Jabra has made some of the best true wireless earbuds we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. They’ve featured prominently on many of our best-of lists thanks to their features, quality, and affordable prices. Normally, we’d expect that trend to continue now that Jabra has launched its latest and greatest — the $180 Elite 75t. But things are getting crazy in the true wireless earbud space and the competition has become way more fierce.
Amazon now makes the $130 Echo Buds, which we consider to be the best value right now in true wireless earbuds. This means that Jabra is going to have to try even harder if it wants to stay on top. Do the Elite 75t have what it takes to get you to spend a bit more money, or should most people stick with the Echo Buds? Only one way to find out…
Jabra’s Elite range of true wireless earbuds have always had good battery life, but the Elite 75t kicks it up a notch. Jabra claims 7.5 hours between charges — two and a half hours more than the Elite 65t but we found it’s actually a little less than that. Still, there’s no doubt that with an approximate total life of 28 hours (with the charging case) only a short list of true wireless buds can beat them. The Amazon Echo Buds aren’t on that list.
With only 5 hours between charges and 25 hours of total run time with the charging case, the Echo Buds simply can’t match the Elite 75t for longevity. Neither the Echo Buds nor the Elite 75t have wirelessly recharging charging cases.
Winner: Jabra Elite 75t
Comfort, fit and convenience
We think the Elite 75t are incredibly comfortable. Because they’re smaller than most true wireless earbuds — including the Echo Buds, folks with small ears who traditionally have trouble getting a good fit, will have better luck with the Elite 75t.
Speaking of size, it’s remarkable how much smaller the Elite 75t’s charging case is when compared to the Echo Buds. It takes up about half the amount of room in your pocket or purse and weighs next to nothing. It charges via USB-C, which some folks may find preferable if your phone also uses this cable. The earbuds snap securely into place and the lid has a satisfying magnetic closure.
To control things remotely on your phone, the Elite 75t employ a series of button presses. You can press once, twice, three times, or press and hold on each bud to access things like call answer/end, volume up/down, turn passthrough mode on/off (more on that later) and track skip forward/back. It works really well, but we found that you need to brace your hand against your head in order to easily use the buttons. The one downside is that Jabra does not let you alter what the button presses do.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Jabra app lets you find your Elite 75ts in two ways: The app remembers the last place it saw the earbuds, and it can force them to play a high-frequency sound to help you locate them should they get trapped between the couch cushions.
The Amazon Echo Buds fit very well too, and won’t budge at all if you use the optional wingtips. We found them very comfortable using the default tips. The Alexa app has a very helpful eartip fit test that can actually determine how good your seal is, using a special tone and a microphone located within the eartip.
However, the Echo Buds are bigger than the Elite 75t and may not stay securely in smaller ears regardless of the eartip/wingtip combination you try.
The Echo Buds’ charging case feels good in the hand and is easy to open and close, but it’s a bit on the bulky side. We’ve also noticed (and seen online comments) that if you’re using the included wingtips, you may have trouble getting the buds to make solid contact with the charging terminals, despite the magnetic latches. There’s no magnetic seal on the case itself.
The touch-sensitive pads on the Echo Buds give you two gesture options: A double-tap and a tap-and-hold. You can change what each does inside the Alexa app, but you don’t get a lot of choices. It’s play/pause, track skip forward/back, passthrough on/off, access voice assistant, passthrough pause, or mute microphones.
Winner: Jabra Elite 75t
This one always comes down to personal preference. Both the Elite 75t and the Echo Buds sound really good. They’re way better than say, Apple’s AirPods (though probably not as good as the AirPods Pro). But they exhibit very different characteristics. While the Echo Buds have a definite bias toward bass out-of-the-box, you can easily find a more neutral EQ using the Alexa app’s EQ settings. Doing so delivers a sound that is clear and balanced if a bit on the cold side.
