At first sight
Awesome UI The physical buttons on the earbuds are a pleasure to use The ANC is effective without going overboard
Sound quality good but not great
Jabra’s affordable, smartly designed and feature-rich Elite 5 ANC earphones will appeal to a wide range of casual listeners, but audiophiles purely interested in the best sound should look elsewhere.
Price at time of review
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Owned since 2020 by GN Audio, a Danish audio company with a history dating back to the telegraph, Jabra has long enjoyed a solid reputation in wireless earphones and headphones. The manufacturer now sells six different pairs of true wireless earphones at MSRPs ranging from $79.99 all the way up to $229.99.
The $150 Jabra Elite 5 true wireless headphones sit squarely in the middle of the product lineup, and are well-designed earphones with a host of features that will appeal to casual listeners. Are there any better sounding ANC earbuds on the market? Sure (the Second generation AirPods Pro comes to mind), but few that can match the Jabra 5’s balance of convenience, performance, and price.
This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best noise canceling headphones.
When you take the buds out of the case and place them in your ears, a musical tone tells you they’re active, then a recorded human voice announces if they’re connected.
The faceplate of each earbud is a large, captive control button. The left earbud switches between active noise cancellation and transparency mode (or HearThrough, as Jabra calls it), and once again, an actual human voice announces which setting you’re using. The right earphone controls play and pause.
What is the battery life of the Jabra Elite 5 headset?
The Jabra Elite 5 Beige Gold earphones I tested needed a charge right out of the box. A full charge takes around 3 hours, and the earbuds offer 7 hours of playtime, or up to 28 hours when you include charges from the case.
When you open the lid of the charging case, the lights on each earbud reveal the battery status with a green, yellow or red light. A 10-minute quick charge in the case will provide one hour of playback if the case has at least 30% charge left.
The case itself is compatible with the Qi charging pad, but can also be charged via the USB-C port on the back of the case using the included USB-C to USB-A cable.
What is included with the Jabra Elite 5?
In addition to the earphones, case, and cable (you’ll need to supply your own power supply), the Jabra Elite 5 comes with three pairs of the company’s Eargel tips in sizes small, medium, and large.
The medium tips come pre-installed on the earphones.
What version of Bluetooth does the Jabra Elite 5 support?
Each Elite 5 earbud has 6mm drivers and supports Bluetooth 5.2, allowing you to connect to two devices simultaneously. The earphones support SBC, AAC and Qualcomm aptX codecs, enabling higher quality streaming from Apple and Android devices.
Play stops automatically when you take out the left earbud, but not the right. Music doesn’t restart automatically even when you put the left earbud back. This is not how other earbuds with this feature work, but playback restarts with a tap of the right earbud.
You can only use one earbud at a time if you’re in a situation where you need to hear your surroundings better, or if you’re just trying to keep the music going when the battery power is low.
Jabra Elite 5 supports both Microsoft Swift Pair and Google Fast pair, but iOS users will need to open the Bluetooth settings to connect for the first time.
How do I adjust the volume and skip tracks on the Jabra Elite 5?
The tactile experience of the physical action of the buttons with each faceplate is superior. In addition to the controls described above, pressing and holding the right earphone will increase the volume, while pressing and holding the left earphone will decrease it.
A double press on the right earphone will skip to the next track, while a triple press will restart the current track. Press three times again to skip to the previous track. A double press on the left earphone will activate your device’s default voice assistant.
How does the Jabra Elite 5 work with phone calls?
Jabra Elite 5 delivers excellent call quality with its 6-microphone calling technology, including dedicated microphones to reduce wind noise. Unlike most other ANC headsets, Jabra’s calling technology appears to be incompatible with noise cancellation. If you’re listening with ANC on and you answer a phone call, the noise canceling turns off and only comes back on after you end the call and resume playing your music, podcast or audiobook.
After using the earphones for a few weeks, the lack of ANC during calls seemed like a much minor issue. Calls sound great, so that particular quirk isn’t a big deal.
Does the Jabra Elite 5 come with an app?
Jabra’s Sound+ app for iOS and Android offers clear and intuitive control over the headphones. You can go online to download the full device manual, but everything you need to know is presented in the app.
The device home screen shows the battery levels for each earbud and case. In the Sound Mode control, you can adjust the level of ANC and HearThrough to your personal taste. There’s a music equalizer to customize your sound and six EQ presets, including Neutral, Speech, Bass boost, Treble boost, Smooth and Energize. If you create an EQ setting that you want to keep, you can save it and give it a name.
There’s also a number of built-in soundscapes designed to mask out the noise around you or provide a soothing audio background, including nature sounds plus pink or white noise. These background noises are generated electronically and are therefore not as pleasant as real-life field recordings in an app like Environments. However, Jabra’s artificial soundscapes are much better than what you’ll get from most bedside noise generators.
Jabra Elite 5 is also compatible with Spotify Tap playback. If you’re a subscriber and enable the feature in the Sound+ app settings, a double-tap on the left earbud will resume the last song you were playing on Spotify if the app isn’t currently open, or play a song recommended by Spotify if the app is active.
How do the Jabra Elite 5 earphones sound?
The Jabra Elite 5 headphones have a very flat tuning that the app even identifies as “neutral”. Plus, there’s no digital signal processing to artificially add depth and widen the soundstage. Rather than the spatial audio ambitions of Apple, Bose, Sony and Soundcore, Jabra simply delivers a pleasant (if narrower) stereo image.
Streaming the B-52’s 1979 self-titled album via Apple Music was eye-opening. With the Jabra Elite 5, “Rock Lobster” sounds a lot like it did when I first heard it played on a stereo system at my local record store. Listening to the same track with my 2nd generation AirPods Pro, there is more detail in each instrument and a wider soundstage.
Do the AirPods Pro have more appeal for the serious music listener? Sure, but Apple headphones are also $100 more expensive than the Jabra Elite 5. Jabra has put a lot of effort into the total experience with the Elite 5, with audio quality only being one factor in the overall equation.
Are the Jabra Elite 5 earbuds worth the money?
The Jabra Elite 5 offers a wealth of features for the price, and it’s those features that are the most compelling reason to buy them. The controls are great. The ANC function is strong and effective without creating the disorienting feeling of being in a vacuum. The HearThrough feature is one of the best implementations of this feature on the market. The app is easy to use, battery life is good, and call quality is excellent.
While the Jabra Elite 5 headset works well in a variety of scenarios, such as listening to podcasts or audiobooks, making phone calls, and streaming songs, it’s not intended for the high-end audio market.
It’s not a blow, to be clear. Yes, you can find other in-ear headphones that sound better than good or even great for music, but they won’t necessarily have as many other features as Jabra offers and will likely cost significantly more.
Bottom line? If you’re a casual listener and the Jabra Elite 5’s feature set sounds appealing, this headset is an excellent choice.
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