Klipsch refreshed its T5 II True Wireless earphones to include active noise cancellation, bringing it into the same market as Apple's AirPods Pro. Here's where the newcomer stands against Apple's personal audio offering.
On August 2, audio specialist Klipsch introduced a new version of its T5 II earphones. The T5 II True Wireless ANC earphones added a few extra features to an already impressive-looking product, namely active noise cancellation and an updated Bragi operating system that enabled hands-free gesture control.
Adding ANC puts Klipsch's new earphones against Apple's premium audio wear, the AirPods Pro, to see how the new earphones stack up.
Klipsch T5 II ANC versus AirPods Pro - Specifications
|Â||Klipsch T5 II ANC||AirPods Pro|
|Case Weight (ounces)||2.71||1.61|
|Battery Life (earbuds)|| 5 hours with ANC, |
7 hours with ANC off
| 4.5 hours with ANC,|
5 with ANC off
|Battery Life (with case)||15 hours with ANC, |
21 hours maximum
|More than 24 hours |
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Microphones||3 Beamforming, |
|Sweat and Water Resistance||IPX4||IPX4|
|Active Noise Cancellation||Yes||Yes|
|Transparency||Yes, with Noise Shield||Yes|
|Spatial Audio with Head Tracking||No||Yes|
|Find My support||No||Yes|
|Color Range||Gunmetal, |
|Ear Tips||6 pairs||3 pairs|
Klipsch T5 II ANC versus AirPods Pro - Physical Design
The AirPods Pro have the familiar earbud-with-a-tail design that everyone is familiar with. They're white and look like slightly stubbier AirPods, but with a black vent on the side.
For the T5 II ANC, Klipsch has opted to offset the section that goes into the ear from the main body. This means most of the enclosure will sit higher up inside the ear folds rather than sticking outwards from the ear itself.
Both models rely on silicone ear tips to ensure a snug fit in the ear canal, with both offering a selection of options. However, while Apple offers a choice of three ear tip sizes, Klipsch goes further with a choice of six ear tips.
The ear tips are color-coded, so it's easier to tell which pair of tips go together when stored loosely. They're also oval rather than circular, which are more comfortable over more extended periods.
Unusual for a comparison, it turns out that the weight of both sets of earbuds is the same, at 0.19 ounces per bud.
Klipsch T5 II ANC versus AirPods Pro - Cases
Accompanying each of the pairs of earbuds is a case, which is used to recharge the audio devices. Place the earbuds in the case, and the built-in battery will recharge them while at rest.
The white-only AirPods Pro case is quite wide, with a hinge that flips the lid towards the case's back. It has a tendency to get a bit beaten up with wear and can easily show marks thanks to that white color.
Meanwhile, the Klipsch case appears to be less broad in its design than Apple's version, though a bit thicker. Unusually, the lid flips up to the side, which is reminiscent of a Zippo-style lighter. It can even be quickly closed with a sharp downward motion.
The Klipsch charging case can be purchased in three colors to match the earbuds themselves: Gunmetal, Copper, and Silver. This is arguably a less conspicuous color selection than the standard white AirPods Pro case, but there is also a considerable aftermarket of custom cases available.
AirPods Pro can't stand upright, always lying on its back whereas the T5 II ANC can sit up on its end with a silicone foot keeping it from sliding around on your desk.
Another visual difference is branding, as while Klipsch slaps its logo prominently on one side, Apple elects to offer personalized engraving and a single indicator in the most visible portions of the case design.
Lastly, Klipsch has the heavier case of the two at 2.71 ounces versus 1.61 for the AirPods Pro. This is due to the choice of a metal case versus Apple's plastic.
Klipsch T5 II ANC versus AirPods Pro - ANC, Bragi, and Dirac HD Sound
Both Apple's AirPods Pro and Klipsch's T5 II ANC offer active noise cancellation and primarily function in similar ways.
AirPods Pro has three modes, covering ANC, Transparency, and ANC Off. To power the system, Apple uses inward-facing microphones and the H1 chip for processing.
Klipsch also operates with a few different modes, with ANC on and off accompanied by the identically-named Transparency, allowing sound from the environment to reach the user's ears.
While Klipsch has included six microphones across the two earbuds combined, it still uses a two-mic hybrid for feedforward and feedback for ANC. One microphone faces the ear canal, while the other is in the base and hearing the environment. A third is on the top and not used for ANC.
Compared to AirPods Pro, the T5 II ANC offers superior canceling capabilities here. In our studio tests, they blocked more external noise than the AirPods Pro including real-world sounds and simulated sounds we output via speakers. Of course, AirPods Pro held up well, just not quite as capable.
Klipsch differs in its Bragi operating system, which is billed as an artificial intelligence system that handles multiple elements of the earphones. In the case of ANC, Bragi includes a feature called Noise Shield, which is used to protect the user's ears from unexpected loud noises.
It also comes in handy for calls, with a configurable "Sidekick" feature to trigger a smart action such as Transparency when talking on the phone. It also has "Voice Awareness," which will let the user hear their voice naturally while on a call. Bravo is also able to turn ANC on and off only when music is playing,
Along with Bragi, Klipsch also includes Dirac HD Sound in the earphones, with the T5 II ANC the first to use the technology. A digital audio performance enhancement, Dirac HD Sound, improves staging, clarity, vocal crispness, and bass fidelity.
The accompanying Klisch Konnect app gives a demo of Dirac HD so you can easily experience the difference for yourself. Between the demo and listening to quite a bit of music, there is a noticable improvement with it enabled. Sound appears much fuller and spacious than with it disabled.
