"Rugged" is one of those terms thrown around pretty loosely by the consumer electronics industry. So when Klipsch, a name that's not exactly synonymous with husky men in the saddle, rolled out a rugged version of its S4i in-ear speakers under the Image S5i Rugged moniker, well, we just had to put them to the test. But first we had to give these $129.99 'buds a listen... from the very noisy floor of the Messe Berlin convention center. Fortunately, the oval ear tips did an excellent of job of isolating most external sounds, thus allowing us to hear a rich reproduction of lows and mids with a noticeable emphasis on bass. Not a surprise since the Image S5i headphones feature the same acoustic characteristics as the Image S4i and Image S4 headphones that came before them.
But what we really wanted to know was how that "moisture-resistant" (not waterproof) Apple-compatible three-button remote / mic would hold-up to a torture test. Fortunately, the Image S5i Rugged managed to keep the music playing and under control even after a generous bath of bottled water. Rugged and classy? Looks like iPod, iPhone, and iPad owners just made a new friend.