by admin ·
The $150 Image One is the first full-size, on-ear headphone from Klipsch. Its cushioned design is comfortable for short-term use, although we experienced mild discomfort over a long period of time. We’re impressed by its ability to maintain a rich tonal balance for the price, and the three-button remote on the cord makes it convenient for iOS devices. Coupled with an extended two-year warranty, the value of the Klipsch Image One rivals other headphones that sell for double the price and we recommend it as a suitable aftermarket headphone for jamming on the run.
Design and features
The lightweight, 138.3-gram design features leather-clad pivoting earcups with black gloss trim and chrome accents. The ear cushions are padded with unusually soft “memory foam” that contours to your ears to provide isolation from ambient noise and enhance bass response. We found the headphones only moderately comfortable over long listening sessions; the slightly high earpad pressure became a source of discomfort, but everyone’s head shape is different, so you may find the Image One perfectly comfortable.
Klipsch claims the Image One is one of the first on-ear (supra-aural) headphones to feature an iOS-compatible mic and a three-button remote system for taking calls and controlling music on Apple devices. The mic’s sensitivity can pick up sound from 360 degrees and also features echo cancellation to increase clarity. The Image One features 40-millimeter drivers and 32-ohm impedance.
The earcups fold flat for easy storage in the included semihard travel case, with a strap to secure the cable inside. The 53-inch long (approximately) rubber cable appears to be of average durability, but the molded plug’s “strain relief” design should provide some protection at the weakest point for headphone cables. Klipsch backs up its durability claims with a two-year warranty, double the warranty on most headphones. Accessories include a 6.3mm adapter and airline adapter.
We listened to the Image One in conjunction with our Schiit Audio Asgard home headphone amplifier and an Apple iPod Classic. The Image One has a fuller and richer tonal balance than Grado’s $200 SR225i headphones, and the Image One can play significantly louder than the Grado does with an iPod. The Grado features an open-back design so it sounds open and less “inside the head” than the closed-back Image One. The Image One’s bass sounded big and boomy as we listened to Robert Plant’s recent “Band of Joy” album, but the SR225i’s more controlled bass is more to our taste.
While the Grado is suitable for an iPod or other portable music players, it’s really better for use at home, so Bowers Wilkins’ P5 on-ear headphone ($300) is a better comparison for the Image One, since it’s designed specifically for portable music players.
Switching back and forth between the two while listening to CDs of Brooklyn soul group Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, we found the Image One and the P5 have a similar tonal balance. The P5′s bass has better definition and the soundstage is more open, but the Image One sounds more dynamic and rocks harder with more treble detail, so cymbals and brass instruments appear more lifelike.
The Image One also does a better job of blocking external noise than the P5. Considering the Image One sells for about half the P5′s price, we give the nod to the Image One.
Sennheiser’s HD 555 ($170) sounds even more open than the P5 and is also the most comfortable of the models we’ve mentioned here. Comparing the Image One with the HD 555 while watching the “Lost: Season 2″ TV series DVDs, we noted the Image One put the sounds of the island–the surf and jungle–more inside the head, while the HD 555 placed the sounds farther away, which sounded more natural. Sennheiser’s new HD 598 is even better in that regard.
The Image One’s big bass outperforms headphones that sell for double its MSRP, but the bass may feel like too much of a good thing to some buyers. Then again, some may love the abundant power. It’s not just the bass, however–the Image One’s richer tonal balance also covers the midrange, so voices and many instruments have a bigger and warmer sound than they do on other headphones.