As someone who is very picky when it comes to earbuds, I tend to shy away from most of them and just stick with over-the-ear headphones. I was rather fond of the Apple AirPods but the problem I had with them is they won’t stay in my ears. Not everyone’s ears are the same (the Airpods fit Robyn’s ears perfectly) and you either love Apple’s EarPods and AirPods or you hate them. Because of how easy they pair and how lightweight they are I was a fan of them. I hated that the left one would never stay in my ear — even when I was sitting still, it would work its way out. Needless to say, because of this unruly experience, my love for over-the-ear headphones was deepened.
While at CES this year I got to visit with the team from Jabra. They make some of the coolest Bluetooth headsets around and some great sport earbuds. Jabra has been designing a pair of earbuds to take the place of Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds for some time and the new Jabra Elite 65t are those earbuds. I’ve been using them for several weeks now and I can happily say they are amazing. Like the AirPods, the Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds from the past did not fit my ears correctly but they worked great for one of our writers Brian. The Elite 65t has a slightly different design and fit in my ears perfectly.
Before I dive into all the details and my full experience, I want to point out something very special about these earbuds. Jabra is part of the GN Group, which also owns ReSound, a company that focuses on engineering hearing aids. This really benefitted the team from Jabra with the Elite 65t earbuds because the two teams worked together to create a consumer-friendly, magical experience in both size and sound. When I asked Jabra about this, they said:
“Yes, our combined R&D facility enables us to take learnings on miniaturization and sound tech from GN ReSound. This gives us the unique ability to be the only manufacturer that can provide professional, consumer, and medical grade products.”
You are truly getting the best of both worlds with the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds.
The Jabra Elite 65t earbuds are designed to give you the best wireless experience possible from an earbud. With that in mind, they have designed these headphones with:
- Enhanced Microphone Abilities: There are 4 microphones built into the earbuds to give you a wide frequency range (100Hz to 10kHz) and increased sensitivity (-38 dBV/Pa). This 4-microphone system also provides ambient noise reduction and wind noise protection.
- Superior Speakers: The speaker size is 6.0 x 5.1 mm and has a frequency range of 20Hz to 20Khz.
- Automated Functions: Similar to Apple’s AirPods, the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds allow for auto turn-on when you remove them from their charging case and auto pause when one earbud is taken out of the ear.
- Protection from the elements: The earbuds are rated at IP55, which means that it is dust resistant and water resistant up to low-pressure water jet sprays. For more information on IP ratings, take a look at this blog entry from Jabra. The earbuds also come with a 2-year warranty against damage from the water and dust.
- Customized Comfort: Jabra includes 3 different sized sets of ear gels that allow for users to find their ideal fit.
- Long Battery Life/Easily Charged: The Elite 65t earbuds have a talk time of up to 5 hours (15 hours with the charging case) and only take 2 hours to fully charge (with a USB wall charger). The case/earbuds will recharge quickly and you can gain up to 1.5 hours of battery life with a single 15-minute charging session. On a full charge, the case actually contains two recharges on the go.
- Cutting Edge Connectivity: As third generation true wireless products, the earbuds feature Bluetooth 5.0, which has a range of up to 33 feet. You can pair up to 8 devices and be connected to two of them simultaneously.
- Advanced App Experience: The Jabra Sound+ app was definitely designed with the user in mind. With it, you can customize your listening experience no matter what your audio source is. The app includes a battery level display, Voice Assistant (i.e. Siri, etc.), Audio Experience controls, Call Experience, Equalizer, Device Details, and App Details.
PACKAGING AND UNBOXING
Jabra has very nice, branded packaging for their products. I’ve always been appreciative of the amount of detail they use and how protected their products are inside the box. The Elite 65t earbuds arrived in style inside one of these fabulous Jabra boxes. The outer sleeve covered the basics of the device and displayed a very nice product photo of the headphones.
The inner box was nested inside a thicker cardboard sleeve that was bright yellow with Jabra GN emblazoned on the outside of it. The earbuds were locked away inside this inner box, which had a form-fitted plastic interior. I want to give due credit to the Jabra packaging team here because the first thing you see when you open the box is the earbuds. There is a piece of cardstock that lies on top of the plastic tray. There is a cut out in the center that only allows you to see the earbuds. Across the top, it reads: Welcome to Superior Sound. I honestly felt like I was in for something special when I saw this.
The plastic housed not only the earbuds, but also the charging case, and accessories. When I finally got the earbuds out of the fitted plastic, which was a bit of a pain, I pulled out the accessory box and paperwork (the support numbers, warranty information, and user guide were all one booklet). Inside the accessory box, I found a Micro USB cable for charging and a strip of ear gels which contained two sizes — small and large. The medium ear gels were already on the earbuds.
The first thing I did was to see how well the earbuds fit my ears. Since this had been a problem for me in the past, I wanted to ensure that the ‘fit’ didn’t affect the rest of my listening experience. Out of the box, the earbuds had the medium ear gels already installed. I found that this didn’t suit my ears very well so I switched to the smaller ear gels that were provided. As soon as I did, I found my perfect fit. A good fit is essential for a great listening experience. Over the years I found that if in-ear headphones aren’t a good fit, you won’t be able to hear the sound like you should. To wear the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds correctly, you must insert them into your ear and then rotate them so that they fit snugly inside your ear canal. This may be a bit of an awkward feeling at first, but after about 10 minutes, you don’t really even notice they are in your ears.
I found pairing the Elite 65t to be just as easy as Apple’s AirPods. I simply put them in the charging case for a bit to make sure they had a full charge and when I was ready, I opened the case, popped them both out, and placed them in my ears. The first time I turned them on (by pressing the multifunction button on the right ear), they were automatically in pairing mode. I when to Settings > Bluetooth, and waited for them to pop up on my menu. I clicked on the Jabra Elite 65t and both earbuds connected simultaneously.
Now, the user manual describes the pairing sequence a bit differently than my real-life experience. The instructions actually state that you have to hold the button on the right earbud and the left earbud to power on and then follow the voice instructions to pair your phone. This is how a lot of wireless earbuds I’ve tested have had to pair — separately. You would pair the right then have to play the game of holding a button and pairing the left. This makes for a terrible experience. I believe that my set of Jabra’s did not make me go through that because I charged them first. That means that when I pulled them from the charging case, they were automatically turned on and therefore did not have to be powered on separately. When I went to pair them with a second iPhone, all I had to do was press/hold the right ear until the voice prompt stated it was in pairing mode. Jabra’s Elite 65t pair together like the AirPods so I really love them for that.
The Elite 65t get around five hours of active use before having to be charged. This is about the same amount of time that we get with our AirPods — actually a bit more and most of the time, I will find myself not using them for a solid five hours so I can quickly give them juice from the charging case between uses without having to go out of my way. I did find that after about 3 hours of active use, the earbuds still had 49% battery life left. I am disappointed that the charging case did not take advantage of USB-C to charge and instead uses Micro USB. I feel like Micro USB is ‘old-fashioned’ technology, but know it will still likely be around for a while. Even though I’d prefer to see USB-C used by this cutting edge piece of technology, it’s not a deal breaker.
Overall, my experiences have been wonderful with the Elite 65t’s, but there was one little snag in the road — opening the charging case. Robyn and I both tried several times to pry it open by pushing up on the lid just about the Jabra logo. It wouldn’t budge. Finally, we found that if you press in just a bit (a little squeeze) on the lid, it will pull open very easily. I only wanted to point this out so no one damages their really cool charging case in the process of trying to open it.
I really love how conspicuous the controls are on the earbuds. Both the left and right earpieces have ‘invisible’ buttons. The round part of the earpiece where the Jabra logo is is the button. The right button handles the play/pause, answer end calls, and Voice Assistant controls while the left activates the use of volume control and advance/reverse tracks. I didn’t have any issues using the buttons. In addition to the basic functions that the controls provide, you can really make your listening experience great by utilizing the advanced options in the app. I’ve never used a headphone app that provided so much fine tuning but didn’t completely take control of your headphones. What I mean by that is many headphone apps will have proprietary software they want you to listen through in order to use their equalizer, or they’ve developed a relationship with a specific streaming service. The Jabra app simply controls the internal workings of the earbuds and nothing more. You have the power to use whatever services you want and make the most of your user experience.
The equalizer is incredibly easy to use although I do wish it had a way to save favorites. Having high-end hearing loss, the equalizer really makes it easy for me to enjoy listening to music again because I can adjust some of the settings so that I can hear it all better. This is another reason that I am happy that GN ReSound works with Jabra. They are specialists in getting hearing devices (headphones included) working with a connected app for the benefit of the user — not the company that made it.
All the sounds — music and movie soundtracks — were amazing. Again, the combination of the perfect fit and customizable listening experience through the app make it easy to enjoy listening to sounds of all kinds. Because I have hearing loss, I asked Robyn to test out some of the basic sound requirements of the headphones — balance between left and right earpieces and frequency check. She used two different apps to do so and turned off all other apps active on her phone including Jabra’s app. Below are her results.
- Balance: I used L or R Check to test out the balance between the two earpieces. The app plays an even tone and you can select either the left or right earpiece to hear the tone through. I was able to hear the tone equally and evenly through both the left and right earbud.
- Frequency: The app I use for this is called Tone Generator. It allows me to play a tone through both earpieces at the same time. The tone starts at 20Hz and goes up through 20 kHz — the basic hearing range for human ears. I do want to note that I personally can hear a range between 30 Hz and 17 kHz through the iPhone speaker without headphones. At 100% volume, I was able to hear as low as 20 Hz and as high as 18870 kHz although the sound was starting to get a bit garbled. I was surprised at these results, but feel that the advanced technology included in the headphones probably helps to boost the sound signal a bit.
I’ve never been a strong advocate for earbuds — of any style. But, after using the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds, I’m now a fan. These worked for me in a way that no other earbuds have. I love their ease of use and fantastic user experience. I would rate them at an A++ if that was a real rating and recommend them to any user especially those who tend to stay away from earbuds. They are a fantastic piece of technology and I can’t wait to see what Jabra develops next.
Originally published at macsources.com on February 15, 2018.