Long before Klipsch brought audio nirvana to the masses with the sub-$100 Image S4, the company was still carving out its headphone reputation for a far more discerning audience with a line of earbuds that tread knee deep into triple digits: the Image X10. Universally lauded for their performance, comfort and small size, the X10 proved that in-ear headphones didn’t need to come from a custom mold or use multiple drivers to produce sound that rivaled open-air cans
More recently, Klipsch updated this top-drawer choice with an array of smartphone-friendly trappings, birthing the X10i. Priced identically to its predecessor at a lofty $350, the X10i unites the same audiophile-grade that powered the X10 with a three-button inline remote and microphone.
Aside from an inch-long blip in the cord for its new array of functions, the X10i exactly resembles its famous predecessors. The 50-inch cord terminates into two of the most miniscule drivers you’ll ever find – aluminum tubes skinnier than a number-two pencil and dressed in all copper, with a bendy rubber ends that droop down and taper to a point, bearing pressure from the cord. Besides being phenomenally small, the drivers are also phenomenally light – you can just barely tell they’re there, dangling at the end of the cord. A sliding collar controls where the wires from each ear join in a Y back into one cord.
The X10i use the same oval-shaped earbuds we know and love from the S4, which fit our ears to a tee right out of the box. They feel almost surprisingly supple to the touch, as if they wouldn’t exert much grip on the ear, but never came loose, even during extended wear. The lack of weight hanging off them from the practically nonexistent drivers probably has a lot to do with that, as well.
Unlike the Image S4, finding the proper fit with the X10 is intuitive right off the bat. As long as you point the rubbery wire-strain-relief bits downward, which gravity makes a no brainer, there’s no “wrong” way to put them in. When they fit right, you’ll know it. The passive noise isolation is almost good enough to use these headphones as earplugs in the absence of music.
On the off chance the default tips don’t fit your ears as if custom molded, Klipsch includes the same jellyfish-shaped silicon tips in both smaller and larger sizes, as well as large and small baffled tips, which look a little bit like two of the others stacked together.
No set of premium-grade earbuds would be complete without protection to keep them from turning into copper spaghetti. Klipsch delivers with a small faux leather box – less than an inch deep and about two inches tall and wide. The logo-embossed lid stays clapped down with magnetic force, then opens to reveal a velvet-lined interior. Inside, you’ll find the aforementioned set of five different ear tips in a resealable plastic baggie and Klipsch’s cleaning tool, which is basically a U-shaped bit of wire on a handle. Klipsch also throws in a ¼-inch stereo adapter to allow the X10i to play nice with full-size stereo systems, and a right-angle adapter for the two-prong jacks in the armrests onboard many planes.