Jabra’s Elite 75t earned a CNET Editors’ Choice award back when it debuted in November of 2019, but it didn’t become widely available until the beginning of 2020. While a lot of other excellent true wireless earbuds have arrived since then, including several that offer active noise cancellation, the Elite 75t and its slightly more rugged sibling, the Elite Active 75t have remained top true-wireless options. Part of the reason for that is that Jabra has managed to improve the earbuds’ performance through firmware upgrades. The most recent of those (fall 2020) added active noise cancellation, even as the company released a step-up model, the Elite 85t, which uses a different, even more effective form of noise-canceling technology. The other reason the Jabra Elite 75t continues to be a top contender is that it’s become more affordable, occasionally cutting $40 or even $50 off its list price of $180 (£170 and AU$299) during the holiday sales period.
LikeSound better than the AirPods Pro, with better clarity and tighter bassBetter fit and smaller size than previous models7.5-hour battery life between chargesUSB-C charging
Don’t LikeRival models from Apple and Anker have better call qualityNo wireless charging
Because the 75t has gotten better over time and is now available at a lower price, we’re reaffirming its place in the current true wireless headphone pantheon with an updated Editors’ Choice as of December 2020.
Much of what follows is from my original review, but the key thing to note about the firmware upgrades is that voice-calling performance has improved, with better background noise reduction. Also, the new noise-canceling feature actually works — it does help muffle ambient noise — although the noise canceling in the step-up Elite 85t is a bit stronger. And while the standard version of the Elite 75t doesn’t include a wireless charging case, there’s now a variant that includes one for $20 more, though it’s not so easy to find.
As I stated in my original review, at first glance the Elite 75t, available in a few different color options, seems more like an evolutionary upgrade from the Elite 65t. But the updates turn out to be a little more substantial than I first thought. The Elite 75t’s smaller size (the buds and case are 20% smaller than its predecessor), its boosted battery life and USB-C charging are significant upgrades. And then there are the smaller changes, like the new charging case design with magnets inside it that make it easier to open and close and to keep the buds inside.
Read more: The best true wireless earbuds of 2019
The new case has magnets.
Jabra says the main goals for the 75t were to make it smaller while increasing the battery life. The issue with the Elite 65t was that, while it fits me well, it’s too big for some people’s ears, which leads to returns. Jabra says the 75t’s drivers are the same as those of the 65t, but the smaller design will help more people get a more comfortable, more snug fit. That snug fit (“tight seal” I sometimes call it) isn’t only crucial to having the buds stay in your ears securely, but it allows you to get the best sound out of them with improved bass performance. And these do have very good sound quality for true wireless if you can get that tight seal. (To be clear, I am comparing these to other true wireless earbuds, not wired headphones, which tend to deliver better sound for the money.)
The 75t design didn’t make a huge difference for me in terms of fit versus its predecessor. As I said, the Elite 65t basically fit my ears almost perfectly, and these do, too, passively sealing out a good amount of ambient noise. However, the Elite 75t are definitely lighter and more discreet. The “pipe” of the earbuds, where the voice microphone lives, has almost been eliminated on the Elite 75t, and its absence gives the earbuds a more streamlined look. That’s a big deal. And I think the new smaller design will not only fit more ears but fit them more comfortably. It’s arguably not quite as comfortable as the AirPods Pro, which is slightly lighter, but it’s comfortable for this type of noise-isolating in-ear headphone, which isn’t for everybody (many people don’t like having a silicone ear tip dipped into their ear canal).
The Elite 65t (left) vs. the Elite 75t (right).
I also appreciated the smaller charging case and that it now has a flat bottom so you can lay it down horizontally (you have to stand the Elite 65t’s case up vertically). These design upgrades may seem small, but they clearly improve the product.
The headphones still have four microphones — two in each earbud (the Elite 85t has six) — but the location has changed versus the 65t. There are now microphones at the front and the back of each bud. The Elite 65t worked well as a headset, but this model works a little better for making calls, though I did think that both the AirPods Pro and Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 were a notch up with their noise reduction in noisier environments (however, as noted, the noise reduction has improved with firmware updates). You can use the right earbud alone for mono music playback or for calls. If you remove the left earbud while you’re listening to music, the music will automatically pause. To resume mono playback in the right earbud, you have to press the multifunction button.
With the Elite 75t, callers said they could hear me clearly but the background sound was less muffled than with the AirPods Pro and the Anker. The Liberty Air 2 actually was the best at muffling background sound. All that said, the Elite 75t is the only one of the three to have a sidetone feature that allows you hear your own voice in the earphones, which keeps you from talking too loudly. You can adjust the level of sidetone in the app.
The Jabra Elite 75t is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, which not only helps improve battery life, but also helps with wireless connectivity. I experienced almost no Bluetooth hiccups in New York City, which is notoriously difficult on true wireless earbuds, particularly last-generation models. While the earbuds are smaller, battery life is now rated at 7.5 hours at moderate volume levels — up from 5 hours on the Elite 65t (the AirPods Pro are rated at 4.5 hours with noise canceling on). The case provides an additional 20.5 hours of battery life. My initial tests indicate the battery life numbers are accurate — at least for the buds themselves.
With an IP55 water-resistance rating, the Elite 75t is splash-proof and offers some dust resistance, and it will be fine to use at the gym and for running (the buds stayed in my ears securely while running). Like the Elite 65t, there’s a HearThrough transparency mode that lets ambient sound in — you activate it with a short press on the left earbud — and in the Sound Plus app for iOS and Android you can opt to have your music pause when you activate HearThrough. That way if someone comes up to talk to you when you have the buds on, you can tap the left earbud and have a conversation.
The app also has EQ settings that allow you to tweak the sound to your liking and you can choose between your device’s native voice assistant or Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. However, you have to press a button to access the voice assistant (to be clear, these buds have physical buttons). With the AirPods Pro, you can simply say, “Hey, Siri” to access Siri hands-free.
Unlike the AirPods Pro, these have volume controls on the buds. You press and hold the button on the left earbud to lower the volume and press and hold the button on the right earbud to raise it. It works well.
The earphones have a more discreet design.
Tweaking the EQ settings can improve the sound quality a bit. I ended up going with the Smooth setting, which reduces the treble a bit and elevates the bass slightly. That setting seemed to work well for a variety of musical genres. And while the Elite 75t may not be quite as comfortable as the AirPods Pro and doesn’t perform quite as well as a headset for making calls, I think it sounds better than the AirPods Pro. The Elite 75t offers better overall clarity, with better definition in the bass. It’s more lively and dynamic.
For some people, that superior sound may not trump the pluses of the AirPods Pro. But the Elite 75t does cost less, even with the AirPods Pro’s price dipping to below $200. With the software updates, it remains an all-around excellent set of true wireless earbuds that has enough improvements, including a significantly improved design and better battery life (and now noise canceling), to make it one of the top models in this highly competitive and quickly evolving headphone category.