Jabra Elite 5 hands-on: The hybrid ANC of these headphones is just great
During the IFA 2022, I went by the Jabra booth to take in hand their new true wireless mid-range earphones, the Jabra Elite 5. I give you my first impressions after a quick use of these buds at $150.
Jabra Elite 5 in a nutshell
The Jabra Elite 5 are available since September 1, 2022 at a price of $150. These wireless headphones are the mid-range of the Jabra catalog. They are less premium than the Jabra Elite 85t, the current flagship model or the Jabra Elite 7 Pro. They are true wireless in-ear headphones with active noise reduction (ANC).
Design and ergonomics
The Jabra Elite 5 are compact in-ear headphones that come in two colors: Golden Beige and Titanium Black. Each earphone weighs 5 g and measures 20 x 20.54 x 27 mm.
The surface in contact with the ear is made of smooth, shiny plastic and the outside of each earpiece is covered with a more matte coating. The earbuds do not have a touch surface, but physical buttons that take up almost the entire surface. This design choice makes them easy to use since you don't have to fumble for the buttons.
The charging case of the Jabra Elite 5 is quite compact with dimensions of 26 x 38.9 x 64.1 mm and a weight of 20 g. The magnetic closure is firm and feels solid. Overall, there is a very premium feel to these headphones. I use the Jabra Elite 85t on a daily basis and the level of finish on the Elite 5 is very similar. The ear cups are just a little more angular.
Not everyone likes the in-ear format because it obstructs the ear canal. But it also allows to have a very good passive isolation of the sound. The earphones fit quite well in the ears and I did not find them uncomfortable. They are IP55 certified for water and dust resistance. This level of protection is sufficient for sports without the risk of damaging the earphones by sweating.
The Jabra Elite 5 have 6mm drivers, carry 6 microphones and offer hybrid active noise reduction and a transparency mode.
We've seen larger drivers in other true wireless headphones like the Nothing Ear (1) which have 11.6mm drivers or the 11mm drivers in the AirPods Pro. The Jabra Elite 5's small speakers are paired with a Qualcomm QCC3050 SoC that combines Bluetooth receiver, ambient noise reduction, microphone filtering, DSP for sound equalization and amplification. SBC, AAC and aptX audio codecs are supported.
The headphones also feature Bluetooth 5.2, multipoint and fast pairing via Google Fast Pair. They are compatible with all voice assistants: Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
The bandwidth of 20 to 20,000 Hz is very classic since it corresponds to the average frequency range that the human ear is theoretically supposed to be able to perceive. But if you know Jabra, you already know that we are on a profile very focused on the mediums. It is a deliberate choice of the manufacturer and against the current of the others which flatter especially the basses.
But I don't have a frequency response curve to be sure. In any case, during my brief test session, I found the voices very present, perhaps even a little too much at the expense of the rest. For podcasts and Youtube videos, it's fine. But if you want a little more bass and treble for your music, just go through the equalizer.
Either way, it all depends on what kind of music you're into. But by default, the Jabra Elite 5 lacks a bit of bass punch and the highs, while well defined, are a bit drowned out by the mids. It's like being at a concert and hearing the artist's voice far too loud for the music.
The Jabra Elite 5 also offers a feature called Spotify Tap. This is a shortcut that allows you to access your Spotify playlists by double-tapping the left earbud button. During the hands-on, I couldn't get it to work.
The Jabra Elite 5 features Hybrid Active Noise Reduction (ANC), a proprietary technology from the manufacturer, as well as a transparency mode to stay "aware" of ambient noise.
According to the manufacturer, hybrid ANC uses feedback microphones inside the ear and feedforward microphones outside to manage ambient noise around you, but also the sound inside the ear canal. The idea is to adjust the intensity of the noise reduction to the positioning of your earphones in your ears and to provide cancellation over a wider frequency range.
In fact, noise reduction is usually done through phase cancellation. So the headphones identify a frequency to be suppressed, and diffuse a sound on an opposite frequency to cancel it. Except that the more complex the sound, the more difficult it is to identify and cancel the frequency(s) effectively.
That's why the rolling of a subway train is easier to cancel phonically than a human voice for this type of earphones. Personally, I found the ANC to be quite effective. I was in the middle of the Jabra booth at IFA, with dozens of journalists and others around me, and I found it very effective.
Even better, you can adjust the CNA level for each earpiece separately. Imagine you are in a car, the intensity of the ambient noises is not balanced. The noises are inevitably louder on the window side than on the other. The same is true if you have an office neighbor on your left or right. His or her keyboard and chattering noises require a louder CNA. So Jabra allows you to manually adjust the ANC level in one ear or the other. I think this is great.
Jabra Elite 5 battery
The Jabra Elite 5 have a claimed battery life of 9 hours for each earpiece without ANC and 7 hours with. With the recharges via the case, the total autonomy can be increased to 36 hours without ANC and 28 hours with.
On paper, these are very good performances, in the high average of what is done on the market. I tried to insist, but the Jabra product managers on site at IFA would not let me camp on their stand for 9 hours to check this promise. That's a shame.
It takes 3 hours to fully charge the headphones via the case. The case can do up to three full recharges. 10 minutes of recharging will cover an hour of listening.
Conclusion: My first impressions
I really like Jabra headphones. I've been using Jabra Elite 85t for a year on a daily basis and before that, I had Jabra Elite 75t. In short, I'm certainly a bit biased towards this manufacturer.
But I think the price/technical specifications ratio is quite relevant. In 2022, a pair of AirPods Pro still costs around 200 euros. Personally, I find the Jabra Elite 5 much more interesting.
The audio quality is quite good, the compact design is cool, minimalist and neat. The Jabra Sound+ companion application is very complete and offers many settings. The Hybrid ANC that can be adjusted on each earpiece in isolation is just great. The autonomy is in the high average of the market.
In short, the Jabra Elite 5 are versatile true wireless headphones and more affordable than the manufacturer's flagship. If you are looking for buds to work without hearing your noisy colleagues or if you listen to music in mp3 to pass the time in transport, I find this product coherent.