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Any concerns that the physical appearance of the Image S4s may have inspired are quickly assuaged in use. They sound much better than I had expected considering the asking price. On par, in fact, with the likes of Shure's SE115 earphones, which cost some 50 per cent more - not an inconsiderable difference.
It's not straight-As across the board for the Image S4s, though. Depending on your point of view bass output could either be described as enthusiastic or over-pronounced. It's not quite to the point of being overwhelming, but I'm a fan of a more balanced sound. In Klipsch's favour, though, is the consideration that the target audience for earphones at this price range will probably prefer something with a low-end bias to earphones with a more balanced reproduction. And besides, such sins are forgivable as the Image S4s are still lovely to listen to.
It's a sound that is well suited to the likes of Rhianna and OutKast, the former's Shut up and Drive and the latter's Ms. Jackson show that, in addition to their more than capable low end drive, the S4s can also put in a good fight at the mid and high end. There isn't quite as much detailing as you'd get from earphones such as the Etymotic hf2 headset, but the difference isn't as profound as I expected given the price difference. With the right kind of music, the power of the S4s provides an arguably more enjoyable, if less accurate, experience than the Etymotics.
Firing up Billy Talent's Turn Your Back and those suspicions are confirmed. While cymbals almost verge on being lost in the mix at times, the warm, encompassing soundstage makes it unlikely you'd notice if you weren't specifically critiquing these 'phones. More than once I've caught myself jiving about in my chair while trying to type this review, which is always a good sign.
As ever the all important question is: "would I be willing to spend £60 of my own money on a pair of these earphones" and with the Klipsch Image S4s the answer is yes. Despite a few shortfalls, the S4s are definitely still worth their price tag.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality