The dominance of Apple’s AirPods has one unquestionable benefit: it forces other manufacturers to be inventive and try out innovative concepts to compete with the omnipresent AirPods. The T5 II from Klipsch, tested here, are just such a case and are aimed specifically at water (and dust) loving hi-fi enthusiasts. Fully dust- and splash-proof, these True Wireless in-ears aim to be there for all those activities where Apple’s fancy white earphones would be out of place.
Accordingly confident, Klipsch place reference to the IP protection class 67 (for comparison: Apple’s AirPods 2 are only IP4X certified) on the packaging of their T5 II Wireless Sport, which means that these earphones are dustproof and protected against temporary submersion. Fans of outdoor activities will also be pleased with the eight hours of battery life and three charging cycles (= 24 hours of runtime) that the charging case provides. The case is of special importance because it contains a granulate that ensures that the in-ears stored in it are dried out or kept dry. If necessary, the water absorption capacity can be restored with two minutes in a microwave for the silicate container. If this regeneration capacity is finally exhausted, it should be replaced. However, the necessary replacement cassettes were not yet available in the manufacturer’s webshop at the time of our test. I would like to speculate that a small standard silica pad can probably also be used as an emergency solution here. But I’m already going too far into the practical side of things – first, we have to get to know these in-ears:
The Klipsch T5 II True Wireless Sport comes in a neat cardboard slipcase, with a message (hi-fi, tradition, quality, etc.) printed on the lid from the manufacturer addressing the proud new owner – personally, I still liked that a lot, despite a certain sense of routine. The small box contains the headphones, the charging case, a 50-centimetre-long, visually appealing USB-C textile cable including a USB-C to -A adapter. Furthermore, six pairs of ear moulds in different sizes from “Small” to “Large+” and three pairs of ear hooks are waiting to be tried on by the proud new owner.
That the T5 II is serious about the “Sport” part of its name is already evident from a glance at the charging case, which is equipped with a strong tension latch on the side that presses the lid tightly into a rubber lip all around, so that the earphones are airtight in the case. A small but nice detail: the case is equipped with a small carrying cord covered with the same textile pattern as the charging cable – nifty.
These in-ears slide into the charging case in the best poka-yoke (Japanese term for when things fit together in a unique way). The fact that the charging socket is positioned inside the box is not particularly elegant. However, this is probably due to water resistance because when the lid is closed, no moisture can reach the socket, but it has the disadvantage that the case must always be open when charging. Optionally, the box can also be charged on an induction charging surface (our test with a “Livboj” charging pad from Ikea was successful). The charging status is indicated by a three-segment LED strip on the case. The status of the in-ears (charging process, low battery status, Bluetooth pairing, etc.) is signalled with large LEDs on the back of the earpieces and also with the integrated voice output. The English-speaking female voice has what I thought was a fabulous spaceship-style on-board-computer diction, and I could easily imagine her saying “Self-destruction sequence initialized, please proceed to emergency capsules” in the same calm but authoritative tone of voice as “Bluetooth connected”.
These in-ears have a comprehensive set of commands (on/off, transparency mode, volume, media control, telephone call control), which can be accessed by pressing/holding down the round touch surfaces below the Klipsch logo on the backs of both earpieces. Klipsch rely here on a classic mechanical tactile contact and not on new-fangled touchless contact surfaces, which I personally found very pleasant, as each touch can be clearly felt mechanically.
