Why the Jabra Elite Active 65t isn’t as good as it seems
Updated: Jan 29, 2020
Earphones have a long-standing history in their making and design. It started with the development of base level earphones converting into “in-ear” type and then the wireless headphones. This long trail, iterations in design and constant evolution led us to a disruptive model- the “True Wireless Earbuds”
Today’s market is overloaded by several such products manufactured by many brands and are made available to the consumer for as little as $30. However, only a few have made it to the leaderboard and for the most part they are priced beyond the $100 mark. Jabra is undoubtedly one among them and has presented itself as a true contender in this segment. Its Elite 65t and Elite Active 65t have been rated as the top True Wireless devices by the tech community owing to several parameters of performance. However, this post depicts my experience with the Jabra Elite Active 65t, which unfortunately was an unsatisfactory one.
Jabra’s Elite 65t and Active 65t are very popular for their design, styling and sound quality. The build quality is superior and doesn’t at any time give the feeling of Jabra having cut corners. Styling gets a lot of attention and could easily appeal to anyone. It is always known and applauded for being an earpiece that seamlessly fits unlike the odd “jutting” of other devices.
Though, all this seem appealing, I identified a few flaws in engineering and functionality of the product which I will list here-on.
A charging case is pretty much the back bone of any True Wireless Earbud. Consumers expect the charging cases to supply enough charge to the earbuds when unplugged and be small enough to carry. Jabra checks off both these boxes but missed one thing- magnetically securing the earbuds in the case. This becomes very inconvenient as a slight tilt would cause the earbuds to slip out of their slots.
The earbuds are equipped with 4 microphones that are very sensitive. They tend to pick-up every background noise and amplify it. This particularly started posing a problem as the call experience was never satisfactory. I had recipients often complain about the disturbance in the back ground and it caused several interruptions during calls.
It must be noted that the right earbud is the primary one. If you were to wear just one earbud, it must be the right one as the left earbud will not independently pair. You do not get the flexibility to choose between the two earbuds.
The earbuds each have their unique control buttons. The right has a single multi-function button while the left houses the volume control buttons. Referencing my above point- I could say that Jabra had a reason to not offer the volume control function to its right earbud. This being the primary one, Jabra assumed that if a user were to use just one unit, they would do so over a calling scenario only. While listening to audio, a user would obviously wear both earbuds and hence have the volume controls available at the left earbud.
This could be a reasonable argument here, but there were times when I needed to control the volume during a call and had to reach for my phone.
The Elite Active 65t does not have an active noise cancelling feature which I think should have been and important inclusion for a product of this scale at least, relative to the competition. It only has passive noise cancellation, which is just due to the physical design of the earbud.
I did mention earlier that the Jabra Elite Active 65t has a reputation for its fit and it indeed earns that. However, I did not find it to be a “one-size fits all” type design. The earbuds are shaped to sit in an area (curvature just outside the opening) of your earlobe. But the size of this area could vary between different individuals hence making the earbuds unfit. I am one among them and experienced a lot of discomfort (and pain) while wearing or even found myself often adjusting them at regular intervals.
P.S. I feel that physical fit is always a challenge with wearable devices of this type, and it isn’t operationally feasible for companies to develop these products in varied sizes. A user may just have to find a way out or adapt to it.
Post these comments, I want to state that the Jabra Elite Active 65t has plenty of other innovative features and isn’t surprising that it gets a lot of attention and backing from the users and the tech community itself. Jabra is known for its exclusive product line and pioneer engineering of sound and audio devices both for personal and professional use. I don’t think any of my points above negate that and I don’t intend to.
I greatly admire Jabra for its premium and superior range of products that makes them competitive in this industry.