It’s been a little over a year since Klipsch, the US-based audio brand launched its first set of earbuds, the T5 True Wireless, in Malaysia. At CES 2020, the brand showed off its next-generation audio product lineup that includes the T5 II True Wireless and its two up-market variants: the Sport and Sport McLaren Edition.
In this review, I’ll specifically be looking at the McLaren Edition of the T5 II Sport, and noting down the improvements and flaws to these earbuds.
What Is It?
At the core of it, The T5 II lineup is Klipsch’s second attempt at making TWS earbuds. As I mentioned at the start, the product lineup comprises three variants, and the Sport McLaren Edition sits at the top of the pedestal.
To be clear, the standard Sport and McLaren Edition are the one and same, the main differences between the two are purely cosmetic; the McLaren Edition is accented with the supercar brand’s papaya orange, and if that isn’t enough, the names of both brands have been plastered on one side of the casing. Speaking of which, the McLaren Edition T5 II Sport is wrapped in the carbon fibre skin that drives the whole aggressive racer motif the casing has going for it, even further.
On another note about the casing, you can see that the shape and design of it are very different from the standard T5 II. Instead of an all-metal compartment, you get a larger, more rigid hardshell plastic that’s made to withstand the occasional knock and fall to the floor. In addition, both Sport and McLaren Edition models support wireless charging, but it is only the latter that is bundled with a wireless charging pad.
The interior of the McLaren Edition’s casing is also different from the standard T5 II casing and comes with what Klipsch describes as a “moisture-removal system” which is basically just a removable compartment filled with silica gel that needs to be reactivated periodically via microwave. Yes, really.
Is It Any Good?
Since the launch of the original T5s, it’s very clear that Klipsch hasn’t been idle with the development of the follow-up. In fact, there’s actually a lot to love about the new earbuds. Firstly, it uses an improved design of Klipsch’s oval ear tips and comes packed with two additional sizes – Small+ and Large+ – and a pair of memory foam ear tips.
On a side note, the clips at the end of the ear tips have also been reinforced and don’t tear off as easily as those on the first generation T5s.
The earbuds have also been redesigned to better fit the ear canals without the fear of gradually wiggling their way out over time. To further ensure that it also stays put, both the Sports and McLaren Edition are bundled with three ear wings, each with different wing lengths and interchangeable.
Moving on, the earbuds also have IP67 water and dust resistant rating, meaning that it can survive a fall into a small body of water. Though, I would not recommend that you purposely try your luck at this.
The improvements aren’t just limited to the physical aspects either. Regardless of the variant, the T5 II comes with a new Transparency Mode that allows me to listen to my surroundings at just a push of a button on the earbuds. On top of that, I can adjust its sensitivity of via the Klipsch Connect app, which is finally available for download after several delays in its development.
Beyond that, Klipsch has carried forward much of what made the original T5’s audio experience enjoyable over to the T5 II Sport McLaren Edition. The 5mm custom drivers sound, in a word, exquisite. The timbre in mids and highs sound accurate, sharp, and presented no signs of breaking; a point that is both evident and proven with Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts’ Digging My Potato, as well The Eagles’ 1996 rendition of Hotel California. To that end, vocals in tracks like Stacey Kent’s La Venus Du Melo are clear, concise, with bass and sound staging being spot on.
Speaking of bass, the low pitch performance of the T5 IIs are deep, showed no signs of distortion, and can actually be felt as intended. Listening to tracks like Nina Simone’s Feeling Good, Hozier’s Like Real People Do, and The Witcher 3’s Lullaby of Woe, I can feel the reverberation of those low pitches in the back of my skull. In effect, it’s a balance the McLaren Edition manages to maintain, without sacrificing the overall audio quality.
Last but not least is the battery life of the McLaren Edition. On a single charge, I get up to eight hours as promised by Klipsch, provided Transparency Mode is off. Listening to my music with the feature active reduces it to just a little over six hours.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
While I can find no fault in the audio quality and performance of the T5 II Sport McLaren Edition, the earbuds aren’t the epitome of perfection. The Transparency Mode, while a welcome feature, isn’t as refined in its application when compared to other earbud brands. Specifically, it doesn’t fluidly transition between notifications, which is represented by a dead zone for a split second.
Then there are the ear wings. I understand the convenience of these stabilisers, it is unfortunate that Klipsch didn’t design them to stay latched on to the earbuds. Throughout my use, the addon didn’t grip on to the earbud and was constantly slipping off of it to such point that it would hinder its charging process whenever I stow it away.
On the subject of charging; USB-C charging port is located inside the case, meaning that you’re going to have to leave it open if you’re planning on charging it through a cable. Honestly, I can think of better places for Klipsch to have placed the USB-C charging port, but I suppose it’s all part of the aesthetics of allowing the product to look seamless.
Another problem is the casing itself. Not only is it thicker than the all-metal case of the standard T5 II – Klipsch but also managed to shrink it down further, making it smaller than the original – it’s also more prone to being scratched up and scuffed, as you can see from the images of it so far.
On another note, the Klipsch Connect app feels really barebones rudimentary and feels like the brand did a rush job with it, all so it could get it out in time for the launch of the T5 II series. What is particularly irritating is how the app does not have a way of porting over your settings to another device, especially if you’re porting over to a new phone.
Lastly, there’s the price of the McLaren Edition. Brand new, the earbuds retail for RM1199.
Should I Buy It?
Ultimately, the Klipsch T5 II series serves as a testimony of the brand’s effort to continuously improve its product line, and needless to say, the McLaren Edition is one of many high-end audio accessories it has to show for it.
With an asking price of RM1199, it also isn’t the most affordable pair of TWS earbuds on the market, but to be fair, these are premium quality earbuds that not only sound good. But also feels good and comes bundled with accessories too.
That said, there’s also the regular T5 II Sport version of the earbuds that goes for RM100 less; it is technically the same as the McLaren Edition, sans the wireless charging pad. Of course, if you can live without wireless charging and removable ear wings, there’s also the standard T5 II and its all-metal casing that retails for RM899.