Here’s the thing about exercising outdoors: Sometimes you have to be aware of your surroundings, but seconds later you might want to block out the annoying heavy breathing of another runner coming up behind you. The $179 Jabra Elite 7 Active The headphones offer the best of both worlds with just the gentle press of a button – because no one wants to dig up their phone or fumble with a rod in the middle of a workout.
The Elite 7 Active headphones aren’t the first to feature Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Transparency modes; Sony has the $199 LinkBuds S, Apple has the $249 AirPods Pro, and EarFun has the $79 Air Pro 2s. But Jabra’s wireless headphones are by far the easiest to use and the most customizable to suit your lifestyle and hearing preferences. However, they come with a few caveats. Here are the pros and cons I found after working through Jabra’s latest buds.
With the Elite 7 Active headphones, Jabra promises to immerse you in sound – and it delivers, by far. Even in HearThrough mode, the audio never veered towards the tinny, which I experienced with Shokz OpenRun Probone conduction technology and, to a lesser extent, in JVC open-ear headphones. Instead, my favorite workout playlists practically exploded out of the 6mm speakers; It’s a rare occasion for me when I’m not listening to the volume at 90% or more, and I ended up turning them down a few times.
To get the most out of the speakers, you’ll need to download Jabra’s Sound+ app. The app comes with presets like “Bass boost” or “Energize” that will make you want to workout, or you can use the customizable equalizer to create your own presets based on the type of music you play. I tend to listen to bass-heavy music when I workout because I really like to hear the beat, so I went with the “Bass boost” preset during most workouts; “Energize” didn’t prioritize rhythm in the same way. (In calls, I’d switch to “Speech,” which lowers the bass and boosts the treble.) You can even create your own unique hearing profile in the settings (based on age, gender, and a “tone test” ) and the speakers will automatically adjust to that profile the next time you press play.
The Elite 7 Active headphones come with two important listening modes: Active Noise Cancellation, which blocks out distracting background noise, and HearThrough technology, which uses the headphones’ microphones to amplify the sounds around you. These features aren’t unique to Jabra, but it’s the fact that you can switch between modes just by pressing the button on the left earbud. I’ve found it particularly useful during outdoor activities: when running to and from a lake near my home, I turned on HearThrough mode so I could stay alert to traffic on the streets; Once I was safely off the streets and doing some tricks on the lakeside path, I activated the ANC so I could enter the area.
In Jabra’s Sound+ app, you can use adjustable sliders to customize ANC and HearThrough frequency levels to suit your environment best. The difference between the five sound levels is also noticeable; while playing around with my desktop settings, I could easily hear the sound of my air conditioner working overtime fading while turning down HearThrough and turning ANC on.
The key with headphones – especially for working out – is that they stay in place. Jabra has redesigned its sports earbuds using a special liquid silicone rubber compound that holds the earbuds more securely in the ear without the need for ear wings. The design is also 16% smaller than Jabra’s previous smaller earbuds, with a more tapered and rounded fit that contours to the shape of your ear. (They also weigh just 5.5 grams each — just a tenth of a gram heavier than Apple’s AirPods Pro, which feature similar noise-cancellation and transparency technology.) And they stay put. ! I didn’t register any slippage, even on a two-hour run.
Unfortunately, this rubber compound creates a feeling of pressure that is so common with in-ear headphones (TBH, there was such a strong seal that I don’t even know if I even necessary noise cancellation mode). The Elite 7 Active headphones have air holes that aim to relieve pressure in your ears, but I found that stuffy feeling to be super uncomfortable the longer I worked out; I even had to remove the headphones during a long phone call. Maybe my ears are more sensitive than I thought, but that factor would lead me to choose open headphones like the Shokz OpenRun Pro or JVC Nearphones.
Since the Jabra Elite 7 Active are meant for activity, call quality isn’t a top priority, but I found the experience shocking every time I answered the phone. There are four built-in microphones in the Elite 7 Active headphones, and Jabra promises “exceptional call clarity”. But I found my own voice to be the loudest part of every call I took, and even playing around with all the customizable settings couldn’t make the conversation experience more enjoyable (it wasn’t apparently not a problem on the other end; when I interviewed several people I called, they had no problem hearing me clearly).
When it comes to music quality and sound profile customization, The Jabra Elite 7 Active the headphones outperform all of my favorite workout headphones. I loved being able to customize my listening experiences and adjust sound modes on the go.
I just wish my stamina for working out with these would last as long as the earbuds’ battery life, which promises eight hours of playback and one hour of power after a five-minute charge (I don’t I never completely ran out in two weeks of testing; I simply put the buds back in the case after each use so I wouldn’t lose sight of them). If, however, your ears are even slightly sensitive to the feeling of pressure the headphones can create, these won’t suit you and you’ll probably prefer an on-ear or open-back option.
But for up to $70 less than dual-mode rivals from Sony and Apple, music fans will love the immersive listening experience Jabra has created with the Elite 7 Active headphones.
|lester||0.2 ounces per bud||0.19 ounces per bud||1.02 ounces||0.49 ounces per bud|
|Ambient noise||Yes (via Hearthrough mode)||Yes (via Transparency mode)||Yes (via open design)||Yes (via open design)|
|Active noise cancellation||Yes||Yes||Nope||Nope|
|Battery life (nominal)||Up to 8 hours||Up to 6 hours||Up to 10 hours||Up to 8 hours|
|Quick Charge||1 hour from a 5 minute charge||1 hour from a 5 minute charge||1.5 hours from a 10 minute charge||3 hours from a 30 minute charge|
|Colors||Black, Mint, Navy||Black, White, Sage Grey, Stone Purple||Pink, Black, Blue, Beige||Black|