I’ve been on the lookout for a new pair of Bluetooth over the ear headphones for a while now to replace my aging Parrot Ziks. When we got the press release regarding the new Klipsch headphones and their Australian release my ears pricked up. I have Klipsch speakers in my home stereo and love the sound they produce — surely Klipsch could reproduce the quality of sound with their headphones?
What are they?
The Klipsch Reference Over-Ear Bluetooth Headphones is a mouthful of a name but they most certainly are high end headphones designed for the audiophile. The headphones are priced to be a premium product and when you open the box it definitely gives you that feeling. There is no plastic housing inside the box. Nothing that gives you the feeling that it is anything other than premium. The headphones are housed inside what feels like a leather case (is it real or faux leather?). The case is a solid hard case and provides great protection for the headphones, with a little slot for a cable. To fit inside the case the headphones fold up (see image below).
The headphones use “unique 40mm Klipsch Balanced Dynamic Drivers” which deliver a very rich sound. There is an integrated mic inside the right ear cup along with buttons that can be used to control the music and your phone. The battery is meant to provide up to 20 hours of battery life and if the battery runs out you can use the “flat tangle-resistant” passthrough cable and headphone jack until you have a chance to charge them again. They are charged using a standard microUSB cable (there is one included in the box).
They come equipped with aptX and AAC high-definition Bluetooth streaming. The Bluetooth is version 4.0 and offers multipoint A2DP, AVRCP, multipoint HFP with a range of up to 10m (remember the new Bluetooth additions to Android O — these headphones support some of the new codecs). The Bluetooth signal has better consistency and range than the Bose QC30 headphones. I was able to walk around my double-brick walled house quite a bit and still get full signal, which I am unable to do with the Bose QC30.
As a design the headphones are extremely solid, look good and feel extremely comfortable. The over the head bar is well cushioned and can be adjusted to fit your melon, no matter the size. The removable ear cushions are made of memory foam and provide a very good seal over the ear. I have a very high metabolism and as such often get hot ears when using over the ear headphones. These are no exception. That is a price you have to pay for having such a good seal around the ear. Once on they could definitely be used for an extended period without having any signs of discomfort (aside from the slight heat due to my hot head).
The audio quality. Simple as that. It’s not just good, it’s amazing. I always thought headphones needed noise cancelling to sound good but I am now convinced that is just not so. These Klipsch Reference Bluetooth headphones do not have any form of noise cancelling, instead they have a damn good seal and amazing drivers in the ear cups to enable quality sound no matter the environment. I tested them around the house and was quite easily able to drown out the kids and wife without even turning the volume up loud.
The quality of sound was high end that is for sure. The crispness of the sound did not seem to be as good as the Bose QC30 I tested last week but the sheer richness of sound was amazing and blew the Bose out of the water. The Klipsch headphones are able to recreate a wide range of sound frequencies making the music/sound closely replicate the output sound from the device. There is no over reliance on bass nor an over-exaggeration of the high pitched sounds but what seems to be a balance of sound throughout a very wide range.
What did I test it with? Everything. I threw metal, hiphop, top hits and some EDM at it and it sounded amazing with every music I tested with it. As I said above, it offers a balanced sound, across the entire sound range. I’m not an audiophile but to my ears these sounded near perfect, as you would expect from a high end set of headphones made by audio company Klipsch. Oh and these headphones can go loud, very loud. Unfortunately the Ausdroid budget did not extend to purchasing me a flight to test these on but when compared with noise cancelling headphones I do have they performed just as well (I was out of contact from my family while wearing them).
These paired with my Surface Pro 4 and all of my Android devices seamlessly and easily. All I had to do was turn the headphones on and it asked to pair, give it a yes on your device and you are good to go. The right ear cup houses all the buttons, the microphone, charging port and the pass-through cable port. The buttons have a play and pause button and a forward and back button. Long pressing the play button brings up Google Assistant (on my Pixel XL). These controls are easy to use, with the play/pause button being more pronounced than the others and thus easy to navigate to and press without having to remove the headphones.
While the sound was great, the frills were lacking. There is no app to control the headphones such as the app Bose have. Bose have done a great job with their app such that I feel like every high end headphone manufacturer should offer this. You certainly pay enough for them.
There are no spare ear cushions. There is no NFC for “easier pairing” although it was not difficult in the first place. There is also no noise cancelling but I have already covered that.
The headphones are bulky and when folded are still bulky. Add to that the size of the case and it is even bulkier. If you are pushed for size in your baggage this may be an issue for you.
The cost. It seems that if you want a high end set of headphones you are going to pay around the $400 mark no matter the brand. The age old saying that you get what you pay for rings true here. You pay top dollar and get top notch sound. The RRP is $479 but I suspect that if you are looking at a set of head phones like this then you know you are going to have to pay for them. You can get the non-Bluetooth/wired version of the headphones for less than $400 but obviously you are tethered to your device with these which is an issue for some.
Should you buy them?
There seems to be more and more players in the high end headphone market each time I look and nearly all of them make decent sounding headphones. At $479RRP there are definitely at the upper end of pricing but if you want Bluetooth and a very high quality sound that is rich and top notch at the mid-range and low and high ends then these should definitely enter your consideration and deliberations.
These have a better sound than the Bose QC30 but are over-ear headphones with much bigger drivers. They do not have noise cancelling and you cannot change the amount of background that is included in the sound you hear. Klipsch do not have a well-designed, functional app like Bose do but what they do have is very high quality sound across all genres without the frills.
The Klipsch Reference Over-Ear Bluetooth are very comfortable headphones that are suited for people who like their music to sound true and be an accurate reproduction of the music as it is meant to sound. If money is no object I highly recommend them and if money is a concern give them a look in at least, you get what you pay for. There is a reason Klipsch call these a reference pair of headphones.