2014 was a huge year for headphones manufacturers. So many great midrange and high-end products were launched at different price points making it unlikely for owners of these recent models to upgrade this year. There was really no clear winner in the headphones market even if you focus on a specific price point. Some people have different audio quality tastes than others, so having lots of different models from different manufacturers to choose from is always welcome. Klipsch is even determined to put added pressure on this crowded market by bringing a brand new pair of on-ears to the scene. Believe it or not, the Klipsch Reference headphones are worth your attention, especially if you are looking for comfort.
Design and Comfort
The Klipsch Reference looks like a very comfortable set of on-ear headphones, and that’s because these headphones are indeed one of the most comfortable ever tested. The entire top portion of the headphones is covered by a thick and soft leathery padding that boasts equal pressure distribution. It might not be apparent right away, but the headband boasts a neat hidden trick allowing you to expand it to fit different head sizes and shapes. More of that soft luxurious material can be found on the earpieces, and the padding is noticeably thicker than the usual pairs of headphones in this category. The ear cups articulate in every axis so you should be able to find the best fit possible. The parts that support the earpieces have a nice blend of tough plastic on the inside, and a brushed aluminum outside so the overall package looks sleek, classy and polished. In addition to the standard black model, there is also a full white model which is sure to look good with Apple’s iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices.
The cable also has good build quality and is flat, which is always a good choice for people that are annoyed by tangling cables. With the iPhone still one of the most popular smartphones worldwide, it is no surprise that the Klipsch Reference sports the familiar 3-button configuration on the cable. Unfortunately the cable isn’t removable, making it a little bit more difficult to fold the earpieces. Still, when folded, the Klipsch Reference headphones fit nicely inside the carrying case that comes with the package.
The goal of the Klipsch Reference is to provide the most comfortable listening experience for lengthy periods, while providing clean sound without any of the fancy gimmicks. This means that you won’t find any extra features here. Since the Klipsch Reference headphones lack a removable cable, the volume controls and center button are always accessible. The volume controls should work on most smartphones and tablets, but the 3-button setup is primarily made for iOS devices. The oval-shaped button between the volume controls has multiple functions on an iOS device. Pressing the button once will play or pause the track, while pressing it twice or thrice will trigger a skip next or previous. This control module also sports a built-in microphone so you can also press that same button to accept or end calls.
Klipsch’s primary focus on comfort and audio quality on the Reference On-ear is justifiable because this pair of cans sounds really good. The bass is full, deep and well-defined with a highly appreciable treble to match. All sorts of tracks sound great on high volumes without distortion, although some purists might feel that the mids could use some very minor improvements. The 40mm full-range neodymium drivers on the Klipsch Reference are no joke, and simply blow all of the lower-priced headphones out of the water. There is simply no turning back once you experience audio of this caliber.
Klipsch accomplished more than just a highly comfortable feel. The 15mm ear cushions make the Klipsch Reference headphones pretty decent for passive noise isolation. Of course, you should really look for something more focused if you specifically need noise isolation, but the Klipsch Reference does a pretty decent job for on-ears headphones.
The Klipsch Reference headphones do a lot of things right and serve as a legitimate threat in the ongoing 2015 war of headphones. This particular Klipsch product is greater than the sum of its parts, mainly because of how well it was designed. It is amazing how Klipsch managed to create headphones that feel like pillows in your ears, but still look so good. You won’t find any unsightly sliding mechanisms and hinges, yet the headband can expand when needed. The only small issue that affects the whole package aside from the non-detachable cable is the $200 asking price. Because of this, buyers on a budget might be attracted to other compelling products released last year. Even so, putting them on for the first time could be the gateway to an instant buy, and the excellent build quality means that the $200 is a great long-term investment.