Jabra Elite 5 review: Great call quality but sound doesn't excite

Jabra's newest Elite buds offer good sound and call quality, but not the best we've heard

Jabra Elite 5 on white background
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

A versatile set of buds for music listening that have good call quality, but ANC is a bit of a let down.

Pros

  • +

    Long battery life

  • +

    Stable fit

  • +

    Good call quality

  • +

    Strong ambient listening mode

Cons

  • -

    Ineffective ANC performance

  • -

    Missing some flagship features

  • -

    No spatial audio support

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Jabra Elite 5: Specifications

Price: $149 / CA$199 / £149 / AU$219 

Colors: Black, gold beige  

Battery life (rated): 7 hours (ANC on); 9 hours (ANC off); 28 hours (charging case with ANC on); 36 hours (charging case with ANC off)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 (codec support: SBC, AAC, aptX)

Water resistance: Yes (IP55 rated)

Size: 0.79 x 0.81 x 1.1 inches (per bud); 1.02 x 1.53 x 2.52 inches (charging case)

Weight: 0.17 ounces (per bud); 1.4 ounces (charging case)

Before Jabra moved into the true wireless earbuds space, the Danish consumer electronics company was already established in the telecommunications market and known for their range of Bluetooth headsets. It wasn't much of a surprise when the company launched its first-ever wireless earbuds with the superb Elite 65t, which were something of a smash hit thanks to their superb audio and call quality. 

The company continues to maintain the same high standards with each subsequent new model (and there have been plenty), from the Editor’s Choice Elite Active 75t to the noise-cancelling Elite 85t. The Elite 5 is the latest edition and follows the brand's tried and tested design formula. In fact, the Elite 5 look remarkably similar to the Jabra Connect 5T package that come with a wireless charger and are positioned as working from home earbuds.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Price and availability

  • Similar specs to Jabra Connect 5T
  • Available in two colors

The Jabra Elite 5 earbuds are priced at $149 (CA$199 / £149 / AU$219) and sold through the Jabra store (opens in new tab). They're available in titanium black, and gold beige, and can also be found at online retailers, including Amazon where the gold beige option is currently being discounted to $125 (opens in new tab). Inside the box are a charging case, USB-C cable, three sets of different-sized EarGels silicone tips (S, M, L), and a quick guide. 

The Elite 5T are similar to the Jabra Connect 5T that come with a wireless charger and are sold exclusively through Best Buy (opens in new tab)

Despite the similar spec sheet to predecessors, the Jabra Elite 5 have a higher MSRP than many other ANC entries in the Elite series, as well as the 1More PistonBuds Pro, our favorite bargain ANC buds priced at $59. 

They're less expensive than category leaders such as the AirPods Pro 2 ($249) and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279), however.

Bookmark our headphone deals page to stay up on the latest sales and track down a bargain.

Jabra Elite 5 with box on a white desk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Jabra Elite 5 review: Design and comfort

  • Stronger water protection than AirPods Pro
  • Elegant design

The Elite 5 share the same size and weight as the Connect 5T. Each bud is elegantly crafted from sturdy plastic and rated to IP55, meaning they're protected against dust, sweat, and heavy water splashes form penetrating the outer casing. Details on the outer case look identical, from the tiny mic openings to the warped, oval-shaped design. Even the same titanium black colorway is used.

The compact charging case looks the same as the Connect 5T, and has strong magnets to keep the lid closed and buds safely docked in their charging slots. While the case can survive tumbles to the concrete, that doesn’t make it immune to scuffs or scratches, which the exterior easily attracts.

Jabra Elite 5 earbuds on a wooden bench

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

These buds will stay put on your ears, thanks to proprietary EarGels that form a secure seal around the canal. The tips absorb moisture well and reduce slippage when caught in the rain or working out. Jabra does offer an ear tip fit test (MyFit), but only for models further up its range such as the Elite 7 Pro, and Elite 85t.

I found the medium-sized tips gave the best fit for my ears. Comfort levels on the Elite 5 are satisfactory, with the buds easy to insert and a fit that sits securely in my ears. I didn't have any issues with the multifunctional button design that requires push commands (rather than a tap) to control the suite of playback functions.

Jabra Connect 5T configuring controls

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Jabra Elite 5 review: Controls and digital assistant

  • Responsive controls
  • One-dimensional wear detection
  • Stellar voice activation

The push button control on each earbud makes up most of the control scheme for the Elite 5 and includes playback, call management, digital assistance, listening mode activation, and Spotify Tap. The MyControls setting in the companion Jabra Sound+ app lets you swap out and assign functions to different input methods: single/double/triple tap or long hold. Each button push produces a good level of tactile feedback and responds accurately to commands.

Wear detection is on board, but just as we found with the Connect 5T it only seems to work one way. Removing both buds will initiate auto-pause, which operates smoothly, but placing them back on your ear doesn’t resume playback and you have to reactivate playback by pressing the control button on the right earbud.

Alexa and Google Assistant voice activation are on board. It was fun firing up the AI bots by speaking their wake word phrases, and the feature worked incredibly well. Jabra’s six-mic array snatched every syllable spoken and demonstrated great intelligibility, responding to long-winded inquiries with precision. Google Assistant can be enabled manually by performing a double press on the left bud. Siri and Bixby are also supported.

