June 25, 2022 Hardware 0

I just had an interesting audio experience. I purchased a set of Kplisch true wireless t5 II earbuds. Klipsch is my speaker vendor of choice for their signature sound. I have a Klipsch pro media thx computer speaker system that I have had for several years now and am looking to start building my new audio system based on Klipsch speakers. It took me a bit to find the ear tip that would fit into my ears and not only hold them in place but would seal so I would have a full range of sound., Most folks, unfortunately, have no idea what good sound is. IN the rush to the bottom quality of sound has suffered. After looking at many reviews I decided on these earbuds to start as it’s the bottom end of their line. I also gave a large weight to the name..something i do not normally do. What were the big factors? first was the Qualcomm APTX: HD Bluetooth codec. Bluetooth uses compression to reduce the bandwidth needed to transmit between the device and the phone or computer. Only recently have true HD audio Bluetooth codecs been available. The two best ones are LDAC which is by Sony and AptX..in this case, AptX HD. The AptX: HD support was my biggest draw as my Pixel 6 Pro supports both LDAC and Aptx: HD. Also, these earbuds were on sale/clearance for 99 bucks.. and since this is my second foray into buds I wanted a higher quality brand…and of course, my favorite audio brand is Klipsch. I will be comparing these Klipsch buds to my desktop Klipsch Pro Media desktop speakers and my Sonata’s audio system.

Lt me tell you about the comparison gear:

The Klipsch Pro Media is a 2.1 THX-certified system by Klipsch for computers.  I have an Asus Xonar AE sound card.  I do not use the onboard sound.  The Xonar and Klipsch produce a clear sound with a good balance of sound. The Klipsch speakers have the characteristic sound from the horn tweeters which are very detailed highs.  Some folks consider the Klipsch highs to be harsh, too detailed, and too far forward.  I do admit those horns can be a bit too much..but I always tone down the 10khz and above with a bit of eq to soften them up just a touch.  What I have not found is a tweeter system that is as clear and detailed as the Klipsch horns.  The midranges do not reach and punch you with mids.  They aren’t as detailed as the highs are as in this speaker they are not horns, however, they are able to bring mids in good detail and balance and do not muddy up the mids as many mids i have listened to are apt to do.  The woofers on the satellites handle the lower mids and the upper bass regions well.  I would like these to be more forward though.  The high bass soften gets lost in the mix with these.  The subwoofer…oh boy..let’s talk the subwoofer.  My listening area for my desk is NOT ideal.  The room is quite open with not many surrounding walls for bass reinforcement.  I have the subwoofer in a corner that is right next to where i sit.  It fires from that corner from my right to my left.  After moving some stuff around I have created a kind of expanded chamber for bass reinforcement and it works surprisingly well.  The sub doesn’t “disappear” into the room. I always know where it is by its sound.  However, I can hear all but the lowest of sub bass*say 60hz and below) at my seat..so that’s good.  I CAN hear the 40-60HX tones if I sit in my downstairs bathroom…due to physics(wavelength and standing waves).  This :little: 6-inch sub is much more powerful than the specs or its dimensions make you think.  Let’s just say if I want to I can put out enough sub-bass it’s audible outside my house on my front porch..:)  I actually had a neighbor walking by on my sidewalk..heard my system and knocked on my door.  He wasn’t complaining..he’s a true audiophile and wanted to come to check out my system.  he was floored when he saw it wasn’t a rack of gear.. just my tower and my Pro Medias.  Now let’s be clear..it’s not audiophile quality..and I know it.  I’ve been to his home and heard true audiophile quality gear…. I’ll just leave it there.  He was very complimentary though when I detailed the sound card and the Pro Medias and the price i paid for both.  250 for the pro media and 150 for the card.  To impress an audiophile(given the price)..i was rather chuffed..:)

Of course, good speakers are crap without a good source.  The Xonar AE is the top of the line card from Asus.  Sound cards all have their biases and the Asus is biased towards the high bass…which makes it a perfect companion for my Pro Medias..:)  Otherwise, the noise floor is so low there is no noise during silent passages*unless you raise the volume to unrealistic levels).  It doesn’t add highs or mids.  I actually run it with all processing and EQ off most times as it mates perfectly to the Pro Medias.

