Klipsch is bringing the bass for its first stab at in-canal Bluetooth earphones. The $149 R6 In-Ear Bluetooth offer a secure fit, with a cable that can be worn behind the neck or below the chin. Audio performance is intense, with booming lows and bright, sculpted highs, at times highlighting the energy of a mix, and at other times draining it of any sense of natural sound. If you’re seeking a flat response-style Bluetooth earphone pair you can stop reading now, but if you love bass, the R6 is one of the better in-ear options for the price.
The R6’s black earpieces loop over the top of your ear and use the weight of the rubber-paneled earpieces to help hold the silicone eartips in place. The cable can be worn either behind your neck or below your chin, and includes a small plastic cinch to manage slack. Once you get the eartips in, which at first can take a little maneuvering, the fit is comfortable and secure.
On the right earpiece, there’s a Power button, an LED status indicator, and a snap-shut compartment that houses the micro USB connection for the included power adapter.
The inline mic and remote control has three buttons—one central multifunction button that controls playback and call management, and two + and – buttons that adjust volume when tapped (the levels work in conjunction with your mobile device’s master volume), and track navigation when held. This is a tad less user-friendly than remotes that make the central multifunction double for track navigation. Both versions require you to press buttons in different manners to acheive different results, but it’s far easier to misfire with this type of remote and skip a track accidentally when you meant to adjust the volume.
The pair ships with a black cloth carrying pouch and four pairs of silicone eartips in various sizes—one of which is a flange-style tip.
Pairing the R6 with an iPhone 6s was a quick and easy process. When powered on, the earphones will automatically connect with the most recent paired device (provided the device is in range and ready to pair). Klipsch claims a battery life of about 8 hours, but your results will vary based on your volume levels.
Performance and Conclusions
On tracks with powerful sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the R6 deals out intense, deep bass response that never distorts, even at top, unwise listening levels. At more modest volumes, the low frequency response is still quite strong—this is a bass-boosted sound signature that manages to balance things out decently with some sculpting in the high-mids and highs.
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The overall sound signature becomes more apparent on Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track that gets boosting in the lows, bringing out the thump of the drums, and also the higher frequencies, pushing the guitar strumming to the forefront of the mix. Callahan’s baritone vocals also receive a decent amount of treble edge, which helps them stay well-defined despite a strong low-mid boost that brings out their depth. The R6 sounds balanced here, but quite sculpted—certain elements are pulled out of the mix and built-up. Purists may not go for this sound, but it’s well suited for many modern mixes.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop gets a solid amount of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to remain snappy and sharp, slicing through the dense mix. We also hear plenty of the vinyl crackle in the loop, another sign that the highs have been pushed forward. It’s the sustain of the drum loop, however, and the sub-bass synth hits, that really rule the mix. The bass response on these earphones is powerful, and bass lovers will truly enjoy the added thump.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound a little ridiculous through the R6. The bass is so obviously boosted that, well before any of the lower register instrumentation has really made itself known, you hear intense lows. The brightness of the higher register strings, brass, and vocals is never challenged, thanks to the tremendous boosting that’s going on in the highs, but the net result is a boomy sounding orchestra, with far heavier lows than a live orchestral performance would ever produce.
If you’re in search of a flat-response style earphone pair, the R6 isn’t for you. That said, this is the Bluetooth earphone pair that bass lovers dream of. It offers rich, powerful depth and boosts the highs enough to retain clarity and some sense of balance in the mix. If you’re looking for something that splits the difference with a bit more overall balance, we are big fans of the Jaybird X2. And for less money, you can still get the big bass Bluetooth experience with the Skullcandy XTfree. If it’s a crisper sound with less bass you’re after, consider the JBL Reflect Mini BT. But for $149, the Klipsch R6 In-Ear Bluetooth is one of the better, fairly priced options available for all of you bass fiends out there.