The Elite 75t aren’t just bass-biased, they deliver huge quantities of it. It’s almost overpowering. Astonishing, given their tiny size, they out-blast many full-size headphones in the bass department. The down-side to all of this low-end is that it can be challenging to flatten out their EQ for music that does not lend itself to bone-shaking bass. The sound is warm and rich, but it comes at the cost of some clarity in the high end. Still, for those who adore the boom, these true wireless earbuds are amazingly powerful.
We think that for the money, the Echo Buds are a better value in the sound quality department, but there’s no denying that the Elite 75t are in a class by themselves when it comes to bass. It’s too close to call.
Noise reduction and passthrough mode
One of the surprise features on the Amazon Echo Buds considering their price is the Bose Active Noise Reduction (ANR), which is essentially noise cancellation but under a different name. Even more surprising is how effective the feature is, able to drown out most outside sounds while avoiding the “hissing” noise that some ANC headphones produce when in a quiet environment. Their passthrough mode, which temporarily suspends ANR and lets the outside world in, is also very good and can be adjusted within the Alexa app.
The Elite 75t offer excellent noise isolation through their in-ear design, but they do not possess any form of active noise cancellation. They do, however, have a very good HearThrough mode which uses the external mics to pump outside sounds in when you want them. Like the Echo Buds, this can be adjusted with the Jabra app.
With a true active noise reduction feature, the Echo Buds take this one, but Elite 75t buyers probably don’t need to worry much — their earbuds do a great job of blocking outside sounds.
Winner: Amazon Echo Buds
We had assumed that Jabra — with its long history of providing Bluetooth headsets — would nail this one, but we were wrong. The Amazon Echo Buds actually did a better job of preserving our voice when talking in situations with lots of background noise, like city streets with traffic. While both the Elite 75t and the Echo Buds sounded excellent from the point of view of hearing the person at the other end of the call, that person found that we sounded better and clearer to them when using the Echo Buds.
One caveat here: Neither product offered especially good voice delivery. When we switched back to the built-in mic on the iPhone 11 we used for testing, our caller said the call quality improved dramatically. Nonetheless, the Echo Buds take this one.
Winner: Amazon Echo Buds
It’s hard to say how long a device will last, but we can definitely examine what you’ll start with.
The Amazon Echo Buds are IPX4-rated which means they’ll withstand intense workouts and even small amounts of water. They come with a one-year warranty which is pretty standard. There’s nothing about their build-quality that gives us any concerns. In short, they ought to last an acceptably long time.
The Elite 75t, on the other hand, are IP55-rated which gives them better water resistance and adds a small amount of dust-proofing for good measure. Jabra backs these ratings with a two-year warranty. The earbuds look well-built, as does the charging case. The hinge on the case is a bit on the small side, and there’s a chance it could break in the open position if you accidentally forced it the wrong way, but this is a minor issue.
Without any long-term data to inform this one, we’ll have to give it to Jabra for having tougher specs, and a longer warranty.
Winner: Jabra Elite 75t
Voice assistant access
Both the Elite 75t and the Echo Buds will work with your phone’s built-in assistant, be it Siri (iOS), Google Assistant (Android), or Alexa (both platforms). Accessing them requires a tap or button press on an earbud. But the Echo Buds have one trick that the Elite 75t don’t: You can speak directly to Alexa, hands-free. Alexa isn’t as mobile-friendly as Siri or Google Assistant and she can’t do everything that a native assistant can do, but she can do a lot, including the most-used actions when wearing earbuds: Controlling volume and audio playback.
This gives the Echo Buds a big edge in terms of convenience and helps them win this category.
Winner: Amazon Echo Buds
This has been a tough one. The Amazon Echo Buds are a tremendous value at just $130, with great sound quality and a huge array of features. On the other hand, the $180 Jabra Elite 75t set a new benchmark for true wireless earbuds in terms of comfort, fit, and big bass sound.
For most folks, the Echo Buds will be a better choice. They cost less and do more. Still, if you have a hard time getting a good fit with true wireless earbuds, or if you value the Elite 75t’s biggest strengths, namely: Big bass sound, extreme portability, and very good battery life, they more than justify their higher price.