Klipsch’s release of the x20i earphone brought their in-ears to a new price point likely to make audiophiles stick their noses to the wind in search of a fun and rocking new toy. But do these earphones sound as good as they should for the price? And how do they compare to an earphone many people know, the Shure SE535? I’m about to find out in today’s Klipsch x20i vs Shure SE535 earphones comparison review.
Klipsch x20i vs Shure SE535 Earphones Comparison Review
|Klipsch x20i||Shure SE535|
|Type||KG-2625 AcuPass(R) Two-Way; in-ear||In-ear|
|Drivers||KG-125B: Balanced armature super tweeter
KG-926T: Balanced armature woofer
|Impedance||50 Ohms||36 ohms|
|Frequency Response||5Hz – 40kHz||18Hz-19kHz|
|Sensitivity||111 dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz||119 dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz|
|Noise Isolation||-26 dB||-37 dB|
|Mic and Remote||yes, 3 button remote||not with the provided cable but compatible with other cables that have mics and remotes|
|Weight||.8 oz (22g)||1.06 oz (30g)|
In the Box
Both the Klipsch x20i and the Shure SE535 include similar items, albeit a few key differences. Firstly, both products include ear tips, although the x20i includes, in addition to three pairs of Klipsch’s patented oval shape silicone ear tips, 2 pairs of tapered tips for a deeper fit in the ear canal. The SE535 includes six pairs in total, 3 silicone tips and 3 foam tips which contribute to the earphones excellent sound isolation.
Secondly, both earphones include carrying cases. The x20i comes with a black leather case that looks quite like a wallet. On the other hand, the SE535 comes with a hardy cloth carrying case which zips along the side.
In addition, the Shure SE535 comes with a ¼’’ adapter and an airplane adapter.
As it should be for the price, both earphones feel durable and integrated protective measures into their design.
Klipsch made their chassis for the x20i out of surgical grade stainless steel to protect the inner technology of the earpieces.
The Klipsch x20i has an interesting detachable cable. It is interesting because instead of detaching at the earpiece, the cable detaches closer to the mic and remote. I’ve never seen an earphone with this design before. But alas, the cable has a SSMCX connector and can be switched out for other cables.
On the other hand, the Shure SE535 has a Kevlar cable that is also detachable for extra durability. They also sell other versions of their cables include a Bluetooth cable (see its review here) and a cable that includes a microphone and remote. The earpieces themselves are plastic, which makes them susceptible to being crushed if handled haphazardly.
The ear tips of the Klipsch x20i favor small ears and are meant to sit deeper in the ear canal than others I’ve seen. To create the seal in my ear canal, I had to kind of twist them into place. One of them kept wanting to slide out over time which was particularly frustrating since they are marketed specifically to have a good fit for small eared folks.
The SE535 have a more secure fit to me because they fit comfortably almost immediately and their cable hooks over the ear for additional security. Once they were in place, they didn’t move. Therefore I was able to get a more consistent seal.
Once the seal is created with both earphones, the sound isolation is immediately effective! Shure’s foam tips create an even more isolated experience and I prefer their sound isolation over the x20i. (For folks who have an easier time with the fit of the x20i, maybe you’ll prefer its sound isolation but that was not my experience.)
The x20i has a musical EQ curve. Vocals stand out most of all with presence right around 3kHz. The mid-range is scooped out around 700Hz which leaves it feeling a little bit hollow with certain genre’s, especially acoustic instrumental genres like orchestral or jazz. It has strong imaging left to right and top to bottom. Not as much depth as one would hope in this level of earphone, but for pop, hip-hop, and rock music it works well. I’ll note that at first I just plugged them straight into my phone and the depth was virtually non-existent. Once I drove them with an amplifier (I used the Chord Mojo in this case), they sounded much better and seemed to come back to life.
The Shure SE535 has a much thicker sound overall. The earphones play back louder than the x20i, perhaps because of its lower impedance. The bass, while not as clear as the x20i, is fuller and louder in general with a broad boost around 200Hz. The midrange is also much more filled out. There is a cut right around 5kHz. Therefore, vocals sit a little bit lower in the mix and are less present sounding. The high frequencies are less pronounced than the x20i but still hold detail and all for full decay of cymbals. They play nice with most genres including orchestral and jazz.
Both earphones are great earphones. If you tend to like more of a smiley face EQ curve on your music (boosted highs and lows with scooped mids) you will like the sound signature of the x20i. If you like a flatter response with more low end in general, stick to the SE535.
I would also recommend the x20i for audiophiles listening from home with an amplifier. The SE535 has better sound isolation and doesn’t need an amp to sound great.
Both the Klipsch x20i and the Shure SE535 are available for the best price here: