Telling You What's Good

Killer Sound in a Small Package: Klipsch S4i Earphones

Last night a friend asked me to recommend him some good in-ear earphones, saying:
“I want WAY better than iPhone, I don’t even consider those headphones.”  And a fair point he has.  While I am an iPhone user, and my friend and I both Mac users, those white earbuds sound crappy, don’t isolate noise, requiring them to be cranked up quite high, and the control buttons are glitchy as hell.  Plus do you want to look like everyone else with that tell-tale white cable coming down from your ears?  I certainly don’t.

I happily recommended the Klipsch S4i to my friend, the product I’ve been using for about two years now.

The sound: superb for such a small package.  Deep but not booming bass, clear mids and subtle highs that don’t puncture your eardrum.  I’d say the sound is very transparent – the stock iPod/iPhone earphones muddy up sound slightly, whereas these are a bit more like studio monitors, allowing you to hear every little detail.  Or at least more details than you would with similarly sized ‘phones.

Addendum to sound: the S4is fit inside your ear canal, which may take some getting used to at first, but will seem like second nature.  What this does is provide superior sound insulation – these are not active noise cancelling earphones, but the effect is very similar, meaning if you’re on a train or a plane, the loud background noise will be lowered greatly, meaning you can use a lower volume setting, which is good for your ears.

Build quality: Excellent.  Earphones like these tend to be very frail and have delicate wires – these are more robust, and the cable doesn’t tangle that easily.  Additionally, Klipsch has a good warranty on these: if anything at all is wrong, send them back and they’ll send you a new pair.  Before you do that, however, check to make sure the headphone jack on your device is not dusty….that could very well be the cause of several perceived issues while nothing is wrong with the earphones.

Controls:  Superb, and this is another area that vastly outperforms the stock Apple earbuds.  There are three buttons: volume up/fast forward, play/pause/answer call/end call/voice control, and volume down/reverse, as well as a built in mic for phone calls or voice recording.  These are basically the controls that Apple gives you too, but the buttons on the Klipsch are sturdier and quicker-responding than the non-buttons on the Apple, which have a tendency not to work immediately, or do the wrong thing.  Also, the control unit is located at where the left-ear and right-ear cables down, centered on your chest, which is a vastly superior location to Apple’s right-below-your-right-ear control.

Style:  Subtle and sophisticated, especially in black.  A white version is also available if you for whatever bizarre reason feel the need to use white earphones with your iDevice.

Price: $100, possibly cheaper from various online vendors.  It’s sort of a lot for something so small, but isn’t any less than other high-performing in-ear earphones. I’ve tried a few of those and Klipsch were the best for several reasons.  Keep in mind you also get a free-replacement warranty if anything goes wrong.  Also, if you don’t want the controls, you can get the S4 model (without the i) for substantially less.

Bonus:  The fact that they sit in your ear canal means they DON’T FALL OUT, which is one of my biggest criticisms of the stock Apple earphones.  This sounds minor, but once you’re used to the snugness of these, going back is really difficult.

As I said earlier, at We Ball Harder only highly recommended products are mentioned.  If you see it here, it means it has our full endorsement and you should feel no hesitation in purchasing it.  Now get some for yourself and hear the difference.

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