Klipsch S4As sound great, don't break the bank and have an Android app for tweaking settings

Klipsch S4A

One of the first things you should do -- nay, the first thing you should do -- when buying just about any new smartphone is to ditch the cheap earbuds that come with it. We've been testing the Klipsch S4A earbuds for a couple weeks now -- as well as the Android companion app that serves along side them.

Let's not beat around the bush here: These are some excellent $99 earbuds. For me, that's the sweet spot for pricing. Any more than that, and I'm going to be worried about losing them. Any less, and I won't think I've spent enough for quality. (That can be a red herring, I know. But that's what my brain thinks, and so I'm going with it.)

The earbuds fit my ears easily enough, snug, but not too snug thank to the oval rubber tips, and they're pretty comfortable over long periods. They're also surprisingly good at passive noise isolation. I really didn't expect them do be able to drown out the new Lamb of God blaring from my desk speakers, but the S4As managed it, and with a surprising amount of bass, too.  The tips are replaceable, too (for a mere $13.99 each) and come in four sizes. 

The S4As also serve as a microphone for hands-free(ish) calls. The mic is about six inches down the left-ear cable, and that's also where you'll find the push button, which really is what the S4As are all about. While they work fine out of the box, there's also a companion Android application that adds a great deal of funcationality for that button. You've got the usual single-press options -- play/pause, mute/answer, that sort of thing. Double clicking by default takes you to the next track. Triple click takes you back. A long press controls the volume. And most of these actions are customizable. 

The app itself is a no-brainer to use. Klipsch did a really nice job of designing it so that it's as simple as can be. Just plug in, check your settings, and go. One thing we will recommend you do before purchasing, though, is to check the app listing the Android Market, as there are a few smartphones that have had compatibility issues. But Klipsch says it's working on this.

We've got more pictures and screen shots after the break.

Klipsch S4A earbuds

Klipsch S4A earbuds

Klipsch S4A Android appKlipsch S4A Android app

Klipsch S4A Android appKlipsch S4A Android app

Klipsch S4A Android appKlipsch S4A Android app

Klipsch S4A Android appKlipsch S4A Android app

 
There are 30 comments

vinny jr says:

That is a slick app that goes along with those ear buds, think I'm going to give them a try.
Thanks for the heads up Phil, Great Job.

Dnelson_1971 says:

I just bought this headphone and they and the app work great with my nexus s.

crxssi says:

earphones, not headphones (and not ear buds)

bdroc says:

I wish expensive headphones weren't such a racket. I buy 60-90 dollar headphones and they stop working within 3-5 months with casual use. I buy a 5 dollar pair of earbuds to sleep with and I roll over them, tug at them, and use them every single night and they've lasted me 2 years so far.

nctrnl says:

Which $5 earbuds? I need some :)

hfm says:

butters619 says:

This is why you get a Best Buy warranty with headphones...I paid for one pair and a warranty and I'm on my 4th pair by now.

nctrnl says:

DOH! Never thought of that. I have 3 Best Buy gift cards, but haven't used them since I typically buy everything through Amazon Prime. Thanks.

jamesd413 says:

The video on Amazon says these come with a two year warranty and are listed for $79.00. I think I'll have to try them out at that price and warranty.

I have a pair of S4s and S4As for my Galaxy Nexus.

Another neat thing, they have a 2 year warranty and their replacement agreements are with Best Buy. If you need a replacement and are in the warranty window replacing is as easy as emailing Klipsch support then taking them into Best Buy and getting a new pair.

I love these things...

bdroc says:

wow, very nice deal

Dnomyar220 says:

I picked up the S4s a few months ago after reading good reviews on headphone websites (headfi,etc.). I LOVE THEM!

They are actually surprising good at passive noise reduction. I listen to them on the plane all the time.

bobvanjr says:

They work with Android phones? I just bought the S4's because the S4A's said iPhone only. I bet I can still return them to Best Buy and get the S4A's.

Honestly, I haven't been that impressed with the sound yet but I've read they may need a break in period. Has anyone experienced that?

hfm says:

The S4i are for iPhone only. The S4A are for Android.

icebike says:

Even the S4i will work on Android with basic start/stop back/forward clicking options. Only the center button works in this case, and you get no customization capability.

hfm says:

I've had the S4A since they finally launched a while back. They are a welcome replacement for the S4's that I lost, especially since they include the button functionality like the stock samsung buds. And they sound fantastic. One thing i HIGHLY recommend with these buds (or any buds for that matter) is the Comply Foam Tips. They are a requirement. http://www.complyfoam.com/products/Tx-100/

EDIT2: I just clicked on the blue banner on their page and there's a 20% off order coupon!: ComplyFTW20

EDIT: unless you know your ears very well, I would buy the pack with 1-each small, medium, and large. Then decide which size you like and buy a 3-pack or two of that size. They last quite a while but they do need to be replaced every so often when the foam starts to wear. The isolation is fantastic with these.. and you can hear the bass improving as they expand into your ear canal.

