Jabra put the audio industry on notice when it launched the critically acclaimed Elite 65t. Great connectivity, even better sound, and lots of smart features packed into a sleek, compact design, the earbuds were a category champion and the best AirPods alternative of any price class. Their follow-up, the Elite Active 65t, upped the ante by introducing sportier features like sweat-resistant coating and a built-in accelerometer, making our list of best wireless earbuds.
Several months later, and with the AirPods Pro dominating all of the tech headlines, Jabra looks to steal Apple’s thunder with the launch of its latest flagship offering: the Elite 75t. Adaptive listening modes, longer battery life, and an improved design, combined with the same dynamic performance as their predecessor, these buds have the makings of a classic.
Truth be told, the Elite 75t are a solid pair of wireless buds with great in-app customization and features that elevate the listening experience. They’re also plagued with bugs and come up short in areas they shouldn’t.
Note: I encountered numerous bugs during my first test run, but Jabra informed me that downloading the latest 1.24.0 (10333) firmware update would improve performance, which did fix many of the bugs.
Jabra Elite 75t design
Jabra did a magnificent job designing the Elite 75t, making the buds 20% smaller than the Elite 65t without compromising on specs. Inside the box you’ll find the charging case, three sets of ear tips, and a short USB-C charging cable. They are available in two colors, Black and Titan Black, which is essentially dark slate gray.
The Elite 75t is IP55-certified, meaning the buds are dust and water resistant, but not sweatproof (e.g. Elite Active 65t). Technically, you could use them for working out, but they’re really made for leisure. Another detail that stands out is the slimmer profile, which is more discreet and perfect for incognito listening. The Elite 65t’s bulkier frame makes them stick out like a sore thumb, while the AirPods Pro’s long-stem form isn’t very flattering.
Size and IPX ratings aren’t the only distinctions between the Elite models. Jabra flexed its engineering muscle by shortening the tip of the earbuds where the voice mics are placed. The inlays on the front, which also double as the buttons, were made smaller and produce similar tactility as the Elite 65t. Keeping the buds one color does maintain a clean, minimalist look, but I felt the two-tone colorways on the older versions appeared edgier.
Something else Jabra made smaller and more practical: the charging case. One issue that often irked me with the previous case was that you had to squeeze both ends and push up on the tiny ridge to open it. Not anymore. The Elite 75t’s case has a magnetic closure that makes opening and closing the lid seamless. Despite losing the soft-touch rubberized finish, which reduced scuffs and scratches, the plastic casing has a substantial feel to it that also complements the buds’ premium appearance.
Jabra Elite 75t comfort and fit
At 0.19 ounces, the Elite 75t is the epitome of lightweight. That number may seem trivial when compared to the Elite 65t (0.22 ounces), but you can feel the difference in weight when holding and wearing the two models. More interestingly, they weigh the same as the AirPods Pro, and Jabra’s charging case (1.2 ounces) is lighter than Apple’s (1.61 ounces).
The sound port appears to be longer, allowing the buds to easily slide into the ear. The gel tips also create a decent fit and seal around the canal. Overall, the buds were a pleasant wear that provided great comfort at my desk and on long commutes.
However, the slightest wetness makes the plastic casing a slippery surface, which affects grip control. I could feel the buds shifting when bobbing my head to music on the train platform. There was a moment where I feared losing them on the tracks. This also deems them less fit for exercising; the rubberized texture on the Elite Active 65t had better grip and stability.
Jabra Elite 75t controls
Jabra streamlined the Elite 75t’s controls by programming multiple functions into two physical buttons, along with on-ear detection. Playback, volume, and features are split between each earbud, which seems like a confusing setup, but is simple to master.
The left earbud operates as follows: enable/disable HearThrough mode (1x press), forward track (2x press), previous track (3x press), and lower volume (long press). The right earbud operates as follows: play/pause music and answer/end calls (1x press), enable digital assistant (2x press), and raise volume (long press). Latency was a major problem in the beginning, but the buttons demonstrated better responsiveness after the update.
