As the truly wireless earbuds market continues to grow at a rapid pace, we’re seeing more heritage brands jump into the mix. Audio engineering masters like Sennheiser and Master & Dynamic have set the bar high for sound on these Bluetooth in-ear monitors, while Apple and Jabra remain atop of the category with intelligible, good-sounding models that remain hot sellers.
Now it’s time to see what legendary sound pioneer Klipsch has to offer us with the T5 True Wireless Earbuds. Packing signature Klipsch audio and contemporary features into a sleek, old-school design that’s beautifully stored in a handsome charging case, these buds have the makings of a market leader. If only they performed as well across the broad.
Klipsch’s audio lineup has always appealed to audiophiles with an affinity for retro aesthetics. The T5 True Wireless is no different, with a sharp, minimalist design that exudes nostalgic swagger.
Each bud is constructed from IPX4-rated matte black plastic for water-resistant protection, and features copper accents with the brand logo laser-etched on the front. The overall design should have a striking effect on retro-tech fans. More so, the accents add a lavish touch that shine in any environment. Build quality is sturdy as well, meaning that you can drop the buds on occasion and not worry about breaking them.
But the real star of the show is the Zippo lighter-inspired charging case. Beautifully crafted, from the brushed metal finish to the flip-top lid, it’s only natural to gaze at it for several minutes during the unboxing. Strong magnets and the hefty lid keep the buds safely stored between charges. Just make sure your hands aren’t greasy or oily because the case draws fingerprints like crazy.
In the box are several accessories, including a USB-C charging cable, USB Type-A adapter and two extra pairs of ear tips. That’s more than what Apple offers and is on a par with other premium brands like Sennheiser. Black is the only color available, but we’d love to see Klipsch get creative with bolder colorways; Navy Blue or White with copper accents would be hot.
Comfort and Fit
Despite its IPX rating, the T5 True Wireless is made purely for leisure listening, not exercising. I learned this the hard way, as the buds fell out multiple times during runs. When I was moving at a moderate pace or planted on my couch, they offered a good amount of comfort.
Much of this can be attributed to the tube-long sound port, which makes sliding the buds into the ear canal seamless. This also prevents the cavity from adding unwanted pressure to the concha, depending on your ear shape. The only time your ears might feel uncomfortable is when you are pressing the buttons which pushes the buds into your ear. Also, bear in mind that the buds’ thick exterior makes them stick out.
Klipsch’s silicone ear tips feel gentle on the skin and remain secure when speed walking through foot traffic. Whether the seal completely blocks out ambient sound is a different story. Noise isolation is subpar at best with about 60% of environmental fracas seeping into the soundscape.
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The T5s are just as light as the Momentum True Wireless, which weigh 0.2 ounces. However, the Klipsch’s lovely carrying case is noticeably heavier at 3.4 ounces.
Klipsch kept the control scheme simple for the T5, employing an oval button at the front of each bud to execute multiple functions. It’s a unique setup that requires some practice to master, but works well, apart from the volume controls. You’ll discover firsthand that holding down the buttons to raise or lower sound isn’t pleasant on the ears.
The right bud manages most playback and call management: Play/pause/answer call (1x press), volume up (long press), and forward track/end call/send to voicemail (2x press). The left bud has a shorter command list: enable digital assistant/mute call (1x press), lower volume (long press), and skip back (2x press). Both buttons are responsive and offer solid tactility. On the other hand, I feel Klipsch missed out on an opportunity to incorporate contemporary features like touch controls; the thick casing at the top of the buds could have benefited from a touch panel with slide gestures for volume.
The T5 True Wireless delivers on the audio end. I enjoyed crisp, full-bodied sound with punchy bass that lent itself to most, if not, all music genres. Klipsch’s sound profile can come off boomy at times, especially at loud volumes, but it doesn’t affect vocal clarity.
The buds’ bass-forward sonics were on full display when blasting A Tribe Called Quest’s “Excursions,” as the dominant and rhythmic bass line triggered emphatic head-nods on the train. Most earbuds struggle to highlight the record’s jazzier elements, like the pounding drum-breaks and soulful horns, but these buds were up to the task and made them transparent without compromising tonality. I’ve enjoyed similar performance in the past from the Momentum True Wireless — but not the AirPods.
