Klipsch, a leader in consumer and professional speaker systems since 1946, began production of premium earphones in 2007 with the Custom Series and the Image X10. In 2008, the X5 joined ranks in alongside the X10 in the Image line, and in 2009, two new members, the Image S2 and the Image S4, become the newest entrants from Klipsch. Both house new dynamic (moving coil) drivers, a departure from the X5 and X10, which use balanced armatures. Today, we have the Klipsch’s cheapest model, the Image S2, a $49.99 earphone which contends with many other affordable earphones. Be on the lookout for this earphone from electronics’ vendors in August as Klipsch have not yet released the new S2 and S4 earphones.
- Variation: Black Only
- Transducer: Single KG15, 5.8mm Neodymium Dynamic Driver
- Impedance: 18 ohms
- Frequency Range: 12Hz-18kHz
- Sensitivity (1mW): 106dB
- Weight: N/A
- Cord Style: Y-Cord
- Mini Jack Style: 3.5mm right-angle gold plated
For $49.99, I didn’t expect the S2 to move heaven and hell and, was rewarded: inside are soft, oval gel sleeves that come in small, medium, and large sizes. There is also a simple, suede carrying pouch that when squeezed, snaps open to gobble the S2. Sadly, my favourite: a dual-flange, oval sleeve isn’t included. However, everything else in the package is very well-made; in particular, the pouch is top notch – no complaints on my part.
“Noise-Isolating, Comfortable, Lightweight Design” is quoted on Klipsch’s package. They chose their marketing words well. When these little charms went into my ears with the medium sleeves, I could barely feel them! It is probably because the S2 is so light and has such a slim, yet long body which allows rather deep insertion without the earphone touching the inner ear. Likewise, the slim body prevents the outside of the ear from being irritated. The sleeve, or tips as some may call it, keeps the earphone fit and sealed within the ear very well. The S2′s extraordinarily light body is largely supported by the sleeve alone, a fit fact I found to be wondrous.
Whether mowing the lawn, or on busy streets, I couldn’t be happier with isolation. Under every circumstance, I am able to simply enjoy the music without outside interference. And, as for comfort, even after long listening periods, I have tended to forget that I am wearing the earphones until, that slight inner earphone itch comes along.
The tiny KG15 drivers of the Image S2 are custom made for the slim body, and at 5.8mm, are among the smallest neodymium magnet toting dynamic inner ear drivers. But, how does this new and miniscule technology affect quality of sound? Let’s find out shall we?
TMA ‘burns in’ all dynamic driver/moving coil driver earphones like the Image S2 with a minimum of 100 hours to allow the diaphragm of the driver to loosen, helping each earphone to perform to the best of its potential.
High frequencies perform a bit below my expectations – they are far too warm, lacking both detail and crispness. When listening to soprano singers’ high voices, vocals lack richness, detail and body. Simply, when listening to Granuaile’s Dance by Celtic Woman, violin pieces were a little soft, not as agile as they could be. Separation of instruments, which often is defined by crisp treble, therefore is not a huge strength of the S2. If you are someone who prefers a bright, detailed, and crisp high end, I recommend looking at something from Ultimate Ears MetroFi series or MEElectronics. If you are looking for a less intrusive high frequency band, then these may just be perfect for you.
The mid frequency band is recessed compared to the other frequencies, however, they perform smoothly.For the price of $49.99, the S2 is among the better-performing earphones along with MEElectronics Ai Series, and Head-Directs RE2. “Whenever You Call” by Mariah Carey and Brian McKnight is detailed with smooth voices that carry a good hint of emotion. However, one thing lacking in the mid range is that instrument and voice separation isn’t the greatest; sounds may tend to mingle a little too much at times, sometimes causing music to ‘mumble’.
Despite the small driver, (which I’m sure of you may be worried about already), low frequencies are in fact the most dominant and powerful frequency of the Image S2. They are just powerful enough with perfect depth, giving rock the liveliness that it needs. There wasn’t a particular piece of music where the Image S2 disappointed; whether it is bass guitar or drums, the Image S2 performs well above its price. The only “con” about the lows frequencies is that they are not nearly fast enough for trance music. Even if the S2 can keep up with the more powerful beats of slow trance music (slower at least…) the little beats in between couldn’t be picked up with these little baby Klipschs. Big trance fan? The Image S2s aren’t for you.
Soundstage isn’t one of the parts that were “astonishing”, the soundstage was above average for earphones competing in this price range, with great width, but less extension front to back. Pinpointing arrangements like: “the drums are on my right, guitar on my left, singer in front of me”, was not as easy as some other earphones. While listening to “Mo Ghile Mear” by Celtic Woman, the S2 didn’t impress me as much as phones that have a wider soundstage such as the similarly-priced MEElectronics’ Ai-M6.
The quality of the Klipsch Image S2 is in fact far above average in this price range. The earpieces are made extremely tough plastic. I wouldn’t want to take a knife to the S2, but it has survived my efforts to snap the nozzle off – not even a budge. They are that well-built. Cables too, are well made, but thin and in fact, very similar to the more expensive Jays earphone cables, but with more flex and no Kevlar® filling. The earpieces and the plug have a soft, rubber piece which acts as a strain relief which works very nicely, just not as great as a real, moulded strain relief.
Out and about with the S2
Microphonics isn’t a problem for the Image S2, though they do complain a bit from when you rub the cables with your fingers. Even with wind blowing against the cable or the cable rubbing against your shirt, wagging back and forth, there is no annoying noise. So when listening to your music, there’s no unwanted guests in the audio party you’re hosting.
Priced at $49.99, these are going to be a strong contender in the affordable earphone sector. Good looks, good price and a great upgrade, the S2 will especially draw teenagers and people who are looking for good sound quality and a great warranty (2 years) without breaking the bank. Despite highs that lack detail and recessed mids, these are earphones that are very good value for the money. Comfort, isolation and build quality of the Klipsch Image S2 are all above and beyond expectations at the $49.99 price point. I would recommend these to people who are looking to wear earphones for a long period of time, and those who are slightly rougher on their gear than those at tma (sic)who polish and watch for every scratch that happens on our earphones and headphones. Overall, the Image S2 are very good-sounding earphones that feature an excellent build quality. Sadly, these little babies from Klipsch won’t come till August, but they are worth a ‘Grab’ from behind!
Can’t get enough headphones? Check out our headphone section and budget earphone reviews.
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