Details: Tiny single-BA design from Klipsch
MSRP: $349.99 (manufacturer’s page); $349.99 for X10i with mic & 3-button remote (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $110 from amazon.com for X10; $250 for X10i
Specs: Driver: BA | Imp: 50Ω | Sens: 110 dB | Freq: 5-19k Hz | Cable: 4.4′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 3mm | Preferred tips: Klipsch oval gels (stock), Sony Hybrids
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (4.5/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes) and bi-flange (2 sizes) oval gel tips, cleaning tool, airplane adapter, 6.3mm adapter, and magnetic-clasp carrying pouch
Build Quality (3/5) – Though the tiny housings of the Image One are made out of metal and feel very solid, the molded strain reliefs are designed rather poorly and seem prone to splitting with extended use. The cable is typical Klipsch – thin and plasitcky. The low-profile 3.5mm L-plug is a nice touch
Isolation (4/5) – The slim, long, fully sealed housings allow for great isolation
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Somewhat bothersome when worn cord-down; nearly nonexistent with cable-up wear
Comfort (5/5) – The combination of skinny, lightweight shells and Klipsch’s Oval Gel eartips makes the X10 one of the most comfortable IEMs around. Unlike most Etys, the X10s still sound good with only moderately deep insertion, making them more user-friendly towards IEM newcomers as well
Sound (8.6/10) – Tuned for a mainstream, consumer-friendly sound, the Klipsch Image X10 tends to emphasize the bass and lower midrange – a sharp contrast to its single-armature competitors. The X10 easily beats all other higher-end single-armature earphones I’ve come across when it comes to bass quantity and offers up plenty of quality as well. The low is detailed and extended – the well-textured bass digs deep and offers up the sort of well-measured punch one would normally expect from a multi-armature monitor. The depth and impact of the X10 are actually about on-par with VSonic’s dynamic-driver GR07 monitor, though the mid-bass emphasis is slightly greater. Naturally, the lower-end dynamic-driver Klipsch Image models produce even more bass than the X10 but have none of the poise and precision of a balanced armature, sounding bloated and unrefined next to the flagship.
While the bass depth and punch of the X10 are fairly similar to the VSonic GR07, the two differ greatly in how the midrange is handled. The X10 is warm and full, with a bit of bass bleed resulting in a lack of transparency next to sets such as the GR07, Etymotic HF5, and ACS T15. The GR07 is not only clearer but also more resolving, with more air and openness to its mids and more neutral overall tone. The X10, on the other hand, sounds more forward and intimate, with the prominent midrange putting vocals front-and-center. It is not as forward and aggressive as Fischer Audio’s SBA-03, however, and sounds less like a BA-based earphone with better timbre and a more full-bodied note presentation. The SBA-03, on the other hand, is significantly less colored and more aggressive with presenting detail, so analytical listeners will likely prefer it over the X10s.
The treble of the X10 is much smoother than the uneven, harsh top ends of the Image S3/S4 and the somewhat grainy S2. Most times the top end seems slightly recessed but much to my surprise on a few tracks the X10 managed to be as sibilant as the GR07. Seems that it was tuned to be non-fatiguing but isn’t all that soft – certainly not in the way the dynamic-driver Fischer Tandem or Monster Pro Gold are. Treble detail is decent and the extension is not too bad, but hardly impressive next to an Ety ER4S or JVC FXT90. Clearly the X10 is limited by the single BA setup and was tuned to leave nothing out at the bottom end at the expense of some top-end reach. The treble is low on sparkle and lacks some authority and energy – Klipsch’s now-discontinued Custom 3 is similarly non-fatiguing but appears more balanced overall.
The presentation of the X10 is well-rounded and, like the sound signature, yields no surprises. The soundstage is narrower than those of the CK10, ER4S, and GR07 but has decent width and some height. For a more intimate-sounding earphone, the X10 has a convincing presentation – more so, for example, than the Fischer Audio SBA-03. Instrument separation is decent but no match for the ER4S and 3-D imaging lags noticeably behind the CK10. Dynamics are good, however, and the earphones are efficient enough for portable use without being overly sensitive.
Value (9/10) – The Klipsch Image X10 is a high-end consumer-oriented IEM that combines the unobtrusive look and feel of the slim, lightweight housings with warm, smooth, punchy sound derived from a single balance armature driver. The X10’s greatest strength is its bass – extended, controlled, and unusually powerful for a single BA. Like all things Klipsch, the X10 is not suited for fans of neutral or analytical sound with its somewhat dull top end and colored midrange, but those in search of a warmer sound in a great form factor will be pleased with the $150 X10.
Pros: Good isolation, very small and comfortable, consumer-friendly sound from a single BA
Cons: Perilous construction