Klipsch has a hefty reputation in the audio world, but we reckon a manufacturer is only as good as its latest product. Therefore, the company's good name will hold no sway with us, as we get down and dirty with the closed-back Image One headphones. They'll set you back around £120.
Klipsch round the ear
The headphones' design is impressive. The headband has a soft coating to keep your bonce feeling comfortable, and the earcups scrub up well, with a faux-leather pattern surrounding the Klipsch logo, which is embossed in chrome. For the most part, these cans are made of plastic, with a rubberised, matte black finish.
The headphones are pleasingly flexible without feeling cheap and plasticky. Their styling isn't particularly audacious, but they've got enough class to turn heads on the train.
We have one gripe with the design. The soft pads that ensconce your ears have a tendency to come loose and fall off. They're quite tricky to get back on again, so it's something to watch out for.
The cable is long enough so that you'll be able to keep your MP3 player in your jeans' pocket and still comfortably wear the headphones with a fair amount of slack. The cabling includes a remote, with a microphone and three buttons, that'll let you control audio playback or answer calls on a portable Apple device.
Not every type of Apple device is supported, although, if you own a relatively new piece of kit, you'll probably be fine. Download the 'cut sheet' from Klipsch's website to make sure your Apple gear will work with the remote.
Tapping the central button on the remote will pause music; tapping it twice quickly will skip to the next track; and tapping it three times quickly will skip backwards a song. That's a handy way of controlling playback, and it means you can keep your phone or MP3 player safely sequestered in your pocket and still control what's playing. The other two buttons control the volume.
A neat carry case is bundled with the headphones, as well as adaptors for 6.3mm sockets, like those on an amp, and the two-pronged sockets you find on planes.
The Image One headphones offer audio fidelity that's more or less in line with their price. They're not a rip-off, but they probably won't measure up if you've owned a set of much higher-end headphones before.
That's not to say we're unimpressed, though. These headphones do a good job of keeping the various elements of a musical mix separate.
The bass response is better than expected. Even with frillier pop tunes, like Madonna's Crazy for You, we could feel the bass line thrumming away satisfyingly, delivering a pleasing thump without any distortion, and without sounding too dull or soft. The low end is tightly controlled, and very pleasing.
The mid-range is similarly controlled, even with more hectic rock tunes like Ash's No Place to Hide. The vocals and fuzzy guitars didn't sound too harsh, even when we cranked the volume up. That's good news for rock and roll fans.
The high end sounds reasonable, although this is perhaps where more expensive headphones would justify their price. You won't miss much detail, but we've heard many higher-end cans deliver more impressive clarity, and sharper, more precise cymbal noise. At high volumes, the sound quality will degrade too. Still, the Ones sound great overall, and are very balanced.
The headphones' sound isolation is rather lacklustre. You'll still be able to hear the incessant banter of your Neanderthal co-workers if you're listening at moderate or low volumes. If you're on a noisy train, you'll definitely find your musical solitude being compromised. On the plus side, they're not very leaky, so you can crank music up without driving those around you nuts -- as if you ever cared about those poor suckers anyway. Maybe they should get their own headphones, are we right?
The Klipsch Image One headphones are decent all-rounders, providing sound quality that's commensurate with their pricing. We like the design, Apple fans will appreciate the remote, and the audio quality will enable you to rock the heck out.
We think the similarly priced Denon AH-D1100s sound better, but the Klipsch headphones look better. If you don't mind looking slightly daft and value better sound quality, go for Denon's offering. If you want a more equal balance between style and substance, the Image Ones will suit you just fine.
Edited by Charles Kloet