What I found very lackluster was the companion app. It was laggy and buggy (Nexus S was the only phone I was using it on). I ended up just ditching it and using the default button functionality that android or the app I was using to play music provided. I guess I should check out the market to see if it's been updated and what's been fixed since I last used Klipsch Control. And yes, I made sure to properly configure the button functionality in all the apps (Music, PowerAmp, DoggCatcher.. etc..). I just didn't like Klipsch Control's rather finicky and intermittent issues.

butters619 says:

Own the Klipsch S4 and love them. Lost them a couple weeks ago and purchased again because I can't find a better earbud for the price.

marcg611 says:

Bought the klipsch pro media's for $35 about 6months ago.. same exact housings and drivers as the s4's, and they're amazing! Keep a eye out at Tigerdirect, for some reason they were repeatedly clearancing them every couple weeks.. thanks for the heads up on the klipsch app! !! :-)

WasQ says:

Interesting article, I was thinking about buying these S4A for my S2, but as the article says the app doesn't seem to work well with my S2. But after reading the comments and the review it seems that I will not have problems at all, it's that correct? I sent a mail to Klipsch but they didn't respond anything to me :(

Before buying I had to be sure about this. Here in Barcelona (Spain) is difficult, even impossible, to find them in store, and I must buy it online, but before buying I have to be sure about this ;)

bumpandrun says:

I have two different models of jbuds (J2 and J4). I love the sound and I paid less than $20 for the J2s and less than $50 for the J4s. I would highly recommend them against the more expensive models. The J4s sound better than the J2s (both sound great) but I am a little disappointed in how short the cable is on the J4s (J2s are plenty long).

crxssi says:

Phil, you keep calling them "earbuds". Typically those are not "earbuds", but "earphones" (the kind that go inside your ear canals).

"Earbuds" are those annoying, tiny, round speakers that sit on your outer ears, behind your "ear tabs" and do not block ambient sounds.

"Heaphones" are larger speakers that sit completely outside your ears and not behind your ear tabs, and are connected with a head strap of some sort.

Of course, the lingo does seem to vary a bit here and there.

hfm says:

Klipsch themselves either call them "headphones" or "in-ear headphones". The latter of which I usually use, but I tend to call them all "earbuds" for short since "in-ear headphones" or "in-ear monitors" is too much. And IEM, not enough people know what it means.

http://www.klipsch.com/image-S4A-headphones

jeffnucci says:

S4i's are cheaper and just as good. I own the S4i's, I tried the a's. Save $30 and get a GREAT pair of buds.

avifors says:

Why don't these headphones come with 3 button remote? It's the one thing that has stopped me from ditching my iPod for google music on my gnex

E_man says:

My guess is that some (if not all) android phones only have a pinout that can read in a single unique button on it.

E_man says:

How do you control both volume up and volume down by holding the button down? If it works well, I may pick some up. Annoying android needs a separate app. My iPod Touch works with no special app/headphones combo.

hfm says:

It loops back to low volume if i recall.

E_man says:

That's the terrible implementation I was afraid of. If something is too loud and I want to turn it down, I have to make it louder? Very unfortunate.

drewC says:

Phil, first of all thank you for writing this article. I've been looking at the S4a as a pair of backup earphones for my Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5Vi. The only thing holding me back is perhaps whether it is fully compatible with my GSM Galaxy Nexus. Seeing that you tested them with your GNex, I am now inching closer to getting myself a pair.

The other question I have about these earphones is the sound quality. I love my UEs. To me, it has the best sound in its class (which also has in-line mic and a one-button control that somewhat works. Not to mention it doesn't break the bank to own a pair). Would you care to go into more details regarding the S4a's sound quality? I am no audiophile, but I can still appreciate a good pair of in-ear headphones.

I have the Klipsch Image S4s and their music quality is on par with the $300 headphones out there. I have some HD598s and I actually prefer the Klipsch for when I'm out and about.
Now, when we get to the HD800s (which I'm saving up for), it'll be a whole different story:

http://bestheadphonesforclassicalmusic.com/5-best-expensive-headphones/