PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
If you’re in the market for some wireless headphones then you have a great deal of choice in 2018. While some are large over-ear headphones or the slimmer neckbud design, the smallest you can go is with in-ear buds.
The Jabra Elite 65t are the latter and are a comfortable, clever alternative to Apple’s AirPods – and the 65t can even do a little more than Apple’s headphones.
With good ambient noise options, decent bass response and easy to use equaliser settings, they are fully featured wireless earphones for under £150.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Jabra Elite 65t are well priced in the UK at £149.99 from Jabra, Currys PC World or Amazon UK, and in the US at $169.99 from Jabra.
The Elite 65t earphones reviewed here are not the Active version – those cost more at £169.99 / $189.99 and add a motion sensor for workouts and a slightly better IP rating than the regular model we have tested.
DESIGN AND BUILD
Completely wireless earbuds are a relatively new design for headphones as the tech has shrunk down to allow for it. The Elite 65t do look a little like tiny Bluetooth headsets with the curved design, but we like the look when in the ear.
They are subtle enough to not poke out as much as you might expect, and are more executive looking than the divisive AirPods. The in-ear protrusion is comfortable too and comes with three different size tips so you can find the best fit for your ear size.
There are no wingtips though and at first, we thought this might mean the 65t would struggle to stay in our ears. To our pleasant surprise, they do not fall out – even when we went on a long run with them.
The plastic construction is light and ergonomic enough for a snug and secure fit. And despite the intrusive nature of in-ear headphones, we could comfortably wear them for several hours before needing a break.
The elongated part of each headphone (they are mirror images of each other) contains two mics for handsfree calls, voice assistant interaction and ambient noise capture. The right headphone weighs 6.5g while the left is 5.8g but you won’t notice.
They tuck into the charging case that itself weighs 67g. It charges via the included micro-USB cable.
The one flaw in the design of the 65t are the buttons on the buds. With volume controls on the left and a single button on the right for various functions, they are useful but painful to use because of the design.
Where AirPods and Google Pixel Buds have touch gestures, with the 65t you have a physical button to click. But this hurt, as they are positioned exactly where the press will push the tip further into your ear.
It’s a bad design choice, and means we didn’t use the buttons. We’d rather see Jabra put smaller buttons around the outside of the buds like Sony does on its WF-1000X.
Overall these are some of the most comfortable and subtle in-ear wireless headphones around, with excellent noise isolation. But it’s very annoying that the buttons are a no-go since you have to press them so hard to the point of pain.
This small flaw is a shame, as the 65t are also IP55 dust and water resistant. This means you can’t go swimming in them, but rain and sweat are no problem whatsoever (which we tested, and can vouch for). Jabra also offers a two year warranty against dust and water damage if you register your purchase.
SOUND QUALITY AND FEATURES
Thankfully, the Jabra Elite 65t have outstanding sound reproduction for earphones of their size. Coupled with a decent app that lets you adjust EQ and ambient noise, they are highly customisable to your music listening tastes.
The speaker frequency range of the 65t is 20Hz to 20kHz, which is standard on all headphones and is roughly the range of the human ear.
Set to their default EQ the Elite 65t give a good account of a wide selection of music. There is no distortion even when turned up unreasonably loud (be careful) and the frequency response is set to a tastefully flat level. Bass gives good extension and the high range isn't too screeching.
We listened to a range of music from Grizzly Bear to Bob Dylan to Wu Tang Clan to Hot Chip and were impressed with the sound every time. Classical music and podcasts are also finely represented here.
The 65t do well to give pleasing bass response without muddying the mid and high-ends. Hot Chip’s ‘Ready for the Floor’ pounds along in the low end but you can still hear the chiming guitar and hi-hat at the other end.
Jabra then implores you to download its Sound+ app (for iOS or Android) that allows you to tinker. It’s a good app that keeps things simple and not overly techy. Most people will be thankful for the equaliser presets of settings such as bass boost.
You can also set your own sound using the five-point equaliser – a cool touch and a welcome level of user customisation. In the same app you can turn Jabra’s HearThrough mode on that lets in ambient noise.
This is designed for certain situations, like commuters who want to listen to music but still be aware of traffic. We went for several runs with this feature turned on and can happily report continuously good music reproduction with ambient noise coming in alerting us to dogs, buses and oncoming sirens. We didn’t have to take the buds out once to hear our surroundings better.
Despite this clever use of the mics, it's worth noting the 65t don't have active noise cancellation.
Handsfree calls on the headphones sounds great too, and the mics are good enough that you don’t have to shout. This is also helped by Sidetone, an optional feature that plays back your own voice in your ear so you don’t bellow down the line given the noise isolation at play.
Voice assistant integration works well too. Even if music is playing, pressing and holding the right ear button sets a tone and pauses the music for you to talk to Google, Alexa or whoever you like.
It works just as it would if you were talking at your phone and is handy if you want to keep your phone in your pocket.
Wireless connectivity was absolutely outstanding and we didn’t experience any dropouts whatsoever in the entire testing period. This is a main bugbear with lower quality Bluetooth headphones, but the 65t deliver thanks to their Bluetooth 5 compatibility – so they’ll work best with a device that also has Bluetooth 5.
A fully charged pair of 65t headphones will last five hours and the carry case can add an extra ten. 15 hours from one fully charged set is good, and we found this figure accurate in testing. These won’t fail you on a long haul flight, basically.
- Passive noise cancellation Yes
- Ambient noise reduction Yes
- Wind noise protection Yes
- Speaker size 6.0 × 5.1mm
- Speaker sensitivity 103dBSPL at 1kHz/1mW
- Speaker impedance 16ohm ±15% at 1kHz
- Speaker max input power 8mW
- Speaker frequency range 20Hz to 20kHz
- Microphone type 4 x MEMS
- Microphone sensitivity -38 dBV/Pa
- Microphone frequency range 100Hz to 10kHz
- Microphone bandwidth 100Hz to 8kHz
- Auto turn-On When HS’ out of charging case
- Auto pause Auto pause when one HS out of ear
- Battery Talk time 15 hours (with 2x recharging in charging case)
- Standby time Auto off after 15min without connection, and 60 min without activity
- Connectivity Connection (mini jack, USB, etc) Micro USB
- Supported Bluetooth® profiles Headset profile v1.2 , hands free profile v1.7, A2DP v1.3, AVRCP v1.6, PBAP v1.1
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Operating range Up to 10 meters