TWS true wireless earphones - under $150
FOUR STARS - In order to see how good or bad ultra budget wireless earphones really are, I bought a reference model: the often praised Jabra Elite 65t, with an asking price of 140 to 180 dollar. In this review I will compare it to a selection of wireless earbuds costing 2 to 5 times less. How do they compare?
If you've been looking up lists and guides for best true wireless earphones, chances are you already read about the Jabra Elite 65t. It's a model that always seem to partake in tests of consumer friendly audio products, compared to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Buds or Apple AirPods. Released in early 2018, it was welcomed as one of the first budget friendly good wireless earphones - even though it costed just under 200 dollar. It has won many tests.
The Jabra Elite 65t is still often praised for its sound quality, call quality, comfort and its app. Time then for a comparison. How do cheap true wireless earphones, costing 20 to 80 dollar, stack up the Jabra?
Jabra Elite 65t specs:
Design, charging and comfort
The earpieces of the Jabra Elite 65t have a unique shape, still to this date. On the inside, the Jabra looks a bit like a pebble. It comes across big, but actually it rests quite comfortable in your ear. Even though the earpieces are big, with a little stem for the microphone, their weight is balanced out nicely. These are just comfortable. Available in grey, brown and an other kind of grey-copper, the Jabra looks professional.
It also has a battery life suited for a work day, lasting more than 5 hours on a single battery charge. Do remember to recharge the charging case often though, as it can only top up the earpieces fully two times before it needs a recharge by itself.
The charging case is one of the worst I've encountered in all my true wireless earphones tests however. It's very prone to finger prints and scratches and it requires a lot of power to open it up. Also: the earpieces aren't held in place by magnets - a feature even 10 dollar wireless earphones offer now. Thus on the Jabra, the earpieces can immediately fall out the case, which is a dangerous combination with the ridiculous force it takes to open it.
Connectivity and controls
Once you've setup the Jabra Elite 65t the first time, it automatically connects to your device once you open the case. By the time you have them in your ear, you're set to go. Pairing and connecting is a breeze, and the Jabra has a stable Bluetooth 5.0 connection as well, holding its signal up to 10 meter and even in areas crowded with wireless signals.
Controls too, are excellent. The button on the left earpiece is separated into two sides. On the back side, you increase the volume (short press) or skip a track (long press), on the front you lower the volume or return a song. The button on the right piece is for pause/ playing, taking or rejecting a call or activating the voice assistant (right), which you can choose via the app.
Pressing the buttons doesn't press the earpieces deeper into your ear, which is a rarity to find and great for comfort. Last but not least: by removing the right piece of your ear, the music automatically pauses - a neat little feature that works well.
App features of the Jabra Elite 65T
Set up the Jabra Elite 65t and you will be asked to install a the partner app. The app is the highlight of this true wireless earphone. It works like a charm, looks clean and premium and offers various cool functions. The app delivers Bluetooth updates for your earphones (improving or bug fixing the earpieces) and gives you all kind of controls, such as three different setups for listening - one 'normal', one for work and one for commuting.
In each of the setups, you can choose one of six sound signatures (normal, bass booster, treble booster, energise, smooth or vocal) and activate a relaxing background noise instead of your music, like white noise or sea shores. It's also possible to change the equalizer in the app and you're able to choose how much of your own voice you want to hear when you call.
As the last function, there's a 'Hear trough' option, which uses the Jabra's microphones to put trough sound of your surroundings while you listen to them. Unfortunately, it sounds as if you're in a water tank listening to many too bright sounds. It's better to not buy the Jabra Elite 65t for this function.
Calling and watching movies
Jabra is an expert on office calling headsets, and it shows in the Jabra Elite 65t. The sound on the other end of the line is clearly configured around your voice, and it comes trough crystal clear. You may find the person you're talking to sounding a bit tinny, yet clear. It's perfectly possible to have a good conversation on these.
However, in the iPhone recording app, the qualities of the Jabra seem to fade somehow - with the sound rendering from one earphone to another, and even fading away while you're in motion. The Jabra has a speciall calling setup it seems, which is absolutely better than the mic quality on recordings.
