These Klipsch are an expensive pair of special edition earphones that impress in terms of sound performance and design, but less so with their battery and active noise cancelling. Some nice features aren’t enough to cover up a lack of overall value.
- Balanced, controlled and natural-sounding performance
- Excellent fit
- Interesting set of features
- Average call quality
- ANC should be stronger for the price
- Battery life isn’t the longest
- Connectivity can falter in busy areas
- Dirac HDAdditional processing to improve clarity and depth of audio
- Bragi MovesControl the headphones through gestures
- Wireless charging plateComes with its own charging plate
- McLaren RacingSpecial edition McLaren Racing product
This review concerns the special edition McLaren version of the Klipsch T5 II ANC, which come with a few additions over the standard model. They have some interesting features and innovative ideas, but they’re up against tough competition.
- Snug, comfortable fit
- Unique looks
- Physical touch controls
From the T5 True Wireless to the T5 II ANC, there’s been a consistency to Klipsch’s design, and it’s a look that’s a little divorced from most true wireless earbuds on the market.
The main housing is where the antenna, processors and battery are housed, while in the short stem that sits in the ear canal is a six-mic sound system and 5.8mm dynamic driver. It’s a compact look, with the buds’ ergonomics allowing them to slip into the ear.
I’ve had zero problems with comfort. More often than not, I barely noticed they were in my ears. In fact, on a few occasions, I even had to make sure an earbud hadn’t fallen out, such was their comfort levels. Six pairs of Klipsch’s patented contoured ear-tips (with an oval shape) are included in the box to adjust the fit. The buds offer excellent comfort over long periods of wear, too.
Another aspect that reassures about the T5 II ANC is their use of physical buttons for controls. Taps or holds are what’s needed, with an audible notification once each action has been completed.
The default control scheme is slightly convoluted to remember beyond a single press, and operation isn’t mirrored across the earbuds. A single press on the right starts or stops playback, while on the left side it engages active noise cancellation or the Transparency mode. A double- or triple-press on the left controls volume, while a hold on the right provides access to your mobile device’s voice assistant(s). You can customise the controls in the Klipsch Connect app – but, curiously, only the left-hand side can be modified.
The charging case resembles a Zippo lighter, where you flick up the lid to reveal the earphones inside. And since this is the McLaren special edition, the case has the look of a grooved slick tyre from a Formula 1 car (hopefully it lasts longer than those Pirellis). Like the earphones themselves, the case sports the racing black and papaya colours of McLaren. Inside is a three LED indicator to see the case’s battery life, the glow of which you can see from outside, while around the back is a USB-C connector. It certainly lives up to its special edition appearance.
- Average battery life
- ANC is effective enough
- Interesting gesture control
Battery life isn’t the T5 II ANC’s strongest suit, with 5 hours per earphone and 15 hours in total with ANC turned on. That jumps up to 7 and 21 with it off – the case offers three more charges. For the price, however, that’s modest compared to the Klipsch’s competitors, and I found myself charging the earphones often. With ANC on, its less than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds manage, and those buds cost £50 less than the T5 II ANC at the time of review.
You do get a wireless charging plate thrown in for good measure, though. And, according to Klipsch, the McLaren version has technology called NuCurrent that allows the case to charge twice as fast.
Wireless connectivity is Bluetooth 5.0, and in a slightly disappointing development, the Klipsch earphones only support up to AAC audio quality. I did encounter a few stability issues in Victoria on the occasions I walked through the station’s concourse, the signal becoming choppy before eventually resolving itself.
There are six beamforming microphones to pick up and isolate speech, and they worked well enough to capture my voice. However, the person on the other end of the line commented that the T5 II ANC were sensitive to background noise, to the point where they couldn’t hear me above any din. I’d say this is the norm for true wireless call quality; so, if call quality is priority then Jabra’s Elite 7 Pro are better performers.
Along with the (sort of) customisable touch controls, there’s the implementation of Bragi Moves. I’d never heard of this before and having tried it, I found it to be a quirky and likable feature. It’s a hands-free gesture-controlled experience that allows the user to control the earphones with the motion of their head.
