Klipsch seem to enjoy a good reputation amongst folks who know their woofers from their tweeters, and when the well-worn earphones (currently being used with my Samsung S4 handset) finally packed in, I thought Id treat myself to a pair of their high-end Image S4A II headphones.
Billed as ‘being engineered’ for Android, the Klipsch earphones arrived in the usual pointlessly oversized box, complete with on-trend flapping cover and magnet fastening.
Opening the box revealed the rather unusual styling of the Klipsch earphones, with their oval ear tip and extra-long, angled in-line remote, a little zip up bag thingie and the usual selection of different-sized ear tips.
And here’s where I came across the first, rather serious problem: no matter which size of ear tip I used, the earphones wouldn’t stay put in my lug’ole.
In desperation, I tried putting the earphones in at every possible angle I could think of – including some rather jaunty and abstract ones – but they soon worked their way loose regardless. And that’s rubbish.
The uncertain fit was was annoying enough, but I found that unless you managed to get the things positioned just so, the earphones would sound dreadful.
One slight slip, and all the bass would vanish and you’d end up with something that sounded like a pair of £5 earphones bought off Dodgy Jim down the pub.
For the moments that I got the earphones to stay in and in the right position, the sound was fabulous: full bodied, rich and solid, but these moments were few and far between.
And you can forget all about listening to music while you’re jogging with these things on, unless you want to look like a CIA operative, endlessly fiddling about with your earpiece.
Unless I have some previously undiagnosed strange slippery ear affliction, I can only assume that (a) I was sent a faulty pair or (b) there’s clearly some sort of problem when it comes to the design of these earphones.
One of the main reason I’d splashed out the not inconsiderable sum of £92 for the Klipsch’s was the fact that I’d be able to control music playback and volume and take calls via the single button remote.
This necessitated the installing of the clunky Klipsch app which has a dour look to it and a rather unintuitive interface – and things got even more confusing once I started trying to use the thing.
Clicking on the remote button produced inconsistent and sometime baffling results. I’d start playing one song, but if I hit pause and started the song up, a different music app playing a different song would sometimes fire up.
The configuration options in the app were no use either as they only let you select one player as the default – s0 that’s the one that will (probably) fire up even if you’re playing music through another player.
Other times, the button would ignore my request to skip to the next track altogether or respond so slowly I suspected that the first click hadn’t registered.
A few impatient clicks more would still provide nothing until the app suddenly burst into life and ended up shuffling past a whole album.
For reasons best know to Klipsch, the default audio notification for each click produces a hideous clanging sound in the earphones.
The blurb on the box promises that you can also control the volume but I couldn’t work that out I’m afraid, a situation not helped by the device only having that one stupid button with acres of space around it.
HTC know how
Compare all this faffing about with my experience with the Dr Beats Monster Beats earphones that came with the HTC Sensation XL handset.
These provided play/pause, ff/rw and call answer functionality in an elegant solution that worked for whatever app happened to be running at the time – and there was volume controls onboard too.
Moreover, all of this functionality (except the ff/rw controls which could be replicated with double/triple clicking) worked on my Samsung S2 and S4 handsets, with no need to install an extra pesky app.
I really wanted to like these earphones but they turned out to be a bitter disappointment.
Although there was no doubting that they could produce a great sound – under ideal circumstances – for everyday use the loose fit of the ear tips and the inconsistent controller app and unresponsive controller made the more or less useless.
I certainly can’t recommend them.
Klipsch Image S4A II ratings
– Sound Quality (in ideal conditions)
– Sound Quality (in actual use)
– Ease of use
– App Interface
– Value for money