It’s finally here. The first hearable where battery life is reasonable! Before now, there has always been a compromise between performance and run-time but with the Jabra Elite 65T I have to say, I’ve been impressed.
Unboxing of Jabra Elite 65T
When I got my Jabra’s through the door I was like a kid at Christmas. I couldn’t wait to get them on. I carefully removed the sleeve and saw the Elite 65T’s for the first time. The brushed metal faceplate and the gloss black body looked great. I put them in my ears and they were very comfortable. I was greeted by a startup tune and a realistic voice advising me that I was ‘not connected’.
The setup process was straightforward enough. You will probably need some help from the instructions but these were well written and informative.
If when inserting the 65T’s they don’t feel comfortable you can refer back to the packaging where you will find smaller or larger sized domes. These attach on to the end of the Jabra’s and are easily replaced/removed. I changed mine from the medium to the small but found that I didn’t get a tight enough seal.
Top tip: An easy way to tell if your Jabra’s are fitting well is by putting them in your ears and listening to your favourite track. If the music you are listening to sounds shallow/tinny then you have probably got a poor fit in which case, you need to try a bigger dome.
As I wasn’t getting on with the small domes I decided to switch back to the medium. But uh oh! The dome fell off in my ear. As I was removing the device, the dome which should have stayed on the end of the right one came off and was left stranded in my ear canal. It was too deep to get it out by hand and so I needed this to be removed using forceps.
Fortunately, I’m an audiologist and understand what to do in this situation. However, this may not be the case for someone less experienced. I change domes on hearing aids almost every day of the working week and so I know how to get them on securely. This leads me to think that perhaps the dome fixture isn’t quite strong enough.
I will emphasise though that this was an isolated incident. Since going back to the medium domes it hasn’t happened to me. Perhaps I did make a mistake when putting it on but I would be interested to hear if anyone else has this problem.
Advise: If the dome does fall off in your ear do not panic. You will need to seek medical help to get it out. It should not do any harm in the position it is in. However, attempting to remove the dome yourself may push it further down. Pushing it further down may cause harm.
After the drama of domegate I finally managed to sit down with the Jabra Elite 65T smart headphones and really have a play. For wireless ear buds the sound quality is very good. The bass is rich and the mids are clear. When listening to, ‘Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 2’ by Stormzy the harmonies are powerfully delivered and the bass is crisp without being overpowering.
The treble is definitely the weakest point. A track like ‘Dive (Acoustic)’ by Ed Sheeran demonstrates this weakness quite well. Listen to this song on a good set of speakers. You can hear that Ed is deliberately distorting his guitar which produces a pleasant dynamic. However, with the Jabra’s it struggles to replicate the high frequency resonances and it sounds harsh and quite unpleasant.
At this point I will jump in to the rescue of the Jabra Elite 65T’s. The reason they struggle with high frequency reproduction is not due to the speaker or the in-built amplifier but because of the wireless connection with the phone. It transfers data from the phone at a sample rate of 16KHz. This means it can’t accurately replicate sounds above about 8KHz. This is why we notice those distortions because our ears can detect sounds as high as 20KHz. There aren’t many instruments or speech components that go beyond this 8KHz cut-off but certain nuances in music are lost which can affect enjoyment.
At present no wireless hearables are using a higher sample rate because it is too demanding on the battery life. In the future, we will see this improve and I look forward to the day when we are able to achieve those ideal 44.1KHz sample rates.
I’ve been wearing the Jabra Elite 65T ear buds every day now for about 2 weeks and I’ve only had to charge the case once. I listen to music on the walk in to work and also leave them in my ears on my commute home which is about an hour and a half each way. I’m sometimes streaming music or just using them as handsfree in the car.
If you are a casual user like me they are amazing and charging is a rare occurrence (probably once a week). If you are a heavy user, you can expect about 4 hours of constant streaming. You can then recharge using the case and can get a total of about 15 hours before you actually need to plug in to a wall.
HearThrough is a great feature for the Jabra Elite 65T and differentiates them from standard wireless headphones. It allows you to switch on the microphones with a simple double tap of a button. When active you become aware of your environment even when listening to music. This is a great feature for runners that may worry about their safety when listening to music.
Jabra Elite Sport
Runners may also prefer to look at the model up from the 65T. The Jabra Elite Sport model has the same features as the 65T but also has sweat resistance protection, built in heart rate monitor and a concha lock for better retention in the ear.
HearThrough works because of the use of directional microphones. This is often a feature seen in hearing aids. Jabra come under the GN company which also make Resound hearing aids. They have decades of experience in manufacturing this technology and so they know what they are doing.
The only quibble I’ve had with the directional microphones is talking on the phone when walking down a busy street. The background noise of the passing cars made it difficult for the person on the other end of the phone to hear me. This will hopefully improve over time with the introduction of other features such as adaptive wind and noise cancellation and own voice processing.
Siri Voice Control
The Siri voice assistant has worked well. I’ve not had an issue with confusion or not understanding instructions. It is operated by simply holding the button on the right device for one second. They are due to release an update soon that will allow for communication with Amazon Alexa.
Some other features which I liked about the Jabra Elite 65T hearables are the biometric sensors. They are the little gold dots on the opposite side of the faceplate. These detect when you have them in your ears and will automatically switch themselves on when inserted and also pause music if you remove them temporarily. This is great for in the office when a colleague wants a quick conversation. Just remove any one of the devices and it will pause the music. Pop it back in and you carry on exactly where you left off.
Jabra have restricted these biometric sensors somewhat on the model I tested because they are also capable of measuring your heart rate on the more premium sport version.
2018 will see a new wave of hearing technology emerge. Jabra have produced an incredibly intuitive hearable with the Elite 65T. It performs well whilst maintaining acceptable wear time thanks to the charging case. The HearThrough feature is something we will see much more of from all manufacturers and I look forward to seeing this technology develop in future models. For now though, I’m very much enjoying my Jabra’s and would recommend them to anyone looking to purchase smart wireless earbuds.