REVIEW: Klipsch Image and Sleek Audio SA6 - a road test

Discussion in 'Portable Headphones & Earphones' started by ShaunG, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. ShaunG

    ShaunG Guest

    Road Test Review: Klipsch Image v Sleek Audio SA6

    The Klipsch Image and Sleek Audio SA6 are both earphones from the new wave of wideband single driver designs and are competing head to head with each other. Both earphones are ultra-small designs and utilise a single driver to cover the entire frequency spectrum.

    Klipsch Image X10

    This earphone review is based on a long term listening test, involving over a month wearing the Klipsch Image X10 and Sleek Audio SA6 earphones on my two hour a day walk to/from the office.

    During the review I listened to a good variety of music, from heavy rock, such as System Of A Down and Queens Of The Stone Age, to electronic beats, such as LCD Sound System and and Underworld, with some more easy going vocal and guitar music, such as Beth Orton and José González.

    Earphone fit and comfort

    Both the Klipsch Image X10 and Sleek Audio SA6 are far more comfortable than the older dual driver design earphones, such as the Ultimate Ears 5 Pro and Shure SE420, due to their much smaller size. The ultra-small single driver designs mean that it’s far less fiddly to get the earphones in your ear and once they are in you can forget about them.

    The Klipsch X10 earphone body is particularly miniature and is very unobtrusive once fitted in the ear. The Klipsch earphones are so lightweight and comfortable that I found no discomfort when wearing them for an hour or more listening sessions. I did find the Klipsch silicone ear gels caused a very ‘full’ sensation in the ear that was a little disconcerting at first, but I soon became accustomed to the feel of the earphone in my ear.

    Sleek Audio SA6

    The Sleek Audio SA6 has a slightly taller earphone body than the Klipsch X10, but the SA6’s tapered design means that the fit is excellent in my ears and the flanged silicone ear gels provided an excellent seal. The fact that the SA6 ear gels are flanged mean that the SA6 seal in my ears a little more comfortably and securely than the Klipsch Image X10’s.

    Both earphones benefited from using Comply Foam ear tips. The Sleek Audio SA6 in particular benefited from an increase in bass response and long term wearing comfort when fitted with Comply Foam ear tips.

    Sound Quality

    The Klipsch Image X10’s sound amazing when you first try them. The bass response is very strong and accurate and the high trebles are very present. This makes for an overall very pleasing sound that instantly sounds good with most styles of music.

    The Klipsch Image X10 does seem to emphasise the bass and high treble notes, leaving the mid trebles quite lacking. The Klipsch sounds great with many rock and electronic music tracks, but strings, guitars and female vocals are especially disappointing. For example, listening to Beth Orton “She Cries Your Name” the strings and guitars were severely lacking in presence. Beth’s voice came through loud and clear (her voice is quite deep), as well as the bassline, but the beautiful drifting strings and delicate acoustic guitar notes were very recessed.

    The Sleek Audio SA6 is a very involving and lively earphone with a sound that reminds me in some respects of Grado full size Hi-Fi headphones. The SA6’s sound stage is excellent and it’s very easy to pick out detail in good quality recordings. The fact that the bass and treble can be tuned to suit your equipment and listening tastes is such a great feature. I opted for the bass+ and treble++ tuning, which gives a very big sound.

    While the SA6’s bass is not as clearly defined as the Klipsch Image, with the bass+ port fitted to the SA6 and ensuring the earphones were well sealed meant there is plenty of bass to keep me satisfied.


    Choosing between these two earphones is difficult. They both sound superb and fit easily and comfortably. The Klipsch Image X10’s excellent low frequency reproduction makes it a very enjoyable earphone for listening to bass heavy rock and electronic music. The Sleek Audio SA6’s mid-range detail and clarity makes it extremely satisfying to listen to vocals, acoustic guitar and electronica.

    Overall the Sleek Audio SA6 has a more balanced and satisfying sound than the Klipsch Image X10. The immediate wow factor of the Klipsch Image bass response soon wears off and over the long term I chose the SA6 more often for daily listening. This combined with the fact that the SA6 can be tuned to suit your listening tastes makes the SA6 a great choice for the portable audio perfectionist.

    The in-ear fit is excellent with both the Klipsch Image X10 and Sleek Audio SA6 due to the miniature single driver designs. Both can be worn for long listening sessions without discomfort.

    While the Klipsch Image X10 sounds great when you first try them out, the SA6 is the definite winner when you listen for extended periods. The recessed mid trebles of the Klipsch Image X10 become really frustrating when listening to female vocals and acoustic guitar. I love the energetic delivery of the Sleek Audio SA6.

    More Information

    For more information on the Klipsch Image and Sleek Audio SA6 visit the HiFi Headphones store.
  2. Saiyajin

    Saiyajin Dynamic Driver

    Sep 8, 2008
    Great Review Shaun
    Will properly try out the SA6 soon when you get them in stock again.
    Then I maybe post my experience here.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
  3. ShaunG

    ShaunG Guest

    Sleek Audio SA6 and Klipsch Image review

    Glad to hear the review was useful Saiyajin. Thought it would be an interesting head to head test.

    My understanding is the underlying technology is very similar (if not he same), so its incredible that the sound signature is so different.

    We are expecting new stock of the Sleek Audio SA6 tomorrow. We've been waiting some time for this stock.

    One addition to this review is that both earphones benefit from fitting Comply Foam ear tips. The bass response becomes tighter and stronger on the SA6, the noise isolation is better and in both cases they are even more comfortable.

    It would be really interesting to hear your comments, whatever earphones you decide on.
  4. BloodSugar00

    BloodSugar00 Well Balanced

    Sep 11, 2008
    Great little comparison Shaun! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts and impressions there, and though I havn't yet tried the klipsch images x10, as I know you are aware, I own and have that opportunity with the SA6 and I almot completely agree with your sentiments on that IEM!
  5. Shaun-HiFi

    Shaun-HiFi Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 30, 2008
    Sleek Audio SA6 & W-1 wireless

    Just saw CNET UK's preview of the Sleek Audio SA6 and W-1 Wireless. It seems Nate likes the new W-1 wireless adapter for the SA6!

    I agree entirely with his sentiments about the midrange being present on the SA6. In my opinion the SA6 is a very musical sounding earphone.
  6. henders

    henders Dynamic Driver

    Sep 5, 2008
    Sleek Audio SA6 wireless

    Nice review of the SA6 and Klipsch Image!

    The article from CNET on the SA6 wireless is interesting reading. Comparing the level of detail to the Etymotic ER-6i is high praise indeed.
  7. beemerman-2008

    beemerman-2008 Casual Listener

    Dec 16, 2008
    what about the efficiency of these 2 sets? Thats what has me considering the ultimate ears pro 5's because of the efficiency = less drain on my battery in my mp3 player, and no worries of lack of volume. I've been using creative ep630's for a while and its time to toss these things.
  8. Shaun-HiFi

    Shaun-HiFi Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 30, 2008
    Both the Sleek Audio SA6 and Klipsch Image X10 are based on the same driver (despite the very different sound signatures), so they both have the same impedance rating of 50 Ohms. The Ultimate Ears 5 Pro is more efficient at 21 Ohms.

    To be honest I haven't noticed a big drain on the battery with either the Sleek Audio or Klipsch. After all the single armature driver used in the SA6 and X10 was developed from hearing aid technology, so I wouldn't expect it to be too power hungry.

    I've definitely not noticed a lack of volume with either the Sleek Audio or Klipsch. Both can be very easily driven with an iPod or MP3 player.

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