A few weeks back, TC Acoustic sent me the complimentary Klipsch Reference X12i in-ear headphones for me to review and to shout out about their promotion tie-up for 15% discount on their X-series earphones and to give away free Logan movie premiums, ending 15 August 2017.
Whenever a brand sends me review products that I can keep, I will be a little concerned. There is this subliminal obligation to write positively about the products. I suppose that is why readers are skeptical about reviews by bloggers, influencers, tech sites. To work around this mental block, I never ask the brand if the review units are for me to keep or to be returned. This was the case for the D-Link DAP-1720 wireless range extender, where the brand told me I could keep the product when I asked them to collect it back after my review. Suffice to say, I do love the DAP-1720 and currently using it to extend my home network coverage.
Fortunately, I love the X12i earphones. This is the second pair of Klipsch audio product I have reviewed. The first is the Klipsch Reference On-Ear II Headphones, a pair of excellent cans that pivots slightly towards the bass and mids. The X12i in-ear headphones slightly elevates the treble clarity that was less forthcoming on the On-Ear II, while the bass turns out less boomy. Simply put, the audio frequency balance is shifted upwards.
As a reference-grade earphones, the instruments across the entire audio spectrum is faithfully delivered. Thanks to the tamed treble, I am able to appreciate the tracks at higher volumes without tiring my ears. Yet, there is sufficient sizzle in the highs and lows to satisfy without overpowering the minute musical details, like the tonality and the breath of the instruments. Thanks to generous sound staging, the tracks are well-separated and distinct, while maintaining realism to the space. X12i performs like a well-behaved gentleman with warmth yet sufficient assertiveness, respecting the sound of music. As they often say, it takes one to know one.
To aid to the listening comfort, the X12i is the smallest and lightest earphones I have reviewed. The closest I tried before this was the Jaybird Freedom F5 wireless earphones, which I also highly recommend. The X12i patented oval ear tips sits in my ear canals without pressure, yet they offer superb seal and isolate ambient noise very well. I almost felt the music was playing live without any audio apparatus. That is, until I figit and move the earphone cables that cause microphonics – cable movement sounds – disrupting my almost-perfect experience.
Klipsch has paid attention to the design and accessories to justify the premium price. The translucent cable is thicker than most earphones, the retail package is made of hard acrylic and includes a handful of ear tips, even a pair of Comply Foam. The soft case reeks of leather that unfolds to reveal thin spandex pockets for storage. A rather unusual case exquisite no less, I would prefer the traditional pouch design. A minor disappointment is the in-line controls, which I felt lacks the quality and solid build.
Klipsch X12i continues to keep musicality in check with a balanced audio tuning, delivering overall warm sound with slight sizzle and clarity at the highs. I still prefer the beyerdynamic Xelento Remote earphones, but the X12i costs only a third of that, and sounds close, probably losing only to the sound staging.
At retail price of S$599, the current Logan movie promotion sees the price slashed by 15% to S$509. For audio enthusiasts who prefer a neutral-sounding earphones that delivers an over-ear details yet feels next to nothing, the Klipsch Reference X12i could be the one.