If you're wondering just how long you can expect Klipsch's Image S4 earphones to last with normal wear and tear, the answer is 7 months, 27 days, 4 hours, 13 minutes, and 9 seconds (OK, maybe I am making up the minutes and seconds). Here's how it went down: I was power walking to pick up lunch when a rogue arm (my right one, to be exact) flew into the cable, yanking the right earpiece out of my ear. When I stuck it back in, nada. The 'bud was dead and wouldn't produce a sound.
Upon further examination, my eyes were assaulted with the carnage pictured above. The cable reinforcement housing is cracked all the way up to the earpiece, and likely the wires are no longer attached inside, as they should be. You can't really see it in the photo, but the housing on the left 'bud has also started to crack, which leads me to believe that it was only a matter of time before this happened without the brutal yanking.
So there you have it: CNET's first ever real-world headphone durability testing, and it ain't pretty. Less than eight months? Really? Now I know how the rest of you feel. Luckily, the Image S4s are still within the warranty period; the only question that remains is whether this issue will be covered. I've sent off an anonymous e-mail to Klipsch customer support describing the problem, but not exactly what directly preceded it. Stay tuned for the update.
In the meantime, does anyone have a black veil I can borrow? I'm off to mourn my loss. Luckily, I get to do this with a pair of Westone 2s plugged into my ears. Don't hate the player--hate the game.
Update: I already got a personal reply before I even had a chance to post this...less than three minutes from when I sent the inquiry. This is looking good for Klipsch!
Update 2: As of about seven o'clock this morning, a new pair of Image S4s has been offered to me. Two thumbs up for Klipsch customer support--the rep was both prompt and courteous in his responses.
Update 3: New headphones have arrived! (01/20/09)