Finding the perfect pair of earbuds is a serious pain—either they are too cheap, don't fit right, and quick to fall apart, or they seem immensely overpriced for the sound quality they reflect. Most brands seem to throw all of their efforts into larger luxury headphones and haven't quite figured out how to pack that same techie knowledge into earbuds' smaller packaging. While no one product is going to please every discerning audiophile, Klipsch gets pretty close with their X11i In-Ear Headphones.
The gadget's tiny drivers give powerful bass that's tight instead of jarring, sonic clarity, clear treble, and voices that are clean and sharp. X11i (MSRP $349.99) have a frequency response of 5Hz-19kHz, a sensitivity of 110dB, and 50 ohms impedance. Klipsch seemed to go for a dynamic sound that gives a crisp listening, which works really well for most music types—including rock, soul, classical, and folk—but we found that bass-heavy music, like hip-hop and most pop music, tend to be a little flatter. That's not to say that Tupac doesn't still sound great, it just means these in-hear headphones weren't necessarily tuned to all genres.
While sound is certainly important, comfort is almost more so. Whether you like earbuds for the office, while you're on a run or riding the subway, they tend to start hurting your ears after a while. The aluminum X11i In-Ear Headphones don't give the same heavy uncomfortable feeling in your ear canal that other models give, largely in part due to their lightness (10gr), but mostly because of their shape. The gel oval ear tips (you get five different sizes) are designed to follow the contours of your ear, unlike the standard round shape that puts pressure on your inner ear and makes long-term use uncomfortable. It feels like little gel clouds are resting in your ear to personally deliver your favorite tunes. Plus, in terms of noise cancellation, they do a pretty darn good job for something so small.
The cord is reinforced with Kevlar, which seems pretty durable, and features a three-button remote and mic for music, phone call and voice control (on select Apple products). Included in the box are the extra ear tips, a black leather carrying case, a clothing clip, an airline adapter, a quarter-inch adapter, and a two-year warranty.