Klipsch S2 / X1 / S2i / X1i

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Reviewed May 2010

 

Details: Entry-level dynamic IEM from Klipsch
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $49.99)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 18 Ω | Sens: 106 dB | Freq: 12-18k Hz | Cable: 4.2’ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 3mm | Preferred tips: Klipsch oval gels
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down

Accessories (2.5/5) – Single-flange Klipsch oval gels (3 sizes) and cloth carrying pouch
Build Quality (4/5) – The tubular plastic housings feel sturdy. The strain reliefs feel a bit too hard to be protective but the plastic cabling is thicker than that found on the S4 and the 3.5mm L-plug is well-relieved
Isolation (3.5/5) – Tubular housings can be inserted rather deeply and the Klipsch ovals provide a good seal
Microphonics (3/5) – Annoying when worn cord-down; fine otherwise
Comfort (3.5/5) – Quite light and comfortable but fairly long and not entirely trivial to wear over-the-ear for those with smaller ears

Sound (5.4/10) – Like that of their big brother, the Image S4, the sound of the S2 is very impressive at the outset; the flaws of the signature set in only with prolonged exposure. At their core the S2 are bottom-heavy earphones. They extend quite deep at the low end and provide gobs of impact with a proper seal. The impact has a softer character than that of the S4, making it sound slightly wooly and imprecise. Sub-bass is present but mid-bass is the dominant range and tends to cut into other frequencies when aggravated. The low end lacks the speed of something like the ViSang R02 but for the price it is quite lively and informative. The midrange is slightly warm and very smooth, positioned a bit too far back for an earphone with such a hefty low end but still boasting good presence. Midrange detail is impressive and clarity is quite competitive at the price point. The lower treble seems boosted for balance but is still slightly laid-back overall, lacking the sparkle and brightness of some of the competitors. As a result the S2 can’t quite keep up with the crispness and top-end detail present in earphones such as the Head-Direct RE2 and ADDIEM. For those bothered by hot treble, though, the S2 is a perfect match.

In terms of presentation the S2 come across as slightly confused and confusing. The soundstage is large in width but feels lacking in depth. The somewhat laid-back midrange results in a lack of intimacy so the presentation is hardly linear. Positioning precision could be better and instrumental separation is sub-par next to the ADDIEMs and Maximo iM-590. The S2 still do a good job of conveying a sense of space but never sound particularly airy. There are certainly genres they excel at – soft rock and jazz, for example, sound excellent. But when things start getting busy, the flaws of the sonic signature start to shine through the smooth veneer. A point to note is that despite boasting similar specs to Klipsch’s Custom line, the S2 are actually a bit harder to drive not nearly as prone to hissing.

Value (7.5/10) – The Klipsch S2 are capable IEMs, no doubt about that, but the competition is stern at the $50 price point. Not all music genres benefit from their peculiar presentation and treble junkies in general will probably be left wanting a little more balance out of them. Purely in terms of sound quality, they are hardly disappointing but in my opinion not particularly noteworthy at regular price. As a total package, however, the S2 might be the ticket for those in search of a well-built IEM with impressive isolation and a smooth, dynamic sound signature.

Pros: Solid build quality, impressive isolation, smooth and impactful sound
Cons: Slightly prone to wind noise, can be microphonic


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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