Klipsch was founded in Hope, Arkansas, back in 1946 by a Mr Paul W. Klipsch, giving it a considerable heritage in the audio world. Here at Pocket-lint, we've seen a wide range of high-end in-ear headphones from the brand, such as the Image S4 which scored highly when we reviewed them last year. Now moving some of its focus onto on-ear cans, Klipsch has introduced the Image One headphones. We put them through their paces to see if the quality is as high as that of the manufacturer's previous efforts.
On unpacking the headphones, we were greeted with a sturdy storage case that's ideal for getting chucked around in a bag while keeping your cans safe from harm. The case unfolds to reveal a neat resting place for the headphones (the earphones rotate so that they can be flattened for storage) along with a handy Velcro-equipped cable tidy. You'll also find a zipped pouch made from netting that's detachable and contains a couple of adaptors, including the double-pinned one that will come in handy if you're hoping to use the Image One cans on a plane (although we should stress that they probably won't be compatible with every single aircraft).
The Image One sports an adjustable leather headband to ensure that you get the right fit, while the underside is slightly padded for that extra bit of comfiness. We're not ashamed to admit that it took us a full minute or so to work out which way round the headphones went as the L and R markers are craftily hidden in the inside of the headband. Although the leather finish with the glossy black trim on the earcups certainly looks the part, the headphones do a feel a tiny bit flimsy, considering the £129.99 price tag, but then at least they come with their own protective case so hopefully that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
The earcups are a little on the small size in terms of circumference, so that they actually sit on your ears, rather than around them. This can lead to your lugholes getting a little warm if you're wearing the headphones for any extended period of time. However, apart from that, they are very soft and comfy. And although this isn't actually a noise-cancelling model, the padded cuffs around the earphones do a fine job of keeping background noise to a minimum, even when you're not listening to any music.
One advantage of the earcups being a little small is that the headphones are truly lightweight so you won't even notice the fact that you're carrying them around all day. And while the case offers a decent amount of protection, it too is surprisingly lightweight. Another plus point of the compact size is that they can be casually worn around the neck when not in use without any extra-large cans making you feel as though you're wearing a neck brace.
At over 140cm, the cable is more than long enough to give you plenty of leeway to move around and it's worth noting that the cable splits and is wired to both cans, rather than only being attached to one earphone. This can be a downside for some, as it gives more potential for getting tangled up in your own wires, however it's simply a matter of personal preference as to which sort of design you prefer.
Bearing the official Made for iPod, iPhone and iPad marks, the Image One is well set up for Apple users. However, when we tried out the headphones on an older iPod, the remote controls didn't work, so we're guessing that you need to be the owner of a device that's packing iOS 4 or later to get the full benefit (it all worked fine with a iPhone 3GS). There is a warning label on the cable that says "volume controls may not work with your device", so if you don't have a relatively new iDevice, then you could find yourself without the remote functionality. Best to check with the manufacturer or try them out in a shop before getting your wallet out.
If you do have a compatible device and the remote does work, then the top and bottom buttons can be used to move the volume up and down, while the central button has several functions. When pressed once, it will play or pause, when pressed twice if will skip forward a track and if pressed three times, it will skip back a track. It can also be pressed once to either answer or hang up the phone, if you're using the headphones as a headset (there's a mic incoporated into the in-line remote). Frankly, we found having so many functions on one button a little confusing at first glance, but it's relatively easy to get the hang of after a couple of attempts.
But, is the audio performance any good? Overall sound is excellent, with vocals and melodies benefiting from a mid-range that's full of punch and warmth. Even with the volume turned up to ridculous levels, the sonics manage to stand their ground, although some clarity can be lost on more detailed tracks if the volume is overdone. While the bass is decent enough, it isn't as good as the earth-shaking performance that we've come to expect from more highly priced products.
Priced at £129.99, the Image One headphones aren't exactly cheap and we can't help but feel that you're paying for the name as much as the product itself. However, that said, we found them to be lightweight and comfy to wear, while the inclusion of a protective case is also a nice touch. More importantly, the audio quality is extremely good although you'll need to look elsewhere if it's noise-cancelling technology that you're after. The inclusion of an in-line remote is also a handy feature, just make sure you check that your music player is compatible first.