Jabra Elite 65t hands-on impressions: Best in class

Jabra's latest nips it in the buds
Jabra Elite 65t
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Personal audio is called personal for a reason. Each person has a different preference and needs for an audio accessory, be it earbuds, headphones or speakers. Increasingly, market trends have moved towards wireless audio, spurred by the advent of mobile phones and the mobile lifestyle. While wireless headphones have been around for a bit, wireless earbuds are starting to become popular amongst people on-the-go and fitness freaks. It’s a big enough pie for brands like Apple to jump in – the Cupertino company’s AirPods have been doing well. Other brands like Samsung and Sony have joined the party, alongside the usual suspects namely Bose, B&O and JayBird.

Which brings us to another renowned audio brand – Jabra. The Danish company is a familiar name in the headset and audio solutions business, first carving its niche in the mono Bluetooth headset segment and audio solutions in unified communications. It wasn’t long before it ventured into the lucrative music-focused segment of the market, and subsequently into health and fitness territory.

In fact, Jabra can pride itself to have the widest product range with offerings for mobile executives (Jabra Eclipse, Jabra Steel), sports-focused wireless headsets (Sport Coach, Sport Pulse, Halo Fusion), productivity-based headphones (Evolve and Biz series) and premium wireless earbuds (Jabra Elite Sport).

Its latest attempt in the true wireless earbuds category is the Elite 65t and Elite Active 65t, introduced at CES earlier in the year. The third generation true wireless earbuds instantly won critical acclaim, picking up the CES Innovation Award 2018.

Jabra learned plenty from the original Elite Sport (and its second-generation offering) – its best-selling, most technically advanced true wireless sports earbuds. I’ve been a huge fan of the Elite Sport since acquiring them last year, and it has become the benchmark for the segment.

Building on the success of the Elite Sport, the new earbuds incorporate the best and most loved features from its predecessor, while delivering even better voice and audio performance.

I’ve been using the Elite 65t for several weeks, and I can confidently say that they’re better than the Elite Sport in battery life, comfort, audio as well as being more affordable.

What’s in the box

  • Jabra Elite 65t
  • Charging case
  • Micro-USB cable
  • 3 sets of silicon EarGels
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty & Warning Leaflets

Technical specs at a glance

Let’s do a quick run-through on what the Elite 65t offers. In terms of design, the Elite 65t feels a tad smaller than the Elite Sport and a little flashier aesthetics-wise due to its silver accents. They’re offered in Titanium Black, Copper Black and Gold Biege colour options.

They’re still chunky compared to let’s say Apple AirPods, with a tiny stalk protruding at the end of each bud. They’re not just for aesthetics of course, housing a mic that points towards your mouth. There are additional mics on the side that work together with an optimised acoustic chamber to enable advanced noise suppression and voice enhancement. It can cancel out wind noise too, a feature I’ve come to appreciate when I’m commuting or when I’m on a call.

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Being smaller, the Elite65t buds pop into your ears without fuss and stay secure even if you’re running about or for some reason shaking your head vigorously. I did find them a little slippery especially when removing them from the charge case, perhaps due to its overall rounder design. Build quality, as you’d expect, is excellent.

The charge case is slimmer than the Elite Sport’s and it’s designed in an upright orientation instead of a horizontal approach on the Elite Sport. Oddly, the Elite 65t’s charge case doesn’t stand upright which is an annoyance, and thus I favour the Elite Sport’s.

On a positive note, the earbuds are more comfortable than the Elite Sport. They’re also a tad lighter – the Elite Sport’s buds weight 6.5g each, while the Elite 65t’s right and left buds weight 6.5g and 5.8g respectively. Unlike the sport-focused Elite Sport, the Elite 65t doesn’t have an in-ear heart rate & V02 max monitor, which explains why they’re slightly lighter. It offers IP55 dust- and splash-resistance, as opposed to IP67 on the Elite Sport.

The earbuds are covered by a 2-year warranty against damage from water and dust, by the way.

The Elite 65t offers up to five hours of listening time on one charge, and the charge case supplies another 10 hours of use.

With voice assistants becoming a norm in our everyday lives, it’s no surprise Jabra has made the Elite 65t voice assistant-ready out-of-the-box. The earbuds support all major voice services including Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.

[nextpage title=”First impressions”]

Through the work week, I tend to commute a lot. You’ll see me driving to work, parking the car at the office, then taking the LRT, MRT, Grab or even cycle with Obike to get to where I need to go, usually a tech event that’s happening somewhere in the Klang Valley. SOCAR would be proud of me for “multiplexing.”

So, music is everything. Spotify and a pair of good, lightweight headphones/earphones/earbuds. While I’m an over- and on-ear headphones kind of guy, I appreciate wireless earbuds for fuss-free use and comfort when I’m moving about. This is why the Elite 65t is perfect. It’s lightweight, durable, robust and most importantly, it sounds great. I dare say they sound even better than the Elite Sport.

In fact, I think they’re probably the best-sounding wireless earbuds I’ve used thus far. Audio is clear and balanced, with great dynamic range and surprisingly punchy bass.

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They also fit well and offer great passive noise-cancellation right off the bat.

Setting up is super easy too. Download the Jabra Sound+ app, pair the Elite 65t to your Android or iOS device and off you go. The app offers extra features and lets you personalise your entire Jabra experience. From choosing your default voice assistant, to customising your music profile, keeping track of battery life and more.

Jabra’s HearThrough technology lets you modify how much ambient sound you want to hear from your surroundings. When you’re commuting or crossing the road for instance, you may want to tweak settings to let you hear more. While I’m working at a café, I turn this off to focus.

Through the app you can also tweak your call experience, letting you enhance certain frequencies (bass and treble) depending on the type of calls you get. Additionally, you can adjust how much of your own voice you want to hear through the mic when you’re on the call.

Audio quality on calls is amazingly clear and voice pickup is excellent.

In terms of earbud controls, the Elite 65t splits control duties between the two buds. The left controls volume and track changes, with the right handling functions like calls, playing and pausing, and invoking the voice assistant of your choice.

The Elite 65t has less pronounced nibs on the left bud compared to the Elite Sport, so I sometimes need to really feel my way through to find the volume controls. The Elite Sport has better usability in this sense, with tactile cues on both buds.

In terms of battery life, the Elite 65t is great, delivering around five hours of use per charge. Sliding it back into the pillbox case gives it juice for another 10 hours. The charge case is a little tricky to open, by the way. The trick is to squeeze the top lid a little to unfasten it from the bottom, and no, you won’t need to break your nail doing it.

Early verdict

The Elite 65t is what you’d expect from Jabra –well-designed, impeccably-built with superior audio and rich features. Granted, it isn’t perfect, with several areas which I feel could have been better. Nonetheless, it’s an attractive package reinforced with a great price point. They’re suited for those looking for a pair of everyday wireless earbuds. For those needing more fitness-focused features, the Elite Sport and Elite Active 65t (not yet in Malaysia) are better options.

Stay tuned for a full review.

Pricing and availability

The Elite 65t retails for MYR799 and can be purchased from authorised Jabra retailers offline and online. You can also pick a set up from the official Jabra store on 11street. The earbuds are covered by a 2-year warranty.

For more information, visit https://www.jabra.com/bluetooth-headsets/jabra-elite-65t



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