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Klipsch R6i In-Ear Headphones review: Comfortable in-ear headphones that crank the bass

If you love bass, Klipsch's latest sub-$100 in-ear headphones could be right up your alley.

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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

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Steve Guttenberg

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.

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3 min read

In the past, Klipsch's sub-$100 in-ear headphones had a more neutral sound profile that was a bit of a counterpoint to the bass-hyped sound of Beats and other popular brands targeted at a more youthful audience.

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Klipsch R6i In-Ear Headphones

The Good

The bass-rich Klipsch R6i In-Ear Headphones are comfortable to wear and offer a tight seal thanks to Klipsch's oval-shaped eartips. The flat-cord design is equipped with a three-button inline remote and microphone, and Klipsch's well-designed carrying case is included.

The Bad

The R6i headphones lack treble detail.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for comfortable in-ear headphones with very plump bass, the Klipsch R6i model will do it, but they're also short on detail and clarity.

It came as something of surprise then that the company's R6i, a $100 in-ear model (£79 in the UK, "coming soon" in Australia) that you can get for closer to $80 online, is a bit of a departure from previous models like the S4i , S4i II , and higher-priced X7i .

Like those models, the R6i in-ear headphones, available in black or white, come with the company's patented oval-shaped eartips that make it easier to establish a perfect seal than round tips. It also has a tangle-resistant flat cord and an inline three-button remote and microphone for hands-free calls and control of music on Apple's iOS devices. A version without the inline remote, the $80 (£69) R6, is also available.

Klipsch R6i in-ear headphones product photos

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The R6i headphones are lightweight and comfortable to wear. They also do a decent job of sealing out ambient noise -- so long as you get a tight seal, of course. And they come with the standard Klipsch carrying case, which is one of the best out there.

Performance

When it comes to their sound, it's pretty simple: If you like bass, you'll like Klipsch's R6i headphones. And if you like a lot of bass, you may love them.

Yes, they're very bassy, and even the midrange is warmed up and rich. Bass fullness, oomph, and power are more plentiful you'll get from many similarly priced in-ear models, but the downside is that treble definition is lacking.

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What you get in the package.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Even when listening to a recording that doesn't have much bass, like Eric Clapton's all-acoustic "Unplugged" CD, these headphones filled out the sound of Clapton's vocals, guitar, and foot tapping.

Treble detail is lacking, but on the plus side the R6i headphones reduced the grating harshness of a lot of contemporary recordings, like Arcade Fire's recent "Reflektor" album, making them more listenable.

Listening to Steven Price's rumbling score for the film "Gravity" with the Beyerdynamic DX 160 iE ($119, available for about £85 in the UK) in-ear headphones, the bass plumbed just as deep as the R6i's, but in overall clarity they far exceeded the R6i. The DX 160 iE trounced the R6i's resolution of fine detail.

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The R6i's plug has a straight rather than an L-shaped design.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The HiFiMan RE-400 ($99, available for about £99 in the UK and $109 in Australia) in-ear headphones are even more balanced-sounding, so the difference in clarity when switching between the R6i and RE-400 pairs was very significant. The blistering dynamics and immediacy of A Tribe Called Quest's "The Low End Theory" album were scaled back over the dull R6i model, so the music was less exciting. Yes, there was more bass from the R6i -- a lot more -- but by every other measure of quality the RE-400 and Beyerdynamic DX 160 iE R6i headphones were better.

Conclusion

The Klipsch R6i in-ear headphones are the kind that some people -- namely those who like a lot of bass -- are going to really like, and others aren't.

If you listen to a lot of hip-hop or techno (and variations of those genres) and are looking for comfortable in-ear headphones with very plump bass, the R6i will certainly fit the bill. But for those in search of more balanced, detailed sound, the R6i headphones won't be a match.

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Klipsch R6i In-Ear Headphones

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 7
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