These Are the Best Earbuds for the Money

Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

Everybody’s nuts about AirPods. They’re small, and they work great with iPhones. Now there are AirPods Pro, and they’re more expensive but better in some ways. They’re still not the best, in my opinion. Jabra just released its latest truly wireless earbuds, the Elite 75t, and somehow, this humble Danish company has managed—yet again—to build something better. They’re small, and they work great with any device. I’m nuts about them.

Jabra appeared on my radar a few years ago, when it started selling high-quality wireless headphones at a reasonable price (before this it was best known for its headsets sold to businesses). Soon after their release, the company’s truly wireless earbuds, the Elite 65t, became my daily drivers, and I was excited to hear that the company would be releasing an upgrade to those bestsellers this year. The new $180 Elite 75t earbuds don’t disappoint.

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For starters, the design is delightful. The Elite 75t essentially fix everything I didn’t like about the Elite 65t. The most noticeable difference is size. The new Jabra earbuds are smaller—slightly more compact that the AirPods Pro, in fact. Gone is the little microphone arm that defines the Elite 65t design. It’s been replaced by a little hump on the front of the bud that contains two microphones that filter out noise when you’re on the phone. The Elite 75t don’t offer noise-canceling, but the fit is so good, I found that they blocked out noise better than the AirPods Pro, which do have noise-canceling. The Jabra earbuds also have slightly more streamlined physical buttons for controls, while Apple and Sony competitors now rely on finicky touch surfaces.

The Elite 75t case also got a great set of upgrades. Like the buds themselves, the case is meaningfully smaller—shorter and slightly thicker than the AirPods Pro case. The lid now snaps closed and the earbuds snap into place with the help of some magnets. There’s also a USB-C port on the back for charging. Oh and did I mention that the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds get 7.5 hours of battery life on a single charge? That’s nearly double the 4.5-hour battery life of the AirPods Pro. With the charging case (and thanks to new Bluetooth 5 support) you can get up to 28 hours of battery life. And because the design is so much better, I found myself storing the Elite 75t in the case much more often. I swear I couldn’t kill the battery if I tried.

It’s all of these sensible features that make the new Jabra earbuds so great. Sure, they look a bit more understated than the new AirPods Pro, but I don’t need my earbuds to double as fashion accessories. The Elite 75t just work well and sound remarkably good for the money.

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Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

The sound quality didn’t surprise me. The new Elite 75t have the same drivers as the old Elite 65t, which is not a bad thing. They have a nice, balanced sound profile and deliver an impressive amount of bass response for an earbud. It’s the richness of that lower range that make the new Jabra earbuds standout from what Apple is selling. On top of that, the tight fit of the Elite 75t makes a huge difference when it comes to sound quality. Not only did I pick up less noise from the outside world with the Elite 75t, but I also felt like my music sounded more dynamic and detailed. I felt the warm hum of the low bass on “I Should Live in Salt” by the National and actually enjoyed the crisp, super high falsetto on “More” by Electric Guest. Sometimes earbuds—even those with the AirPods moniker—can simply sound hollow or shrill.

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I keep bringing up the new AirPods for good reason. One, the AirPods Pro were the last earbuds I reviewed, and although I had some complaints, I mostly loved them. Two, the AirPods Pro also represent the Jabra Elite 75t’s biggest competition, so much so that Jabra actually lowered the price of the Elite 75t from $200 to $180 after Apple announced the $250 AirPods Pro. But for my money, the choice between the two earbuds is a no-brainer. The Jabra Elite 75t fit better, sound better, and work better than the AirPods Pro.

Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)
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That “work better” bit is something that deserves a bit more explanation. If you’re an Apple person, you will undoubtedly enjoy how well the AirPods Pro work with your iPhone or whatever. They pair with all of your Apple devices at once, and they connect as soon as you put them in your ears. The AirPods Pro will even read your text messages to you in that awkward Siri lilt. That said, the Jabra Elite 75t are just as easy and dependable in my experience. They turn on as soon as you take them out of the case, and if you leave them out of the case long enough that they power down. It’s easy to turn them back on with the press of a button too. And those buttons! Call me old fashioned, but I love physical buttons on my earbuds or really on anything that I’m trying to operate out of my field of vision. The AirPods rely on touch-sensitive surfaces that simply aren’t as dependable as a button you can push.

I should also point out that the new Jabra earbuds are more durable than both sets of AirPods. With an IP55 rating, the Elite 75t are water and dust resistant. The AirPods Pro have an IPX4 rating which is not as good. Apple doesn’t even make a claim that the regular AirPods are water or dust resistant.

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Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

But as many good things as I have to say about using the Elite 75t, I’d argue that the best thing about them is the battery life. With 7.5 hours on a single charge, you could listen to OK Computer by Radiohead nine times, nonstop without charging them. You could fly from New York to Paris and still have some charge left for the cab ride. You could actually do that trans-Atlantic route four times before you even needed to plug the case into the wall.

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So the Jabra Elite 75t are good. They’re the earbuds I’m wearing every day now, just as the Elite 65t were before. I have to admit that the Jabra earbuds aren’t for everyone, though. As small as they are, people with tiny ears might not love the tight fit. People who like wireless charging won’t like the fact that you have to plug in the Elite 75t. (Jabra says it will release a wireless charging case next year.) People who want to wear a status symbol in their ears will probably find the Elite 75t to be a bit plain.

For me, the new Jabra earbuds are just right. In a crowded field of truly wireless earbuds, the Elite 75t truly stand out. I’d go so far as to say they’re the absolute best.

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README

  • Super dependable and easy to use
  • Terrific sound quality at this price
  • Battery life is beyond excellent
  • Better than AirPods Pro
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About the author

Adam Clark Estes

Senior editor at Gizmodo.

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