Klipsch is the next audio company to jump on the bandwagon with true wireless earbuds. They already offered a sneak peak during the CES 2019 show in January, but is officially launched worldwide, starting with Singapore. On 18 June, Klipsch held a world premiere of the T5 True Wireless at Musica Boutique, ION Orchard Mall, to the media.
Klipsch T5 Series: World Premiere in Singapore
At the event, Vince “Vinny” Bonacorsi, Klipsch VP of Sales & Marketing for Asia Pacific, China, ANZ and Vlad Grodzinskiy, Klipsch Senior Manager of Product Development for Headphones, were present to launch the entire range of T5 lineup, which is competitively priced against the market.
Klipsch T5 True Wireless earphones retails at S$349, offers 8 hours of battery life from a single charge, additional 24 hours from its brush-metal charging case. Four cVc 8.0 (Clear Voice Capture) microphones delivers crystal clear calls and ambient noise reduction, Bluetooth 5.0 apt-X Qualcomm QCC3026 chipset for battery efficiency, USB-C charging, IPX4 water rating.
Klipsch T5 Neckband earphones (wireless) retail at S$219, offers 15 hours battery life, dual cVc microphones, Bluetooth 5.0, hand-switched leather band, aluminum controls.
Klipsch T5 Sport earphones (wireless) retail at S$199, delivering 10 hour battery life, IPX4 water rating, dual cVc microphones, Bluetooth 5.0, aluminum controls.
Klipsch T5M wired earphones retail at S$109 comes with all-new miniature aluminum single button-remote with braided fabric cabling, IPX4 water rating.
In partnership with Musica Boutique, the T5 series earphones will be available to consumers exclusively at the premium audio boutique (ION Orchard Mall, #04-26, next to Concierge) from now till 5 July.
All guests invited to the launch premiere walked away with their own personalised T5 True Wireless earbuds – they can choose to engrave any message on the brushed-metal case. TC Acoustic, the sole distributor of Klipsch in Singapore, added that customers on pre-order and new walk-ins could also enjoy free engraving subject to availability. I highly recommend getting the case engraved for yourself or for someone special, and get it done elsewhere if the service is no longer available.
Klipsch T5 True Wireless: Unboxing and Design
True wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds are a dime a dozen in the market, and brands find ways to differentiate theirs from the rest. Klipsch would have no issues with that, as the T5 True Wireless easily stands out. The design is so unique that they appeal to a rather specific segment of consumers.
The most outstanding element is that the charging case is styled like a Zippo lighter, where the lid opens sideways instead of front. The exterior case is made of die-cast zinc alloy and feels hefty, not for lightweight travellers. The earbuds have narrow long nozzle fitted with patented oval earbuds, while the body is shaped like a funnel with lightly coated matt silicone for optimal handling.
Each earbud as a single large button over the “Klipsch” logo. The button is not too stiff and responds with physical clicks so you know exactly what you press. While it may feel uncomfortable to push against the ears, I worked around by clicking at the further end of the button. The earbuds allow me to change tracks, adjust volume, trigger smart assistant, depending on which side of the earbud you click.
Pairing the Klipsch T5 True Wireless
Press-and-hold when the power is on does not turn off the earbuds, instead it will be factory-reset before powering off, hence the only way to power off is to dock it to the case. When the earbuds are removed from the case, they will be powered up immediately, if a nearby device is found, it will connect, else it will be in pairing mode automatically, ready to be paired.
On the Klipsch website, they also described 2 other methods of pairing the T5 True Wireless.
The USB-C charging port is located at the reverse side of the printed logo, so the charger can remain standing while the cable is in place. Case battery indicator is hidden between the gap of the cover. Interesting how Klipsch included a USB-C to USB-C cable with a USB-A to USB-C adapter. They are clearly forward-thinking with the charging accessories that are fully compatible with USB-C chargers.
Consumers who are very familiar with Klipsch audio signature will find no significant difference to the T5 True Wireless. What Klipsch aficionado – myself included – like about the headphones is its neutral tuning. The bass is not heavy nor prominent, while the treble is similarly not too transparent. The midrange delivers prominent details that are often drowned by the extreme audio spectrum in most other earbuds. The sound stage is comfortably close, with cohesive stereo imaging, no “room” effect, but the instruments do not sound cramped. When switching between the T5 True Wireless and the Creative Outlier Air, the latter delivers a brighter transparent treble and more prominent bass, while the mid-treble sounds a little pushy and midrange is thin.
