Klipsch speakers for your iPhone

by Volker Weber


The first time I heard the Klipsch La Scala, I was in awe. What an extreme monster. This was more than 25 years ago. A friend of mine built a replica, since he could not afford the real thing. I did not even have a place where I could listen to them.

When Klipsch sent me their press release about iPhone headphones a couple of weeks ago, I was interested. At the time they had two very affordable sets, the Image S2 and the Image S2m (with microphone). I asked for a test sample, but the agency would not have any. Then I got another release about their S4 and S4i models, which I found even more interesting, but not as affordable. Anyway, yesterday they offered to send me test samples, and I selected just one pair, the Image S4i, because it has the most interesting features:


Both the S2 and the S4 series are ear canal headphones (ECH). This is the only design that gives you an isolation from your surrounding noise. I prefer ECHs to the closed noise cancellation designs that Bose sells for quite a lot of money to business travelers. The ear gels give you a 16 to 20 db isolation, and I have enjoyed that for two years now with my Ultimate Ears headset.

The S4 has a better connection between cable and earplug. Where the S2 just sticks out of your ear, the S4 cable drops right down the side of your head. My Ulimate Ears are designed to run the cable around your ear, which is even better, but it's much harder to get the plugs in and out of your ears. When the cable sticks out like the S2 design, you are more likely to touch it.

The S4i does not only have a microphone but also three buttons which lets you control the latest iPod and iPhone models. Works well with my iPod touch 5G and somewhat limited with my iPhone 3G. Check their compatibility statement. These are limitations in the iPhone/iPod line, and also apply to Apple's headsets.

The S4i is very comfortable and needed less time to get used to than the Ultimate Ears (which have no mic or remote). I had to replace the ear gels with the largest set that came with the headphones. If you have big ears, you may find yourself unable to achieve sound isolation, which is necessary for deep bass sounds. ECHs are not loud enough if they don't seal your ear canals.

So how do they sound? In short: amazing. Not on the scale of the speaker above, but pretty good for such a small kit. Klipsch claims "bold bass, sizzling percussion and smooth vocals". If you still use the gear that came with your iPhone or iPod I urge you to upgrade.

Note that Apple has a similar set that is actually a bit cheaper. However, I have destroyed quite a few of their headsets within three months of use. I never bought their ECHs, so I can't tell you if they are any good.

The Klipsch S4i has a unique feature. Their remote/mic does not sit in one of the cables, but at the yoke where the two cables come together:


This design works very well for me when answering a call. Let me see what the agency says when I tell them about the editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award. :-)

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So what's the final judgement compared to your UE5 Pro? Overall and in consideration of the pricing?

Sascha Langfus, 2009-12-01

UE5 Pro are a different league. Way more expensive, not only in price but also in quality. You can replace the cables for instance and they are of higher quality. The Klipsch are iPhone companions. The plug fits into the recessed socket on the original iPhone for instance. The buttons are there to control an iPod/iPhone.

Sound quality? Well, what's the difference between 400 and 500 horsepower when most of the other guys have 100. :-)

If I had both the UE and the Klipsch, I might still be using the Klipsch a lot more often, just because they let me keep the iPhone or iPod in my pocket most of the time.

Volker Weber, 2009-12-01

For people with non-standard ears (like me):

RealSound - Review (in German)

Works perfectly! First headphone ever that fits.

Don't know if it is available internationally.

Ole Saalmann, 2009-12-01

Klipsch is headquartered in my (adopted) hometown of Indianapolis, IN. Pretty modest building, compared to some others.

Almost worked for them once as a contractor...

Michael Kobrowski, 2009-12-01

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