Klipsch is a relatively new player in the headphone game, but its reputation as a high-end speaker manufacturer dates back to the 1940s. Building on the success of the company's knockout Image X10 earphones, the Klipsch Custom line delivers impressive sound quality in a larger, more durable design.
The Klipsch Custom 3 ($299) headphones have a streamlined, space-age look that features a round 0.7-inch sound chamber packed with two balanced-armature drivers managed by an integrated crossover. Unlike conventional earbuds, the Klipsch Custom's cables shoot out from the top of the earpiece and wrap around the back of the ear along a coated 2-inch length of moldable memory wire. The Klipsch Custom 3's cables measure 4 feet long and are covered in a braided, tangle-resistant cloth.
One of the more interesting design features across the entire line of Klipsch earphones are the slightly oval shape of their interchangeable ear tips. According to Klipsch, the oblong shape is a better match to the ear canal's natural shape. We failed to notice any appreciable difference between the slightly oval fit of the Klipsch earphones and the uniformly round ear tips included with most earphones, but earphone fit is always a highly subjective experience. The Klipsch Custom 3s come packaged with five pairs of differently sized silicone tips (three single flange pairs and two dual-flanged). No foam tips are offered, however, the variety and design of included gel ear tips should satisfy even the smallest or largest ears.
Klipsch didn't give the Custom 3s the light and ultraportable design of its Image earphones or a pair of Etymotic HF5 earphones, but the design offers many practical advantages. We found the Klipsch Custom 3s' behind-the-ear memory wire made them easier to quickly slap on than the loose-wire design of our trusty Shure SE310s. The moldable wire also lets you dangle the Klipsch Custom 3s loosely over your ears for moments when you need to hear what's going on around you (i.e. bicycling, walking through sketchy neighborhoods, feigning attention to a conversation).