That's all great, but not everything is copasetic. Part of the reason the headphones are so comfortable to wear is that the Image's 50-inch-long cables are thinner and more flexible than average. However, the long, slim cord has a couple of downsides. First, we were a little concerned about how the cord would hold up over time (even if Klipsch says the wires were put through "extensive 'real world' testing" and feature strain relief to help prevent wire damage). Also, whenever we stowed the headphones in the carry pouch, we had to bundle up the wires then untangle them every time we removed the headphones from the case. (You might want to grab a cable organizer to wrap excess length.)
More annoying were the occasional tiny, electrostatic discharge "shocks" we received from the Image earpieces when we were outside in these dry winter months. That's rarely happened with other in-ear head phones. And one other small gripe: the "L" and "R" labels that identify the left earpiece from the right are hard to read in dimly lit environments.
OK, back to the good stuff. The Image headphones may be tiny, but they have the sort of weighty sound we expect from larger headphones. The sweet, laid-back tonal balance flatters are types of music, and the gentle treble response makes even less than pristine MP3s sound acceptable.
Comparisons with our reference Etymotic ER-4P in-ear headphones confirmed our hunches about the Image. The ER-4P's sound was more detailed, with greater midrange and treble presence. When we played the orchestral soundtrack to the film Birth, the Image produced a fulsome sound on the cellos and basses, but the ER-4P seamed more transparently clear. In the quieter sections we could hear the musicians moving in their chairs over the ER-4P. The Image, on the other hand, smoothed over those details.
When it came to rock, we heard the same sort of sound differences. We loved the Image's punchy bass and lively dynamics, as well as how natural the vocals sounded. Since most headphone buyers prefer the model with more, not less bass, we think Klipsch has a winner with the Image. But if you want to hear every little detail in the music, the Etymotic ER-4P may be the better choice.
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