Short version: Klipsch’s first on-ear headphones aren’t much to look at, but they’re surprisingly powerful, almost too much so. If you like booming bass and don’t care for surround sound and all that jazz, these could be good for you.
Klipsch was originally known for their speakers, and then for their excellent in-ear headphones (we’ve pronounced the S4, X5, and X10i all good), but at CES they were introducing their new One series on-ear headphones, their first “traditional” style cans. So how are they?
In a word, powerful. I review headphones now and then, and I’ve come to expect certain sounds from certain sizes, you know? It’s just a matter of the size of the ear cup, the driver, and so on. The Image Ones sound significantly bigger than they look. Not necessarily better or clearer, mind you, but certainly bigger. That’s not to say they aren’t good or clear, but the first thing that struck me about their sound was that it felt big and booming, unlike other perfectly good headphones of this size.
The sound is great for movies and games, though with music they tended to show the low end past the point where it should have been — not clipping or anything, but just as if the EQ was on a bottom-heavy setting. For some music, of course, it worked — but in complicated music with lots of smaller melodies packed into the mid range, the sound seemed a little overpowering. That kind of balance is great in games, however, and they really shook my head when rockets went off or guns fired nearby. Same for movies: big bass rarely gets in the way of dialogue, and often just enhances the best and biggest scenes without effecting the rest.
The headphones themselves aren’t particularly inspiring — perhaps that contributed to my expectations. They’re tasteful, I guess, but rather plain-looking, and the design seems a bit clunky. That the cords go to both earpieces doesn’t help; you feel a little dated wearing them. They fold for travel, but it really only saves you like a half an inch of vertical space.
Wearing them is comfortable enough; they’re pretty light and the earcups are soft, though I personally prefer a more breathable material. They produce a decent seal, though, and outside noise is reduced significantly, while little escapes.
There’s a little control stick and microphone at the Y juncture of the headphones that’s compatible with Apple devices, and it appeared to work just fine, although I wasn’t able to test the microphone.
The cord could also be longer: it’s about four feet from earpiece to tip, enough for walking around with your mp3 player but kind of a stretch at the desk when you’re leaning back.
I’d say these headphones are a good deal for people with roommates who want to watch movies and play games on their computer with lots of bass, but don’t really want to go the USB/surround route or don’t want to have a separate pair for their iPhone or iPad. The sound really is nice and big, and you probably know if that kind of thing is for you. $150 isn’t too bad of a price if you ask me, though personally I’ll be looking forward to whatever they follow this up with.