Jabra Connect 5T music app control on phone showing Rudimental album cover

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Jabra Elite 5 review: Sound quality 

  • Balanced sound but not the most dynamic
  • Customizable EQ with presets
  • No lossless or spatial audio support

The Jabra Elite 5 earbuds deliver a pleasant balance with only a slight emphasis towards bass frequencies to help give tracks some extra oomph. The sound delivery isn't the most dynamic or open sounding performance I've heard from a pair of earbuds, and can give the impression that they're simply going through the motions rather than presenting music in any kind of immersive or engaging way. Its not bad, just a bit flat and mediocre, and there's a feeling that certain frequencies in the mid-bass are not given their full opportunity to shine. 

With the Neutral preset selected, the Elite 5s present a fairly relaxed sound across their frequency range. Nothing stands out as being overly curtailed or emphasized, except for a slight reduction in mid frequency clarity. This is perhaps a little odd through, given that the Elite 5s preform well across the midrange as far as voice clarity is concerned when making calls. 

The deep kick drum on Rudimental’s “Spoons” was impactful throughout the recording, but I've heard it sound deeper on other earbuds, while the elongated synths and reverbed vocals sounded a little more veiled and a bit more distant. The vocals have a silky quality to the way they sound, and there are good amounts of detail on the clacking of the spoons (yes, they really are playing spoons). 

I was more impressed by how well Jabra’s 6mm drivers handled heavier bass tracks like Paula Coles’ “Tiger,” which carries a monstrous bassline. It was handled with good control, and the Elite 5 kept the soundscape energetic without producing any distortion. Again though, there was some lack of definition and clarity among mid-bass to low-bass frequencies, meaning some tracks lose a little dynamic impact and make particular bass beats sound a little hollow and missing their usual weight.

Jabra Connect 5T app control showing EQ adjustments

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Those wanting a more personalized listening experience can play around with Jabra’s 5-band EQ to tweak bass, midrange, and treble output. Jabra’s MySound feature, which calibrates sound to your hearing, isn't part of the Elite 5 package.

These buds support SBC, AAC, and aptX codecs. All performed well across compatible devices. There's no aptX lossless codec or spatial audio support.

Jabra Sound+ app screenshot

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Jabra Elite 5 review: Active noise cancellation

  • ANC performance is bettered elsewhere
  • Transparency mode is effective

As with the similarly specified Jabra Connect 5T, ANC performance on the Elite 5 is not very effective, and won't trouble any of the picks listed in our best noise-cancelling earbuds round up. Quality noise-cancelling buds can block out voices, but these buds struggled to do so in a chatty work office environment or supress the sound of talkative commuters on my morning train journey. Even with the adjustable 4-level ANC mode set to max or Personalized ANC to tailor noise neutralization to my own ears, neither manged to sufficiently reduce background noise. Wind resistance, while I stood on drafty train station platforms, was also pretty mediocre. 

HearThrough, on the other hand, does a fantastic job of increasing environmental awareness. You can adjust between 4 levels. Setting it to max opens the mics wide and lets in sounds from long distances.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Special features and app

  • Customizable controls
  • Shortcut menu to enable ANC

Control is taken care of via the Jabra Sound+ app, which enables ANC/HearThrough, EQ, MyControls, music presets, Personalized ANC, Spotify Tap, and voice assistant selection. Additional features include Soundscapes, which plays ambient sounds such as ocean waves or songbirds as a meditative tools to help you relax and block out distracting sounds around you. It's effective, but not something I can see myself using on a regular basis.

Call Experience is a set of features designed to enhance how call are handled and call quality. You can adjust how loud you sound on calls and turn on functions like auto-answer or mute through wear detection.

Rounding out the app are a Find My Jabra (earbuds) function, firmware updates, quick start guide, and battery level indicators for each bud and the charging case.

You can set up a shortcut menu to appear on the notifications bar of your phone. This lets you toggle the listening modes, monitor battery life, and grants instant access to the app. 

Jabra Sound+ Elite 5

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Jabra Elite 5 review: Battery life and charging case

  • Solid playtimes
  • Charging case holds plenty of portable power

Jabra claims battery life at 7 hours with ANC on, and 9 hours with ANC off, and this seems accurate based on my own experience when playing tracks at a medium volume level. This got me around 2 hours a day for four days and is better than some more costly models, but then the Elite 5's ANC performance is underpowered.

The charging case holds up to 36 hours. A 10-minute quick charge generates 1 hour of use.

Jabra Connect 5T worn by reviewer

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Jabra Elite 5 review: Call quality and connectivity

  • Great for voice and video calls
  • Stable wireless performance
  • Connects to two devices at once

These are some of the best wireless earbuds with a mic for voice and video calls. Conversations came through loud and clear according to the people on the other end of the call. ANC didn’t perform well, but my voice remained prominent over background noise.

The Elite 5 connects via Bluetooth 5.2. Multipoint connectivity was glitchy with my iPhone 13 Pro, and sometimes struggled to playback music when paired to two devices. Android devices can be connected via Google Fast Pair. Range extended beyond 10 feet in open spaces.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Verdict

As with the Connect 5T, these are one of Jabra's best-sounding buds for call quality. They're a great productivity companion to have around when you're working from home or in the office. They offer plenty of useful features, and comfort levels were more than satisfactory in my ears. Sound quality is satisfactory but doesn't manage to set itself apart from its predecessors. 

Ultimately, these are rated a four stars due to their mediocre noise cancelling, but remain a worthwhile investment where call quality is a priority.

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.