I'm curious as to whether or not the people who complain about the sound being tinny are allowing for a burn in period. Everything I've read about speakers and headphones suggest a burn-in time of about 50 hours.
That's a good question. Mine arrive today and I have every intention of doing burn in. 50 hours sounds about right. I've always felt that reviewing earphones out of the box is a bad idea....every pair I've owned took at least 50-80 hours to settle down.
Burn in IS required on these. Really needed. Out of the box they sound bass-less and tinny. Out of the box I thought "uh-oh...made a bad choice". After just 8 hours of burn in, I was feeling better, after 24 hours of burn in I was stoked, after 50 hours of burn in I'm beside myself. I can hear stuff I didn't even know was IN my music. The clarity, the defined instruments, the bass (if you say there is no bass in these, you either don't have them inserted right or you're listening to something without bass). That is something else: some music didn't have pumped up bass in put in the mix of the song. These don't use artificial bass, so if you expect bass to jump out of EVERY track you play, you won't be happy. These are about closer to true sound, not artificial sound. Break these in, learn how to insert them right and you will be amazed. Oh...and don't rip your music at 128 bit rates. 160 lowest, but 196 AAC with VBR is best if not 256. Yes...it makes a difference...because with these you have phones that you can actually hear all the music with.
I burnt them in yesterday. I didn't go for the full 50 hours like I mentioned. I started with a full charge on my ipod, and looped different types of music till the battery on the ipod died. Today was my first day with them, and they sounded great! I wore them at the laundromat which is really noisy. They have 4 or more TVs going and they are all on different stations. I didn't hear a thing except my music, which was awesome. They are so comfortable. For my taste there is plenty of bass. I did make a few adjustments with the EQ on my ipod based on my playlists. I have had many different earbuds over the years, and these just have the most AMAZING sound. Some people have complained that the wire that goes from the earbuds to the ipod seem think or weak. They are thinner than the Apple phones that come with the ipod, but these are so comfortable, and totally blow the Apple, and almost every other earbud or head phone I've owned OUT OF THE WATER. So happy I didn't pay attention to the negative reviews.
Mine arrived today, so I'll give them several days. But I'm noticing a disparity in loudness between the left and right earpiece. I've tried them with an amplifier that permits me to switch to mono, so I should be getting the identical signal and level of gain from both earpieces, But switching them in the same ear confirms the discrepancy in volume levels. Most likely I'll be sending them back, whether to ask for a refund or exchange I'm unsure. What I heard from the "good" earpiece was certainly impressive treble but nothing special in terms of bass or fullness (all earphones sound quite "pinched" to me, regardless of how well they cover the frequency range). Also, the Image S4's come with all the hype on the package about comfort so incredible you'll never realize you're wearing headphones. The first thing I noticed was the degree to which I had to push rather hard on each piece to get it far enough into the ear canal to stay there. That makes me suspect that the superior sound that so impressed the Cnet reviewers may in part be due to the degree of insertion that these earphones simply require. The positioning and "seal" of the earpiece are so critical to sound, in fact, that Klipsch's more expensive models come with paste that you're supposed to apply to the ear before putting on the earphones. Of course, Ultimate Ears' top earphone takes it to the extreme degree of requiring you to go to a physician to have a mold taken of your inner ear, which Ultimate Ears will them employ in constructing a custom-fitting earpiece. Cost: $900. Conclusions: there are simply limits, based on the laws of acoustics, to what these small devices are able to deliver. As the manufacturers of bass reflex enclosures were discovering more than 50 years ago, the cabinetry is as important as the speaker-source in what the ear hears. Space, resonance, reflection are as much a part of the listening experience as the speaker itself. Amazon has the lowest of all prices right now on the Altec Titaniums (they're listed two places at two different prices--get the one with the "NP" after the number for the best deal). I've ordered a pair (under 20 bucks on Amazon) and plan to compare them to these Klipsch's before a return. It's a mistake, I've discovered, to compare earbuds with most headphones, including the Sennheiser PX-100s. The tiny critters just can't muster up "bigness" in their sound--though I'll grant that they penetrate.
