Klipsch S4i II review: Same impressive sound, better design

If you're comparing these with the Ruggeds, which don't have a flat cord, in terms of fit there isn't a significant difference. The inline remote is thinner on the S4i II, with a glossy finish, and has smaller buttons, which makes it a tad more difficult to operate by feel, though it's still fine.

The S4i II has an Apple-friendly inline remote with microphone. Sarah Tew/CNET

As for additional accessories, the S4i II earphones come with a nice, compact carrying case. It's the same one that ships with the original S4i earphones and it's one of the better earphone cases out there because it's lightweight and compact, yet protective.

The plug is straight, not L-shaped, which some consider the more durable design. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance
In the past, we've rated the S4i headphones very highly for sound quality. Since Klipsch hasn't changed the sound profile, this model gets high marks, too, but it's worth discussing why a lot of people end up liking this line as much as they do. With earphones, one of the biggest keys to sound quality is the fit, and the S4i models fit exceptionally well. Again, that's partially due to the angle of the earpiece stem and the shape of the oval eartips, all of which allows you to get a very tight seal comfortably.

Listening to the S4i II earphones, I can't say the sound is really that much better than you get from competing models. But it's nicely balanced, with good detail and ample though slightly restrained bass. They just sound pleasant and the bass response is helped by the tight seal and very good noise isolation (that said, these probably aren't the earphones for bass lovers).

In other words, there are other $100 pairs of earphones out there that have the potential to sound as good as the Klipsch S4 and S4i II, but they don't necessarily reach their potential due to their fit. The Klipsch earphones do; you really get the most out of the performance they offer. I also had no problem making calls with them on an iPhone.

Are there better earphones out there for the money? I'd say the less expensive MEElectronics A151 earphones are perhaps a better overall value, though they don't have an inline remote/microphone. And the Velodyne vPulse earphones ($99.95) deliver more bass. However, the Klipsch earphones are arguably more comfortable.

Of course, every ear is different, so some of you may not think these are supercomfortable or sound that much better than competing models. But I'd say there's a good chance the S4i II earphones will fit you well -- and that's why I find it easy to recommend them to someone looking for a sub-$100 earphone.

Conclusion
The original Klipsch S4 and S4i earphones have received high marks for their sound quality and comfort level. The one strike against them was that their cord was pretty thin and we heard complaints about them not holding up that well over time.

Like the S4i Rugged In-Ear Headphones, the S4 and S4i II models endeavor to do better in that department and they now feature a flat, tangle-resistant cord. For someone who doesn't like the feeling of having an eartip jammed in your ear, Bose makes the $99.95 IE2 earphones, which offer some wiggle room while still giving you a secure fit. But the Bose MIE2 and MIE2i models, which have a microphone and remote, are more expensive at $109.95 and $129.95 respectively.

If you're trying to choose between this model and the Klipsch Rugged, I'd say they're both good choices, with a very comfortable fit, tight seal, and strong sound. While the S4i IIs have a classier look and should work fine for lighter workouts and everyday use, if you really are planning to hit the gym a lot, the S4i Ruggeds are the better choice because of their sweat-resistant design.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Klipsch Image S4i II (White)

Part Number: 1015145 Released: Aug 15, 2012
MSRP: $99.99 Low Price: $55.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Aug 15, 2012
  • Color white
  • Weight 0.4 oz
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Additional Features flat cable
  • Type headset
  • Headphones Form Factor in-ear
  • Connector Type mini-phone 3.5 mm 4-pole