The Jabra Elite Active 65t’s cousins, the Jabra Elite Sport truly wireless headphones, really are wonders of modern technology, tracking your heart rate and activity, estimating your VO2 max and coaching you throughout workouts, all while still, you know, playing music.
When I tested the Elite Sport I was impressed by all the tech crammed in, but couldn’t help wondering if most would find some of the features a bit redundant. That’s a shame because the headphones themselves were excellent at the basics, with a secure fit, good sound quality and a decent battery life, but having to pay ￡200-plus for the accompanying extra features you might never use was a question mark against them. If you could pay less and have a set of Jabra headphones with all the basics ticked but none of the advanced extras, what would that look like?
The answer is that it would look like the Jabra Elite Active 65t. These truly wireless buds take plenty of cues from the Elite Sport, but there’s no heart rate monitor and hence no VO2 max estimates either. They’re still more advanced than most headphones, with an activity monitor which will track your exercise, but they’re not quite so heavily laden with tech as the Elite Sport so their price drops accordingly to ￡169.99. That’s still pretty steep, even in the world of wireless buds, but as a near-perfect set of sports headphones they really do justify the cost.
The first thing the Active 65t headphones nail is the fit. Even when running through the absurd heatwave the UK has been “enjoying” and sweating bucketloads, the Elite Active 65t buds never showed any signs of budging. I even put them to what felt like the ultimate sweat test – a 45-minute indoor cycle in a hot garage – and they never moved at all. You’d have to sweat yourself dry before the Active 65ts fell out of your ears. The Elite Active 65t have a IP56 waterproof rating and a two-year warranty against sweat and dust, lest you are concerned that your perspiration could damage them in any way.
The Bluetooth connection is also solid – I had no drop-outs during any activity – and it’s very easy to set the headphones up initially. Once the buds are connected to your phone, they’ll automatically link with it when you take them out of the carry case, often before you’ve even managed to get them in your ears.
Full marks on fit and connectivity then, and the sound also impresses. The tight seal of the Active 65t buds in the ear improves the presence of the bass and the general sound quality. Link them to Jabra’s Sound+ app and you can also adjust the levels to amplify the bass or treble as you see fit. This makes a lot more difference than you might imagine, and it’s worth spending some time to get it set up as you like it. For podcast fans there’s even a preset Speech setting you can use to suit voice-only audio.
Within the Sound+ app there are also a variety of white noise-style settings you can put on for when you’re trying to focus, relax or even sleep. There are blanket sounds like white noise, or sounds from nature, like waves. (Be warned, the babbling brook setting will make you want to pee.)
One of the best tricks the Elite Active 65t has taken from the Elite Sport is the Hear Through function. Double-tap the right earbud’s control button and the earphones amplify external noise slightly so you are more aware of your surroundings. It’s ideal when running outdoors in a city or town.
The controls are one area where the Active 65t buds let themselves down a little. The multifunction buttons on each earbud allow for all the basic controls – play/pause, skip, volume up and down – but they are fiddly to use, especially when it came to skipping tracks, which involves holding down the left button for a couple of seconds. I found it was very easy to accidentally adjust the volume instead.
Battery life is an excellent five hours on the buds themselves with an impressive 15-minute quick charge function that yields 90 minutes of life. The case adds another ten hours of battery, which is a small improvement on the nine in the Elite Sport’s case, but still a little shy of what I’d like to see. The carry case for the Sol Republic Amps Air headphones and its 45 hours of battery life continues to be the gold standard.
The Elite Active 65t sound good enough to wear when not exercising as well, and the white noise settings can be useful when trying to focus in the office, though I did find them mildly uncomfortable if I wore them for the full five hours their battery allowed. Just a little soreness around the ear canal, something that never came up during exercise sessions lasting up to 90 minutes or so.
Aside from the finicky controls and the merely adequate battery life in the carry case, there’s nothing I’d change about the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They are exceptional sports headphones that nail the basics and throw in some genuinely useful extras like the Hear Through feature, the quick charge function and the customisable sound settings.
￡169.95, buy on jabra.co.uk, check price on amazon.co.uk