It seems that just about every headphone manufacturer on the planet has entered the true wireless space with a sweet spot of about $250 as the median cost for a solid set of buds with active noise canceling. Legendary audio brand Klipsch has come to market with a pair of earphones positioned to disrupt the category on some levels with new integrated Dirac technology and Bragi gesture controls and overall comfort and fit superiority.
As you might expect with a brand like Klipsch, the pricing is on the premium side for the category at $299, and many might argue that you can do better for the money. Still, we are not talking about a dramatic difference, maybe $20-$50 across the competitive set.
So let's dive into what makes these buds great, ok, and not so great - starting with the aesthetics, build, fit, and comfort.
Design, Build, and Comfort
The first thing one might compare on the design side is that the case looks like a classic Zippo lighter - side flip top and all. The colors are all metallic (silver, copper, gunmetal) with a metallic feel, along with a rubberized bottom, a well-designed beefy case overall, and one of the sturdier ones we have ever come across. The charging port is in the back, and the cable is USB-C natively but comes with a USB-A adaptor which is great for those not fully vested into the USB-C ecosystem yet. If you have a Qi-enabled pad, you can wirelessly charge the buds/case, and small LED lights indicate your charge level - nothing out of the ordinary, but the wireless charging option is pretty cool.
The earbuds themselves are on the larger side of the spectrum, and the size helps with overall fit without the anticipated weight you might assume comes with a bigger earpiece. You also get six pairs of color-coded ear tips to fit almost any ear type, and this mix of larger and lighter bud with just the right fit makes a huge difference in comfort, seal and fit stability. So bravo on this design; nailed it!
However, suppose you are looking for a pure workout earbud. In that case, you will still encounter the occasional "drop out" moment, and overall this category just doest work great for intense workouts, in our opinion, unless you have ear hooks.
Each earbud features buttons built into the panels, each side with its own set of functionality.
Left - Single Press moves between ANC on/off and transparency mode - so think left means sound. When listening to music, this side also handles volume controls.
Right - Playback control - pause, skip, back up, etc. You also control your calls on this side.
The app allows you to customize, but frankly, we were ok with the controls how they were, and they work well - much better than touch-sensitive controls - keeping it tactile was a great move.
Gesture Controls - Just not our thing, some people will like the ability to nod and take a phone call, but we prefer to keep it simple and just use the buttons on the side.
Water Resistant - The IPX4 rating is standard here, fine with sweat or some light rain - submerse them, and it's curtains.
Pro Tip - Dry off your buds before you put them back in the case; this is a sure-fire way to build up corrosion and shorten the life of your gear.
Klipsch Connect App - The app works on iOS and Android and provides you with a quick control center for your buds, including ANC, EQ, Dirac on/off, Bragi on/off, and serves as the update conduit for firmware updates to your buds. Overall the app functions well and is pretty intuitive, a handy interface to dial in your experience for sure.
The guts of the Klipsch feature 5.8mm dynamic drivers that do the job with a freq range of 10Hz to 19kHz and work with BT 5.0, AAC, SBC but not the AptX codec, which might bum some people out that are looking for more of an audiophile type of sound - which is not what these buds deliver anyway, so no big deal.
Battery Life - 7 Hours (good for TW buds overall) and 5 hours with ANC engaged with basically 3x charge up in the case.
How Do They Sound?
ANC - Let'svnot waste too much time here; the active noise canceling is decent but not stellar. There is still the familiar white noise hiss in quieter settings, and there are other buds out there that frankly do a better job of this. For most people, it will be fine unless you are looking for the absolute best - and it's not going to be found here.
Dirac - This technology is pretty cool and is basically audio software designed to beef up the sound overall from soundstage to clarity to quality. For those who prefer a more natural sound that's less colored and vibrant, you will probably end up turning this off. However, for the average listener who likes exciting, bigger, richer, punchier sound, you will love this feature, and this is the only bud you can currently get it in that we are aware of. More info Here
EQ (in-app) - The app lets you mess with your sound and get it just how you like it and also features presets to help point you in the right direction. You can drive these buds pretty hard with not much distortion at higher volume and lower bass, but then you are in the dangerous decibel levels and risk hearing loss.
Sound - We tested these buds with our usual array of hip hop, electronic, indie rock, jazz, and cinematic. The Dirac tech managed to punch up genres like hip hop, electronic, and indie and made softer genres feel a bit wider and more precise, and we had successful results with the EQ.
Overall the sound of these buds is quite good on their own; with the customization in the app, you should be able to find your sweet spot. Nothing falls back or is too dominant; the T5 II True Wireless ANC allows you to tool the headphones to the style of music you are listening to, which will be pretty suitable for most listeners., If you are an audiophile, you might be able to tweak it to your tastes, but the true wireless category is not your best bet.
Phone Calls - The performance of the buds on a call was solid but not game-changing. We were able to do calls successfully, but this functionality is not a core strength. So if you are going to be doing a lot of conference calls, you might consider the Airpods Pro.
Head to the Klipsch Website for more info.
If you are looking for well-balanced, bright, and exciting sound that is customizable, The Klipsch T5 II True Wireless ANC Earphones are a good choice. The fit, tactile controls, battery life, and case are all excellent. If ANC is a priority for you, you might try BOSE QuietComfort buds. If you are a pure audiophile, head on over to Audeze
- Colored and exciting sound, lots of tweaking ability with EQ/Dirac
- Comfort and fit are excellent for the category
- Great Case
- App + Tactile controls on buds
- ANC is just ok
- The price might deter some
- Gesture controls, just not our thing