I assumed the on-ear detection would show the same erratic behavior, but man, was I completely wrong. In fact, the feature operated flawlessly. I kept removing and placing the earbuds back on my ears like a toddler discovering the light button for the first time, admiring their movement precision and how quickly the buds would play and pause music.
Jabra Sound+ app and special features
Jabra’s companion app hosts a variety of features that allow for great audio personalization. The home screen greets you with a custom equalizer, six music presets (Default, Bass Boost, Energize, Speech, Smooth, and Treble Boost), and toggle settings for both listening modes: Soundscapes and HearThrough.
Soundscapes is a nice treat for anyone in need of some aural TLC, programmed with 12 different modes that produce different noises to drown out distractions. The Ocean Waves mode was incredibly calming and transported me back to the tranquil Punta Cana beachfront room of my vacation last month.
HearThrough is the best ambient-listening mode that I’ve tested on earbuds not named the AirPods Pro, though I still need more hands-on time to determine which model offers the better hear-through experience. It lets in a sufficient amount of noise to distinguish sounds and hear voices clearly. I always feel awkward testing a feature like this in public, especially when attempting to convey my coffee order to baristas, but I felt more optimistic this time around. It’s also cool that the mode automatically turns on when pausing music.
Other features are available in the setting menu, but the majority are just toggling options (e.g. Sleep Mode, Auto-Pause, HearThrough). You should definitely check out the Call Experience option since it lets you modify call settings to increase how loud and deep your voice sounds on phone calls.
The Elite 75t is also one of few models with digital assistant support for the big three: Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. It doesn’t function well with all devices, even after the update. Google Assistant and Siri barely acknowledged my voice on my Pixel 2 XL and MacBook Pro; sentences were misinterpreted for one-word inquires that resulted in definitions. The feature also froze at times. Using my Pixel 3XL and iPhone 8 proved to be much better, as the speech recognition was spot-on and both AI bots responded to commands accurately.
Jabra Elite 75t audio quality
Dynamic, lively sound was one of the Elite 65t’s biggest highlights. Though they share the same drivers, the Elite 75t has more punch to it, which can be overbearing on certain songs. Thankfully, the Sound+ app is perfect for fine-tuning audio and lends itself greatly to most music genres.
Hard rock and hip-hop lovers will want to change the EQ from Default to Treble Boost for the best results. Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” benefitted from the change, bringing down the lows and giving the mid-range more presence for a neutral listen. The bass rumble on LL Cool J’s “Momma Said Knock You Out” also knocked hard (in a good way) without diminishing the rapper’s fiery vocal delivery.
You’ll need to be wary of listening at max volume because blasting music creates excessive reverberation that’s unsettling to hear. The Roots’ “The Show,” a record that takes the low end to distortion-ville, made the hook and verses inaudible due to bloaty sonics. Bass response felt better balanced on the AirPods Pro, but more impactful on the Elite 75t.
To get a better feel for the buds’ musical range, I transitioned into melodic recordings. Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” was a serene listen that sounded great on multiple presets (Smooth did the trick) and reproduced highs superbly. My ears were treated to crisp-sounding strings and hi-hats. Mary J. Blige’s “I Love You” had me feeling the pain in the singer’s voice, alongside the striking piano keys. The Elite 65t was able to maintain this depth, while the AirPods Pro failed to match it; highs were less distinctive.
Where the Elite 75t sounds best is podcasts and videos, especially interviews. I breezed through several ESPN clips and was astounded by how loud and clear the reporters sounded. More impressive was how well the buds reproduced background noises; I could hear off-camera conversations and sneakers screeching on the court during pre-game segments.
