The bundled earphones that come with new MP3 players are usually appalling pieces of tat that commit horrific atrocities against your music. To get the most out of your tunes, you'll need to upgrade to a decent set of cans immediately, which is where earphones like the Klipsch Image S3s come in.
The S3 in-ear headphones aim to tempt people seeking to upgrade, by providing decent noise isolation, great sound quality, and a lightweight, comfortable design. You can pick them up for around £40, in red, green, pink or grey versions.
The S3s are a stylish affair. Their plastic construction and diminutive size mean they're very lightweight, allowing you to keep them jammed in your lugholes for hours on end without any discomfort.
The S3s' oval ear tips -- the same ones found on Klipsch's vastly more expensive Image X10i headphones -- also aid comfort. They mould well to your ear canals, offering a secure fit and decent noise isolation. Differently sized tips are included in the box, so you can get the best possible fit.
The S3s' plastic feels cheaper than the gorgeous aluminium and copper used on the X10is, but then they are about £180 cheaper, so we can't moan too much. They still feel well made and we don't expect they'll fall apart quickly.
While the cable on the S3s seems pretty durable, it does tangle easily. Klipsch touts the tangle-resistant nature of these 'phones but we still often found them to be fiendishly knotted when retrieved from our pockets. We'd hate to see Klipsch's tangle-susceptible headphones.
Klipsch is known for making high-quality headphones that offer audio definition to swoon over. For that reason, its gear usually comes with a fairly steep price tag. The S3s are pretty affordable, though, so you might think they compromise on audio quality.
Not a bit of it -- the S3s deliver stonking performance for the price. The epic guitar riffs in Dream Theater's awesome rock track As I Am were delivered with aplomb -- the palm-muted, chugging guitar chords making full use of the S3s' low-end capabilities, which also delivered a powerful, clear kick drum.
The S3s don't have quite the same skill at bringing out the high end -- we found that some of the definition in the cymbals was lost amongst the driving guitar chords. Similarly, some of the sparkling piano in Jamiroquai's Virtual Insanity was lost in favour of bass lines and kick drums. That's not to say, however, that the high end lacks definition altogether -- it's acceptable at the very least.
The S3s are definitely best suited to pop, rock and dance music. If beautifully reproduced classical music or stunning vocals are your thing, then these headphones may not be for you. They do a great all-round job, though, and we can't really fault their audio performance, given their price.
This green reminds us of the projectile vomit in The Exorcist.
The S3s aren't active sound-cancelling headphones, so they won't completely muffle the sound of a huge juggernaut thundering past you. But the snug fit of the ear tips goes some way towards drowning out the incessant inanities spouted from your co-workers' cake holes.
With an affordable price tag, comfortable design and good sound quality, the Klipsch Image S3 earphones are a superb choice if you're seeking to upgrade from the monstrosities that are bundled with most MP3 players.
Edited by Charles Kloet