At $239, these mid-range earbuds aren’t designed to compete with the market’s best-of-the-best. The sound they produce struggles with bass but, overall, is adequate. The active noise cancellation (ANC) is good at blocking out background noise, they have a 9-hour battery life, and they’re some of the most comfortable earbuds I’ve used.
The problem here is they lack features that other similarly priced earbuds possess. Most noticeably, there are no volume controls on the earbuds, and they aren’t compatible with smartwatches. These aren’t features solely reserved for the best earbuds out there, and I expected them here.
The Elite 5’s aren’t innovative new earbuds making significant moves in the mid-range earbuds space. They’re relatively generic, looking identical to other earbuds in the Jabra range. And to make matters worse, there are cheaper earbuds out there, like Sony’s WF-1000XM3s and the JBL Live Pro+ TWS, that bring more to the table.
- Nice design
- SpotifyTap support
- No volume touch controls
- Not compatible with smartwatches
Jabra’s Elite 5 earbuds are mid-range earbuds costing $239. This puts them in the same category as Sony’s $230 WF-1000XM3s and the JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds costing $189.
The Elite 5’s have a familiar design. Put them beside the Jabra Elite 7 earbuds, and you’ll struggle to tell the difference.
They sport the same rounded, stemless design made from matte plastic material, and they come with four different silicone tips to ensure they fit most ears.
The Elite 5’s, like the Elite 7’s, are some of the most comfortable earbuds I’ve used. While most earbuds are comfortable these days, the comfort here is a standout. Each earbud only weighs 5g. They’re light and sit nicely in the ear, creating a secure and tight seal without pushing too far in. I never had to worry about them falling out, and I could easily wear them all day.
They boast an IP55 resistance rating. This means they’re protected from dust and will survive a splash of water or sweat.
The touch controls are physical buttons on each earbud. Using the controls, you can feel them pushing deeper into the ear canal; however, I didn’t find this was a significant problem. The inputs are accurate and accessible. Most premium earbuds utilise touch-sensitive controls, but I came to appreciate the physical buttons and their accuracy. Frustratingly though, there was no way to control the volume with the earbuds. Nowadays, this is a must-have control, and it was sorely lacking here.
The Elite 5 earbuds come in two colours, Gold Beige and Titanium Black. Our review device boasted the Gold Beige colour scheme, and it’s the better of the two. It’s a unique look that stands out.
The sound produced by these earbuds is good but not great. It’s what I’d expect from a pair of earbuds at this price range, and it’s okay.
The 6mm speakers in each earbud do a good job with higher and mid frequencies, however, they lack bass capabilities. Lower frequency sounds aren’t as punchy as I would’ve liked, and equaliser adjustments didn’t make much difference if any.
The soundstage felt a tad flat in songs like Stars and Stripes by Rogue Wave. Vocals come through clearly, along with crashes and rides; however, the bass and kick drum disappear into the mix without having much of an impact. Listening to Where Do I Begin by The Chemical Brothers, the bass sounded a bit better, but it still didn’t quite have the oomph I was looking for.
The Elite 5’s support SBC, AAC & Qualcomm aptX codecs. They also support SpotifyTap, which allows you to tap the earbuds to play Spotify from where you left off. If you weren’t listening to Spotify beforehand, it’d play music Spotify thinks you’ll like. It’s a great feature for Spotify users, but you won’t find any special features here for everyone else.
The ANC is okay. It struggles with low frequencies like the rumbling of a car, but it did a good job of blocking out the sound of the fan in my office.
You can personalise the ANC to match your hearing, but I wasn’t convinced this did much. One feature I did appreciate, though, was having the option to adjust the ANC according to imbalanced hearing. Those who hear differently in each ear will sometimes come across ANC imbalance. When setting up the earbuds, you can accommodate for this, which is a nice touch.
HearThrough is Jabra’s ambient noise feature in which the built-in microphones pick up outside noise and play into your ear. It works well, but when turning HearThrough on while listening to music, the volume of the audio I was playing didn’t get turned down. If I suddenly wanted to hear what was happening around me, the music kept playing at the same volume, making it hard to hear the ambient noise and defeating the purpose.
The earbuds utilise six internal microphones for calls. It’s more than capable of picking up your voice; however, it’s also very good at picking up outside noise as well. If you’re talking to a friend or family member in a busy area, they’ll be able to hear most of what’s in the background. Not ideal.
Jabra Sound+ app
The Jabra Sound+ app is relatively barebones. There aren’t any standout features here. It has what you would expect; however, the functionality in some areas is lacking.
There’s an equaliser for EQing audio to your personal preference, but I found this had little to no impact on how the audio sounded. Pushing the bass up didn’t create a “bassier” sound. In fact, I struggled to tell if it did anything at all. Same with higher frequencies.
You can customise the control inputs, but as mentioned earlier, there are no volume controls here, which is a setback. Of course, you can adjust the ANC and turn HearThrough on and off here as well.
Just like the Jabra Elite 7 range, the Elite 5’s don’t support smartwatches. When I reviewed the Elite 7 earbuds, I said, “It’s a frustrating omission that means if I wanted to go for a run, I would have to carry my phone with me.”
There’s no excuse for this. If Jabra wants to compete in the earbud market, the Elite 5’s need to do what other earbuds in the price range can do, at least. Both Sony’s WF-1000XM3 and JBL’s Live Pro+ earbuds are cheaper than the Elite 5’s and they support smartwatches. It’s a significant downside.
Jabra claims the Elite 5 earbuds last 9 hours on a single charge with ANC on. We found this to be true. The case holds an additional 21 hours, and the Elite 5’s support fast charging, getting one hour of playback off a ten-minute charge. All pretty standard stuff.
Jabra’s Elite 5 earbuds are run-of-the-mill, mid-range earbuds. They produce a good sound but struggle with bass, they have accurate touch controls, the ANC is good at cancelling sounds like fans and air conditioners, and they have a 9-hour battery life.
There are a couple of key features missing here, though. Namely, being able to adjust the volume with touch controls and the earbuds being compatible with smartwatches. The Elite 5’s aren’t able to do either of these things.
While they’re some of the most comfortable earbuds I’ve used, there isn’t anything here to make the Jabra Elite 5 earbuds stand out, alternatively, they lack features that cheaper earbuds boast. This makes the Elite 5 earbuds a hard sell.
If you’re looking for a pair of mid-range earbuds, the Jabra Elite 5’s will do the job, but there are better, cheaper options out there that can do more.