Klipsch T5 II True Wireless ANC Earphones Review
Matthew Jens tries out this new true wireless active noise-cancelling in-ear monitor…
T5 II True Wireless ANC Earphones
USD $299 RRP
Sometimes, you've just got to draw a line in the sand. Indeed some great concepts literally started as lines in the sand. Take the very first Land Rover, for example. Its humble beginning was nothing more than a bloke with a stick, sketching in the sand on a beach. For Klipsch, t hough, it has a different meaning.
This company released the original T5 true wireless in 2019, and the market greeted it with favourable reviews for its sound quality and sub-Sennheiser pricing. Since then, Klipsch has tweaked, chopped and changed the T5, releasing an updated model, a sports version, and even a McLaren edition. Now, the T5 is a sleek, upgraded, battle-ready veteran of the field, bursting at the seams with technology…
Should this be where the company stops and calls it a day? In this review, I am asking if the new T5 ii ANC is the best it possibly can be – or should Klipsch head back to the drawing board yet again?
I'll cut straight to the chase here. The included charging case is the best I've seen on a true wireless release to date. It's entirely made from metal, built to seemingly impossibly tight tolerances, and topped off with a brushed finish. Did I mention it also charges wirelessly and comes in several different colours? True, it is still prone to scratches, but like the Zippo lighter it resembles, the scratches bring out character. This is in stark contrast to the unsightly wounds that inevitably turn up on firm plastic cases (looking at you, Apple).
The phenomenal build doesn't just stop there; it continues to the buds themselves. Weighing in at 5.5 grams and with a sleek contoured design, the buds boast a lightweight and aerodynamic aesthetic, unlike the case, which is almost 80 grams. Thanks to their contoured lines, they provide an excellent fit. Even without the grippy ear hooks of their sportier cousin (the T5 II sport), they maintain a decent fit when running or boxing, with only minor readjustments, required every so often.
Klipsch has once again adopted its trademarked oval-shaped ear tips, which come in a plethora of sizes. Once you have selected the appropriate size, they attach to the bud with a positive click. This system brings a welcome change to my usual routine of smushing earbud tips on and hoping that they have been correctly fitted. You cannot get it wrong with these, and applying the tips is both satisfying and confidence-inspiring.
While I'm gushing, let's talk about control. Thankfully, there are no touch panels here, just one large, solid tactile button on each bud. The left is customisable, and the right does the obvious stuff, such as track skipping or answering calls. They are big and difficult to miss, even in the heat of an urgent moment, such as answering a call when you're on the move.
The subtle use of lighting on the T5 ii ANC is brilliant. One large LED sits atop the crown of each bud to indicate its charging or connection status. On the case, three indicators tell you when the unit is charging or how much battery is remaining. The buds are IP67 rated, which means they have solid water and dust protection. Interestingly, this means that the T5 ii ANC has a better seal than the rugged IP64 rating that its energetic sibling (the T5 Sport) boasts.
The T5 ii ANC also has an array of tech which Bragi provides, such as head movement gestures, which allows you to answer or silence calls by either nodding or shaking your head. To be honest, I would feel a bit silly using this in public. In private, I would be paranoid about accidentally misusing the gestures; I'd hate to accidentally hang up a call from someone just because I turned my head.
Bragi has also brought some excellent quality of life features to the T5 ii, such as a noise shield function that avoids loud sounds when the earphones are in transparency mode. In reality, this worked well; when a massive gust of wind beckoned, Bragi kicked in to stop a howling in my ears.
The cleverness doesn't just stop there. The Bragi co-lab has also enabled a six-band EQ, customisable action buttons, and a feature to hear your voice when you're on the phone – which sounds weird on paper, but hearing your voice is essential when making calls.
Battery life was hit or miss. Mostly hit because when the T5 charged adequately, it would last several uses without requiring a charge; miss because when I didn't align the magnets properly, my buds would deplete inside the case without charging. It only happened a few times, but it was enough to make me careful when putting the buds away.
Pairing the T5 ii ANC with my trusty Galaxy Z Fold 3 and iPad Pro, I set about to determine if Klipsch had nailed the sound this time around. Interestingly, the T5 ii ANC touts having “tuning by DIRAC” - a huge selling point for an enthusiast like me. After all, I use DIRAC on my home hi-fi system too, which has me placing microphones in all sorts of weird positions to get my system tuned automatically and sounding great.
One would assume then that the implementation of DIRAC on a pair of earphones would involve active tuning, akin to the likes of the Nuraphone. But alas, this is not the case; in this scenario, DIRAC is a toggle in the Klipsch app that allows for a particular optional pre-made tuning to be applied. I found the optional DIRAC tuning to be pretty much mandatory in terms of sound quality; it sounds suspiciously disastrous with it turned off!
Starting by taking things gently, I sunk my teeth into Without You by Low Roar. It's a soft, delicate, deep track with tons of micro-detail, wet and dry samples, and a haunting vocal accompaniment. The T5 ii ANC performed admirably with the subtle track, showing a dip in the lower mids that helped bring the vocals in the upper midrange to the forefront, with only the slightest hint of ringing at the loudest parts. All of the gentle, subtle samples floated through the 5.8mm drivers with authority.
The DIRAC tuning is not just the icing on the cake here, but the entire desert. Switching the tuning setting off muffled the vocal elements, dimmed the crisp piano notes, and rounded off the treble. I then tried out Van Gogh Effect from the new Bugzy Malone album to pick up the pace a little. One thing became immediately apparent: the T5 ii ANC has a bass response that means serious business. It blows the AirPods Pro out of the water in this department, and bass quantity is almost on par with the thunderous Bowers & Wilkins BI7.
However, it would be remiss not to mention that the bass response is remarkably tip and fit dependent. The T5ii can absolutely slam, but unless you have the fit just so, the low end will rapidly evaporate. But once you have that excellent seal, you'll get a lively, energetic sound signature with dollops of bass and detail. It's worth spending a bit of time on getting the fit spot on.
Klipsch has implemented a double microphone hybrid design to deliver as much noise cancelling as possible. The result is adequate; not as noise-stifling as the venerable AirPods pro, but better than the current Audio-technica equivalent. The cancellation audio range is mainly in the sub frequencies, so expect to hear traffic and people talking if you have it enabled.
Transparency mode is much of the same story, being sufficient for what it needs to be. It's certainly helpful that the Bragi 'sidekick' feature allows for phone calls to have transparency mode switched on automatically. Call quality is far above average; callers reported that I sounded “just fine”, and I could use the T5 ii ANC without having to tell my caller that I was using a hands-free device. Trust me, this segment is famous for terrible call quality, so consider this to be a huge plus in Klipsch's favour here. These sorts of small details make the Klipsch a massive favourite in the office scenario. Listen to music at your desk, but be able to answer calls as well. Very useful.
So is this new product worthy of Klipsch drawing a line in the sand and calling it a day? Well, if it were a few hundred bucks more, I would probably poke holes in the noise-cancelling ability, which isn't quite on par with the AirPods Pro or Sony offerings. But for its pricing, the Klipsch T5 ii ANC is one of the best you can get. Excellent sound, great features, and remarkable build – all the above make for an impressive product for the price.
Constantly keeping himself busy, Matthew is a production manager, Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, Head-Fi fanatic, coffee enthusiast and all-round cool Dad.
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