For equalization, Klipsch includes six presets and a custom EQ option. This allows you to control the exact tuning of your audio versus AirPods Pro. Apple does use Adaptive EQ though that automatically tunes music to the shape of the user's ear.
We've said it before but while AirPods Pro sounds good, it's no match for many other high-end headphones. Klipsch is an audio company and the audio fidelity and ANC were major priorities here. They lack spatial audio, but make up for it in clearer, fuller audio output.
If we were to judge purely based on audio quality and noise cancellation abilities, the T5 II ANC would be the winner.
Klipsch T5 II ANC versus AirPods Pro - Controls
The AirPods Pro doesn't have any external buttons but instead uses force sensors for direct interaction. Taps or a long hold can be used to navigate between songs, answer a call, or switch between ANC and Transparency modes.
There's also hands-free Siri support for a variety of actions and other queries.
Klipsch, meanwhile, relies on physical buttons for its main interactions. The left ear is used to raise and lower volume and switch between ANC, Transparency, and Off modes.
The right earbud's button has more actions associated with it, including media control and playback, and call handling. You also have to hold the button on that earbud to summon Siri, with no hands-free mode available.
All of the controls on the T5 II ANC can be customized to the user's preference from the app. Users can choose single, double, and triple-tap controls for each ear individually.
As part of Bragi, you can also enable gesture controls, namely hands-free controls that you perform by nodding and shaking your head. When enabled, you can nod or shake your head to accept or reject calls and to move to the next audio track.
Skipping tracks is available only in the first ten seconds of a song so it won't be inadvertently triggered. Technically, Klipsch says this specific feature is in beta though in our testing it was spot-on.
Klipsch T5 II ANC versus AirPods Pro - Power and Charging
For the earphones alone, the Klipsch T5 II ANC offers better battery life than the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro manages 5 hours of usage with ANC off, dropping to 4.5 hours with ANC on.
The Klipsch earbuds are better on both fronts, with a claimed battery life of 7 hours with ANC turned off, and 5 hours with ANC on. The half-an-hour difference isn't that great, but the two-hour for ANC-less usage is still quite considerable.
The battery cases also provide extra usage time, though this time it swings in Apple's favor. The AirPods Pro with Wireless Charging Case can stretch to more than 24 hours of usage until the power runs out, though, for the Klipsch, it's 21 hours at most, or 15 hours with ANC enabled.
This certainly indicates that the Klipsch case doesn't have the capacity of Apple's version.
For getting power back into the charging case, both can use Qi wireless charging. However, for a McLaren Edition, Klipsch claims the "NuCurrent wireless charging capability" it includes in that variant will allow the case to "charge twice as fast as anything else on the market."
The cases can also be charged using cables, with Apple's using a Lightning port while Klipsch uses USB-C.
Klipsch T5 II ANC versus AirPods Pro - Pairing and Connectivity
Both the AirPods Pro and T5 II ANC connect over Bluetooth 5.0 to their host devices, though the actual management of them differs greatly.
Due to the deep integration with iOS and iPadOS, AirPods Pro can easily be paired up by bringing them close to the iPhone or iPad. Meanwhile, the Klipsch earbuds require the traditional Bluetooth pairing process.
Managing the earbuds is also deeply integrated into the operating systems for the AirPods Pro, such as being able to manage ANC modes within Control Center.
For the Klipsch, you have to use the Klipsch Connect App if you want greater control over the earbuds. This includes adjusting the EQ, changing settings, applying firmware updates, and even seeing the battery status.
Klipsch T5 II ANC versus AirPods Pro - Other Features
Both models offer sweat and water resistance to IPX4, making them capable of handling a workout.
AirPods Pro benefit from features including Spatial Audio with Head Tracking for Apple Music, Find My support, and Automatic Ear Detection. The latter is very useful if you want the music to pause when you remove the earbuds.
Klipsch claims Bragi will be updated with new functionality over the product's life, which could introduce new features or gesture action down the line.
Klipsch T5 II ANC versus AirPods Pro - Pricing
Apple has the cheapest of the two product lines, with the AirPods Pro priced at $249. There's no extra cost for custom engraving the Wireless Charging Case, though with no flexibility on coloring.
The Klipsch T5 II ANC is more expensive at $299, though you do get options for Copper, Gunmetal, and Silver earbuds and cases.
If that's not premium enough, the T5 II ANC McLaren Edition, which includes the faster NuCurrent wireless charging technology, is $349. For that extra $50, you get accents of McLaren's signature papaya color, real carbon fiber, and a co-molded outer shell that mimics a Formula 1 car's tire tread pattern.
A premium battle
When it comes to wireless earphones, it's not hard for a company to create a premium product. Incorporating ANC into an earbud and using a desirable case design is usually a good way to justify the enhanced pricing.
The problem starts when you put yourself in the same market as Apple's AirPods Pro, then charge a higher price. Given the perception that the AirPods Pro are a premium product in their own right, it makes sense for competitors wanting to price themselves similarly to offer something that Apple simply doesn't provide.
In the case of the Klipsch T5 II ANC, you have earbuds in a great-looking case, with AI-driven head gestures, but lower overall battery life. The Bragi features undoubtedly bring something to the table that AirPods Pro do not, with its noise-protecting Transparency feature, but the nodding and head-shake gestures seem to be a bit gimmicky.
As for the McLaren Edition, that extra $50 gets you automotive branding and a faster wireless charging system. That seems somewhat excessive as a surcharge for pretty colors and a secondary feature upgrade.
For most iPhone users looking for a premium earphone experience, the AirPods Pro probably more than fit the bill. Unless there's considerable brand loyalty to Klipsch or even McLaren, it seems that there's not much benefit to paying more in this particular case.