Having used various iPod devices for several years, the first thing I do when I get a new one is to discard the headphones that come with them. I find these headphones to be extremely uncomfortable and they rarely stay in my ears. As a result, I have gone through my fair share of headphones over the years, from “disposable” headsets costing under $20 to those that cost upwards of $100. Recently, I had the opportunity to review a set of headphones that stand head and shoulders above every other pair I have ever used—the Klipsch Image S4i.
Apple Compatible (for the most part)
The Klipsch Image S4i was designed in conjunction with Apple and offers an advanced three-button mic and remote system that is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPod nano (4th and 5th generation), iPod Classic (120G), iPod touch (2nd generation), and iPad. You can also use the remote with the iPod shuffle (3rd generation). For those with 1st generation iPhones and iPhone 3G, you can use the mic and call/music button control features, but the volume controls are not compatible. The reason for the limited mic/remote compatibility lies in Apple’s VoiceOver-compatible chip that comes in the Image S4i. According to other reviews I read, 1st generation iTouch devices do not recognize the headset at all.
You can also use the Image S4i with voiceover IP (VOIP), iChat, Skype, and audio recording applications.
The audio is compatible with all iPod models as well as any audio device with a 3.5mm headphone plug. However, if you have a device that is not compatible with the remote on the Image S4i, you may want to consider the Image S4 earphones, which are essentially the same thing—just without the in-line remote and mic (cost is $80).
At $100, it is understandable why some would question the practicality of the Image S4i, especially if you don’t have an Apple device. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical too, until I used them for the first time
I don’t profess myself to be an audiophile, but the difference in sound quality over other headsets I have used was immediately apparent. The sound clarity was amazing, with deep (yet not overpowering) bass.
The noise isolation is also very good. Using these headphones on Chicago transit buses and at my gym, I am able to block out the world and enjoy my tunes in peace!
Not having an iPhone, I wasn’t able to test the mic for phone calls. However, it did perform well when I used it for Internet calls over Skype. The mic on the Image Si4 rests on your breastbone and is on the back of the inline remote control. In its standard position, you may find that you have to talk louder in order to be heard. However, there is a slider on the earbud cords which allows you to position the mic closer to your mouth. Alternatively, the S4i also comes with a clip in order to position the mic to your liking.
Having used many different in-ear headsets, I know that comfort is very important—especially when wearing them for long periods of time. I found the Image S4i to be very comfortable. The Image S4i earbuds are quite small and have a bent shape that allows them to fit perfectly in my ears. I found the tips to be very comfortable and kept the earbuds secured snugly in my ears, even when working out on a treadmill. The standard tips worked perfectly for me, but the headset also came with a set of larger and smaller tips and a double-flanged model.
The cord appears to be durable, although I did find that it twists very easily. This is probably due to the fact I am constantly wrapping the cord around my iPod Touch, as it is rather long and can get in the way
If you have an iPod or iPhone that is compatible with the remote system, the Image S4i makes using them to listen to music even more enjoyable. I got my iPod 3rd generation touch during the winter and taking my gloves off to use the touch screen to skip over songs wasn’t overly pleasant on some Chicago mornings. Now with the Image S4i headset I can adjust the volume, move forward and back, or repeat songs in my playlist by clicking the buttons on the remote.
As I said at the beginning, the Image S4i earphones are some of the best I have ever used. In my opinion, their combination of superb sound quality, comfort, and handy remote control system make them worth the $100 price tag. That being said, if you have a device that does not make full use of the remote and mic, you are probably better off going with the $79.99 Image S4 (the S4i without the in-line remote system).
Klipsch S4i In-Ear Headset With Mic and 3-Button Remote Headphones
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of "Gadget Corner." All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.