Finding a good pair of headphones is hard to do. Especially ones that are truly wireless. No cords means the fit has to be perfect or they’re uncomfortable or, worse, painful to wear. The Jabra Elite Active 65t headphones could be the best headphones of this year.
Truly wireless headphones with no cords to your phone and no cords between them have come a long way in the last couple years. Bose has entered the game as well as other big fitness sound players like Jaybird and JLab Audio. Jabra, a company with tons of experience in the business sound and headphone game has jumped into the fitness side. And their latest entry is probably the best truly wireless headphone you can get in 2018.
The Elite Active 65t truly wireless headphones are small and comfortable. They have good battery life, solid bluetooth connection and great sound. They’re easy to wear for hours at a time. Settings are easy to change through the phone app.
Let’s look at the specs.
Jabra Elite Active 65t Headphones Specs
- 5 hour battery life and 10 more in the case
- Solid phone app to change settings like HearThrough and equalizer
- Can pair with multiple devices
- Motion sensor for tracking steps
- IP56 sweat rating with 2 year warranty against sweat and dust
- Rubberized outer coating for grip on the earbuds
- Bluetooth 5
Elite Active 65t vs Jabra Elite 65t
A similar option to the Elite Active 65t‘s are the Elite 65t headphones. The newer Elite Active earbuds we’re reviewing here is a couple grams lighter. The Elite 65t is billed as the professional training option with it’s heart rate and VO2 max sensor. The Elite Active has the accelerometer for movement tracking, quick charges and is sweatproof. The heart rate monitor and VO2 max sensors mean the Elite 65t’s sell for about $30 more than the Elite Active.
Back to the Elite Active 65t.
There are a lot of pros to the Elite Active 65t‘s. The cons are few, nit picky problems experienced by other truly wireless headphones as well.Pros
- Good sound
- Comfortable to wear
- Tiny case
- Multiple silicon ear gels for different size ears
- Can use the right earbud by itself
- Jabra 3rd generation true wireless stability.
- Can opt for Google Assistant on Android and Alexa/Siri on iOS
- Rubberized feel on case and headphones
- Less battery life than larger headphones
- Still has plugged-ear feel
- Can’t use left earbud by itself
- Can’t use Google Assistant on iOS
- Only 6 equalizer presets
Sound and Connection
The sound from the 65t’s is very good. I have no issue with listening to it for long periods of time. It’s clear with plenty of bass. The sound profile can be changed in the app for more bass, more treble or both. There are 6 equalizer presets: Default (flat), Speech, Bass boost, Treble boost, Smooth and Energize. I find I’m on Bass boost most of the time since I listen to bassy tunes most of the time. If you are into different music, then you may prefer Smooth or Treble boost.The bluetooth connection has been very solid in testing over the last few months. Some headphones drop the connection periodically when the phone is further away or when the phone is just in your left pocket or backpack. Aside from the connection dropping when more than 40-50 feet away, it never drops.
The Phone App: HearThrough and changing settings
The phone app for iOS and Android gives you access to settings and listening profiles. The settings are separated into Preferences and then the listening profiles Commute, Focus and Active. You can set different settings for profiles. Changeable options are equalizer presets, HearThrough, Soundscapes and the activity tracker.
HearThrough plays sound from your surroundings through the headphones. It sounds similar to not having headphones in, even though earbuds are completely plugging your hears. When you want to hear for external sounds like traffic or kids this can be a great option. I found I couldn’t hear much if my music was loud but turned down sounds would come through. One option I’d like to see, hopefully in a firmware update, would be the option to turn up the volume on the HearThrough sounds.
Along with HearThrough, equalizer presets and white noise soundscapes can be changed within each listening mode. A bunch of different white and pink noise sounds allow you to drown out all other noise. This is great in the focus mode. There’s also an activity tracker that uses the accelerometer in the headphones. You can track your steps when the tracker is active. I’m not sure I’ll ever use this since the iPhone can do this anyways and I can’t enable the tracker without my phone. The slightly different more expensive Jabra Elite Sport headphones have a VO2 max and heart rate monitor built in. They would show in the app as well.
Case and Charging
The case is tiny, only slightly larger than an AirPod case. Compared to other headphone cases, it easily fits in your pocket. The buds slide into place and the case closes easily. It would be nice if they could magnet into place inside a bit more than they do. The earbuds hold 5 hours of a charge and the case holds another 10. I use them a lot and quickly run through the charge on the headphones but popping them back into the case turns the earbud off and charges them at the same time. You don’t even realize they’re charging until the the 15 hours are gone and it’s time to charge again.
Charging is easy with a micro-usb cord into the bottom of the case. There’s a tiny led light above the usb port that displays red, yellow or green, depending on how much charge you have. A 15 minute quick charge gives you 1.5 hours of battery. The case has a slight rubberized grip to them which feels really good.
What could use a little work
None of these items are major issues. The 65t’s are very refined and use the latest tech so it’s hard to find fault with any of the features. These are my upgrade requests to take these headphones into absolutely stellar level of performance.
Less battery life than larger headphones – Larger truly wireless headphones may have more battery life but the headphone and case are also larger. The Epic Air headphones from JLab have 10 hours in the headphone but are larger with an ear hook around the back and have a much larger case.
Still has plugged-ear feel – Most wireless headphones sit deep in your ear to seal out sounds and actually stay in. It creates a plugged-ear feel that makes breathing sound loud in your head. I’m not a fan of it but at this point almost every headphone does it.
Can’t use left earbud by itself – The phone connects to the right ear bud which then connects to the left earbud. This means you can use the right earbud by itself but not the left one. I use the earbuds by themselves quite a bit and would love to be able to use either.
Can’t use Google Assistant on iPhone – This might be a limitation of iOS but you can’t use Google Assistant on iOS app yet. Siri and Alexa are the only options. I use all Google Assistant and Google Home for my assistant needs at home.
Only 6 equalizer presets – The app only has 6 presets to choose from. Jaybirds app has a ton of different presets to choose from, even listing favourites from their athletes. It does let you adjust the equalizer to whatever you like to hear. There’s no way to save it though.
Final Thoughts on the Jabra Elite Active 65t Headphones
After testing a large set of headphones this year and using headphones almost on a daily basis for the last few years for workouts, running and work, the Jabra Elite Active 65t headphones are the best truly wireless set I’ve used so far and easily the best of 2018. There could be a few small improvements but my requests aren’t anything major. A few of them could just be addressed with firmware and app updates.
I highly recommend the Jabra Elite Active 65t headphones.