::Disclaimer::
Klipsch provided the X12 Neckband for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.

The X12 Neckband sells for $399 MSRP
www.Klipsch.com
X12 on Amazon


As promised, a positive Klipsch Review! If you’ll recall, I was not overly fond of their Reference Over-Ear. It had its strengths, but those weaknesses were far too great, and I came down rather hard on the poor thing. And rightly so! Luckily, the other item they sent me offends not one iota of Pinky’s sensibilities. It is a solid motherf**king product, and one I’ve enjoyed using more or less every day since it arrived.

I did not request a Bluetooth headset. In fact, I was interested in the X20 to go along with the ROE headphones. But Jill Escol of Klipsch wanted their Neckbands reviewed, and I figured, “Hell, why not?” In truth, I’ve wanted to hear the X12 since way back when it was known as the X10. The Klipsch R6 was my first-ever audiophile product, and introduced me to this world. I still have the X7i, which I use from time to time. So I quite naturally wanted to know what the higher-end models had to offer.

This thing exudes luxury. The case is a soft, suede-like material. There’s leather and steel and sturdy, rubber plastics. A microphone for calls, a play/pause button, as well as forward and back. All with a high-quality feel. You are pampered by the level of care they put into the X12 Neckband.

It has the kind of reassuring weight only something well-built can pull off. Since all this weight rests round your shoulders, instead of sitting on your head or hanging from your ears, you barely notice it. The part that does hang from your ears is impossibly light and comfortable. The X10, X11, and X12 IEMs from Klipsch are famous for being some of the smallest, if not the smallest, IEMs ever wrought by man. Their size, along with those brilliant oval ear tips, makes these so goddamn easy to forget you’re wearing.

I will listen to these sometimes up to four hours at work, with absolutely no discomfort. Because I am fortunate enough to have such amazing audio gear, and always something new to test out, the X12 doesn’t see a lot of music. Instead, it’s my go-to solution for podcasts and audiobooks. This is f**ked up and a damn shame, because it handles music so very well. Alas, the life of a reviewer; there’s always something else to listen to.

But let’s explore just how good these things are at reproducing a melody…

The Klipsch X12 Bluetooth Neckband is decidedly on the warm, smooth side of the tuning spectrum. Technical mastery is not the aim here, but rather easy listening and powerful musicality. Klipsch finds a wonderful harmony between vibrancy and relaxation, where transients have some punch, but everything ebbs and flows like a body of water. It does an excellent job of creating that live rock concert feel. The balance allows for tremendous bass, yet clear, articulate vocals, with enough air in the upper registers to give you a sense of atmosphere.

Treble, like everything here, is warm and smooth. If there are peaks, they are gentle and serve only to bring out the details a little. It does a decent job of highlighting textures, achieving a degree of resolution many monitors in this price range fail to reach. The X12’s treble may not extend as high up the graph as some IEMs, yet it is tight and has the ability to come to some form of edge when called for. There’s more energy here than you’d expect from such warmth, and it keeps the X12 from tending towards darkness. You’ll hear no harshness or sibilance, for these are supremely forgiving earphones.

Both male and female vocals are lush and velvety with admirable clarity. There’s a sweet, rich taste to them. Vocal detail is not paramount, though there is a good helping of it, and voices sound quite realistic because of this. Medium in size, they stand neither large, nor overly small on the stage. Note weight is moderately thick and tangible. The X12 renders such lovely mids, with a surprising measure of transparency and air. Artists sound so very natural and just damn good. Instruments have a warm, organic tonality and vibrant color.

X12’s bass is where the wow factor lies. It’s here to impress, and shit does it fulfill that purpose. Striking hard, it rumbles like the best of them, blooms and flowers and fills the stage with the energy of the piece. Mid-bass shoulders over all other frequencies with a rounded hump, coloring the music in warmth. Sub-bass has strong presence of its own, giving visceral authenticity to the show. Yet these lows are not terribly flabby. They do all this with a level of control and speed which seems incongruous with how much warmth they generate. X12 articulates its bass with plenty of texture and detailing. We get true sub-bass here, with tones that go DEEP. I’m talking about a skull-rattling low-end when the song demands it. All this, along with the highs and mids, from a single Balanced Armature. Madness!

Soundstage is strictly head-sized. Nothing too grand or exciting here. But due to the medium size of the elements and decent separation, it feels like there’s plenty of space. You won’t feel claustrophobic, that’s for sure. Resolution is good for the price, and better than some IEMs I’ve reviewed lately. It suits the presentation as a whole, but no, it won’t compete against top of the line gear. Overall transparency is a little better than average. Due to the soothing nature of the profile, the comfort of the Neckband, and the moderate clarity, the X12 has a way of disappearing from thought quite easily.

Since I don’t have any other Bluetooth IEMs against which to compare the X12, I’ll talk about some competitively priced wired pieces.

The FLC8s ($355), using the Black, Red, and Gunmetal filters, is very close in tuning to the X12. It’s my favorite setup for these monitors. And they are indeed a true sonic upgrade. No question about it. Treble is cleaner and extends higher up the spectrum, bringing in more light and air. Vocals in turn have greater clarity and transparency, sounding more realistic by a good margin. While the X12’s bass is impressive as hell for a BA, nothing quite beats the naturalness of tone and impact of a dynamic driver, which FLC implements for its low frequencies. There’s less mid-bass and more sub-bass, delivering a tighter, more detailed low-end, with less coloration of the mid-range. Using these filters, though, the bass is still immensely satisfying, perhaps even more so than the X12. It’s a close call.

Oriveti’s New Primacy ($299, Review HERE) is even closer to the X12. It’s less of an upgrade, if indeed it’s one at all. NP is less energetic or vibrant, presenting a very laid-back style. It does seem to have slightly better treble extension, giving a little more light to the stage. The mids between NP and X12 are incredibly close. However, I think I prefer the X12’s sense of resolution and texture. NP can come off wooly at times. As for bass, I prefer the X12’s quantity, but can’t help favoring New Primacy’s tonal quality. Again, this comes down to how much better a dynamic driver handles these frequencies. Still, Oriveti uses more mid-bass and not enough sub-bass for my ideal signature, so it’s really a mixed bag as to which IEM I like more.

The Klipsch X12 Bluetooth Neckband is worthy of the audiophile moniker. It’s for fun-loving audiophiles, not the serious, clinical-minded ones. But there’s no denying, the richness and beauty on display sets these apart from the loud din of mediocrity. The X12 may not stand tall against the very best of the mid-range, but at this price, and if you need BT, Klipsch has given us an elegant solution. As I said at the beginning, I’ve used this every day since it arrived. It’s great for music. The comfort makes it perfect for podcasts and audiobooks. This quickly became my preferred method for making phone calls. It’s such a versatile, fully featured product that it integrates into so many aspects of life. The Neckband connects with ease to all of my BT capable DAPs, such as the new Cayin N5II, Shanling M3s, and the Opus#2, and of course my smartphone, the Galaxy S6.

There’s nothing else for it. Pinky declares this device a winner! It’s certainly won me over.

-~::Pinky_Powers::~-