Meet the S4i, entry-level headphones from Klipsch. Cramming in a high performance point for the price, it would be hard to find a smartphone headset that offers more bang for the buck. It’s not surprising at all that these headphones are also quite popular, so if you’re looking to take the plunge and upgrade your smartphone experience, the Klipsch S4is are a great place to start. Very fragile, but perfect for smartphone use. Because the Klipsch S4is stick into your ear and don’t really scream for attention, aesthetics are less important, but overall, they look the part of solid entry-level ear buds. They aren’t ugly, and hide out quite nicely in your ear canal. Additionally, due to the Klipsch S4is being on the more affordable end of things, it’s not terribly surprising that there are no major durability features, and quite a few concerns. Namely, they have rather small cableguards, thin wire, and are unable to be repaired should something happen to them. They’ll survive a little bit of tugging, but don’t go crazy trying to yank these out of your ears.
They’ll survive a little bit of tugging, but don’t go crazy trying to yank these out of your ears.
Along with your headphones, the packaging for the Klipsch S4i includes 3 additional sizes of sleeve, documentation, a metal carrying case, and a clip. If the pre-installed sleeves don’t fit your ears, the sleeves are easy to swap out and replace. Due to the Klipsch S4i’s in-ear design, you can expect some minor discomfort when you’re finding out which sleeves fit you the best. Still, in-ears work by jamming into a tiny orifice that was never meant to see any foreign objects, so general discomfort isn’t uncommon. Thankfully, the Klipsch S4is do take some of the pressure off of your ear canal and distribute their minimal weight onto your pinna. Over time, the fit doesn’t change much assuming you have the correct sleeve size on your in-ears. Notably great audio for the price. Not bad at all, Klipsch. For most of the range of audible frequencies, the Klipsch S4is are fairly even, though they definitely add their own flavor to your music by emphasizing bass frequencies quite a bit. The S4is even maintain some of the higher harmonic frequencies well.
Distortion is a non-concern with these in-ears.
Distortion is a non-concern with these in-ears as well, as they only have a tiny spike to 1% distortion in a short range, and even that's inaudible. Additionally, while there are minor shifts in channel preference, you should never be able to hear them if you’re listening to your music at volume. These are solid performers. A lot of bang for your buck. Usually when you’re looking for an entry-level set of headphones, you have to make some serious tradeoffs in performance to get under the $100 price point, but with the Klipsch S4is, that’s not the case. Not only do they offer a pleasing frequency response, they also work famously as a smartphone headset. That’s not to say that they’re perfect, however, as they have extremely minor distortion issues. Additionally, they’re not the most durable things on the planet. But that’s really to be expected: entry-level headphones don’t have a ton of the premium features, and the Klipsch S4is make the most of their limitations. They are perfectly good in-ears. If you think that the performance of the Klipsch S4is are what you’re looking for with your smartphone, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value for the money you’d shell out for these headphones. Because they’ve been around a while, and they’ve had relative success in the market, you can often find these in your local brick and mortar store, as well as online. These little in-ears mean business. How exactly? Well despite our outrageous implication about their viability commandeering a corporation in the open market, they provide strong audio performance for a very comparatively low price. Here are the numbers. Boosted bass and an even transition from frequency to frequency. For most of the range of audible frequencies, the Klipsch S4is are fairly even, though they definitely add their own flavor to your music by emphasizing bass frequencies 5-8dB over the mean, which makes your music sound a little bass-heavy, but nothing obscenely so. Beyond that, the Klipsch S4is stay within our ideal limits in the mids well, save for a strange 15+dB dip in the 8.5-10kHz range, meaning a very narrow range of cymbal attack will be almost muted in comparison to the rest of your music, but you shouldn’t notice any other blemishes. A tiny bit of distortion, but overall A-OK The Klipsch S4is have a small spike in distortion at 1.5kHz to ~1% THD, but it seems to be an isolated occurrence, and is overall not that concerning. Generally, unless it's 3% or higher your ears will not be able to discern what's distortion in your music. If you’re a fan of loud music, you’ll be happy to know that the Klipsch S4is can theoretically exceed the max output of your standard MP3 player without hitting the dreaded 3% distortion level. While 119.48dB seems like an impressive volume to listen to, we caution you that this can cause permanent hearing loss if you listen for too long, and you should probably avoid this.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

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