Review: Jabra Elite 65t
Price: $169.99 (discounts often available on e-commerce sites)
I have new go-to headphones in the Jabra Wireless Elite 65ts. Although Apple has created some new aesthetic with headphones that dangle, I like a tighter, less intrusive style. I also own a pair of the Jabra Elite sports, but never cared for the EarWings gels that sometimes come loose adjusting them in my ear. I never felt comfortable wearing the Elite Sports out because they just fell out my ear way too often. While the Elite 65ts do include several ear tip options, once installed, there are no extra parts to worry about during use, and they stay put.
What I like
For any headphone to become a well-liked addition to my device portfolio I expect good performance, solid sound and comfortable fit. The Elite 65ts deliver on all of the fronts.
Good performance. Top of the list on performance is battery life. I have never exceeded a single charge. Jabra reports new headphones should deliver 5 hours per charge. The charging case will handle up to two full charges, which makes for 15 hours before the case requires a recharge. Full charges on both the case and the earbuds take about 2 hours.
Solid Sound. I spend a lot of my time listening to verbal audio—news and podcasts. And these earbuds perform flawlessly, presenting audio solidly and consistently. I haven’t heard any popping, ticking or periodic drops common with earlier wireless solutions (the Elite 65ts benefit from Bluetooth 5.0 support).
That said, the audio output isn’t tuned to audiophile levels of richness required for deep classical or jazz moments, but I’m not an audiophile. While I can recognize minor performance issues in certain genres, I grew up listening to music on AM radio. I know that is a low bar, but it’s an honest bar. I’ve also had the pleasure of sitting on a couch and listening to music with great range and separation from a finely tuned stereo system. I don’t expect either of those experiences on a pair of wireless earbuds. The Jabra Elite 65ts deliver good sound that blends with work or a walk.
Comfortable fit. The Elite 65ts just feels solid and they look cool. The Elite 65ts don’t just dangle. Their in-ear design brings good sound isolation to the listening experience. Three ear tip sizes, called EarGels by Jabra, help deliver the right fit.
The other comfort feature implemented well comes from the on-earbud controls. The left ear control volume and track selection, while the right ear controls power, ambient sound profile and the invocation of your assistant of choice. A long press, in iPhone land, usually brings up Siri. With the Jabra app, Elite 65t owners can also connect with Alexa. It’s either or, not both. And for Android users, Assistant is the default, but they two can talk to Alexa if they like.
There isn’t much to recommend when a product sets a standard for its category. Technologically, some reviews report audio delays while watching a dialog-intensive video. I tested for this and didn’t find it an issue. Audio delay remains a work in progress across the wireless category, but Jabra does a good job and will likely continue to address any remaining issues.
I’m a fan of memory foam ear inserts, so including a memory foam option in addition to silicon sets would be a plus.
And yes, 8 hours of battery life would be great, but until Bluetooth and battery technology evolves even more (and it has clearly evolved a long way as it is) the current state will need to suffice. No individual company owns enough of the pieces to really drive diminutive power in anything but an incremental way within their own devices.
Finally, the charging case looks like it was an afterthought compared to the great design that went into the earbuds. It’s sturdy, it works, it’s not too big, but it’s also not as stylish as the earbuds. Opening the case is not elegant. For the totality of experience Jabra should redesign the Jabra Elite 65t case so it uses the same attention to detail as the headsets they place in them.
The app.You may not think you NEED the Jabra Sound + app to just use your Jabra earbuds. You would be wrong. These headphones need the App, as they have no other connection to the Jabra ecosystem, which means, at a minimum, no firmware updates without the app. The biggest difference between traditional headphones and wireless earbuds is that wireless earbuds are devices independent of a phone, iPad or other devices. The app controls how the Elite 65ts respond to various taps, how they profile sound, firmware updates, and other features.
Mono earbud. For those just listening to the news or other verbal audio, or driving in a car without hands-free calling, the Elite 65ts can be worn with just right earbud, with sound controls and volume moving to the phone.
HearThrough. When removed from an ear, the Elite 65ts stop any audio, with auto-restart within 60 seconds. But because of the Elite 65t’s 4-microphone design, a double-press on the right earbud brings the outside audio world in, no need to remove the headphone. And the audio pass-thru doesn’t end when 60 seconds tick down. If you are checking out at the grocery store, picking up a prescription or chatting with a neighbor on a walk, this is a great way to avoid being rude and misplacing or dropping an earbud at the same time. HearThrough focuses for conversation, keeping what’s in front of a listener clear while masking voices behind as well muting noises like the wind.
The Jabra Elite 65ts offer the best view of what state-of-the-art looks like today.
Wireless headphones will inevitability continue to improve, but the Jabra Elite 65ts offer the best view of what state-of-the-art looks like today. They are compact, sound great, offer good battery life and arrive with a decent charging case. After evaluating connected wireless headphones (a wire running between the two earbuds), and those that wrap around the listener’s neck, the Jabra 65t outperform all of them as a balanced solution.
The Elite 65ts can be purchased in copper black (Best Buy exclusive), titanium black and gold beige.
Jabra also sells additional versions of the 65t models designed for exercise and work (audio and video conferencing) in their Elite Active and Evolve models.
Note: Jabra provided the product for the purposes of evaluation and review.