If you'd told me a year ago that I'd be using a pair of true wireless earbuds as my go-to set of headphones, I would've laughed at you. The untethered audio accessories have come a long way since their introduction. Late last year, I discovered the first set of wireless in-ears that made a lasting impression: Bose's SoundSport Free. Those had some issues I couldn't overlook -- namely trouble syncing -- so I wasn't entirely sold on this type of audio device yet.
Enter Jabra's Elite 65t. These true wireless earbuds were announced back at CES and shipped a few months after. There aren't any flashy features per se, but they aren't needed. These earbuds work well, and I haven't encountered any sync issues in the few months I've been wearing them. The Elite 65t come tucked inside a charging case, like almost all untethered in-ears do these days. That accessory adds two full charges to the earbuds' five-hour battery life. In other words, there's plenty of juice here to get you through a full workday, even if you have to let the Elite 65t take a nap during lunch or an afternoon meeting. In fact, you'll need just 15 minutes for 1.5 hours of listening, thanks to a rapid-charge feature.
Unlike the SoundSport Free, the Elite 65t nestles nicely in your ear and doesn't stick out too far from your head to make you look strange. Jabra didn't sacrifice onboard controls to keep the buds small; you still have easy access to volume and track adjustments as well as your virtual assistant and the ability to answer calls without picking up your phone. And those controls work well, even if it does take a few tries to use them in a way that doesn't push the earbuds farther into your ear.
One issue with the Elite 65t is the lack of comfy foam tips. There are some options in the box for different sizes, but they're all the silicon type. I was able to snag some foam tips from another pair of earbuds, and you'll likely be able to nab a pack for a few extra dollars. Heck, it may not even be an issue for you. For me, though, having something stuck in my ears for hours at a time eventually got uncomfortable with the rubber tips -- an issue where a tiny bit of foam offers some welcome relief.
The Elite 65t is also IP55-rated, so you won't have to worry about some dust or water destroying your investment. This means they're perfectly suited for the gym or any other sweat-soaked activity you have planned. Sure, you could wear your Beats or Bose over-ear headphones to the gym, but those aren't explicitly sweat resistant, so you're taking a risk when it comes to moisture. I see people do it all the time, but I'm not one to spend more than $300 on headphones every few months, so I'd rather protect my purchase.
Speaking of the gym, Jabra's Sound+ app offers a transparency mode, so you don't have to remove the earbuds to ask for a spot without yelling. A lot of headphones offer this nowadays, but it's still a nice feature that's worth pointing out. A lot of earbuds (and headphones, for that matter) that I've tested at the gym aren't loud enough to block out the noise around you. That's not the case here. The Elite 65t has enough power to keep you locked in at the gym, at your desk or anywhere you need help focusing on the task at hand.
Comfort is only part of the equation when it comes to headphones. They need to sound good too. The Elite 65t doesn't have audiophile-grade sound by any means, but the audio quality is still very nice. Highs are crisp and clear, and there's a good amount of bass so that those high-energy hip-hop or metal tracks keep you going through your final set. The Elite 65t also handles more-detailed genres like bluegrass well, with enough clarity that you can pick out individual instruments while still enjoying good overall sound. If you need to make some minor EQ tweaks, you can do so via that Sound+ app. Just don't expect any major re-tuning as the changes are modest.
Sound quality on calls is also quite good, especially if you're in a room that isn't too noisy. Outside on a busy street -- well, that's a different story. The only time the person on the other end had trouble hearing me with the Elite 65t was when I was walking down a bustling city sidewalk. Even then they could still hear me; they just got a lot of background noise too. I don't find myself walking downtown often, though, and these will probably handle calls while you're walking across campus or most other places just fine.
At $170, what you get in the Elite 65t is simply a better deal than many of the pricier rivals. Bose SoundSport Free will cost you $200, and Sony's true wireless sports earbuds, the WF-SP700N, are $180. Yes, the Elite 65t is slightly more expensive than Apple's $159 AirPods, but the audio is better here and you don't have to walk around with what looks like a Q-tip sticking out of your ear. Worth the extra $11, if you ask me.
For significantly less than $200, Jabra's Elite 65t is a solid all-around headphone option that offers both good audio quality and worry-free use at the gym. When you combine that with the compact charging case you can easily carry in your pocket and respectable battery life, it's easy to see why it made such a lasting impression. And why I don't plan to stop using it anytime soon.