The next comparison?  My 2006 Hyundai Sonata.  The factory unit..The system has a dedicated subwoofer on the rear deck.  There are 6-inch speakers in each door and two tweeters, one in each A-pillar.  It was originally a Monsoon labeled audio system. The cassette head unit got tossed the day i bought the car.  In its place, i installed a Sony WX-920BT.  i left the original 7 speakers and the factory amplifier in there.  The improvement was enough..for now..:)  The Sonata’s forte in terms of audio?  vocals and mid to high bass.  Now it won’t do stupid amounts of bass where it will vibrate other vehicles nearby but if i ask it to it will vibrate my review easily.  I have an eq package built in that bass boost 1. It adds about 4 db below 60hz and plus 4db on the highs as that’s where the system is weakest.  The head unit and my Pixel 6 Pro support the use of 250kbps AAC.  It’s higher quality than most mp3 files but nowhere near AptX HD.  When playing music through it via Bluetooth I lose the intense clarity of the highs i enjoy with the promedias.  Bass however is easily brought forward and the mids are well balanced.  With the AAC losses a bit of high EQ brings them back a bit.  Adding any more boost just brings in compression noise..:)  If i pull over and park…and fire up the right track I can lean back in my seat and immerse myself.  It’s not as seamless to do as at my desktop…but until I can afford an AptX HD head unit…this is the best I can do..for now..:)

So how was the first run with the buds?…NOT GOOD…the mids were sooooooo outsized I nearly ripped the buds out of my ears. Klipsch has an app called Klipsch Connect that I installed and adjusted the EQ. I had to boost the bass and cut the mids and highs to the minimum. just to get something about 75 percent balanced. once I got them as dialed in as I could it was time to give them a serious test run.

I started with a phone call. I had my youngest call me and answering with the buds was a press on the physical button..easy peasy. I had to quickly turn down the volume because she was LOUD in my ears…holy schnikies! There are no volume controls on the buds..and frankly, i am ok with that. the less i have to touch them the better. I was able to answer the call with one press of the button on the right bud. Once i got the volume down to a reasonable level the clarity and detail were quite astonishing. I daresay it was clearer than if she was standing right next to me.  Phone calls on Bluetooth in the car sound decent.  I can normally hear folks clearly but you can hear the loss from the compression on Bluetooth.

Now for the reason, i bought them…music. I had to make some serious tweaks to the EQ to get them bearable. the two bass bands maxed out and the other three bands all the way down. Even with a good seal that’s what i had to do. Once i got that done…time for some music…so i fired up Spotify. Keep in mind I have Spotify set to download and stream at max quality with the normalization set to normal. i went through my good bass playlist which includes Brave by Wild Culture, Plain Sight by Kita Alexander, Stonecold by machine heart, and Follow the Sun(Jordan Remix) by Carolin Pennell.

My initial impression?  Clarity in the highs and mids was exceptional.  The mids were still a bit too far forward and the full boosting of the 250hz and below did muddy the high bass a bit.  The midbass was a bit thin but the sub bass(70hz and below( was nicely present without being overboosted despite the 6db of gain i had going into it.  What was surprising is the amount of audio information that was being clearly presented.  Other Bluetooth products i have tried that use more common codecs(like sbr and others) obviously are not HD and a ton of audio information is list in transit.  Aptx was nearly like listening to the source CD..although even at the 320kbps Spotify uses on high quality isn’t lossless…it’s not that far off.  All in all, given the price I was pleasantly surprised.  Now on some tougher music for products that run compression…

My next audio session was going to be tougher as they push my Klipsch desktop speakers..so I was anxious to hear how they handled this run.

