I'm a huge fan of Jabra buds, yet I was a bit afraid of writing this Jabra Elite 5 review. Not because there is anything wrong with the headphones; they are comfortable to wear, sound brilliant, and the built quality and features are also on point (maybe apart from the adjustable ANC – more on this below). Why was I concerned, then?
Because I tried the Jabra Elite 7 Active, which are the best running headphones right now, at least according to this reviewer. They deliver absolutely out-of-this-world sound performance, amazing ANC, personalised sound and fit assistant, smart assistant and can be bought for a little more than the Jabra Elite 5s. Why should I choose the latter? Do they belong in T3's best true wireless earbuds roundup?
After testing the Jabra Elite 5 under various circumstances for the last few weeks, I'm still firmly an Elite 7 Active fan, but I also learned to appreciate the Jabra Elite 5 quite a lot. Is the Jabra Elite 5 worth the money? Let's find out.
Jabra Elite 5 review – Price and availability
Jabra Elite 5 was released in September 2022 and is available to buy now directly from Jabra US (opens in new tab), Jabra UK (opens in new tab) and Jabra AU (opens in new tab) for a recommended retail price of $150/£150/AU$219.00. The buds are available in two colours: Gold Beige and Titanium Black.
As a cheaper alternative, you can consider opting for the Jabra Elite 4 Active (opens in new tab) (retailer link), which also has ANC, HearThrough, very decent battery life, Bluetooth 5.2 and more. Even cheaper are the Jabra Elite 75t Earbuds (opens in new tab) (links to Amazon UK), which, sadly, can't be bought directly from Jabra anymore but feature ANC, tailored sound, and fast charging for little more than half the price of the Jabra Elite 5.
Jabra Elite 5 review – Design and fit
Not surprisingly, the physical design of the Jabra Elite 5 takes after the Jabra Elite 7, and although it's slightly bigger than the top dog Jabra, the Elite 5 is actually lighter at 5 grams per earbud (the Elite 7 Active is 5.5 grams). In reality, it's hard to tell the difference between the two, especially when they are in the ear.
The headphones have a noise-isolating fit and semi-open design with pressure relief vents to ensure long-term wearing comfort. The Jabra Elite 5 comes with three sets of ear gels, so you can customise the fit to your liking. Sadly, the MyFit fit advisor feature isn't available with these buds; that's a premium feature, reserved for the most premium Jabra buds only (apparently).
Despite the Jabra Elite 5 also lacking the ShakeGrip coating that makes the Elite 7 Active less prone to fall out of your ear, the buds sit well in the ears. I prefer the slender Elite 7 Active because of way my ears are structured, but for everyday music listening at my desk, or for popping the buds in when I sat on the train to filter out the noise coming from that one person who needs to listen to a TV show at full whack without headphones (the joys of commuting, amirite?), the Elite 5 was perfectly adequate.
More than adequate, actually; on occasions, I found myself forgetting the buds were in my ears, even though the music was still playing. This happened more often when the buds and my ears were slightly warmer, similar to the Elite 7 Active. Most importantly, not once did I feel I had to take the headphones out of my ears because they weren't comfortable to wear anymore. Nice!
As for durability, the Jabra Elite 5 has a IP55 rating, meaning it will survive some splashing around and sweaty workouts. I wouldn't swim in them, though; you would need an IPX7 rating for that.
Jabra Elite 5 review – Battery life
The Jabra Elite 5 has a decent battery life, compared to other premium wireless buds on the market. With the ANC on, the headphones can work for up to 7 hours on one charge, plus there is an additional 21 hours left in the case. Turn the ANC off, and these numbers go up to 9/27 hours. Either way, the buds will be able to survive a full workday without charging, and if you're clever enough and pop them back in the charging case, you certainly won't run out of juice prematurely.
Said charging case has a USB-C charging port (cable supplied in the box) and is also Qi-certified for wireless charging, although a wireless charger isn’t included in the box. Finally, the Jabra Elite 5 has fast charging: 10 minutes of fast charge gives one hour of playback. Nothing to write home about at this price range, but at least the headphones deliver what's considered an industry-standard battery life nowadays – it's something, right?
Jabra Elite 5 review – Sound quality
The Jabra Elite 5 has a wonderfully well-rounded sound thanks to the 20Hz - 20000Hz bandwidth of its 6mm speakers. There was nothing I could throw at the headphones that didn't sound good. The bass is good – not quite as strong as on Soundcore or Skullcandy cans, but full-bodied enough – and there is plenty of depth in the mid-range. The Treble doesn't sound feeble, either.
