One of the joys of a blogger is to experience new products. In the audio market, there are so many brands, there are bound to be brands that I tend to miss out. Klipsch is one of them that I have heard a lot but did not get to try it, until TC Acoustic, distributor for Singapore, contacted me for a review of the second generation Reference On-Ear headphones.
Klipsch is founded by Paul W. Klipsch, an American audio pioneer, in 1946. He patented dozens of audio technologies and was awarded the Audio Engineering Society’s second highest honor, the prestigious Silver Medal, for his contributions to speaker design and distortion measurement.
While Klipsch forte is in speaker technology, it is a natural extension to develop headphone and earphone products. Like many established audio companies, Klipsch manufactured dozens of consumer-friendly headphones over the years. But with a name like Reference On-Ear and a retail price of S$329, it warrants a review by audio critics like myself.
I have not experienced the original Klipsch Reference On-Ear headphones, so I am unable to comment on the audio difference. On the exterior, it appears to bear identical design to the first generation, only with the “Klipsch” brand name printed horizontally to differentiate. The pillow pads are now removable and replaceable. So are the 3.5mm audio cables.
Here are some of my first impressions when unboxing the headphones:
- Hard leather-grained egg casing with flat bottom to sit on surfaces without rocking. Well-thought.
- Silent and soft foldable hinges. The moment I pick up the headphones at the headband, the hinges spring out and lock easily without much force.
- Well padded headband and ear cushions that are on memory foam to snugly press on the ears. They tend to feel fuzzy-warm when worn in tropical environment like Singapore, but listening in air-conditioning places are non-issue. Most of the peers who tried them experienced comfort.
Having recently conditioned my ears to enjoy the Kennerton Vali, the Klipsch Reference On-Ear II turns out right at home. I enjoy the overall neutral tuning, with the treble having good clarity without too much transparency, the mids providing a tad warmth, and the bass response is deeper.
Personally, I enjoy headphones with slightly brighter treble which must be well-controlled and not too metallic. This Klipsch headphones treble has the clarity and excitement but easily gets overpowered by strong bass mix, which will be the case when listening to the hits of today. But make no mistake: the Reference On-Ear II is not in the “mega bass” category. It has the treble clarity without souding too jarring, and equally delivers forward bass without too boomy. In summary: neutral, good detailed frequency response with slight preference towards the mid-bass.
The on-ear memory foam pads offer sufficient passive noise isolation when the music is played at moderate levels. The details are not lost in the outdoor noise and I would say it is comparable to in-ear headphones.
Listeners who favour the Klipsch Reference On-Ear II understands audio faithfulness. They enjoy music as the sound engineers have mixed, not favouring any boost in the bass or treble to heighten the listening experience. The comfortable on-ear pads allow me to turn up the volume without feeling the sound pressure like in-ear earphones do.
I’m glad the first Klipsch audio headphones I tried gives me such good impressions. I’ll be on the lookout for more Klipsch products to share with you. The Klipsch Reference On-Ear II headphones are available in Singapore at good retail stores at TC Acoustic online store. The wireless Bluetooth version retails at S$399 while this wired version retails at S$329.
Official Product Website: http://www.klipsch.com/products/reference-on-ear-ii
Style: Closed-Back On-Ear
Driver Design: Dynamic Moving Coil
Driver Diameter: 40 mm
Mic/Remote: Mic + 3-button remote compatible with Apple smart devices
Cable: 1.2m Tangle-Resistant Flat Cable
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20 Hz
Sensitivity (1mW): 110 dB
Power Handling: 100 mW
Impedance (1kHz): 32 ohms
Input Connections: 3.5 mm
Colours: Black, White
Includes: Travel case, 1.2m cable and microphone