X10i vs. Etymotic Research hf2 Headset ($179)
• The X10i very narrowly edges out the Etymotic headset in terms of overall clarity and focus, and offers a somewhat warmer, richer, more full-bodied sound (attributable in part to Klipsch’s superior elliptical eartips).
• Both the Klipsch and Etymotic models proved more effective as headset (their remote control functions are essentially identical), but I think the Klipsch’s thanks centrally positioned, 360-degree mic seems to work a touch better than the Etymotic’s side-positioned mic.
• The Etymotic comes with a good mix of types of eartips, while the Klipsch comes only with three differently sized set of elliptical tips. But that said, I found the Klipsch eartips were substantially more comfortable and much easier to fit (the Etymotic hf2's can also achieve very good sound, but they are tricky to fit properly).
• The Etymotic headset ($179) costs significantly less than the X10i.
X10i vs. Monster Cable Turbine Pro Copper Edition ($399)
• The Turbine Pro Copper headphones offer, in a strict textbook sense, even more perfectly neutral tonal balance than the X10i does, with—at the limits—even greater extension at both frequency extremes. More importantly, though, the Turbine Pro Copper raises the bar for detail, resolution, and coherency, making the X10i sound slightly softly focused by comparison.
• The X10i provides headset functionality whereas the Turbine Pro Copper Edition does not.
• The Image X10i provides Klipsch’s patent-pending oval eartips, while the Turbine Pro Copper comes with a broad variety of types of eartips, including five different sizes of Monster’s new double-layer gel-type SuperTips. I would give the Klipsch eartips the nod for comfort and ease of insertion, but would recommend Monster’s SuperTips for their superior overall sound and isolation properties (but note, the SuperTips do tend to feel a bit stiff, which some listeners may find uncomfortable).
•Monster’s Turbine Pro Copper Editions ($399) are slightly more expensive than the X10i.
The X10i come with three sets (S, M, L) of single-flange oval eartips, a pair (S/M) of double-flange oval eartips, a clothing clip, a cleaning tool, an airline adapter, and mini-jack-to-phone-jack adapter, and a magnetic clasp-equipped leather carrying pouch.
Klipsch’s oval eartips are the most comfortable Playback has ever tested. Guest listeners often commented that the Klipsch’s were night/day different from and better than competing in-ear headphones in terms of ease of insertion and long-term comfort.
One thing I did notice is that the shape of Klipsch’s oval eartip design appears to have changed just a bit relative to the original 2007 version (the earlier models were slightly shallower but also more widely flared than the 2010 versions). Personally, I found the original 2007 shape gave a slightly better in-ear seal, though the 2010 design gives an even more “weightless” feel in the ear canal. Even so, I’d like to see Klipsch bring back the more widely flared shape because it made for superior noise isolation and better bass.
The Image X10i is a true flagship-class in-ear headphone that is incredibly small and comfortable, yet that offers a big, full-bodied sound with very good levels of detail and sonic purity. While some of today’s top in-ear models may narrowly edge the X10i in terms of absolute sonic performance, few can match its all around mix of convenience, comfort, versatility and sound quality. The X10i also makes a fine headset/remote control for owners of contemporary iPhones and iPods.
Klipsch X10i headset/in-ear headphone
Frequency response: 5Hz – 19kHz
Weight: 10.5 grams
Sensitivity: 110 dB SPL/mW
Impedance: 50 ohms
Warranty: Two years, parts and labor
KLIPSCH GROUP, INC.