Klipsch is no stranger to the world of audio with their diverse selection of speakers and in-ear headphones crafted by decades-long honed engineering and one clear mission statement, “No BS sound”. With the release of their latest reference headphone series Klipsch has finally brought their honed craft to a new series of over-ear headphones.
This brings something new to the table from the company, over-ear Bluetooth headphones. Historically Bluetooth hasn’t had the best audio quality which didn’t meet Klipsch’s standards for audio quality, but as we’re forging into the future there has been incredible increases in the quality and speed of wireless transmission.
From reviewing the Klipsch Reference Over-Ear previously and listening extensively to the Klipsch Reference Over-Ear Bluetooth I have deemed them sonically identical. From combing through the build specs the only official differences I can find is the additional weight to the Klipsch BT, which is to be expected.
Klipsch Reference Over-Ear Bluetooth Review
The Klipsch Reference has a very simple and streamlined build to it. The headphone is very comfortable and pretty lightweight. The headband is made of a very soft foam and black leather wrap. It is also collapsible and easily stored in the hard shell case that come with the headphones. The earcups are deep and not too wide so medium and smaller ears fit well, while larger ears might have to bend around the inside of the cups. The earpads are a removable soft leather memory foam which should stand up pretty well over time. The headphone also comes with a removable 2.5mm cable in case your device runs out of battery.
On the right earcup you will find the Bluetooth hands-free controls. The usual controls for power, volume, play/pause and charging port are all located on the right earcup. You will get short messages spoken to you by the device, such as battery low, connected, and tones for when it turns on and when max volume has been reached. The battery life is around 20 hours which is pretty average for an over-ear Bluetooth headphone.
The Klipsch Reference Over-Ear has it’s sonic identity called out from the beginning. Klipsch has been working on making this a reference sound quality headphone. It’s a difficult build to make closed-back reference Bluetooth headphones. In this price range different models have had varying amounts of success while most tend to become warmer sounding and focus on bass.
The Klipsch Reference errs on the side of caution with their representation of bass content. While Klipsch has never been a bass heavy brand the Reference Over-Ear has deep extension but the headphone keeps it’s power under strict control. This gives tracks a tighter more detailed approach to their response. The headphone is fully capable of recreating low sub-bass content, but with the bass controlled in the way it is it can be overlooked when listening. The headphone comes off a little anemic, i.e. cold, the bass lives behind the mix and loses a little bit of presence because of this.
With no bleed from the low end transitions smoothly into the mid range. The mid range comes off full and forward because of the lack of low end energy. The lower mid range has a good amount of presence with a revealing nature to it. This trend continues into the upper mid-range. Vocal content comes through unabridged and in full detail, without coloration altering the quality. The upper mid-range gets a little hotter than the rest of the mids in response. This causes some snares and pitched drums to come off a little sharp and aggressive.
The high end is pretty well tuned and comes off forward because of the energy transferring over from the upper mid-range. The high end has a good extension into upper end content and comes off with the right amount of airiness while not proceeding to become too sharp or brittle. The sonic signature ends up being more bright than neutral. Higher register strings and brass sound full and well shaped. Reverb has a large amount of room to take shape and breath.
The soundstage is one of the weaker points of the headphone. The quality of the soundstage is a little below average. The soundstage is in a smaller more intimate setting with some decent imaging and separation, but there is a narrow depth of field. One thing that hurts the soundstage is the lack of low end energy that makes a lot of sound sources lose their presence in a mix.
The Klipsch Reference is a pretty great headphone all around. The design and comfort are top notch, in addition to the wireless design, folding headband, and replaceable earpads all add life-time into the headphone. The sound quality is fair in it’s neutral design, but in the end it winds up having a more brighter sound signature. A headphone like this sounds wonderful when listening to classical, piano, and jazz but translates well into most genres because of the more or less balanced signature.
For over-ear Bluetooth headphones the Klipsch Reference is really in a class of it’s own. Most Bluetooth headphones tend to be a little more colored in their response, causing bass and mids to be for focused on while the high end suffers. While this might be a sound signature that most people dislike it’s good that there is one out that is built like this. For those who want a warmer Bluetooth headphone you can try out the Sennheiser Momentum or B&O H7.