When we spent time with Jabra’s excellent Elite 65t headphones just a few months ago, we quickly labeled them the best fully wireless headphones on the market. With solid battery life, good sound, and a great feature set, they outdid industry leaders like Apple’s AirPods to become our go-to lightweight listening option.
With its new Elite Active 65t, Jabra added brawny sweatproofing to the already great Elite 65t, providing workout nuts and outdoor enthusiasts with an even more life-proof option for a slightly increased price tag. That seems like a compelling deal on paper, but we still had to wonder: Did the best fully wireless headphones get better, or should you save some dough and get the cheaper original model? After a few weeks of testing, the jury is in. Even if your budget is tight, we’d suggest eating one less meal out and springing for the upgrade. You won’t regret it.
Out of the Box
The Elite Active 65t come in a small box with the headphones (inside an included charging case), a small user guide, a micro USB charging cable. They also come with two different eartip sizes — small and large — in addition to the medium-sized rubber tips that come installed on the headphones, though we found the medium tips to fit perfectly.
Features and Design
The Elite Active 65t look identical to the standard Elite 65t model, save the ability to get the Active in a swanky gold and navy blue colorway. Our review units were the more understated black-on-black we’d probably choose anyway – we’re not that baller. As with the original model, we like the way the earbuds look in our ears, with small microphone-laden extrusions that recall just slightly the Bluetooth headsets that Jabra was known for in the mid-aughts, but in a much more understated design dabbed with some futuristic flair.
The charging case is the same small pillbox we came to know on the original as well, with an LED charge indicator and micro USB charging port on the bottom, and flip-top lid revealing perfectly molded cutouts for both storing and charging. The lid is still very tightly sealed – it takes a while to get used to it, but we had no trouble after a day or so.
When you open the case, LEDs on the outside of each will let you know how much charge they’ve got, pulsing either red or green. Battery life is once again an AirPod-matching five hours, with two full charges in the case adding up to about 15 hours of juice before the Elite Active 65t need to be plugged in again. That’s less than the industry-leading 25 hours of total power offered by the AirPods, but still a fairly solid amount of playtime for when you’re unable to reach a USB port.
The Elite Active are unaffected by even the sweatiest workouts.
The only major differences between the Elite Active 65t and standard Elite 65t models comes in terms of workout performance. The Elite Active have a motion sensor that allows them to track workout activity, but the real improvement from the original is an IP56 rating, which means they are protected from high pressure water jets and limited dust ingress. The Elite Active should also be unaffected by even the sweatiest workouts, and they can even be rinsed off in the sink to keep them clean. That’s a fairly significant upgrade from the original model, which we wouldn’t recommend for particularly sweaty excursions.
For onboard control the headphones sport three physical buttons for adjusting playback on the fly. Two buttons on the left earbud allow for volume adjustment and song skipping, and one on the right lets you play or pause music. take calls, or enable “HearThrough,” which lets you pipe in a bit of sound from the outside world. HearThrough is even more useful now that the headphones are sweatproof to keep you aware of car horns and other real-world sounds while on runs or bike rides.
The earphones fit very comfortably and don’t fall out — even during serious agitation.
Both Elite 65t models can be immediately paired and used by any Bluetooth-enabled device, but to get the most out of them, you’ll want to install the company’s Sound+ app. The app allows you to adjust equalization settings, turn HearThrough on or off, and adjust the auto-pause feature, which automatically stops or resumes music if you remove one earbud from your ears. As with the previous model, we were excited that this feature worked when paired with our Dell XPS 13 computer, in addition to phones.
Setting up the Elite Active 65t is a breeze thanks to helpful voice instructions. Just put the earbuds in your ears, and press and hold the forward button on the left earbud and the (only) button on the right earbud for three seconds. From there, just follow the audio instructions.
The Elite Active 65t are a bit on the hefty side, but an ergonomic design means the earphones actually fit very comfortably in your ears and don’t fall out — even during serious agitation. That said, we did discover there’s a “best” method to getting them to fit well in your ears: Grab each earphone and place it in your ear before giving it a slight counter-clockwise twist. This should guarantee a proper seal.
Perhaps the best part of the Elite Active 65t is they feature an extremely solid Bluetooth 5.0 connection that just works in virtually any scenario. No matter which pocket your phone is in or where you move it with your hands, you won’t have to deal with a spotty signal.
Where many fully wireless headsets settle for mediocre fidelity, the Elite Active 65t actually sound quite good — akin to a set of wired headphones that cost about half the price. Nothing has changed between the Elite Active and original model, both of which showcase the deep and punchy bass and shimmery treble we already enjoyed earlier this year.
Whether jamming out to our favorite new music of 2018 or working out to classic cuts from the Beatles to AC/DC, it’s easy to forget you’re wearing a pair of fully wireless headphones when you’ve got them in, letting you enjoy the convenience that comes without wires, especially handy on long workouts.
The good sound quality and durability add up to a pair of headphones you’ll pop in your pocket and take with you anywhere, without fear of damaging them. We loved using the Elite Active 65t while setting up a garden, for example, a situation where wires (and lack of durability) often means we’d turn to a Bluetooth speaker or just go without tunes entirely.
In terms of how they stack up to the competition, we still prefer the more balanced sound signature of Bragi’s The Headphone, but we vastly prefer the Elite Active 65t to Apple’s AirPods, which lack enough of a seal to really block out the outside world — or to keep in solid bass response.
Jabra offers a one year warranty on parts and workmanship, and a two year warranty against damage from dust and water.Our Take
With the new Elita Active 65t, Jabra makes a great thing even better. In terms of both versatility and performance, these are the best fully wireless headphones you can buy.
Is there a better alternative?
They do cost a touch more than Apple’s AirPods and Bragi’s Headphone — our two other favorite fully wireless options — but we think the Elite Active 65t bring an equivalent amount of extra performance to the table to justify the price. If you’ve got to have fully wireless earbuds, these should be your top choice.
How long will it last?
Given their IP rating and our experience with Jabra products in the past, we believe the Elite Active 65t will last through years of regular use.
Should you buy it?
Without hesitation, yes. If you are looking to cut every cord in your listening life, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are the best all-around headphones on the market. If you really want a pair of fully wireless in-ears that you can take with you anywhere (and if not, what’s the point?), these are the headphones for you.