Klipsch Image S4A review

The Klipsch Image S4a are specifically designed for Android devices, which makes them something of a rare breed. "Made for iPhone" has been around for a number of years, but "Made for Android" hasn't. It's only really in 2011 that we've seen the move to accommodate Androider's needs through the likes of the Philips Fidelio AS851.

The Klipsch Image line does also cover those Apple products, as well as generic PC uses, coming from a line of headphones that are no stranger to quality, so we have high expectations. But will these meet the demands of the discerning Android user?

Design

The Klipsch Image S4a are designed with a bend in the body. This means the in-ear element is slightly angled from the body of the headphones. Although we've seen more substantial cable connections on headphones, the s4As feel solid enough. The bodies are light but feel like they will withstand a certain amount of abuse.

The earphones can be worn in two ways, either conventionally by plugging straight into the ear, or with the cable looped over the top of your ears. The latter route fits the angled design of the monitors, so they fit into the recess of your outer ear, rather than projecting forwards.

Looping the cables over your ears also means increased stability and this is suggested as "sport fit". There is a slider on the cable that can be used to reduce cable movement and keep everything in place. However this may not be the most practical, as the in-line mic and controller is then held tight against your neck and isn't as easy to get to.

You get a range of different tips in the box, special oval tips designed to increase comfort over long periods, which should help you get the perfect fit for your lugholes.

Don't worry, be Appy

There is a control button on the Klipsch Image S4a, which uses a series of presses for different actions. This isn't all natively supported by Android, however, so to unlock the full potential of these headphones you'll have to download an app. Inside the packaging you'll find a QR code.

Strangely this QR code doesn't take you to the app it's asking you to download, but to the Klipsch website, so it's not really worth the effort. However, searching for Klipsch on the Android Market works fine.

This app then enables the button controls, and lets you customise various features. You can have a default music app that launches when you connect your headphones, you can set what a double press does and so on, as well as defining the speed of a double press. This is well worth doing, as initially the double press wasn't detected for us - lightening fast, you see. Conveniently there is a "custom" setting that will detect the speed and set the app accordingly.

After that, things work as they should. You simply use the headphones and everything works. Should you decide not to use the app, you'll find that you probably only get play/pause functions, but essentially, the headphones work perfectly well with other devices. Should you also happen to have an Apple device, you'll find the single button works as it should, but obviously there are no volume controls.

Despite the lack of proper volume controls, volume can be changed on your Android device with a long press of the button. This cycles through different volumes, so whilst it isn't as direct as simply pressing a button to step up or down a notch, the end result is more or less the same in an round-about sort of way. The Klipsch app also lets you define maximum and minimum volumes, as well as the starting volume, so you'll never find yourself deafened.

Sweet beats

If you've never used oval tips before you might find them a little unusual, but we didn't have a problem fitting or wearing them. They were comfortable, although at times we had to give them a wiggle as they felt they were a little too deep into our ears. They did an excellent job of isolating external noise however, which is the more important point.

That sets up the Klipsch S4a to a great start, leading onto great all round performance. Klipsch have something of a reputation for great headphones and that's true of the S4a too. Bass is handled with skill, making these a good choice if you enjoy a lively low range. But this isn't to the detriment of mid and high range. It's a sound profile that we like very much. They perhaps aren't the most accomplished of in-ear headphones when it comes to clarity, but they leave us little to complain about.

The volumes they will produce is certainly louder than we'd ever want to listen to, so we're grateful the app can be used to set a limit. They're also more affordable than some at £89, which sounds like a sweet deal.

Verdict

Good performance and an app that really helps, the Klipsch Image S4a are a set of headphones that will do your Android device proud, whilst not sacrificing compatibility with other devices.

That said, we did note that they didn't work properly on the Samsung Galaxy S – something we've experienced before and something worth checking before you part with your cash.

The lack of a proper volume control is also a bit of an irritation in reality. Although the single button press gets you where you want to be, having used the S4a for about a month, we're left wishing for a regular volume rocker.

Definitely worthy of consideration if your music device of choice is Android-powered.