(Pocket-lint) - Despite being well known for invoking nostalgic memories of big wooden speaker cabinets and crackling vinyl, Klipsch is a brand that has adapted with the times. Its first pair of true wireless earbuds was such a great-sounding pair that it became one of our favourites for pure music enjoyment.
The second-generation - the aptly named Klipsch T5 II True Wireless - comes with lots of refinements in terms of design and performance, and also comes in two Sport models, one with exclusive McLaren F1 design. In this review, we're focusing on the regular model.
Design and build
- IP67 water- and dust-resistant
- Colours: White / Gunmetal
- Physical control button
- 6 pairs of oval tips
- Charging case
It's in the design department you'll notice the biggest difference between the T5 and the T5 II. Starting with the first thing you get to: the case. Thankfully, the main ethos remains same, as it still looks friggin' cool - almost like a chunky Zippo lighter. It's smaller and thinner than the previous version, but there's a solidity and durability to it. It feels like it might hurt you if you dropped it on a toe, and gives a reassuring clank when you open and shut the lid.
As for the 'buds, these almost keep to the same essence too. It's a similar hard-to-describe shape, featuring a tapered oval design but, again, the second-gen is slimmer, smaller and lighter than the originals. That also means that in the non-Sport model, there's nothing holding these 'buds in your ears except for the redesigned oval silicone tip.
The tips extend out from underneath the main body in an unconventional design, but once stuck inside the entrance of our ear canal, we found the fit was secure and steady. These 'buds never felt like they'd fall out - and didn't gradually push their way out either. Since the silicon tips are soft and thin, they give just the right amount of pressure. In our ears, the pre-applied tips were the perfect fit, but the T5 II comes with six different sizes, so you should easily find a pair that works for you.
Another interesting change is that there's one single button on the outside, which depresses really easily to ensure that when you press, it gives easily and doesn't lead to that feeling that you're just pushing an earbud deeper into your ear. The button gives in once it feels even the remotest bit of resistance, which makes good sense.
Around the edge of that button is a metal collar, which makes up that outer surface. It's more than just decoration though, it's an external antenna to ensure there's nothing getting in the way of that connection between the 'buds and what you're connecting them to.
The main takeaway here is that the T5 II is a lightweight and secure package. Not so secure that we'd recommend using these in-ear in the gym or when out running, but that's what the Sport models are for instead.
Despite that, with an IP67 water- and dust-resistance rating, the 'buds should survive pretty much anything anyway. Whether inside your ears, or inside their own metallic bunker/charging case.
- 5mm dynamic moving coil micro speaker
- 10Hz - 19kHz frequency response
- EQ control
With frequency response as low as 10Hz, the 5mm drivers inside the Klipsch 'buds produce sound you wouldn't expect to hear from such small drivers. Of course, human hearing only really goes as low as 20Hz at a push - but it's that control at the lower end of the sound spectrum where these earphones definitely excel.
With the equaliser (EQ) set to its default flat mode, there's still plenty of bass, without it being overwhelming, but - more importantly - you still get clean and bright notes at the top end.
We love how acoustic bass drum kicks retain that feel of air moving around the kick pedal or inside the drum every time the skin is struck by the pedal. Or in songs like Hey Ma by Bon Iver, you get the full airy feel of the bass and mid notes swelling near the beginning or, later on, the muted bass note plucking. What's more, in that same track, the subtle percussive noises are clear without dominating the primary elements of the track.
The Klipsch T5 II is adept at tackling any genre of music, and will give you the right feel from those acoustic songs, but is sonically strong with more synthesised tracks too. Crank up Leon's Better in the Dark and enjoy the way the bass sounds when the synth and bass drum strike at the same time, without crumbling.
Of course, you can adjust the EQ, so if you need even more bass you can get it, but we found there was plenty from the default setting. In fact, we never felt the need to tweak the default sound profile. But it's nice of Klipsch to give that option for those users who have preferences.
Features, performance and calls
- 8 hours playback + 24 more hours in the case (32 hours total)
- Quad mic system for external noise cancelling during calls
- Bluetooth 5.0 + signal boosting external antenna
- Transparency mode
To get the first thing out of the way: there's no active noise-cancelling (ANC). An increasing staple feature in the world of premium in-ears, but we've often argued that with a good set of well-fitted in-ears, it's not as noticeable as it would be on over/on-ear cans. Passively, the T5 II does a good job of blocking out noise thanks to those soft tips.
Although ANC isn't a feature here, you do still get an audio transparency mode, which uses mics around the 'buds' casing to let in and amplify noise from around you. Using the Klipsch Connect app you can switch it on and select how much transparency you want - it works pretty well but isn't always all that effective once you have music playing.
It's also worth noting that the 'buds don't feature any automatic play/pause feature when you remove them from your ears. There's no proximity sensor for this, which is a bit of a shame.
On the plus side, you do get to pair the T5 II with up to eight different devices - although only one can be connected at a time.
With those external antennae doing their job, we found the wireless connectivity to be very strong. Walking from room to room and leaving the music source where it was, we struggled to make these in-ears drop connection. It's a similar story with voice calls: you get strong performance here as well, with calls coming through clearly.
As battery life goes, it's very unlikely you'll ever need to worry about it much. With a maximum of eight hours outside the case, thee T5 II will comfortably get you through your commute to work - well, when we all eventually return to work - and the case will keep recharging in the interim another four times over. That's well over a full day of non-stop listening time.
The first-generation Klipsch T5 was one of our favourite pairs of true wireless earbuds. The second generation takes what was great and refines it, making for a truly stunning pair of 'buds.
Sure, a few advanced features might be absent - there's no proximity sensors or active noise-cancelling - but in all the ways that matter, the T5 II performs really well. For music lovers, at this price, you'll struggle to find anything that sounds better or packaged in as neat and stylish a product.
If you love music, we think you'll love the sound produced by the Klipsch T5 II. There's little to rival the quality on offer here.
Grado has a similar approach to Klipsch - in that it's all about the sound - and the T220 sounds fantastic. In fact our first listen left our jaw on the floor, it was that good. It has some downsides though, like a finicky design and sensitive touchpad.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
If you want all the bells and whistles in a great sounding pair of buds, Bose has the ones for you. QC Buds have excellent noise-cancelling, great sound overall, plus a comfortable and secure fit.