Klipsch X11i headphones review

February 18, 2014
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When you think of high-end audio companies, Klipsch is one of the premium brands that come to mind. With products ranging from home theater systems to mobile audio, Klipsch prides themselves on their 100% guarantee when it comes to sound quality. Today, we’ll find out whether that tradition stands strong. Here’s our review of the Klipsch X11i in-ear headphones.

Out of the Box

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The Klipsch X11i earbuds are said to be one of the smallest and lightest headphones available, with the company claiming them to be their finest achievement in headphone tech till date. We’ll find out if Klipsch can back up these bold statements, but first, let’s take a look at what’s in the box.

The box the earphones comes in features an understated, no frills packaging. At the top is a plastic housing that holds the earbuds, with the bottom portion holding the accessories. Included are the Klipsch leather carrying case, a clothing clip, an airplane headphone port adapter, a quarter-inch adapter, and 5 varying sizes of tips. And that’s about it.

Features and Design

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The earbuds are made from aluminium and rubber, and are only about 2-inches long with a curved design. The design of the metal part is slick and subtle, yet somewhat forgettable. This is most likely an attempt by the company to have you focus on the music and sound quality, as opposed to being drawn in by a fancy design.

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The cord is made using a Kevlar reinforced rubber, but does seem a bit a thin compared to other earphones in this price range. Granted, thinness does not determine durability, but I’m still going to be cautious and make sure that the cord doesn’t get caught up in anything. As expected, the cord possesses a mic and a 3 button audio controller, for volume control, as well as a play/pause/skip button. While these buttons work with Apple products, I found that the volume controls don’t seem to work with Android devices. Surprisingly though, holding down the middle button for around two seconds does launch Google Now.

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A huge drawback of the cord of the X11i is that fact it’s not removable. A lot of current headphones feature a detachable cord, which not only helps portability, but more importantly, prevents snags that rip the cord from the earbud. I’ve lost quite a few headphones because the cord got stuck under my chair, and this feels like a glaring omission on the part of Klipsch, especially considering the price point of these headphones. Of course, if these headphones no longer work, the company does provide a two year warranty, that covers most issues.

At first glance, the microphone on the cord seems to be a bit low. But, after taking a few calls in a quiet room, most callers were able to hear me with little issue. As is the case with any mic on a headset, it doesn’t a great job of blocking out ambient noise. While attempting to make or answer a call in a noisy environment, the results are disappointing, but not unexpected.

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Since these are in-ear headphones, finding the right tip to ensure a perfect fit is necessary. The X11i comes with 5 styles of tips to help you find the best fit, with the additional choices a welcome inclusion over the standard small, medium, and large options that you’ll get more often than not. The default size worked for me, and although there isn’t an in-ear clip or any other method of keeping the buds in your ear, once you find the right tip, they stay pretty well.

These headphones are light enough to comfortably walk around with, and after a few minutes, you’d honestly forget they were even in your ears. I was able to wear these headphones for several hours at my desk, as well as out and about, without any noticeable amounts of discomfort, which is a testament to the great design and weightless feel of the headphones.

Performance

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As far as the performance is concerned, the Klipsch X11i boasts an impressive spec sheet, with the frequency response between 5 Hz – 19 kHz, the sensitivity coming in at 110 dB, an impressive impedance of 50 Ohms, and a noise isolation of -26 dB. The driver is also a full range balanced armature, which is great to see in such a small form factor, with an overall weight of only 10 grams.

Although specifications are great to look at on paper, real world performance is what’s key. The specs show that these headphones have an impressive range. To put it to the test, I played a variety of songs that have different ranges. The overall sound is balanced, with the highs, mids, and lows combining to make an even sound. Without adjusting the EQ’s, the sound seems to be right, and it passes the initial ear tests. Unlike some other audio equipment, there isn’t one part of the song that stands out, which could be the balanced armature driver doing its job.

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I wish I could say that there is nothing wrong with the Klipsch X11i headphones, but one noticeable issue is the wire noise. If the wire rubs against your skin or shirt, the sounds comes through the earbuds. While this isn’t a huge issue for me, it could be a big deal for some, especially when you consider the price point of these headphones.

Final Thoughts

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I’ve mentioned the price point of these headphones quite a few times, which is $349, but can be found for as low as $230 on Amazon. Needless to say, the Klipsch X11i headphones are expensive, but they provide a great balanced sound, and also fit comfortably and are very lightweight. Depending on how serious you are about your music and how much comfort means to you, even with the high price tag, these headphones are certainly a good choice.

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