Speaker manufacturer Klipsch makes a bunch of great-sounding headphones. One of their best features was that they plugged right into the strange headphone jack on the original Apple (AAPL) - Get Report iPhone.
Now, the new iPhone 3G has a universal headphone jack. But Klipsch is still my top choice to plug in ... especially true of its brand new Image X5 headphones.
I've been using Klipsch's top-of-the-line X10s for months now. Aside from being the most comfortable in-ear headphones I've ever used, the X10s are some of the most amazing-sounding in-ear headphones I've ever used. You have never really heard massively deep bass through headphones until you've experienced X10s. They sell for $349, and in my book are worth every penny.
Now, Klipsch engineers have developed the X5s -- price wise, the X10's little brother.
The X5s are slightly (2 mm in diameter) larger than the X10s. That makes them easier and somewhat less expensive to manufacture.
Don't worry, the X5 is still really, really small, compact and lightweight.
According to Klipsch, the real difference between the two is what's inside each earpiece:
"X5 employs a balanced full-range armature driver with a tuned bass-reflex system, while the X10 uses a balanced full-range armature micro-driver with a tuned bass-reflex system. (That means the X5's inner workings are a little larger). If you like a lot of bass, we recommend purchasing the X10; however, if you want a superior top end with more forward voicing, then the X5 is the right choice for you. "
As for my take: The X5s and X10s sound similar, but not exactly alike. The X10s, as I mentioned before, provide stentorian bass. The X5s don't reach as low, but let you hear deep bass nonetheless.
As for the midrange tones (where most voice and music exist) it's a pretty close tie. The X10s might be just slightly more accurate in frequency response -- but the X5s are almost their equal -- and in some cases provide a little more punch and a subtle detail boost to voices, brass and woodwinds.
As for the highs (cymbals, and overall airiness of sound), it's close to a dead heat, with the X5s being a tiny bit more extended.
The X5s sound fantastic after only 100 hours or so of use. I've found that Klipsch headphones sound their best after a few weeks of use and breaking-in -- the treble smoothes out and becomes even more extended.
As for comfort, there's none better. I find I can keep Klipsch headphones in place longer than any others I've ever used -- and believe me, after an hour ride to work (each way) on a New York City subway -- comfort is just as important as sound quality to me. It probably is to you, too.
If you primarily listen to the best-quality, uncompressed portable music files (WAV or Lossless formats), I would go with the X10s. If you prefer lesser-quality compressed files (Windows Media, iTunes, MP3) the X5s might be a better choice.
The new Klipsch Image X5s come with a carrying pouch, a two-prong airline adapter, five sets of different-sized ear gels, and a cleaning tool. X5s have a retail price of $249.99 and will be available at select retail locations and klipsch.com. As a bonus, purchasers who complete an online warranty registration will receive a free package of replacement Contour Ear Gels in the size of their choice.
The X10s, and now the X5s, are highly recommended.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.