch S4i or Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 would be difficult. You get to a point with headphones that they get so good you can't be realistic in your expectations. Any differences between these headphones might be lost on all but the most discerning listener.
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Comments

Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 41 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 26, 2012 4:24:51 PM PST
These are $90 for Cyber Monday which just about nudges me to give these a try! Thanks for the thorough review!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 12:31:24 AM PST
MetalCharlie says:
klipsch are horrible. I've returned two IEM's. Fit or lack of burn in time wouldn't be the culprit in what is FATIGUING highs. Instrument separation is weak, and the highs, no matter how long you burn in, or what fit you get, will calm down. They are tinny and hot and after 10 minutes very off putting. You'll get a broader reference by visiting head-fi dot org. This is something that is inherent with Klipsch IEM's. The X10 is no better than the S4 or S4 reference. You might be wow'd by the sound initially, but eventually you get overwhelmed for the wrong reasons. Avoid. There's always The Ultimate Ears TF 10's, Hifiman re-zero's, Meelectronics A161's, or Sennheiser IE 8's for more balanced sound with wider soundstage, imaging, and instrument separation without the grating highs.

Posted on Dec 18, 2012 2:06:06 AM PST
This review has the tell-tale signs of being fake.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 10:48:00 AM PST
Happy to have been of service to you!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 10:53:53 AM PST
Everyone has their own preference for sound. That being said I have owned almost every Klipsch headphone, Shure, Ultimate Ears, several Sennheiser, Grado, MeElectronics, Koss, V-Moda... I have dozens upon dozens of headphones that I personally own, many of which I have reviewed and I must say, your description of the Klipsch IEMs is not something I, or anyone I have given a set to, has experienced. You might think that fit isn't an issue but the main thing that contributes to poor sound in any IEM is poor fit. With the wrong ear-tips, I cannot listen to any of my IEMs, it's why I use the triple flanged tips when available or Comply Foam ear tips.

I am writing this as I listen to my Klipsch Image X10i, my second set because a family pet ate my first set.

One thing I should add to my review is the microphone. That is one thing that I am not impressed with over time with any Klipsch IEM (Klipsch Image One headphones and other on-ear do not have this problem). What I have discovered is that for every iPhone I've owned since the 3GS, the Klipsch headphones do not properly turn off the iPhone's other mics resulting in a lot of background noise, so much that it becomes unusable as a mic. The remote still works great it's just the mic.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 10:55:59 AM PST
What are the "tell-tale" signs you are referring to? I purchased these headphones, and dozens of others, and like to write reviews from time to time. You can see other reviews on my site justex07.com. This was my honest and real review of a headphone I still love and am listening to as I type this on my flight, hearing almost no noise from the jet engines.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 12:56:13 PM PST
MetalCharlie says:
I found your review quite well done, and there are no tell tale signs of anything doubting your sincerity. I'm someone who doesn't like the Klipsch S4 sound signature. I think by my response it might seem that I dislike the X10. I've used the X10 and it's a fantastic BA IEM with great amounts of detail and pretty good sound staging. What I didn't like about the X10 and especially LOATH about the S4 is the very HOT and untamable highs. They are fatiguing. This is not as true with the X10 since its a BA driver and not the dynamic driver of the S4, but it still had that very sparkly bright high end that at least for my ears, was fatiguing and simply not a sound sig I enjoyed, but your loyalty to the brand and the enjoyment you get from this particular sound sig is commendable. I don't believe it's "fake".

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 12:54:30 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 27, 2012 12:57:04 PM PST
spanner says:
The "tell-tale sign" is your insistence on using marketing jargon almost exclusively in your review. Normal people don't use words like "best in class sound isolation." You sound like a car advertisement.

Also, this entire paragraph reeks of someone from Klipsch writing this review, "This is front row at a Muse concert, Undisclosed Desires begins, the bass pounds your chest, the massive speakers to never fatigue no matter what volume, no matter what frequency. Soundstage? You're nearly only the stage. You can't help but tap your feet, raise your voice to sing along. You close your eyes and you've become part of the music. It's an ineffable experience." Honestly, I could never believe that you are a real reviewer because nobody writes like that unless they are getting paid. You also go into obscene detail over the pouch/carrying case. While that's nifty and all, nobody is going out of their way to review such an extraneous piece unless they have to write a point-by-point review because their supervisor in the Klipsch marketing department told them to.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2012 3:29:13 AM PST
Ivy Vine says:
People who buy and review more than 10 types of headphones do use "marketing jargon" when talking about the sound. They are usually very passionate about what they are reviewing if they are not working for CNET and getting paid for it (and even then, they might still be passionate about their work). Some people are just really good at writing reviews, and like to show how much they like something. To hear that you assume it has to be someone that works for Klipsch to write a review like this is disheartening. What a cynical person you must be.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2012 10:19:36 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 30, 2012 10:24:39 AM PST
P. Corson says:
I agree that this review is exaggerated to the point of sounding bogus. An unvarnished opinion, especially when firmly held, could be sustained with something that backs up the elevated language. Using "spanner's" example of "best in --class-- sound isolation," does the reviewer define this --class-- as within a price point?, or within the category using this design of ear insert?, or perhaps among those using similar chemical composition, discussing at the molecular level?.

And what kind of isolation does it provide? It could be any or all among low frequency ambient noise, conversational "midrange" noise from people nearby, or attenuation of environmental noise in the treble or high-frequency audio spectrum.

For me, it was the inordinate amount of time spent on the packaging. If these earbuds are so good, they won't spend much time in the box, no matter how exquisite. The buyer's money should be spent on the device, not the box.
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