“The Jabra Elite 65t Active comes with IP56 certification and a built-in accelerometer to track steps”
Truly wireless earphones have become commonplace nowadays. Apple’s decision to cut the cord back in 2016 spread like wildfire and today, almost all major audio manufacturers have a wire-free option in their portfolio. Unfortunately, Apple’s offering doesn’t play too well with Android smartphones and only a handful of alternatives can rival the convenience offered by the AirPods without costing an arm and a leg. The only product that comes to mind is Jabra’s Elite Sport earbuds (review) which I reviewed last year. Now, the company is back with yet another truly wireless earphone in the form of the Elite 65t Active which begs the question – should you buy them over the similarly priced Elite Sport? Well, that’s what I’m here to figure out.
From the minute you unbox the Jabra Elite 65t Active, you get the sense that you’ve spent your money well. The earphones come packaged neatly in a yellow cardboard box, opening which you’ll find the earbuds along with a carrying case which doubles up as a battery bank. You’ll get three different sizes of ear tips to go along with your Elite 65t Active’s as well as a micro-USB cable to charge the case. Talk of a satisfying unboxing experience.
Design and Comfort
While it’s true that the audio quality of a pair of earphones makes or breaks their sale, the design of the product is just as important. With that in mind, Jabra has dressed the Elite 65t Active up to the nines and the earphones manage to strike the delicate balance between a sporty and a classy look. I got my hands on the navy-blue/gold colourway of the in-ear headphones, but those looking for a subtler look can also pick up the Elite 65t Active in a black-on-black hue.
The overall build of the earphones is on par with the best of the best too. The Elite 65t Active sport a rubberised matte finish which is soft to the touch and resists smudges and stains. Moreover, unlike the chunkier Elite Sport, the Elite 65t Active’s buds don’t protrude outwards all that much either, allowing you to concentrate more on the runs and less on your appearance. That said, lying on one side is still not a pleasant experience as the earpieces tend to prick your ears.
Now, as its moniker suggests, the Elite 65t Active is geared to appease consumers who like to sweat it out in the gym. Consequently, the 65t Active ship with IP56 certification, making them impervious to damage from sweat and light spills of rain. As luck may have it, Delhi is experiencing some rains as of writing this review, which gave me more than enough time to field-test the earphones’ IP-rating. Well, even after drenching myself in rain, the 65t Active’s still worked flawlessly.
While truly wireless earphones save you the trouble of spending countless minutes untangling wires, they also have their fair share of compromises. The biggest tradeoff, at least in my books is that the music controls tend to go for a toss. While some manufacturers do provide buttons on the earpieces, pressing them usually means poking your ear with a sharp stick. In other words, it’s not an enjoyable experience.
That said, I didn’t face any problems using the three buttons present on the Elite 65t’s chassis (two on the left earpiece and one on the right). The buttons offered a satisfactory tactile feedback and were relatively easy to press too. As for the functions, the buttons on the left earpiece are programmed to increase/decrease the volume on a short press and switch between tracks on a long press. The button on the right earpiece invokes the Google Assistant or Siri on a long press, pauses or resumes the music playback on a short press and activates the HearThrough mode. Interestingly, the Jabra Elite 65t Active pause the music playback automatically if you remove an earbud from your ears, similar to what you might’ve experienced on Apple’s AirPods.
As advertised on the company’s website, the Elite 65t Active’s form a secure and snug fit inside a user’s ears. Therefore, you can work out in peace without worrying about the earpieces slipping out of your ears.
Lastly, you’ll get a case to store your Elite 65t Active securely and charge them when the earbuds run out of juice. The case is fairly compact and can easily fit inside the pocket of your slim-fit jeans. Moreover, the unit comes with a tiny LED indicator positioned at the bottom which flashes in different colours to indicate the battery of the earphones. You’ll also get a micro-USB port positioned below the LED indicator which will be used to charge the case and in turn, the earbuds.
Sound, Battery life, and Connectivity
At its core, the Jabra Elite 65t Active are fitness earphones and therefore, it comes as no surprise that the sound signature is heavily influenced by the bass and sub-bass frequencies. Now, depending upon your taste in music, that could be a good or a bad thing. I for one felt right at home with the earphoness bass-driven sound profile. Listening to BLV’s Badunkadunk or LSD’s Audio, I enjoyed the strong and crisp bass the Elite 65 ‘had to offer. Coupled with the earphone’s well-balanced mid-range, I never struggled to make out a song’s lyrics even when I was jamming to tunes with chaotic beats. A fine example of the same is 5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood wherein, the beats amp up significantly during the chorus without clouding the singer’s voice.
On the flip side, the earphones struggle to do justice to songs like Mr Brightside from Killers, which predominately targets the high-end of the frequency spectrum. Riffs from a guitar sound gibberish on the Elite 65t Active and while the earphones still preserve the essence of songs from the rock/metal genre, you’ll have to be very forgiving if you want to enjoy such tracks.
One of the biggest flaws which has plagued truly wireless earbuds is their inconsistency to hold connection when paired to a smartphone. However, with Bluetooth v5.0 at its disposal, I never came across any instances of connection drops or track-skips with the Elite 65t Active. Bear in mind, you’ll need a smartphone which supports the latest iteration of Bluetooth to enjoy stable connections.
As far as the battery life is concerned, the Elite 65t Active boasts up to 5 hours of continuous music playback with an additional ten hours of juice banked in the case. Now, during my week-long stint with the earphones, I couldn’t drain the battery completely as I kept popping them in and out of the battery case. Therefore, the battery life shouldn’t be a thorn in your side as long as you don’t listen to music continuously for hours on end.
Fitness features and Jabra Sound+ app
Much like the Jabra Elite Sport, the Jabra Elite 65t Active are also geared towards fitness. Consequently, the earphones ship with a built-in accelerometer to monitor movement and keep a count of steps when you’re out and about. Unfortunately, since the company isn’t using a dedicated step tracker inside the 65t Active, you can easily fool the accelerometer into counting steps and cheat your goals.
On the contrary, the Jabra Sound+ app is quite intuitive and comes loaded with a ton of helpful features. For starters, you can toggle the earphones’ HearThrough mode on or off from within the app and can even control how much background noise you want to let in. Moreover, you can play around with the EQ to change the 65t Active’s sonic profile and the app also works as a gateway to installing updates on the earphones. What’s more, you get a one-year additional warranty if you register your Elite 65t Active on the Sound+ app. It also helps that Jabra has paid attention to the app’s UI, which looks beautiful and functional.
Retailing for Rs 14,999, the Jabra Elite 65t Active is just Rs 1,000 shy of the Elite Sport earphones launched last year. Now, if you prioritise fitness over everything else, then I’d recommend you swallow the Rs 1,000 margin and just buy the Elite Sport earbuds. However, if you want a pair of good-looking, good-sounding truly wireless earphones which don’t drop connection on a whim, then the Elite 65t Active are a good shout. While there are plenty of other truly wireless earphones in the market, the prospect of a reliable connection coupled with the aforementioned features makes the 65t Active a winner in my books.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Good-looking design
- IP56 certification
- Good response in bass and mid-range
- Rock solid connection over Bluetooth
- Fitness features seem gimmicky
- Highs are non-existent