Klipsch Mode Noise Canceling Headphones

To say I got excited when I read the news today that Klipsch was releasing a new, on-ear headphone with noise cancelation is an understatement. Klipsch has long been one of my favorite audio companies starting with their perfect Klipsch ProMedia v2-400 speakers which I got around 8th grade.

When Klipsch first started making headphones a few years ago, I got an early listen at their headquarters in Indianapolis. I was excited then to learn of their cutting-edge engineering and design. They were about to conquer in a whole new world of audio. And they did.

The Klipsch Image S4i is the headphone that first really got the attention of the masses. I reviewed it on this site as you will remember. There were of course other headphones that were superb but these had the all important iPhone features that made them stick out from the rest of the pack.

Then came the Klipsch Image X10i, my pride and joy. These headphones are more like an implant into my body than something I put on (in) to enjoy music. The world’s smallest headphones, so small that most people hardly even notice I am listening to music.

After that, the third Klipsch headphone for me to review and fall in love with was the Klipsch Image One. Their first, on-ear headphone which I praised for responsible audio reproduction, comfort, great remote control and for finally showing the rest of the high-end consumer headphone companies that you don’t have to out bass and out price Beats by Dre to make a great headphone (actually, please no one ever do that).

Finally, yesterday Klipsch announced their latest headphone. The Klipsch Mode.

Klipsch Mode Noise-canceling Headphones

Klipsch Mode Noise Canceling Headphones

This is their second on-ear headphone and their first noise-canceling headphone. In so many ways this headphone is truly unique from it’s super sexy design to its use of four total drivers, to best present high and low frequencies simultaneously. That’s not easy task. One 40mm driver for the lows and a 15mm driver for the highs.

Klipsch Mode Noise-canceling Headphones - Top View

Unlike most noise-canceling headphones, these will run as regular headphones even without battery power, which lasts 45 hours by the way. They have removable cables and a three-button, Apple remote control.

Klipsch Mode Noise-canceling Headphones - Side ProfileYou can be sure that I will get my hands on a pair of these as soon as I can for a review. These headphones are tied with the Klipsch Image X10i as their most expensive headphones, at $350. That $350 is buying you quite a bit of technology and design savvy.

I haven’t been this excited about a headphone since the S4i was released.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • BUILT FROM: 2011
  • DESIGN: Over-ear, Active Noise-Canceling
  • DIMENSIONS: Driver diameters: 40 mm/15 mm
  • DRIVE COMPONENTS: Dual-drivers: Dynamic Moving Coil 40 mm and 15 mm speakers
  • FEATURES: Passive Cross-over Network, Active Noise Reduction, Mic+3-button remote
  • FINISH: Copper/black
  • FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • INPUT CONNECTIONS: 3.5mm
  • INPUT IMPEDANCE: (@ 1kHz): 32 ohms
  • SENSITIVITY: (@ 1 mW, 15 mm): 97.5 dB
  • WEIGHT: .78 lbs (356 grams)

Comply Foam Headphone Tips

It’s been nearly five years since I had my first set of Comply headphone tips. They came with my UltimateEars SuperFi 5 Pro dual-driver, in-ear headphones. My first impressions were nothing too spectacular.

The UltimateEars headphones are large and never really felt secure. The noise isolation was great but only if they were in just right. Since the diameter of the ear tip was so wide, getting a deep placement was difficult and I soon found the headphones falling out or losing their proper seal.

I switched to the rubber or silicon ear tips that came with the headphones and found that while the seal wasn’t necessarily that much better, if the seal broke, I could easily remedy the situation. Eventually I got so good at putting on the headphones that losing a seal was no longer a problem.

Now to the present. The inevitable finally happened with me UltimateEars SuperFI 5 Pro headphones, they became tip-less (really surprised I didn’t lose them faster). Meanwhile my new favorite in-ear headphones, the Klipsch Image S4i have proven their ability to kick ass, take names and leave all my other headphones getting dusty. I went to the Klipsch Bulletin Board to do a bit of tech help for my fellow audiophiles and saw a few people discussing ways to further improve their Klipsch investment.

One thing that popped up a few too many times to be ignored was the inclusion of Comply foam ear tips. I bit the bullet and, with the generosity of Comply giving me a review discount (full disclosure for all those Federal Trade Commission agents reading my blog…), I bought two sets (6 pair) for my two favorite in-ear-monitors.

For those who don’t know, Comply makes memory-foam ear tips for many popular in-ear headphones, as well as their own line of sound isolating headphones.  They the brand of ear tips to buy, period. Here is why…

My Comply headphone tips came in the other day, a set for my UltimateEars and another for the Klipsch headphones.

So what are my thoughts?

Well, first off, it’s a definite upgrade to the UltimateEars branded options and seem to be an improvement on the Comply models I had several years ago.

As I wrote above, the UltimateEars have a really wide sound channel that is probably too wide for most people’s ears. That being said, the Comply tips make a significantly better seal than the rubber ones from UltimateEars, despite the physical obstacles of the sound port of the headphones.

The fit on the Klipsch S4i is just perfect, they seemed to just disappear once in my ears.  Klipsch made noise when they released their first headsets and a good deal was written regarding their unprecedented comfort for in-ear-monitors.  Klipsch’s oval tips (instead of round) fit the ear more naturally.  I would love to see Comply incorporate this design element with a future model of their ear tips for even an even better fit.

The sound isolation is dangerously good. I missed several phone calls and a couple knocks on my door! They completely silenced my local Starbucks.  On the flight from St. Louis to Austin, not even the roar of the jets next to my window interfered with my music listening.  Eyes closed, you’re in a different world.

When you get these tips you’re doing so for really three reasons. Replacement for lost tips, sound isolation and comfort. UltimateEars SuperFi 5 Pro owners will enjoy a significant increase in comfort and sound isolation with the Comply ear tips. However, if you have the Klipsch S4i, you probably already enjoy amazing comfort and decent sound isolation so if sound isolation is your need, the Comply headphone tips will fill any gaps left by your current tips. However, if comfort is your biggest concern, the double-flange tips from Klipsch are just as comfortable and perhaps better, to me.

In regards to any improvement in audio performance… You will certainly notice an increase in bass response which decreases your desire to turn up the volume. The sound isolation coupled with a nearly airtight seal in your ear really makes the bass lines in songs like Muse’s Undisclosed Desires perform at its best.  Lower volumes means less stress on your ears which allows a longer listening with less fatigue and hearing damage.

There are really only three downsides I see to the Comply ear tips.

  1. Price – At $5-7 a pair, it’s not overwhelmingly expensive but an extra cost not associated with most headphones.
  2. Ease of Use – Putting the headphones on and off becomes a hassle. Definitely not something you want to keep doing. I got so frustrated with people coming up to me to talk causing me to redo my headphones every few minutes that I went back to the regular tips at one point. Definitely not as easy to take in and out than the original ear tips.
  3. Sanitation – you have to replace the ear tips at least once every three months. Though to me, there is something kinda gross about putting these in your ears even after a couple of weeks use. You can wipe them down with a moist rag after use to keep them clean. Make sure they are dry before you use them again, and of course, clean ears means cleaner tips.

Let’s break it down.

  • Isolation – 9.5/10
  • Comfort – 9/10
  • Performance – 9/10
  • Value – 9/10
  • Overall – 9.1/10

Will this improvement in audio quality, comfort and sound isolation have you taking a second listen to your music catalogue? No. But it might be that small difference that takes a 9 out of 10 headphone closer to a 10.

One a lesser set of headphones, such as the Griffin TuneBuds you will notice a significant improvement in audio quality, isolation and comfort with the Comply headphone tips.