First was X’s and O’s by Trisha Yearwood.  This song is mainly vocals and typical country instruments…and not much sub bass.  As i expected with the balance issues noted above i had to turn it down as Trisha was a bit too forward for me.  The highs though were well controlled and the drums were there..but surprisingly not muddy despite the large amount of bass boost i had dialed in.  The clarity was still incredible would say If i could get the balance better they would actually sound better than my Pro media’s on my desktop.  Next was No Longer Slaves by Voices of Lee.  This is a moving song for me even on lesser sounding gear(i do have my limits on how bad i can tolerate).  The clarity of the buds was now front and center with this track.  I could hear each individual voice, I could hear their harmonies, I could hear the echoes and reverb and the bass voice was clearly audible.  Once you get about into the meat of the song where you hear all of the voices…oh manI could close my eyes and very easily imagine listening to this inside the studio.  Not with earbuds or headphones but as if i was physically standing in the room with them singing.  That’s an experience that’s rare with ANY headset I have experienced and is only common on my desktop…and my car when i am stopped, in park, and able to just immerse myself in the track.  The next track was La Calin’ by A.ACHAL.  this track leaped out at me with the buds.  The clarity was, once again, extraordinary.  The sub bass is what i really noticed here.  The sub-bass is usually reserved for the desktop as the Sonata system just doesn’t have enough ooomph without pushing it really hard.    The high bass on the buds…well disappeared.  It was relaly odd.  The highs were crisp and the mids a bit far forward but the high bass..gone.  lower and sub bass were very distintive without being punchy or too far forward.  It was an interesting experience to “feel” the lowest bass as well as hear it from inside my head instead of feeling it through my desk and feet as wlel as hearing it.  The desktop gets me the mid and high bass back with a good attack without being punchy.  The desktop cannot do the sub-bass as well at my listening position but that’s physics getting in the way..:)

Now for my ultimate challenge.  Jean Michele-Jarre.  This artist has some of the most complex sounds I have ever heard.  It is an artist that, in my experience, is VERY hard for nearly anything to reproduce well..much less accurately.  I have had the privilege of being able to take my cd collection of Jarre and play it on some true audiophile gear.  Once when I was in boarding school I got to listen to Jarre on some magnapan speakers with a good subwoofer.  I then got to listen to him again at a chief petty officer’s house when I was in the navy.  He recognized my passion for sound and told me to bring my ost challenging tracks.  Let’s just say Jarre made him re-evaluate some of his choices..<G>.

The one track of Jarre’s I played was from his Equinoxe Infinity Album.  The track is number 6 entitled Infinity movement 6.  First off the desktop.  I have listened to this track many many times.  I can simply put the track on repeat, lean back, close my eyes, and immerse myself.  The world fades away and I am surrounded by this track’s whimsical, electronic rhythms.  It’s a very well balanced track(considering the biases of my desktop) and doesn’t have any harshness to it.  The track just picks me up and carries me along it’s musical journey.  Because it’s so well balanced, the music flows along, and just carries me along there’s not anything to stand out.  The song doesn’t have any real sub bass at all though.  The sound has most of it’s information in the mids and high bass.  There’s a touch of highs so the tweeter is naturally balanced there while the high bass is more present which also balanced out the bass dip on the promedias. This is a purely electronic piece with no vocals at all..:)

IN the Sonata it’s a totally different experience.  The bass is definitely more forward and the highs are recessed.  The mids are much softer and overall clarity suffers due to the AAC compression.  This wong will still get me dancing in my seat..but nothing like the desktop where I am immersed and lost to the world.  It’s a pleasant audio experience but not as fulfilling as the desktop.  This track I mainly play on the desktop.

Now for the buds.  I was absolutely blown away.  Jarre has never sounded so cealr and detailed(with the exception of being played on audiophile gear). As soon as I got the volume settled I was instantly transported away.  It was effortless.  I was dancing in my chair before I realized it.  The clarity of the instruments was astonishing,  after the first run was over and the track restarted I finally “came back to earth”.  Now I could critically listen to the track..well mostly..I was still dancing my chair.  It was hard to keep from smiling because then that shifted the buds and ruined the sound.  I smile most time on the desktop…but with the buds, I had to force myself to NOT smile..<G>  So what are the downsides?  Well, the mids are a bit forward(seeing a pattern yet?..<G>) but the highs were very well balanced.  The upper bass was there just enough to provide the foundation all music needs or it sounds really thin.  The bass wasn’t muddied at all.  It seems this track was just made for these buds.  I look forward to more Jarre listening in the future…like tomorrow as I head to a client to move some computers around..it will be a total jarred fest.  I might even report back..especially if I keep getting :distracted: by the buds performance with Jarre.