Watching movies on the Jabra Elite 65t unfortunately is terrible. There's a very big audio video lag, with lips constantly out of sync. Because the Jabra still stands as a great earphone for business purposes and calling, it sums up as four stars.
Sound: balanced and airy
The sound quality of the Elite may need a little introduction if you're used to a dynamic, bass-boosted sound. The Jabra Elite 65t has a rather flat, mid-centric sound, with only a slight emphasis on the mids and the highs. They get room to breathe and are surrounded by air. The left-right stereo imaging on the Elite is excellent.
The flat, neutral sound, is accompanied by a fair amount of detail and a somewhat underwhelming lower mid-section. While the highs extend quite well, the lower end doesn't. Music sometimes lacks a bit of punch, rumble, and darker tones.
That's not to say the bass is weak. It manages to dive deep enough on songs requesting it, and while the bass slam is a bit hesitant, it still gives music body on the lower end.
So the bass won't have you dancing around the room perhaps; the mids and highs shine on the Jabra. They're crystal clear and bright, but never harsh or overbearing.
Upon first listening hours, both the bass and the highs of the Elite 65t sometimes produce a slight crackle in the sound, heard in vocals or bass lines. To be honest though, this is noticeable in video playback more than music - and seems to disappear after a few hours of use.
While some audiophiles may find the flat character of the Jabra the sound signature they're chasing after; it may lack engagement and fun factor for others. Overall, the Jabra Elite 65t sounds crisp, open and balanced. It may not be love at first sight - it will likely grow on you.
Comparisons: Jabra Elite 65T versus…
QCY QS2 ($25)
The QCY QS1 and QS2 have three hours battery live and sub-par call quality, however, they deliver excellent sonic performance for under 25 dollars. The QCY models stand fierce against the Elite. The QCY sub-bass goes deeper and knows how to rumble when needed. The QCY puts vocals more upfront than the Jabra, creating a more vivid, albeit less balanced sound. It shows just how capable the QCY QS2 is.
Mifo O5 ($80)
Looking for a cheaper alternative to the Jabra Elite 65t with comparable battery life and call quality? The Mifo O5 is a great bet. While calls sound more tinny on the other of the line, it still facilitates a good conversation. The battery life of the Mifo O5 is even better, with more than 6 hours playing time and 15 (!) full battery recharges from the case.
The Mifo O5 has a laidback sound signature which puts way more emphasis on the bass, creating a warm if maybe a little congested sound. Tones in the lower end of the music spectrum, like bass guitars or electronic layers, come out with more detail and liveliness than on the Elite 65T. The Jabra sounds more balanced and way more detailed in the mids and highs. Still, at half the price, the Mifo is an excellent alternative.
1more Stylish TWS ($70)
The 1more Stylish TWS or E1026BT offers a comparable battery life of around 5,5 hours to the Jabra Elite 65t. Call quality isn't as good, with more noise from your surroundings and you sounding a little soft for the other end of the line.
When it comes to sound quality, the 1more is a totally different beast than the Jabra. It offers a far more pronounced bass, creating a more engaging, uptempo sound. It has more depth in the bass, lower mids and more pronounced highs, while the Jabra provides a more flat and balanced sound with less congestion - suitable for even more music genres.
While the Jabra Elite 65t has good battery life, great comfort and excellent controls and call quality, music lovers looking for an engaging and detailed sound are better off looking at other options. If you love a balanced sound signature however, look no further. The Jabra Elite 65t is a great package.
Four STARS - very good
Buy Jabra Elite 65T/ check current price:
Buy Jabra Elite 65T on Amazon Europe (Germany)
I bought the Jabra Elite 65t for my own listening and review purposes. I test and review all audio products equally honest - read about it here.
Consider buying this earphone? I'd really appreciate it if you use the links in this article. It won't cost you extra, yet it will financially support me a bit in my ongoing quest for great affordable audio. <3
Leaderboard: All wireless earphones reviewed