I was pretty impressed with the Klipsch T5 True Wireless earbuds when they first came out, but of course, at that point in time, Klipsch still had improvements to make. Well, the T5 II True Wireless ANC earbuds now are definitely improved, but is it improved enough to be worth the extra cash?
So, let’s talk design. Klipsch’s T5 earbuds have always been pretty recognisable thanks to the zippo-like charging case, and it’s retained that case for the T5 II ANC. The case itself is pretty hefty, thanks to the metal construction on the outside. That being said, you do get a rubber pad on the bottom to allow for wireless charging, which is nice. The case is now polished instead of brushed, which I’m actually not that big a fan of. It’s super easy to see smudges and fingerprints on this case now as opposed to the brushed metal one for the original T5.
That being said, the case still feels pretty premium in the hand; opening the lid is easy and it snaps close with a satisfying sound. Opening the lid, you get the earbuds inside and three LEDs that indicate the charge level of the case.
As for the earbuds, they look super sleek, the gunmetal ones I have right now at least. Everything is matte, so you don’t have to worry about fingerprints or smudges and these are still using physical buttons, which means no false inputs. They also sit pretty securely in the ear, affording a decent amount of passive noise isolation. Higher pitched noises like the sound of a keyboard are still relatively audible though.
With these, there are quite a few features, so you’ll want to download the Klipsch Connect app. Something a little interesting is that during the setup process, you’ll even be asked what colour your earbuds are so that it accurately reflects on the main page. Pretty cool. On the main page, you also get indicators for battery life in each earbud, an EQ feature, a toggle for ANC or transparency mode, settings and an interactions button. Something that annoys me though, is that whenever I swipe up out of the app and then go back in, the app registers as having disconnected from the earbuds, so I need to wait for it to reconnect. It’s just a bit of an inconvenience having to wait for that three or four seconds.
Moving on, Interactions is pretty cool, because these earbuds actually have Bragi tech, which means you can nod your head to pick up calls or shake your head to reject them. There’s also a beta feature where you can shake your head to skip tracks. It’s fun and all, but only when you’re alone at home. I can’t see myself really using this when I’m out and about because… well, personally I wouldn’t want to constantly be shaking my head to skip tracks when people are around me.
Something else that’s pretty nice is that there’s this “Sidekicks” option in the ANC / Transparency menu that allows you to choose whether you want ANC to be activated when listening to music or not, if you do, Transparency mode kicks in when music is paused. There’s also an option to automatically turn on Transparency mode when you’re on calls, which is useful.
Additionally, in the interactions tab, you can customise what each button press does. By default, a single press on the left toggles between ANC on, off and Transparency. A double press raises music volume and a triple press lowers the volume. On the right, a single press is play/pause while a press and hold pulls up the voice assistant. Double press to skip tracks forward and triple press to skip tracks backwards. Pretty decent. I’m glad Klipsch has volume controls here, it always makes me happy when I’m trying out earbuds with it.
As for EQ, you get a six-bar EQ here, but there are also presets for bass, treble, vocals, rock, podcast and custom. Most of my testing was done with the EQ turned off. That being said, Klipsch has another trick up their sleeve, and that’s Dirac HD sound. Dirac is essentially a sound optimiser. If you’ve set up speakers at home before, you might have used Dirac. While I was a bit disappointed that the Dirac HD inclusion here is simply a toggle and not an actual adjustment based on your ears, turning it on does make music sound much better.
These are running on Bluetooth 5.0, which is fine, but they only support SBC and AAC, which is incredibly odd since the non-ANC version actually has aptX. Bit of a disappointment really, especially since Klipsch included Dirac and you’d assume they’d care about people who want better sound quality, but yeah. The earbuds can be used individually though, which is nice.
Battery life is kinda middle of the pack. Klipsch says you get five hours with ANC turned on and seven without, and I typically got slightly over four hours with ANC on, so kinda accurate there, but it’s still not fantastic when compared to other earbuds like the Sony XM4 with their stated eight hours, which turned out closer to seven hours for me. But yeah, four hours is okay. It’s not fantastic, but it’s not terrible either. You do get another three charges in the case for a total of around 20 hours with ANC on or 28 hours with ANC off, and as I mentioned earlier, there’s wireless charging which is nice.
There’s IPX4 water resistance, which is actually a downgrade from the T5 II non-ANC model’s IP67. But anyway, it holds up to sweat and the likes, although you’ll probably wanna go for something that sits a bit more securely in the ear if you’re looking for a pair of exercise earbuds. Perhaps something like the Klipsch T5 II True Wireless Sport earbuds instead, with the IP67 rating for both the case and earbuds and that stabilising fin.
As for ANC, it’s just average. It does effectively remove the humming from fans, and even reduces car rumble and the likes quite well. Of course, higher-pitched sounds as I’ve mentioned aren’t quite muffled, but overall, I’d say the performance here is not too bad.
Microphone quality is pretty decent. There are six beamforming mics, three on each earbud, and my voice does come across clearly when on calls and such without picking up too much background noise. Something to note is that microphone quality was noticeably worse on an iPhone compared to an Android phone for some reason.
Coming to sound quality, that’s definitely another area where the T5 II ANC shines. You get plenty of oomph in the bass, which is definitely a more consumer-friendly tuning. Unfortunately, the mids do feel a bit cluttered, with deeper male vocals and instruments feeling a bit recessed. Despite that though, it’s still relatively clear, and it’s the typical Klipsch sound with a slightly more emphasised treble, which results in female vocals performing quite well here.
Soundstage is as good as you’ll get from true wireless earbuds, although imaging is pretty accurate. Instrument layering could be a touch better though, I think. Overall though, there’s plenty of clarity, and if you’re not particularly happy with any one part of the mix, it’s tunable via the EQ feature.
All in all, I’d say that if you like the design of the case and earbuds, and you’re looking for something that has ANC and that sounds good, it might be worth forking out the US$299 or S$449.