Why have one headset for music and another for voice? Some quality headphones swing both ways
My first encounter with the Klipsch audio brand was an iGroove speaker dock for iPods bought through Amazon. High-quality sound with unflinching treble and bass was delivered from a relatively compact unit at a competitive price. A happy compromise.
So winning a pair of high-end Klipsch headphones, the Image Ones (recommended price £129, but currently available from Amazon at £54.99), in the raffle at a Digital Seasons event where technology journalists meet selected vendors and their products was more than welcome.
And accidentally picking up a pair of Image S3M in-ear phones (with built-in microphone) at the event gave a wider insight into the Klipsch range – a ‘scoop’ too as they were not officially released yet. Picked up by mistake as they were almost identical to my own Ultimate Ears which I had just been talking to Klipsch about (and were actually around my neck) they gave a favourable comparison with my own Ultimate Ears headset, a well-used and favoured phone/music accessory.
Slightly more musical and detailed at lower volume levels than my UE MetroFis, the Klipsch S3Ms are clearly high quality despite the budget price (£39) for those who want to enjoy music on their phones and tablets while retaining the ability to handle phone or internet calls. They also come in a range of colours (timed perfectly for the iPhone's colour splurge).
While these in-ear 'phones stand up well to the competition for sound quality, they have an advantage I hadn’t been aware of. They are tweaked for both phone and audio, especially Android. Just download the free Klipsch Control app from the Google Play Store and you are in business. You can now carry out a number of Android functions on your phone or tablet.
A simple press on the single remote button works as play/pause or switch to phone call while a double-click skips to next track or triple-click to previous track. There are other combinations and a long press adjusts volume. The app allows further modifications to functions and for different applications.
The speak/pause button also worked on a Windows phone and iPod Touch, as well as the double- and triple-clicks (a long press brought in voice recognition/Siri). So don’t think these are only useful for an Android device.
Much the same applies for the Image Ones. These extremely comfortable and well-designed over-ear headphones come in a useful carry-case with plug adaptors (6.3mm for amplifiers and twin-pin for aeroplanes) for the 3.5mm terminal. The quality for calls is crystal clear and any shortfall on audio quality is a compromise that all but the hifi purist.
An in-cable remote with microphone allows phone/Skype conversations and useful device controls. There are three buttons, two for volume and a central one which cuts to voice and pauses music with one press, gives next track with double press and previous with triple press. A long press summons Siri on iPod/iPhone.
Sound is solid with a strong bass and they are good all-round performers, although that hifi aficionado would not find the sound sufficiently open (the extra bass can be slightly indistinct). But they also wouldn’t approve of the iPod/iPhone tone controls (equaliser) which make these headphones even more attractive for those who favour particular styles of music (a demonstration with 'garage' proved the point and these headphones did not, like me, flinch at higher volumes), It's always worth auditioning other headphones before making a decision and the Apple Store can be a good place to sample what is on offer and let your ears reveal the truth behind the hypes of certain brands before committing your cash.
Adjustments to the Klipsch product line-up means that the Image Ones are now available at less than half the recommend price for only £54.99 from Amazon, which is a tempting bargain for a light, comfortable set of quality headphones with only a minor compromise of sound quality for useful functionality. Unless, of course, there's a Digital Winter coming up!
Klipsch Image One on Amazon