Care should be taken when trying out the ear moulds and hooks because, without a tight seal in the ear canal, the T5 IIs sound miserable, as the whole sound concept is based on the build-up of effective dynamic pressure. Accordingly, they acknowledge even the slightest offset in tightness between the sides of the ear with a clearly shifted stereo image. But after a short time, one finds the right fit to use the earpieces confidently. For me, insertion diagonally from above has proved successful, followed by a slight rotation of the in-ears in the centre axis until the ear hooks slide under the fold of the earlobes. This sounds much more uncomfortable when written down than it is in practice. In fact, these Klipsch in-ears disappear almost completely into the ear and are supported from below by the antitragus. In any case, I was able to complete my light jog without the in-ears, which weigh just 12 grams, falling out. I also read online criticism of their fit – but this can be found with every in-ear because, as we all know, every ear is different. In any case, I could not identify any specific design feature on the T5 II that was so poorly conceived that it needed to be explicitly criticised. It is in the nature of things that after a while, there is a clear feeling of pressure at the contact points – that is simply the price you have to pay for the intimate close-up sound with in-ears. If you don’t want that, you have to go for an expensive ear mould, over-ears or bone-conduction earphones. Nevertheless, my experience – similar to that of breaking in shoes – is that in-ears fit more comfortably after a few days of wearing them than at the beginning. On the other hand, I can confirm one criticism made in the forum: The Bluetooth connection of these two in-ears is (for some unknown reason) unstable when talking on the phone (not when listening to music). As a result, the signal “wobbles” back and forth between both ears, which unfortunately makes making relaxed phone calls almost impossible.
First of all, it should be noted that in the test with my Samsung mobile phone, these in-ears agreed on aptX as a codec without further ado (also available: SBC and AAC) – which was very good.
After the T5 II True Wireless Sport have been placed as airtightly as possible in the ear canal, the listening test can begin. After the first few beats, I reached for the volume control on the left earpiece because these in-ears are already extremely powerful at the default volume. If necessary, the same button can be used to activate the so-called “transparency mode”. If it is active, the signal from the four integrated microphones (which, by the way, ensure excellent speech intelligibility at the other end of phone calls) is played back into the earphones so that you can detect your surroundings. Via the associated app “Klipsch Connect”, the level can still be individually controlled. However, I found this external noise feedback to be somewhat artificial because, especially with relatively consistent noises (wind, rain, engine noise), there are always differences between the left and right channels, which caused slight irritation in the perceived sound environment.
But back to the sound of the T5 II Sport, which makes it clear from the start that it wants the sound to be just as powerful and agile as its sporty target markets. In fact, these in-ears are very muscular: they are compact and powerful over the entire listening area. Klipsch has succeeded in creating a homogeneous overall sound. You may not necessarily like it, but the overall sound is very harmonious and coherent. The bass foundation is particularly impressive, as it hits the eardrum voluminously without being overblown or gimmicky. The midrange is punchy and present and does the main work in terms of loudness. The treble is well balanced and adds brilliance to the overall sound without being strained. Especially in the mids, however, the sound seems a bit roughened and “under pressure”, which contributes a lot to the overall sound impression, which seems less finely drawn and delicate and more robust and compressed – very sensitive music lovers might feel a bit jostled by this brash “rowdiness”, fans of a solid sound experience, on the other hand, might have fun with it.
A little fine-tuning can be applied to the sound with the app and its 5-band equaliser (60, 250, 1,000, 4,000, 10,000 Hz). To my ear, however, the labelling with +/- six decibels of level excursion in the respective bands is a bit exaggerated; realistically, one hears more like three decibels of frequency adjustment here.
With the Klipsch T5 II Wireless Sport, the name says it all; with their robust case and water- and dust-proof specification, they are ideal accessories for the rough and tumble of everyday outdoor life, from the beach to the mountains. The small earpieces support your workout with a physical and powerful sound that may not always bring out the last delicate subtlety from the music but is still fun to listen to. The decisive factor, however, is that these in-ears need to be firmly plugged into the ear canal of the user. This should not be a problem with the comprehensive selection of ear moulds and ear hooks included. Nevertheless, the physiognomy of the human ear varies, and there is no guarantee of a perfect fit. But that said – it’s a common operating risk when using in-ears. Where Klipsch could certainly improve would be with a firmware update with regard to the connection stability when making phone calls, which – quite in contrast to the music playback – was a bit shaky.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 19.000 Hz
- Weight without cable12.3 g; incl. case: 93 g
- Cable length50 cm
What's in the box
- 5 pairs of ear tips (different sizes)
- 3 pairs of earhooks (different sizes)
- USB-C cable
- USB-C to -A adapter
- Charging case
- available in black, white and green
- BT codecs: aptX, AAC, SBC
- BT version: 5.0
- BT profiles: A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6, HSP 1.2, HFP 1.7