Jabra’s biggest competitive advantage over other brands is its understanding of the human ear. As a company that has been in the business of making ear mics and radios, since its inception, Jabra has unique insight into the design and acoustics for in-ear phones. Back in the day when we were using our mobile phones only to make and receive calls, Jabra was synonymous with its ubiquitous Bluetooth mono headset.
Jabra’s Elite series has a range of wired and wireless earphones that also offer features like active noise cancellation. Jabra continues to use its expertise and understanding of earphone design and construction, which it has sharpened over the past three decades.
Not surprisingly, I got one of the snuggest fits with the new Elite 65e wireless in-ears. The test unit that was couriered to me a couple of weeks ago featured a simple package with the earphones already sporting a middle size of the silicone in-ear gels and wing tips. A size larger and size smaller for both rubber attachments came packed in a separate blister pack. Across brands and models, I have always found my left ear to be a bit of a problem for in-ears; needing a size in the middle. The Elite 65e was no different, making me wish that Jabra had offered a couple of more size options.
The wireless Elite 65e is built for sports and outdoor use; these in-ears are rated IP54 for water and dust resistance. It features a sturdy, rubberised, contoured neckband that also houses the controls for playing music, taking phone calls and a multi-function button, which doubles up for switching between active noise cancellation (ANC) and background hear-through (ANC Off). There are no inline controls; instead there are three mics inline that make sure your voice is carried clearly over phone calls. Clarity of voice calls is excellent depending, of course, on network strength.
Being an in-ear, the Elite 65e suffers from an inherent limitation of inward leakage. On average, over-the-ear headphones perform better in an ANC Comparison because their construction allows them to offer better passive noise isolation than in-ears. The quality of the ANC in this Jabra in-ears is only just above average. High-pitched, sharp sounds seep through, but lower frequency sounds like an overhead fan, conversations between people on a train, piped music in the gym and to a large extent in-aircraft noises are cancelled very effectively.
The ANC does improve the sound stage produced by the oval 15 mm dynamic speakers housed in the ear plugs. The reproduction feels a bit flat and lacking in punch with ANC off. Turning it on delivers higher bass and a richness to the instruments. Vocals are largely unaffected even when ANC is off; it just gets a little louder when on. So, when I was listening to music in a quiet room, I preferred ANC off, especially when I was playing jazz, classical or Indian music.
Setting up the Elite 65e was a breeze and there is help at hand in the Jabra Sound+ app available on both Android and iOS. After that, all three major digital assistants Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa can also be summoned. I like the minimalist design of the Elite 65e. No LED backlighting of the controls, the buttons are just embossed on the rubber, and not too many control buttons too. The headband, flat tangle-free wires and the plugs together are just over 50 grams in weight; I barely felt its presence around my neck. The battery in the Elite 65e lasted more than eight hours of mixed usage (with ANC on) and a bit of standby time, which is Jabra’s claim too. Battery is said to last up to 13 hours with ANC off. But time taken for a full charge was longer than the two hours that Jabra mentions.
The Jabra Elite 65e retails for about ₹16,000. At that price, it is quite a bargain compared to the likes of the Bose QuietControl 30 or the ANC in-ears from other premium brands. The Jabra in-ears also seem like they’ll last months of abuse.
Pros: Good sound quality, long battery life, light weight
Cons: Takes a while to charge