[REVIEW] Klipsch A5i Sport and R6i

I need to listen to music when I run. Running can be quite a lonely sport, especially if you run long distances all by yourself.  The surroundings help, but choosing the right tunes make the run a lot easier for me. For example, upbeat songs with fast tempo inject added energy into me. It can get especially draggy if the path ahead is a long, long straight and you are by yourself with no music. The only exception is when I want to clear the mind of something that’s troubling me – then I would run without music.

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The earphones I use are usually cheap ones that I pick off the cashier counter at a petrol station for example. As long as I can hear the music, I wasn’t particular about anything else. But thanks to the kind people at Tat Chuan Acoustic – I am now in ownership of two premium sets of earphones from Klipsch! The exclusive distributor for Klipsch (and other audio brands) in Southeast Asia gave both the A5i Sport and R6i, so I could have one for sport and one for leisure.

A5i Sport (S$229)

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From the look of it, you know it’s designed for physical activities. It has an additional arm around the ear to ensure that it stays in place during workouts. The arms of the A5i are bendable so you can adjust them to fit into your ear better. Also, the in-line control pod also comes with a clip attachment so you can secure the cable and stop it from swinging too much when you run. I realised that I hold on to the cable of my cheapskate earphones when I run, so that it will not keep slapping me, but I don’t have that problem with the A5i. The cables are made with Kevlar to reduce incidence of tangling – there is some degree of tangling but it’s definitely not as bad as the average ones on the market.

The A5i is waterproof (note: not just water resistant) which means you can run it under the tap after your workout to wash off the sweat. I also like how lightweight the A5i is, just 19g altogether, including the three-button remote clip. This remote is for music and voice control, with a directional microphone so you can make phone calls. However, the remote only works with Apple devices – hence the “i” in its name. Quality of the earphones is not affected if used with an android, but that the remote will be rendered useless. Uh huh, I am an android user, so the A5i can only be used purely for listening to music. I have to control the volume via my Samsung phone/non-Apple music device and I can’t use this as a earpiece. Thankfully the superior quality of the music compensates for that!

Summary: The A5i is tangle-resistant, waterproof, lightweight and gives a secure fit in the ear, but it’s Apple-biased so I can’t use the remote. Only available in lime green and magenta, there should be more vibrant colours!

R6i (S$129)

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Launched at the end of March, the R6i is still pretty new on the market. It is made from aluminium and elastomer, thus being lightweight and comfortable. Replacing the S4i at the same price points, the R6i is part of the Reference line which offers Klipsch’s acclaimed acoustic engineering in a sleek package. The design is sophisticated and simplistic, in colours either black or white. White looks classier but I chose black because I don’t want to risk dirtying the white one.

The patented oval ear tips come in four different sizes so you can find the one that fits your ear canal best. Cabling is flat for added strength and tangle resistance. I use this for non-sports activities (since I have the A5i for sports) such as when I need to transcribe interviews via voice recordings or listening to music at night when everyone else is asleep.

The sound quality is amazing – I am no acoustic expert but I am impressed. This is apparently the Klipsch signature sound (high efficiency, low distortion and wide dynamic range) produced by a 6.5mm dual magnet micro-speaker in it. Noise cancellation is fantastic, making me feel like I’m in my own world with everything else blocked out.

A three-button remote and microphone on the R6i, like the one on the A5i, is again only for Apple devices. There is the R6 which is for android – exactly the same as the R6i, just without the remote. Likewise, I use the R6i just for listening to music since I can’t use the remote.

Summary: I love the sleek design and it has awesome sound quality. Again, it would be better if the remote could work for android.

Now that I have premium earphones, I realise how significant sound quality can be for the songs I listen to as I run. However, the good sound quality and noise reduction of these Klipsch earphones mean I have to lower the volume so I can listen out for dangers. I would recommend getting both, each for its own purpose, but if you have to choose one, go for the A5i if you are a fitness buff like me.