This review is for the McLaren special edition Klipsch T5 II True Wireless ANC, which has a few extra features above the basic model. They offer some unique features and concepts, but they’re up against very stiff competition. Klipsch also makes headphones, in case you didn’t know. The American company is most known for its speakers and soundbars, but it also makes genuine wireless earbuds.
Klipsch’s earphones haven’t always lived up to expectations. In fact, they’re now on the decline, having dropped from four stars for the T5 True Wireless to three for the T5 II ANC.
Klipsch T5 II True Wireless ANC McLaren
- Fit is snug and comfy.
- Looks that are distinct
- Controls based on physical contact
Klipsch’s design has remained consistent from the T5 True Wireless to the T5 II ANC, and it’s a look that’s a bit different from other true wireless earbuds on the market.
The antenna, processors, and batteries are contained in the main housing, while a six-mic sound system and 5.8mm dynamic speaker are housed in the short stem that lies in the ear canal. The ergonomics of the buds allow them to glide into the ear, giving them a small appearance.
I’ve never had a problem with my comfort. Most of the time, I didn’t even realise they were in my ears. Because of how comfortable they are, I’ve had to double-check that one earbud hasn’t slipped out on a few occasions. The kit includes six pairs of Klipsch’s proprietary curved ear-tips (in an oval shape) for customising the fit. The buds are also quite comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The T5 II ANC’s usage of physical buttons for controls is another reassuring feature. All that’s required are taps or holds, with an audio notice after each action is performed. Beyond a single push, the basic control scheme is a little difficult to memorise, and function isn’t duplicated across the earbuds. A single touch on the right begins or ends playing, while a single press on the left activates active noise cancellation or the Transparency mode.
A double or triple-press on the left adjusts volume, while a hold on the right activates the voice assistant on your smartphone (s). The Klipsch Connect app allows you to customise the controls, however only the left-hand side may be changed.
The charging case is designed to look like a Zippo lighter, with a flip-up cover that reveals the earbuds within. Because this is a McLaren special edition, the casing is designed to look like a grooved Formula 1 slick tyre (hopefully it lasts longer than those Pirellis).
The casing, like the earbuds, is finished in McLaren’s racing black and papaya colours. A three-LED indicator on the inside displays the case’s battery life, the light of which can be seen from the outside, and a USB-C connector is located around the back. It certainly lives up to its limited-edition status.
- Battery life is average.
- ANC is sufficient in its effectiveness.
- Gesture control is an intriguing concept.
The T5 II ANC’s battery life isn’t great, with 5 hours per earphone and 15 hours overall with ANC switched on. With it off, that climbs to 7 and 21 the case provides three additional charges. However, compared to Klipsch’s competitors, that’s a bargain, and I found myself charging the earbuds frequently.
With ANC turned on, the T5 II ANC produces less sound than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, which cost £50 less at the time of review. However, a wireless charging plate is included for good measure. According to Klipsch, the McLaren version incorporates NuCurrent technology, which lets the case to charge twice as quickly.
The Klipsch earbuds offer Bluetooth 5.0 wireless communication, but only up to AAC audio quality, which is a rather disappointing development. When I strolled through the station’s concourse in Victoria, I had a couple signal stability difficulties, with the signal becoming choppy before ultimately correcting itself.
Six beamforming microphones were used to pick up and isolate speech, and they did a good job of capturing my voice. The person on the other end of the call, on the other hand, said that the T5 II ANC was sensitive to background noise, to the point that they couldn’t hear me over the din. This is, in my opinion, the industry standard for real wireless call quality; thus, if call quality is a top priority, Jabra’s Elite 7 Pro are superior.
There’s also Bragi Moves, in addition to the (kind of) configurable touch controls. I’d never heard of it before, but after giving it a try, I thought it to be a fun and unique feature. It’s a gesture-controlled, hands-free experience that allows the user to control the earphones with their head movement.
So, within a few seconds of a music playing, a shake of the head switches to another. And it works great, although I guess I’ll get a few funny stares on the way to work. It’s a fascinating experiment in trying something new.
I’d say the active noise suppression is sufficient. The T5 II ANC’s performance focuses on reducing bass frequencies and ambient noise during travels, and the tight fit really helps. In that sense, I found it really useful on buses and trains.
It cannot, however, block larger, stronger noises from being heard nearby, particularly those in the mid-range (voices) and higher frequencies (the latter is an area in which all wireless earphones struggle). They’re fine, but there are cheaper ANC earbuds that can perform a better job, such as the Beats Fit Pro. The Transparency option works well, piping in sounds with clarity and detail; nevertheless, there is some noise to cope with.
The Klipsch Connect app was practically forgotten. It may take two attempts to load the app (it frequently hangs on the first attempt), but once inside, there are battery life icons, EQ (custom and preset choices), and the standard range of settings.
- Sound that is well-balanced
- The dynamism is excellent.
- Bass output as measured
Dirac HD processing is included in the Klipsch T5 II ANC McLaren Sport version. Dirac is a Swedish firm that specialises in audio correction for home theatre. It’s “tuned” its learnings into the mobile sector in recent years, invading headphones like the Sudio E2, Cleer Audio Alpha, and Monolith M1000ANC.
Instead of translating audio into 3D, their work with Klipsch focuses on improving it. The goal is to improve the sound of the headphones by “adjusting impulse and magnitude frequency response,” as well as staging, clarity, and bass, among other things.
What does it sound like? At first, it seemed strange. When I first turned it on and off, I couldn’t decide which version of Janelle Monae’s Can’t Live Without Your Love I liked. The non-Dirac HD version had sharper voices but sounded smaller, but the compensated version provided additional depth and organisation to the background textures. With more testing, Dirac HD emerges as the obvious winner, with a richer tone and a broader soundstage.
With whatever I’m playing, the Klipsch provides a controlled delivery. When TNGHT’s Higher Ground is pushed through them, the sound is comfortably smooth, and the mid-bass and bass performance is handled with care. These aren’t headphones for heavy bass.
High frequencies have a sharpness, understanding, and clarity that is efficiently communicated. Treble, like bass, has a polished and balanced component to it; nevertheless, I found that this technique resulted in a more cohesive soundstage and a more listenable sound overall.
The Klipsch have grown on me as I’ve listened to them more. They have a good talent for voices, both male and female, that are rendered with convincing realism and boldness, powerful dynamism, and a sharp rhythmic ability. They can play a wide spectrum of music, and their sense of balance allows them to perform fluidly and gracefully.
It’s a consistently enjoyable performance, especially with Dirac HD turned on, which, once you’ve gotten used to it, becomes the only way to listen with these earbuds. I find it difficult to criticise Klipsch’s sound quality.
These Klipsch earbuds are a pricey set of limited-edition earphones that amaze in terms of sound quality and style, but not so much in terms of battery life and active noise cancellation. A few great features won’t make up for a lack of total value.