A lot of the negative reviews seem to be crybabies who tried their earphones for a half hour, threw a tantrum and returned them. However, Samuel Chell's post above shows at least three other unfortunate causes for negative reviews--the occasional defective pair (easily returned), trying in-ear monitors for the first time and running into problems that occur with almost all of them or comparing them to over-ear headphones and speakers. Not that people can't simply not like the sound of a pair of earphones, but a number of the negative reviews could have been avoided here and for other earphones.
Here's an interesting experiment that a couple of guys tried and reported about on a hi-fi forum: They did the obvious thing we've probably all thought about and bought two pairs of Image S4s and burned in for 100 hours (or however long it was) and left the other one unused. After the burn-in period was over for the one pair of earphones, they listened to it and compared the sound with the one which hadn't been used.
They said the difference in sound quality was obvious, with the burned-in 'phones have much better treble, etc.
So, hopefully, that answers the question of whether burn-in really has an effect on these earphones.
Thanks, all, for your posts. I just rec'd a pair and my initial thought was "I'm not so sure I did the right thing moving from Shure"...but I have noticed as I've become more comfortable with them that the sound isn't so bad. And listening to you guys, I'll ride it out (cost too much to not do so :).
P.S. I am a touch disappointed in how weak the construction APPEARS to be. Once these are beat up, I'll probably just look for durable earpieces...still with good quality sound, of course. Either that, or I'll take care of 'em as an adult should be able to! :)
If the manufacturer were to burn them in, they'd probably charge more; I can't imagine they'd burn in every pair they sell, for 50 hours, without charging more. No thanks; I can burn them in easily myself, for free.
I think burn in is the period during which you become accustomed to the sound profile of your new earphones/learn how to use your new earphones/convince yourself your new earphones are good. I did a 60-hour high volume burn in on a set of Altec Lansing UHP336--rebranded Ultimate Ears SuperFi 3 phones--and could hear little if any difference on key bass passages in several songs I'm fond of. This is a somewhat bass-light model that some users stress must be burned in. I'm guessing there is SOME difference because running at high volume for a long time is bound to have some physical effect on a speaker. But the effect is probably subtle and can't account for the frequently-encountered trope "they were tinny until I burned them and then in the bass was SOOOO great..."
I know burn in is kind of a controversial topic, but I have no doubt the sound signature changed with mine. The very harsh sibilance completely disappeared (thank god), and bloated mid-bass to low-mids died down giving way to a tighter more articulate bass.
Just to see if it was in my head, when a friend bought a pair, I tried his fresh out of the box. Guess what: harsh sibilance and broated mid-bass to low-mids.
A proper seal makes all the difference in the world. If the bass sounds weak, then you don't have a proper seal. If you can't get a proper seal with the supplied tips, purchase the Comply T-100 or Tx-100. A proper seal makes all the difference in the world, as IEMs require a seal to work correctly.
Actually I had a huge problem with bass response in the much more expensive Shure earbuds I bought several years ago, which I believe were the e4c's but I don't remember. The bass response on these, no matter how I played with the seal, was mediocre at best, certainly not worthy of an almost $400.00 price tag!
Anyway, I am actually having the opposite problem with the Klipsch S4's, oddly enough. Maybe I need to burn them in, but before I write a review on these, I would really like some feedback on this issue I am having. I am finding the bass in these earbuds to be a little over the top, to the point that it sounds almost "exaggerated" and artificial. Don't get me wrong, I applaud Klipsch for finding a way to cram a potent bass sound into tiny little earbuds, but very often I am finding that the bass is almost overwhelming and bordering on masking other components of the music.
The biggest problem was that Amazon was reportedly inadvertently shipping counterfeit product (presumably why s4 was unavailable for some time)...I couldn't believe it either, but they confirmed to me today (saying only that the issue was rectified [without actually confirming that this was the case]) that their shelves are free of imposters (perhaps this was the cause of Klipsch retiring this model and producing a new one that includes a hologram on the actual product]). Just ordered a confirmed-legitmate s4 set, and because they're legitimate Klipsch (God willing), they're going to be awesome...period.