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Klipsch S4 Review and Ear-buds 101

Klipsch S4 Review and Ear-buds 101After reading James’s review of Beats by Dr. Dre and his conversion to audiophile status, I thought it’d be fitting to post my review of the best ear-buds I’ve ever owned. I too had gotten in the habit of buying junky $10-$20 ear-buds in the past, but they all suffered the same flaws. Notably: a lack of bass and the irritable pain that ensued after hours of continuous use. Most people told me that I was just listening to music too loud, but I knew there had to be more to it. What I’ve come to realize is the importance of the tips. They’re just as important as the driver that produces the sound.

I happen to live down the street from the Klipsch HQ in Indianapolis, so I felt the urge to buy from a local family business (at least at the time.) After doing some research I discovered their S4 line shared the title of cheapest dual driver ear-buds in the world with Apple’s premium buds. Now, I don’t mind Apple, but I’m not a fanboy, and the thought of being another dude with Apple buds revolted me, so I opted for the audio specialists down the street. Now, back to those tips: Klipsch has spent a considerable amount of time researching the human ear canal and what they’ve discovered is … it’s not cylindrical! Shocking, considering 99% of all ear-buds are perfectly round and your ear isn’t. So, they’ve developed oval shaped tips that fit comfortably into your ear. This means a tighter seal which helps with noise cancellation and allows you to listen to music at lower, healthier volumes. We’ve all rolled down the windows and turned up the music, and the same principle applies here. That theory that I mentioned earlier? There was more to it, having comfortable tips allows me to listen to music longer which is an excellent feature not often considered.

Sound Quality

Klipsch S4 Review and Ear-buds 101

Now, onto the sound quality. If you’re not familiar with ear-buds, the main thing to look for first is the number of drivers they pack in. In this case it’s pretty simple, the more drivers, the better the sound, generally speaking. We’ve all heard how crappy computer speakers can sound with a single driver. You’re forcing one speaker to produce sound at a wide range, it’s much better to have dedicated speakers for each sound range. These S4s essentially have a sub-woofer and a conventional speaker in them. More expensive $300+ ear-buds manage to cram in a low end, middle and high end driver. That is like having a subwoofer, conventional speaker and tweeter.


I wasn’t as bold as James on my jump to better music, so I didn’t opt for the $350 X10. I can imagine they’re that much better with the added driver. Bottom line, these ear-buds have amazing audio quality. Music sounds much deeper and more fluid than ever before. Highs are higher, and lows are lower. I suddenly had to listen to all of my music again. It’s like going from 2.0 speakers on your PC to 2.1.

Before I took the plunge though, I figured that I was listening to music about 3 hours per day and calculated out the relative cost of these. At $79 on Amazon and an estimated 720 hours of music a year, I’m paying about $0.11 an hour for fantastic music…well worth every penny. I’ve already had these for over a year and they’re still in fantastic shape.

Also, if you’re curious about Klipsch, Engadget did a little tour a while back, check it out here.