Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $199.99
Pros: Ceramic oval eartips, high quality sound.
Cons: Completely noise isolating.
Best Uses: Exercising indoors, working in busy environments, airplane travel, hands-free phone calls.
The Klipsch X7i are a luxury headphone. Everything about them cries upscale: the ceramic, oval shaped earpieces, the easy to use inline mic and controller, the unique flat cord, and of course, the superior sound quality. Though not billed specifically as a sport headphone, they have the necessary features to be used for athletic activity: a secure fit, a clothing clip, and a cord that doesn't tangle easily. Even though these headphones are completely noise-isolating, which we don't particularly like in a headphone for athletic use, they scored the highest in our head-to-head music test, offering the clearest and most layered sound. This wins the X7i a Top Pick award for those wanting the highest quality sound available, and who don't mind the lack of ambient noise.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A sleek, beautiful sounding pair of headphones, the Klipsch X7i are lavish and expensive. They are completely noise-isolating, which can inhibit awareness of your surroundings and may not make the best pair for outdoor use. They have an inline microphone and a controller compatible with Apple devices.
The X7i shine when it comes to sound quality. At first the sound comes through quieter than other headphones we tested. Once the volume is bumped up, the sound that these headphones exudes is clear and complex, giving a very surround-sound like experience to headphone wearing. The lower volume means the sound coming from these headphones is more precise than others. It is crisp and not muddy at all. If sound quality is your primary deciding factor when purchasing headphones, these are the best you can buy.
Unfortunately, the X7i are completely noise-isolating, which is what gives them the surround-sound quality. This makes us uncomfortable when road biking, trail running, or hiking with friends. Preferably, we could go for a jog, jam to music, and hear when a car is bearing down on us all at once. We found the YurBuds Inspire Duro to have almost as great sound quality, but also allow in street noise. They also come at a quarter the cost of the Klipsch X7i. The other standout in sound quality is the [[Sennheiser CX 685], but they are noise-isolating as well and are less comfortable than the X7i.
These headphones are adequately comfortable, but they don't disappear inside your ears like the soft silicone Bose SIE2. The oval shaped ceramic ear pieces glide inside the ears, fitting well and staying in place. However, since they are hard rather than soft, they begin to feel uncomfortable after extended wear. When you first place them in your ears, it looks as if the oval earpiece is sticking out, but they sit securely inside the ear.
Features & Accessories
Since the focus of this product is elegance and high performance sound, the accessory list is slim but refined. They come with a clothing clip, a small, zippered neoprene pouch, an adapter for two-pronged headphone jacks, and five sets of eartips to allow for the ideal fit in any shaped ear. The X7i also comes equipped with an inline mic and controller that is simple to figure out and has easy to push buttons. Other models, such as the Powerbeats by Dre, have a complicated controller that sometimes engages on its own during a run, which is not the case with the X7i. The inclusion of a mic and controller allows the X7i to be useful on a daily basis for answering calls while driving and performing other tasks than just exercising. Lastly, the flat cord resists tangles more than the thin cable-style cords. This makes these headphones simple and less frustrating to use. Only the Monster iSport Intensity also has this flat cord feature.
The ceramic earpieces provide plenty of confidence that these headphones will last a while. They aren't specifically waterproof or sweat-proof like other models in this review, but they seem solid and well-built.
We do not recommend these headphones for activities that involve navigating around others such as road biking, mountain biking, trail running, or cross-country skiing on a track. Instead, these are perfect for gym training, computer work at coffee shops, and tuning out during an airplane ride. They also make excellent hands-free phone calls.
The X7i are extravagant headphones, and they have the price to match. At $200, these are the most expensive headphones we reviewed. They are not for the dirtbag or casual music listener, but are for the audiophile who cares about elegance and sound quality is is willing to spend more for it. Looked at another way, they can be a do-it-all pair of headphones and be a great deal: they can be your noise-isolating pair, your iphone pair, and your sport headphones all rolled into one, and in that case $200 is a steal.
If you want the best possible sound quality, then these are your headphones. The only reason these did not win our Editors' Choice award is because they don't allow ambient noise, which can be a safety hazard, and they aren't quite as comfortable for long periods of time as others we tested. Since they are noise-isolating, they are a poor choice for on the trail, but the ideal choice for when a baby is crying on your cross-country flight. If you are the type of customer who always buys the best of the best, and sound quality is your primary concern, then this is your product.
Klipsch makes several versions of in-ear headphones with exceptional sound quality, including the Ai5 Sport In-Ear Headphones and the Image S4i Rugged Headphones, which cater well to athletes and use outdoors.
— McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: February 17, 2014
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