My relationship with wireless music has been treacherous. I remember the first set of wireless headphones my dad bought for me when I was about 12. It had a huge base station and the quality was shocking, because it ran on FM frequency. On the plus side, I can tune into radio stations right on my headphones. In fact, I spent many nights listening to people tuning into late night stations and complaining about their .. intimate problems. After that, I mostly stuck with wired headphones as most of them don’t require batteries, and the sound coming out of a terrible pair of headphones can often better that of a pair of premium wireless ones. I had a few pairs of Sennheisers (real and fake ones), a pair of Sony, and a pair of Bose’s active noise cancelling QC20i.
The QC20i was the most expensive pair of earphones that I bought, and it sounded beautiful. On the plane, it cancels out most of the cabin noise. It really was a serene and magical experience. Because I shop when I’m bored, and I was bored a lot when I went to the university, I bought a few pairs of Razer headphones. Thinking back, they were terrible. However, the most terrible of them all, was the Razer Chimaera 5.1. The headphone connects to a base station using a 5.8GHz frequency radio, and supposedly delivers a “surround sound” experience… out of a headset. I have to admit it worked somewhat, but was very disappointed in the audio quality and the frequent connection dropouts. This was my second set of wireless headphones.
While working at the university, and being paid enough for me to be comfortable with buying whatever I want, the inner audiophile in me told me to resurrect my desire of beautiful audio. I went and bought a pair of Shure SE535 Limited Edition. It sounds fantastic. Music has never been played more beautifully directly into my ears but the cable was constantly getting in the way. Fortunately I didn’t have to wear suit and tie to work, so I just threaded the cable through my t-shirt and it was relatively inconspicuous. A year into my ownership, I decided to buy the Shure BT1 Bluetooth adapter, which can plug into my SE535 and replace the cable, enabling Bluetooth streaming. This is the setup I own to this day, with the comfort of knowing that I can always switch back to a wired solution when I want to … if I remember to bring the lightning to 3.5mm audio dongle with me.
If you read this blog you’d know that Apple has to somehow slip into every single article I write, and this is no exception. I have started noticing the ridiculous-looking AirPods ever since Apple released it almost 3 years ago. I have to be honest – I am not a fan of the design. It’s too conspicuous, too long, too shiny, too white. Compounded by the recent perception that a pair of earbuds costing AUD $229 counts as … premium? $200 wouldn’t even get you an entrance to the world of audio. I suppose for a 15-year-old, $229 is not cheap, and the internet is run by 15-year-olds isn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong, while I don’t like the design of the AirPods, and I find people who wear them somewhat obnoxious and lacking self-respect, the concept of a truly wireless pair of earbuds is very appealing to me. I had waited, for something better to come along. Then Samsung released their IconX. With my inexplicable hatred towards everything Samsung, I skipped it without even trying. Then Jabra released their Elite 65t, and I was so excited … by the 3D viewer on their website, that I decided I had to see the earbuds in person. So here it is.
I like that it’s discreet, somewhat. Definitely more discreet than the
stupid AirPods. I like that it’s not a fashion statement. I like that it’s black. I like that although it’s even more expensive than the AirPods, people don’t see me as a massive show-off. I like that it says Jabra on the side. I like the charging case. I like that it says it’s “Designed and Engineered in Copenhagen”. I like the simplicity of it.
Suffice to say – I like it a lot.
It connects automatically when I take it out of the case, and charges automatically when it’s back in. The audio quality isn’t too bad. I’m not expecting perfection in terms of audio quality, but it’s good enough that I’m happy to use it for an extended period of time. I like gadgets, and the Elite 65t is giving me adequate amount of satisfaction while I’m using them.
About half a year ago I switched job and now I wear a suit to work every day. This brings it to one of my most used features – using it to make calls. I had found with my previous headphones and earphones, the quality of the microphone has always been a let down. Jabra, however, is a brand quintessentially linked with Business products. On the Elite 65t, many of the Business-orientated features comes to life too. For example, the microphone is crystal clear, and the call experience is enhanced by Jabra piping a small amount of audio recorded from the microphone directly back into your ears – so you can hear what you are saying. Or in my case, hear the stupid things I say when I try to sound smart on the phone. It is a small touch, but does make a world of difference.
Then there’s the Hearthrough function. It “enhances” the environmental sound and pumps it into your ear, so you can hear what is happening around you. I thought it was a bit of a gimmick at first, but it is genuinely very useful whether I’m walking down the street, or sitting in the office.
Unfortunately that’s the end of my praise for them. I have to admit I have faced a few issues with it. The first issue was immediately apparent to me the second I put them on – they aren’t as comfortable as I’d like them to be. With the buttons being physically pushed to actuate, I was feeling a bit of pain on my first day of wearing them. On my second day, it got much better, but still uncomfortable. Before you rush to say “oh you should have tried different sized tips” – I did try them, Medium, which was the one that came on the earbuds, fit me the best. Another issue I have faced, was actually discovered while I was washing my car outside this morning. I left my phone on the porch and had the 65t in my ears. I experienced some drop in audio when I bend down out of the line of sight to my phone to wipe my car. I was very surprised as yesterday I left my phone in my room and walked to use the bathroom with the 65t on, and it was fine albeit the 3.5 rooms separation. I guess my car has more metal than the rooms. Maybe it’s time to get a McLaren 675LT at last? Full carbon fibre?
I have always been a perfectionist when it comes to my technology. I find tiny flaws in areas that nobody would ever find important or even notice, and it might just be the deal breaker for me. I genuinely like the Jabra Elite 65t. However, the comfort might be a deal breaker for me. I will continue to wear them for the next week or so, and hopefully my ears will have had time to adjust to them because oh my – I love these little earbuds.
Having said everything above, I’m trading convenience for quality. If I were to lay in the couch, in a beautifully located AirBnB house, facing the mountainous terrain, with the fresh wind blowing on my face, and the sun gently shining down, I’d rip out the Bluetooth adapter from my Shure SE535, put on the cheap-feeling cables that came with it, and listen to the gentle yet passionate tunes of Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald.