Jabra are a brand that we all know but are not a household brand for non-tech-heads. They have a history of making Bluetooth headsets for business and more recently for the general public. Their foray into personal Bluetooth headphones has been very successful with them producing some great products.
Their latest entry is the Jabra Elite Active 65t, an apparent upgrade over the Elite 65e among others. When I got a chance to try the Elite Active 65t out I jumped at the opportunity to put these through their paces and compare them to the several other sets of true wireless earbuds I have tested recently.
Hardware and functionality
Before I get into opinions on the Jabra Elite Active 65t headphones I’ll cover the facts about them. The headphones are true wireless headphones and come packaged with three different sets of silicon ear bud sizes as well as a carry/charging case. Each earbud has a functional button on it with the right including a microphone. The right headset weighs in at just 6.5 grams and the left at 5.8 grams. The charging case is also lightweight at just 67 grams.
The earbuds, as you would expect from something with the word active in its name are sweat and dust resistant — IP56 to be exact with the 2 year warranty against sweat and dust.
The button on the right headset is used to make and answer phone calls. A long press of it calls up your digital assistant (yes Google Assistant functions perfectly), while a double press will activate what Jabra are calling HearThrough which allows outside noise (eg. a car coming up behind you) to be able to be heard.
The left headset button has a front and rear rocker with one increasing volume (long press skip song) and the other end of the rocker decreasing volume (long press previous song).
How do they sound?
Let’s get into the guts of Bluetooth headphones. Everyone really wants to know three things — how do they sound, how comfortable are they and how good is the connection?
The sound that these produce is amazing. Each time I try out a new pair of these true wireless headphones I am impressed even more by the sound they produce. The Jabra Elite Active 65t are no exception, taking the lead in my list of true wireless headphones I have tested out. The bass is actually quite deep and has some decent kick to it although still not as good as over the ear cans it was impressive — the best I have heard from true wireless headphones. As you would expect, the mids and upper sounds were well produced with great loudness and depth of soundall the while seemingly being crisp and accurate.
Jabra also have an app that allows you to alter the equaliser to a sound that suits the music you are listening to. Using this app (or the right earbud button) you can also activate HearThrough to allow you to hear your surrounding environment. This is required as the seal within the ear canal is snug without being uncomfortable. Very little outside noise is able to get through and disturb your listening unless you allow it with HearThrough. The app also allows you to change the level of outside noise that is hear with a sliding scale.
The Elite Active 65t have a great functionality where the music is paused when an earbud is removed from your ear. To unpause the music the earbud must just be placed back in the ear within 60 seconds and after that using the multifunction button on the right earbud. these settings are configured in the Jabra Sound+ app.
How is the fit?
I was sceptical at first as to how secure these would be. There is no big fin or massive ear bud tips to wedge them and keep them in the ear canal. Even without that the earbuds turn to fit into the ear as well as any others I have used before — and there are three included sizes so you will hopefully be able to find one to fit your ear canal.
Jabra have instructions of how to fit them into your ear and you do so by putting them in the ear and rotating them so the “arm” sits anteriorly. Somehow, and I suspect it is pure magic, the earbuds then sit securely in the ear. No matter of head shaking can pull them out and they sit comfortably within the ear for as long as you want to use them.
How is the connection?
No matter how good the earbuds fit, nor how good they sound, if the connection consistently drops out then their effectiveness is diminished greatly. Jabra do not let themselves down with the connection of these earbuds.
As you would expect from a company that has been doing Bluetooth headsets for a very long time the connection is immaculate. Pairing was simple and as easy to do as just about any other Bluetooth accessory I have used. The headset will also give you voice controls on how to pair the earbuds with your phone. When both earbuds are turned on and within 20 centimetres of each other they will automatically re-link after separation.
The Bluetooth 5.0 connection between the phone and the earbuds allowed for seamless music transference at all times. There were no dropouts, no losing connection from one earbud to the other and the connection was good for over 10 metres (Jabra say 10m but I managed to get more than that), and it was strong at all times. Hopefully more manufacturers will start using Bluetooth 5.0 in their accessories because if that is the reason for the Jabra connection then I feel it is a must have and worth whatever the cost.
Some manufacturers have been including equaliser software for their headphones and Jabra have not neglected this important part of the experience. While the app is fairly basic as is the equaliser and not as good as the Jaybird app it is still an impressive addition to the headphones.
It allows you to alter the EQ as well as activate and deactive HearThrough and change its level. There are a few presets within the app including a commuting, a working and an active preset.
What about the battery life?
Jabra quote five hours of battery life in each charge with the charging case providing two full charges to the earphones (10 additional hours). They have also included a fast charge mode where just 15 minutes of charging will result in an extra 1.5 hours of listening time (two hours for a full charge).
I have no reason to doubt this quotation and found the battery life to be very similar to their figures. Of course this varies with the loudness of your music and the amount of HearThrough you activate but I seemed to get more than 15 hours out of the summation of the earbuds and the charging case.
Similar to the auto-pause function there is a similar function to save battery life. The right earbud will automatically power off when it is out of range from your device for 15 minutes and not in the charging case or when it has been inactive for one hour. The left earbud will automatically power off when it has not had a link with the right earbud for 15 minutes and is not in the case.
Should you buy them?
I thought I was on a winner with the Bose SoundSport Free, and before that the Jaybird run. Sure both of those were amazing sound but each had certain things I wasn’t entirely happy with (one was rather large and one had terrible buttons). The Jabra doesn’t suffer from either of these afflictions with a medium size that does not stick out too far the ear and it’s buttons are easy to press without pushing into the head nor dislodging them from the ear canal.
The Jabra’s also were a cut above the other two with their sound — they are 6 months newer than either of those and are Bluetooth 5.0 as well. These two factors combined with the fact that Jabra have been doing Bluetooth headsets for a long time leave me not surprised they are able to produce such clean, deep sound in a surprisingly small package.
Another positive is the IP56 rating of the Jabra Elite Active 65t. Very handy when at the gym getting your cardio on — or when out in the rain being active.
Of course, for such a pair of true wireless headphones with no glaringly obvious negatives you pay a premium price. The RRP for the Jabra Elite Active 65t is $329, higher than both the Bose SoundSport Free ($299) and the Jaybird Run ($249) but in my opinion if you can stretch that few extra dollars are well worth it. Stockists for the Elite Active 65t can be found on Jabra’s website or a quick shortcut to your local JB Hi-Fi and are available in a blue and copper colour.
I can highly recommend the Jabra Elite Active 65t for any serious trainer, or anyone at all, who wants a set of high end Bluetooth headphones without a single wire in sight. I know I recently said the Bose were the best but guess what, technological advances march on and we have a new leader at the top of the heap with the Jabra Elite Active 65t.