Jabra Elite 75t passive noise cancelation
To see active noise cancellation missing from the spec sheet is a tough pill to swallow, especially after Apple brought the feature to the AirPods Pro. However, the Elite 75t does have passive noise cancellation, which isn’t as powerful as ANC, but not a bad consolation prize for those who like to hear their music with very little background noise present.
The buds employ the same four-microphone technology as the Elite 65t, only this time around, Jabra repositioned the mics. Each bud carries two – one in the front and one in the back. It was nice listening to music around my house without the construction across the hall disrupting my vibes. Using the buds outside kept loud noises to a minimum as well; I barely heard high-frequency sounds (e.g. ambulance sirens, jackhammers) that were a block away.
It’s also worth noting how good the noise isolation is on these buds. It won’t completely silence environmental fracas, but it can muffle about 80% of unwanted noise. Something else that’s impressive is the low level of sound leakage. My fiancée couldn’t tell I had a song playing until she muted the TV and I blasted music at max level from a few feet away. Even then, she couldn’t identify what I was listening to.
Jabra Elite 75t battery life
Jabra rates battery life at 7.5 hours, which is really around 6.5 to 7 hours. It offers more playtime than the Elite 65t (5 hours) and AirPods Pro (5 hours) and falls in line with the Plantronics BackBeat 5100 (6.5 hours), but still comes in shorter than class leaders like the Powerbeats Pro (9 hours). All in all, the buds held a charge long enough for me to enjoy music and YouTube videos on daily walks. I managed about 2 hours of wireless listening for 3 days straight before tossing them into the charging case.
The revamped charging case is the true difference maker for the Elite 75t. Whereas the Elite 65t’s case carried up to 15 hours of playtime, this one increases it up to 20.5 hours, which is about three full charges. USB-C is finally onboard and fast charging speeds up the process by generating a full hour of use on a 15-minute charge. It’s such a convenient carry on every level.
Call quality and connectivity
One hallmark that has always drawn me to Jabra earbuds has been call quality. The Elite 65t series allowed for loud, crisp-sounding calls. I don’t know where Jabra went wrong with the Elite 75t. Before the update, every call I screened sounded extremely low, and that was with the buds and my smartphone at max volume. Nothing changed with the update.
Every call I screened sounded extremely low, even with the buds and my smartphone at max volume. I could barely make out sentences when chatting in quiet settings, let alone outside. A few callers complained about my voice sounding muffled. The mics were very sensitive to noise and picked up tiny details that hindered clarity. Wind resistance wasn’t the best either with the slightest draft creating excessive clatter. Tweaking the settings didn’t help much.
Connectivity was spotty my first go-round, but the latest update provided a much-needed boost. The most important fix Jabra made was strengthening the left earbud’s connection; no longer does it randomly drop out. Bluetooth range is now longer and more stable. Where I previously experienced dropout within 25 feet of my connected device, now I’m able to enjoy up to 35 feet of wireless listening.
Pairing to portable devices was a breeze. Multipoint technology allowed for connection to two devices simultaneously and made it effortless to switch between audio sources without unpairing. The freedom to play Spotify playlists from my laptop and control playback on my smartphone while cooking is liberating.
The Jabra Elite 75t is a nice upgrade from the Elite 65t. A tinier design and increased battery life are what will have true wireless seekers gravitating towards this product. The buds look sexy, feel comfortable, and the charging case is as substantial as they make them: small, sturdy, and stores plenty of portable power. Jabra also deserves props for programming efficient listening modes, as PNC and HearThrough perform better than expected.
What prevents the buds from earning a perfect score are their unexpected shortcomings. The new update did fix a lot of the bugs in the system. Unfortunately, the digital assistant is still hit-or-miss, depending on your device. It’s also hard to overlook the poor call quality.
Even if the Elite 75t doesn’t leave the same impact as its predecessors, it is still a fine-looking set of buds with better sound and battery life than the AirPods Pro, at a lower price. Whether they are indeed better is a question we’ll answer in an upcoming face-off feature.