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Roy Orbison’s “Ride Away” demonstrated how well the T5 True Wireless could handle frequency differentiation. It’s a simple and ingeniously-produced record with the right amount of lows, mids, and highs present, which the buds reproduce with precision. Folk-rock classics like Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence (Acoustic Version)” also showcased the buds sound depth, leaving me immersed in the audience as the duo’s delicate harmonies echoed throughout the performance space.
Audio takes a slight hit when listening outdoors. As previously mentioned, environmental rumblings blend into musical backdrops. This is where Klipsch’s soon-to-launch companion app could have played a pivotal role, allowing users to tweak the EQ for personalized sound.
Digital Assistant Support
Klipsch claims the T5 True Wireless supports the big three: Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. However, I was only able to test the latter due to pairing issues. It’s also unclear whether the buds require the Klipsch app to enable Alexa.
Other than that, the voice controls operate smoothly on these buds. Google Assistant registers and responds to commands quickly. The integrated mics do an excellent job with speech recognition. However, I found the volume uncomfortably high when receiving responses, and lowering it didn’t fix the problem.
One major benefit of the T5 True Wireless is battery life, which is rated at 8 hours on a single charge. The charging case holds another 24 hours. This places the buds higher than the AirPods (5 hours) and Elite Active 65t (5 hours), and in the same stratum as current battery leader, the Powerbeats Pro (9 hours, 24 hours w/ charging case).
During my testing, the buds tapped out around 7.5 hours, providing close to 3 to 4 days of wireless listening. I ran through several Spotify playlists, Skyped with friends, and watched a few YouTube clips before tossing them in the case. Speaking of which, the charging case does offer fewer recharges than the AirPods case, but even so, it has fast charging to get you 2 hours of listening time in 15 minutes.
Additionally, you’ll want to monitor the battery levels because it often shares the wrong percentage; my test unit would still claim 100% battery after several hours of use.
Call Quality, Connectivity, and Setup
Calls on the T5 True Wireless sound loud and clear – maybe too clear. My girlfriend would notice background noises such as keyboard clatter and our droning air conditioner. She still heard me, but vocals were more transparent in silent settings.
As great as they sound, the buds have some of the poorest connectivity I’ve tested on a pair of wireless buds. The left bud struggled to sync with my smartphone, and when it finally connected, stuttered at a horrendous rate. Only after an hour of listening did the connection stabilize, but there was still some unexpected dropout.
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Pairing the T5 True Wireless is no different than any other pair of Bluetooth headphones. Unfortunately, I can only share my experience on Android since the buds refused to pair with my MacBook and required a code, which I searched for throughout the entire packaging to no success. At least the buds T5 instantly connected to my Google Pixel 3 XL.
Turning on the device (hold each button for 3 seconds) automatically enables Pair Mode, but you can also do this by pressing the right earbud 3x while in the case. After that, enable Bluetooth on your media device, search for “Klipsch T5 True Wireless” and select it.
The $199 Klipsch T5 True Wireless carries all the tropes associated with old-school premium audio equipment: it’s well built, looks great, and sounds amazing.
In an era where contemporary designs set trends, these buds boast an O.G. presence that stands out with a clean, mature look. The audio is even more striking, with a well-balanced soundstage highlighted by crisp mids and thumping lows. Long battery life also makes it a better long-term listening solution than the AirPods.
However, to say the T5 True Wireless is better than Apple or Jabra’s models would be a stretch, as its shortcomings factor heavily into its overall value. There’s no denying the beautiful craftsmanship of the charging case, but, speaking realistically here, it’s an inconvenient carry that serves (and looks) better as a luxe paperweight than a travel companion. Connectivity issues also push these buds towards second-tier status.
Still, the T5 True Wireless is a handsome, great-sounding pair of truly wireless earbuds that’s worth checking out, if you can deal with its erratic performance.