Change is tough for most people, but there comes a time when dated technology deserves to be relegated to the back of the closet. After several years with a pair of Klipsch S4 earbuds and then around two years with various pairs of Audio-Technica earbuds that did not hold up well, it was time to go wireless. Enter the Jabra Elite 65t true wireless earbuds.
After combing the internet and looking through practically every pair of wireless earbuds in existence, Jabra’s offering won out. The Elite 65t earbuds do many things well, but may not be the absolute best in any one given category.
For any pair of earbuds, comfort is one of the most noticeable characteristics the moment they are tried on for the first time. It was a little awkward getting used to the twisting motion required to properly lodge the earbuds in such a way that they comfortably sit without feeling like they are going to fall out. After a few weeks, the Elite 65t’s had no problem staying in place for the duration of their battery life. Although not perfect, comfort is more than adequate for everyday use.
In the battery department, Jabra claims that the Elite 65t earbuds can achieve 5 hours of use, and then can be recharged twice using the case for a total of 15 hours. In practice, actual use time tends to run closer to the 4-hour mark, with the total runtime clocking in around 12-13 hours depending on usage. Strictly listening to music at a medium volume for a few hours at a time, then allowing time for a full recharge can in fact get pretty close to specified use time.
Should you wish to rock out a bit and listen at louder volumes, Jabra has got you covered on this front. Not only are the Elite 65t capable of getting uncomfortably loud, they do not distort audio at any volume that reasonable humans are willing to put into their ears. Volume controls on the left earbud adjust the volume on the earbuds themselves, not the output volume of the device they are paired with.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the storage and charging case is the fact that is still has a microUSB port on it. Jabra really needs to start selling a replacement case with USB-C on it. The case also is difficult to keep clean internally. The soft touch material feels nice, but it is very difficult to remove trace amounts of earwax from. On the outside, the semi-glossy black shows fingerprints as expected, but at least the exterior is easily cleaned with a cloth.
Unlike AirPods that dangle freely in your ears, Jabra’s Elite 65t buds form a good seal that passively blocks out most ambient noise. Even though they are not noise cancelling, they are good enough for use on airplanes and while walking through noisy city streets.
While still on the topic of AirPods, call quality is an area that Jabra falls a little short in. Jabra does make drastically better sounding earbuds, but Apple wins on clarity of phone calls. As a wearer of the earbuds, everything sounds just fine. However, recipients of calls will be subjected to mediocre noise canceling effects. Having a total of four microphones to work with still does not make the Elite 65t good enough for phone calls.
For those that listen to audio while they work, the noise isolation might be too good for office work. To avoid being startled by coworkers, one of the unique features is an audio pass through feature using the dual microphones found in each earbud. Admittedly, this is a feature that does not work as well as it should, but it does the job. Voices sound tinny and seem very inconsistent in volume. It is still preferable to just take out the earbuds if you are going to hold a conversation with someone.
Over time, sound quality has remained excellent. These are not audiophile cans, but they are certainly leagues above dollar store earbuds. Lows are reproduced as good as can be expected from tiny drivers, with mids and highs displaying clarity that matches equally expensive wired earbuds.
The Jabra Sound+ app allows for greater control of the Elite 65t. Customizable equalizers and access to additional settings such as which voice assistant can be activated are available. It is possible to avoid using the app entirely, but it is at least worth checking out early on. Over time, the app has been used less and less. It is now hidden in the depths of my app drawer just taking up space.
Unfortunately, wireless connectivity does have its downfalls. Jabra has not created the perfect wireless system. There will be times when audio stops for a second or encounters some unwanted noise. Although not all that frequent, it happens often enough to wish that the connection was better. Jabra offers no real advice for this phenomenon.
When using the Elite 65t with different devices, your mileage will vary greatly. Connecting to smartphones and tablets that only have Bluetooth 4.x will result in a significantly worse experience full of stuttering audio. Connecting to a laptop with Bluetooth 4.0 was practically useless. The audio quality sounded like holding a payphone handset next to each ear. In all fairness, Jabra does state that “Bluetooth is not optimized for audio streaming on many computers.” Trying again with a newer laptop that has Bluetooth 5.0, the audio quality was still pretty poor, but at least usable in a pinch.
The privilege of using nearly identical wireless earbuds for Skype calls and video conferencing will cost you almost twice as much. Jabra’s Evolve 65t earbuds are the business version of the Elite 65t gaining a Bluetooth USB adapter specifically for audio streaming. Aside from that, they look almost identical. Elite Active 65t and Elite Sport models add full protection against sweat and heart rate monitoring respectively if there are any serious fitness readers here. For casual trips to the gym, the standard Elite 65t buds have IP55 protection and in my case have held up just fine.
With all that said, would I buy the Jabra Elite 65t again? In short, yes. If you are able to look past some minor annoyances associated with wireless connectivity, it is liberating to never feel the tug of wires at your ears. Apple users will not get quite the same fluid experience with third-party hardware, but they can benefit from far superior audio. Android users should strongly consider the Elite 65t with few reservations.
Jabra has the Elite 65t earbuds listed at $169.99 on their website and sells them directly on Amazon and Best Buy but they're closer to $150 on the retailers with a few sales bringing them even a tad lower if you're in luck and the idea of quality wireless earbuds sounds intriguing but the asking price is just a little more than you are willing to part with.