With the $99 Image S4i II earphones, Klipsch has improved upon its highly rated S4 model with a new tangle-resistant, more durable flat cord.
Combining a comfortable fit with excellent sound for the money, Klipsch's original Image
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Both models come in white and black and for better or worse, the S4i II has the same Apple-friendly inline remote/microphone that probably won't fully work with many Android mobile devices. But Android fans can rest easy: Klipsch does offer a non-Apple version called the
As I said, the the only real difference I see in this model is the the new flat, linguine-style cord. The bottom two-thirds of the cord is wider until it splits off into two narrower strands that connect to the buds with "L" and "R" clearly marked on the underside of the cable next to each bud, so you can easily tell the right and left apart. That's a small but important detail.
While the new S4 II line seems a bit more sturdy, the earphones aren't sweat-resistant like the
The key to what makes the S4i II earphones and their predecessors so good is the angle of the earphones' post (what the eartip attaches to) and the oval shape of the silicone eartips, of which three sizes come included. The combination creates a comfortable fit and Klipsch arguably makes the best-designed silicone eartips, giving a tight seal.
For everyday walking around, these earphones fit securely. Plenty of people used the original S4 and S4i models for sporting use -- hence their durability becoming an issue -- and this new pair seems fine for a light workout, but I wouldn't count on them staying in my ears while running. (I prefer
The way you're supposed to wear them, once the tips are in your ears, is to wrap the cord over and around your ear from front to back. I never particularly liked wearing earphones like this, but in theory it creates a more secure fit and helps stabilize the cord. However, a lot of folks will simply wear them with the cord dangling down from their ears.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
If you're trying to choose between this model and the