Listeners who are used to a V-shaped frequency tuning (like the Sennheiser) would find the Klipsch T5 True Wireless veiled and flat. I can listen to the T5 True Wireless for hours without feeling fatigue, and the patented oval ear tips add to the comfort. They are good for musically-balanced listening, where you want to hear all the instrument mixes available. Instead of letting the earphones dictate which sounds to bring towards you (often the bass or the higher treble), your ears get to choose to pick up which musical parts to pay attention to. Headfiers looking for exciting sounds will feel underwhelmed.
While the sound is tuned for reference, I wouldn’t put the T5 True Wireless among the ranks of “reference” earphones, as I find there are some levels of audio compression depending on the demands of the audio (apt-X compresses audio at variable bitrates).
Runs and Workouts
The T5 True Wireless earbuds do not come with ear stabilizers to further secure them in the ears during workouts, but they seem to stay in the ears unless your ears sweat a lot. That’s actually not the main issue when wearing it for runs. The buttons rattle with each impactful step you take and that can be distracting, but like most workouts, once you get into the groove, the rattling will not be a primary annoyance.
Connectivity and Video Sync
The T5 True Wireless is engineered with the Qualcomm QCC3026 chipset, which technically supports TrueWireless Stereo (TWS) Plus mode, meaning the smartphone can transmit 2 discreet signals to both earbuds simultaneously instead of cross-head transmission. When paired to the Xiaomi Mi9 with Snapdragon 855 SoC, the T5 True Wireless seems to be connected over the traditional method. I will update this part of the review if I get access to other smartphones with Snapdragon 845/855 processors.
At a busy shopping mall with over 80 Bluetooth devices detected, the T5 True Wireless could not manage to stream consistently without breaking off. To be fair, while the Creative Outlier Air is more stable using the TWS Plus mode, it still had occasional break-ups. Still, it is undeniable that this review unit offers average transmission reliability. Under less challenging conditions (which is majority of the usage times), I find no issues with getting consistent connectivity.
Audio sync with video over YouTube and other social apps have very slight imperceptible lag with a good connection, while gaming apps are not acceptable. There are also no noticeable compression impurities when playing over AAC or apt-X that could irritate the detailed listeners.
The T5 True Wireless may just be another zero-wire earbuds, but its design makes me use them in a different way. With a more robust casing, I find myself carrying them around my pocket or in my bag more often, as I am less fearful of the case getting scratched, worn, or damaged by my keys or other items. Holding the case can be somewhat therapeutic, especially for ADHD who likes to fiddle with stuff, as the case is smooth and cooling to touch but does not attract fingerprints or grease. I would wish they are less thick so that they don’t protrude from my pocket that much.
With the Qualcomm QCC3026 chipset, it means I don’t have to worry which earbud is the primary or secondary. The first earbud that I take out from the case will be connected to the smartphone. This also means that if I wanted to listen with just one earbud, I could do so with either earbuds. Similarly, if I were to answer a call, I could use any earbud, as both has dual microphone. The ear tips are comfortable in my ears, and they isolate external noise sufficiently to enjoy music, but does not seal off noisy environment as aggressively.
Despite having a handful of TWS earbud brands in my drawer, I prefer to bring the Klipsch T5 True Wireless with me, mainly because of its durable case, comfortable ear tips that is easy to wear and remove (no need to adjust or twist), and comfortable sound balance. With the upcoming Klipsch Connect app releasing which supports EQ, the T5 True Wireless will be even more enjoyable.
Among the growing number of true wireless earphones, Klipsch T5 True Wireless stands out boldly with its Zippo-inspired case design and comfortable earbuds. It retains the legendary signature sound and extends the brand popularity to the consumers who appreciates the retro style.
While the sound quality might not satisfy listeners looking for thumping bass or transparent treble, the T5 True Wireless makes up with comfort, long battery life, and a design that brings out a one-of-a-kind audio personality that is Truly Klipsch.