I tried many different genres while testing the headphones, including the Assassin's Creed 4 soundtrack (I know, I'm special), Fatboy Slim albums, Disney's Halloween playlist (don't even), blues songs from the early days; the Jabra Elite 5 kept on returning good performance all across the sound stage. Through the Sound+ app, you can further customise the sound using the EQ presets; I found the Energize mode to be the most pleasing of the lot.
Jabra Elite 5 review – Hybrid ANC
Usually, noise isolation requires the buds to seal the ear canals, and the better this isolation, the more effective active noise cancellation (ANC) is. The Jabra Elite 5 has hybrid ANC that's, in theory, less sensitive to how you position the buds in your ears, so you get better noise cancellation on both your calls and music.
Using the combination of inward and outward-facing microphones that cancel noise from inside and outside the ear, the Jabra Elite 5 can provide better ANC across a broader range of sounds. Better still, you can customise ANC via the Sound+ app for an even better listening experience.
I found this customisation a bit pointless. Moving the slider around the app didn't provide a significantly different listening experience. Maybe it's because ANC is good enough, so no matter how you change it, it'll do well, or it could be that the change you can apply to ANC in the app is so small that it's barely audible.
Full disclosure, I tried the ANC customisation feature in many different environments, and towards the end of the testing period, while on the train, I found a point on the slider where ANC sounded different, so maybe there is a point in this feature.
However, I firmly believe that people should be removed from most customisation processes (most headphones users aren't experienced enough to know what the acoustic sweet spot is for their ears), hence why features tell people how to wear buds are better.
One good thing about hybrid ANC is that allows you to wear smaller/larger eargels, thanks to the buds not being dependent on sound isolation. To conclude, the ANC performance on the Jabra Elite 5 is excellent; however, the customisation doesn't change the experience significantly.
Jabra Elite 5 review – Call quality
I was taken aback by how clear the Jabra Elite 5 buds sounded during calls – the six internal microphone setup really works. The external microphones are active on all calls, but thanks to these sensitive internal mics, the Jabra Elite 5 creates call quality that's jaw-droppingly intelligible. I kept on asking the people on the other side of the calls, 'Do I sound okay?', which must have been annoying, but I couldn't help but expect my voice to sound terrible; something has to give, right?
Well, as it turns out, it doesn't. You can have your cake and eat it, where 'cake' is 'excellent music playback performance' and 'eat it' is 'good call quality'. to put a label on it, the speaker bandwidth in speak mode is 100Hz - 8000Hz; obviously, it doesn't have to be as broad when it's only voice that comes through the mics.
Jabra Elite 5 review – Verdict
It's hard to find anything to criticise about the Jabra Elite 5. It has a superb sound quality for both audio listening and calls, and the ANC is pretty darn good, too. Music listening experience can be customised in the Sound+ app, where you can change EQ modes and tailor the ANC to your liking, although the latter doesn't switch things up too much.
The build quality is exactly what you'd expect from Jabra headphones – no creaky plastic in sight. Despite the buds being IP55-rated, they are buttery smooth and a pleasure to have in your ears. I appreciated that the buds use physical control buttons with a good clicking sensation, making it easier to operate the Elite 5 without looking.
The only reason the Jabra Elite 5 won't receive a 5-star rating from me is that at RRP, even Jabra has earbuds better suited for specific goals such as workouts. It's hard to recommend the Elite 5 over the Jabra Elite 7 Active, considering you can get them both for more or less the same price.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't get the Jabra Elite 5, though. It would be almost impossible to find other true wireless headphones that performed this well at this price range for everyday listening and especially calls. If you find one for a little bit less than its RRP, you should, without a doubt, get them.
Jabra Elite 5 review – Also consider
Sold for more or less the same price as the Jabra Elite 5, Beats' Studio Buds provide impressive noise-cancelling capabilities. They come with most of the functionality of the AirPods Pro but also offer easy pairing and Find My support on Android. Their flaws are pretty minor overall. Read T3's Beats Studio Buds review.
Sennheiser came very close to creating the perfect running headphones in the form of the SPORT True Wireless. The open/closed ear tips system is not without flaws but offers more versatility than standard true wireless earbuds. Buy these buds if you need secure-fitting, well-sounding buds for exercise and running. Read my full Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless review.