Your holiday gift-giving might include an iPhone or iPod touch for your favorite person, but do you really want them to listen to music through the standard Apple earbuds? Klipsch has been making speakers since 1946 - when I was in college back in the 1970s, it was a sign of pride to have a pair of Klipschorn speakers in your apartment or dorm room. The company is still making a range of speakers and headphones, and today we're taking a look at the US$99.99 Klipsch Reference R6i in-ear headphones.
- Weight: 15.2 grams
- Input connections: 3.5mm (1/8")
- Driver Diameter: 6.5mm
- Frequency response: 10 Hz - 19kHz
- Sensitivity: 110dB
- Impedence: 18 Ohms
- Colors available: Black, white
There's not much you can say about the design of in-ear headphones - they pretty much all look the same. Earbuds - check. Cables - check. Button with mic for phone use - check.
Well, Klipsch did things a little bit differently with the R6i 'phones. The cables are flat, which does a surprisingly good job of keeping them from tangling.
The button and mic are pretty typical: they're made of shiny white plastic (black in the black model) with a silver tone button (gold on the black model). That button is used to play, pause, fast forward, or rewind music. There are also buttons in the top and bottom of the unit for volume control.
I'm not sure I'm a real fan of the design here, since the white plastic (on the white model) that's used for the earbud casing and button/mic is brighter than the covering on the cables - in other words, it's two different shades of white. Steve Jobs would not approve...
Like many headphones in this price range, the R6i headphones come with four different sizes of earbuds. The idea is that you try the default buds, then switch to a smaller bud if it's too tight or a larger bud if it's falling out of your ear.
A small zippered carry pouch is included with the headphones.
For me, functionality of headphones boils down to a few key points: comfort, usability, and sound quality. I found the in-ear earbuds to be amazingly comfortable, surprising because I'm not a big fan of in-ear headphones. How comfortable? I'm usually yanking in-ear headphones off after ten minutes; I kept these on for hours.
Likewise, I like the flat cables. Not once during my testing did I have a problem with the R6i cables getting tangled.
The mic/button is located in the same awkward position that it is on the Apple earbuds - roughly in line with your chin. That location is decided by the need to have the microphone near the mouth of the wearer, but I still think it would be a much better idea to have a separate bump for the mic and then have the controls further down on the cabling. The controls on the button worked well and it was easy to find them by feel.
So, how about the sound quality? When testing headphones or speakers, I always play a set of tunes that cover a number of genres so that I can get an idea of the response to music that has different acoustic elements. The R6i's did a great job on midrange sounds, with very clear, sweet tones.
The bass end is also surprisingly good; in fact, I'd say that the low-end response is almost some of the best I've ever heard. You'd think that would mean that Klipsch ignored the high frequencies... but you'd be wrong. Once again, the R6i does a wonderful job of reproducing the high end, with well-balanced and nuanced tones.
OK, so I didn't like the slightly different colors on the cords and the plastic elements, but the sound quality from the Klipsch R6i headphones more than made up for that design faux pas. Make someone happy this holiday season and buy them a pair of these headphones - they'll be a sterling stocking stuffer that will be appreciated for years to come.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible