Friday, December 26, 2008

Klipsch Custom-2 in-ear monitor headphones review

Klipsch's Custom-2 is a mid-range in-ear headphones, just a step up above the Custom-1 which I reviewed here. The two model share the same design cues, of which primary difference is that the Custom-2 is driven by dual KG 534 balanced armature drivers instead of the single balanced armature driver in the Custom-1. It has the same elegant housing though the Custom-2 does feature a silver accent that while signifying a slight premium over the Custom-1, which I personally did not care much for. I honestly actually prefer the more understated black finish of the Custom-1.

Frequency response: 10Hz – 19kHz
Sensitivity: 112 dB SPL/mW (1mW)
Nominal impedance: 16 ohms
Drivers: KG 534 dual-balanced armatures
Headphone weight: 13 grams
Bundled accessories: Large carrying case, airplane adaptor, five pairs of ear gels, ear wax tip cleaning tool

With a retail price of £110, Custom-2s is in direct competition with the Super.Fi 5 EB, Future Sonic Atrio M5, Sennheiser IE 6 and Shure SE310. It had a lot to live up to. As with the Custom-1, the Custom-2 performed very well within the mid-range. Vocals were forward. Rather expected from the price, the Custom-2 also outperformed its lower range brother in bass. While the bass on the Custom-1 seems restrained, the Custom-2's bass response was punchy though with slight distortion. The quantity is still lacking compared to dynamic driver based headphones or even the Super.Fi 5 EB (Extended Bass for a reason), but it should still be sufficient to all but the most ardent basshead. Performance on the highs is a tad better than the Custom-1. The separation of instruments is more noticeable and the sound stage a bit wider (though still more 'in-head' than other IEMs I have tried).

I kinda liked the Custom-2, but they do sound a lot different from the Custom-1. While the Custom-1 sound more like a budget monitor, the Custom-2 has a more fun and warm sound signature - obviously aimed at consumers. There are obvious improvements but they just do not sound alike. It would be interesting to compare them to their high-end Custom-3 IEMs (it is still on its way), which has its own dedicated woofer and tweeter. I personally would not recommend them for the usual £110 but price has recently dipped to about £60-£70. At that price level the Custom-2 is a worthy of your consideration particularly if you are keen on replacing that disgustingly awful free bundled earbuds.

+ great SQ with improved bass response
+ unique stylish design
+ very comfortable with the right tip
+ fabric cable
- excess packaging (this issue is being addressed by Klipsch)
- cumbersome to put on and remove
- microphonics


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