Thursday, May 5, 2016

Klipsch XR8I Hybrid IEM Review

The Klipsch IEM XR8I up for review is a Hybrid, which I am particularly excited about. I tend to be a bit of a bass head, so I like a lot of bass. They showed these off at CES, and we jumped at the opportunity when Klipsch wanted these included in our annual shootout. What makes the Klipsch XR8I Hybrid so special is the dedicated subwoofer driver in each IEM.  They feature a full range balanced armature, then a dedicated subwoofer driver!  Not bad for an MSRP of $289!

Features and specs:
  • KG-2365 AcuPass(R) Two-Way Hybrid Driver
  • KG-065 Dynamic Woofer
  • KG-723 Balanced Armature Tweeter
  • Die-Cast Zinc and Co-Molded Elastomer Housing
  • Patented Oval Ear Tips (4 Different Pairs)
  • Three-Button Remote + Mic
  • Carrying Case + Clothing Clip
  • 1 Year Warranty
The Klipsch XR8I came in a nice looking clear plastic box so you can see the IEM on a plastic display in the box. The Klipsch XR8I was mostly made of plastic, with some aluminum in the molded housing. Quality of materials used was very good, as was the build quality and fit and finish. They appeared in hand to be a well made product. Also included was the owners' manual, carry case, and extra ear tips. I loved the little holder for the additional eartips. It was a little plastic piece, almost like a credit card, with little stubs to hold the extra eartips. There is also an in-line mic and controls to use with your smartphone.

The real question though is how do they sound.  This year, we included some tunes to really test the bass.  And with the recent passing of David Bowie, we thought we would honor him a little bit and include one of his songs.  So while the Klipsch XR8I looks impressive, as the saying goes, the truth is in the pudding.  And with that said, it's time for some aural tasting.

With David Bowie: Let's Dance, the bass was deep with a lot of authority! They threw a nice big soundstage. Drums had nice dynamics, knocker sounded natural, and vocals had nice texture.  Journey: Don't Stop Believing, the keyboard sounded natural, with smooth vocals and nice resolution. Kick drum had good depth. Also Sprach Zarathustra, it had excellent ultra low bass extension that played with a lot of authority! Horns were smooth sounding. Nice resolution in the tympani. Junior Wells: Why are People Like That, had nice texture in the vocals. Bass guitar had excellent depth and authority. Harmonica was dynamic.  Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue, the clarinet sounded natural, as did the piano. There was nice texture and resolution in the bassoon. Tympani had nice low end extension. Brass was really clean sounding.  

The overall sound was smooth, just a tad on the warm side, with good resolution and excellent bass response!  It's the closest headphone I have heard that sounds like a home or car stereo system with a subwoofer.  Klipsch knocked this one out of the park in terms of bass response. And when it comes to the fit, it looks like Klipsch has an unfair advantage.  With some features, it's easy to think it's just hype and no real advantage.  But with the oval was not just hype!  They helped make for a really easy fit, for both sound quality and comfort!  The Klipsch XR8I provided a detail I would expect from a single balanced armature.  The sound was overall smooth, a bit warm in signature.  And with the built-in subwoofer driver, it played deeper and with more bass output.  Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, they have earned our Highly Recommended Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at