There's nothing like good old competition to keep tech prices in check. Case in point: earphones. The headphone market is heavily saturated, and we can all thank that fact for the existence of many worthy earbud contenders in the sub-$100 price range. Klipsch is one company in particular that has impressed us with earphones in this price range, and its latest entry is no exception. The Image S2m is a stereo headset with an integrated mic and call button that sells for a very reasonable $60. Like its Editors' Choice award-winning sibling, the Image S4, these 'phones offer impressive sound for the money, though audio is not quite as crystal clear.
The Image S2m headphones are similar in design to the Image X5, with long, slender earpieces that are capped off by Klipsch's signature contoured eartips (S, M, and L sizes are included). However, the S2ms are housed entirely in plastic and do not feel or look as high-quality as the X5s--a reasonable fact, given the sharp price difference. The cable, which measures about 4 feet long in total, is rather thin and stiff like that of the Image S4; although Klipsch has assured us that the cord has undergone strength testing, we're still a bit concerned for durability, especially given the straight-plug termination of the S2m. The package does include a soft-sided pouch to protect the earphones somewhat while you're not using them.
Thanks to the contoured eartips, we found the Klispch Image S2m earphones to be plenty comfortable for several hours of wear. They also stayed secure in our ears during some light activity, though we wouldn't necessarily recommend them for working out. The in-ear design affords some passive noise isolation, but it's not as much as you can expect from foam tipped 'buds. The inline mic and call answer module is a nice touch for music phone users who are after a stereo headset.
Those using music phones should also be plenty impressed with the sound quality offered by the Image S2m earphones. Bass is present without being overwhelming, though it's mushier than what we experienced with the Image S4. Also, we could detect some low-end distortion for certain metal tracks, and overall audio was not as crystal clear as that offered by the S4. Highs are also not quite as bright and crisp, but some listeners may prefer the softer, somewhat warmer sound of the S2m. Still, music in general came through with a good amount of detail and thump, and despite our minor gripes, we think these headphones feature great audio response for the money--we've certainly heard worse from earbuds that cost the same or even more. Plus, you get the added benefit of an integrated mic. All in all, the Image S2m is a great value for music phone owners with discerning ears.