So, for example, a shake of the head within a few seconds of a track playing skips to another. And it works well, but I can also imagine drawing a few strange looks on the commute into work. It’s an interesting attempt at something different.
The active noise cancellation is, I’d say, effective enough. The snug fit certainly helps, with the T5 II ANC’s performance channelling its focus on alleviating bass frequencies and ambient sounds for journeys. in that regard, I certainly found it to be of good use on buses and trains.
However, it can’t put a stop to bigger, louder noises that are close by, especially those within the mid-range (voices) and higher frequencies (the latter is an area in which all wireless earphones struggle). I’d rate them as fine, but there are cheaper ANC earphones such the Beats Fit Pro that can do a better job. The Transparency mode is fine, piping in sounds with clarity and detail; but there’s a little bit of noise to contend with, too.
I almost forgot to mention the Klipsch Connect app. Loading the app up can take two attempts (it often hangs on the first go), but once in, there’s battery life icons, EQ (custom and preset options) and the usual cadre of settings.
- Well-balanced sound
- Nice dynamism
- Measured bass output
The Klipsch T5 II ANC McLaren Sport edition feature Dirac HD processing. Dirac is a Swedish company that has made audio correction its bread and butter in the home cinema sphere. In recent years, it’s “adjusted” its learnings into the mobile world, infiltrating several headphones from the likes of the Sudio E2, Cleer Audio Alpha and Monolith M1000ANC.
Their work with Klipsch leans towards enhancing the audio rather than turning it into 3D. The purpose is to optimise the headphones’ sound by “correcting impulse and magnitude frequency response”, improving the staging, clarity and bass among other aspects.
And how does it sound? Strange at first. Toggling it on and off, I was initially in a muddle as to which version of Janelle Monae’s Can’t Live Without Your Love I preferred. The non-Dirac HD version delivered crisper vocals but sounded smaller, while the compensated version brought the background details forward for more depth and better organisation. More experimentation and Dirac HD becomes the clear victor, with its richer tone and wider soundstage.
The Klipsch offer a controlled delivery with whatever I play. The sound is comfortably smooth, the mid-bass and bass performance is handled in a measured fashion – these aren’t earphones for big bass when TNGHT’s Higher Ground is pumped through them.
There’s a crispness, insight and clarity to high frequencies that’s effectively conveyed. Like bass, there’s an aspect of treble being more refined and balanced; but I felt that approach made for a coherent soundstage and listenable sound overall.
Add a nice faculty for vocals, both male and female, that are portrayed with convincing naturalism and assertiveness, strong dynamism and a snappy rhythmic ability, and the Klipsch have grown on me the longer I’ve listened to them. They’re adept with a range of music, their sense of balance makes them a fluid, graceful performer.
It’s a performance that’s never less than entertaining, especially with Dirac HD on, which as soon as you acclimatise to its presentation becomes the only way of listening with these earbuds. I find it hard to knock the Klipsch for their sonic performance.
Should you buy it?
If you like to go racing The McLaren colours of this special edition make the T5 II ANC of interest to racing fans of that team. The case looks great. And, of course, these earphones sound very good too.
If you’re not bothered by the paraphernalia The normal version is much cheaper, and there are earphones with better noise cancellation and call quality available.
As a sonic companion, the Klipsch T5 II ANC McLaren Sport entertain with the help of Dirac. Elsewhere, there are some innovative features such as the Bragi gesture controls, and the design is excellent.
Noise cancelling is good, but there are better alternatives such as the Sony WF-1000XM4, while battery life isn’t as long-lasting as the rest of the field. They fall short of earning a full recommendation, but McLaren Racing fans ought to give this version a look for their appearance if nothing else.
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Tested for a few months
Tested with real world use
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The McLaren edition of the T5 II ANC come with a wireless charging plate, McLaren Racing-inspired design and NuCurrent wireless charging technology for faster recharging.