Jabra Elite 7 Active
Jabra Elite 7 Active Review
When you review headphones and earbuds, you get to be fickle. Every new arrival offers some intriguing benefit or differentiation from other members of the collection. For a time, and rightfully so as a reviewer, the new product becomes the darling of the moment. It replaces what came before. But over time, relationships change, quirks and annoyances build up, and perhaps a good experience turns a bit sour.
I’m going to be honest. I don’t work out. So the features like sweat resistance and staying in place in my ear during strenuous activity don’t apply to me—at least in the context of working out. I do, however, garden, and during the summer Seattle can get toasty (a lot toastier than it used to get) so I sweat, bend over, and occasionally an earbud dislodges itself from my ear canal while I’m bending over to prune a tomato plant.
So the $179 Jabra Elite 7 Active’s workout-inspired features do apply to me. And when I’m not our gardening or power washing the patio, these true wireless earbuds do a superior job at delivering excellent sound, facilitating verbal communications (and dictation), and staying out of the way when giving your birth date to a pharmacist.
What we like
The 44g Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds replace the Jabra Elite Active 75ts, a standout earbud that saw extended life through a software upgrade that added active noise cancelation (ANC), and a case that brought Qi charging. It is rare to see a vendor continue to invest in significant ways in older products, but the 75ts included design options to support this, and a good customer base that made the investment worthwhile. But regardless of your love for the Active 75t product, there are improvements that can’t be shot over the air, like updated radios.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds include adaptive active noise cancelation out of the box, Bluetooth 5.2, listening modes, and wireless charging.
But let’s start with the earbuds themselves. Mine are a dusty Navy. They also come in mint and black. I like the matt finish, that’s the first thing I noticed. I wasn’t sold initially but the finished grew on me. Most earbuds are glossy and slick, which makes them hard to pick up out of the charging case. I also imagine the glint off ceiling lights at the grocery store bouncing from the shiny exterior and distracting fellow shoppers. But I digress.
What may not be immediately obvious is that Jabra developed their own silicon ear tips for the Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds. The idea was to create a more reliable ear fit that doesn’t dislodge during strenuous workouts. They branded the new ear tips ShakeGrip™. Well, all I can say is these earbuds have not fallen out of my ear, even when bending over for salt on the bottom shelf after an extended trip to Safeway (which may have involved some sweating caused by a non-aisle ordered shopping list).
Now let’s talk sound. I ran through my standard earbud test songs from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain to Dido’s White Flag, finally landing on Hamilton’s It’s Quiet Uptown via a quick side trip to Dave Guetta’s Titanium. I played with the various sound setting and ended up on the flat setting—and enjoyed every minute of each song coming through the 6mm speakers.
Music critics don’t buy exercise-leaning earbuds to use when listening to music for a critique. For everyday listening, for exercise, and for phone calls, these earbuds perform well, with adequate warmth and base, tight tinkles on solo pianos, and growling strums across overtaxed electric guitar strings. If you set the right expectations you won’t be disappointed. And if you like audiobooks, you can even set the Elite 7’s for Speech.
The Elite 7’s support AAC and SBC codecs. Unlike many less expensive headphones, these earbuds include technology for tamping down overly loud outbursts from the source device.
Noise cancelation complements listening. Like all Jabra’s recent earbuds (the 75t and 85t line), noise cancelation is a variable controlled by the Jabra app. It’s binary on the earbuds themselves (either on or off with a tap), but an active app allows for the selection of ANC-level. Owners need to decide how much noise they want or need to hear.
The app also allows owners to tweak the sound profile, update firmware, access hearing to optimize sound, and a fit my ear test for the ear tips.
Jabra did not outfit the Elite 7’s with touch controls, but they do have buttons on both buds to control playback, call management, ANC/Passthrough, volume, invoking digital assistants. App settings assign the Elite 7’s button actions. One feature, digital assistance, defaults to Alexa with voice command, eliminating the need for buttons—but using a different assistant, like Google or Siri, requires two presses. Removing either earbud pauses playback.
For phone calls, 4 MEMs microphones capture sounds from 80Hz to 80Khz and help the active voice stay above the fray with noise and wind reduction software.
I like the new horizontal-oriented case which makes them more accessible than many other earbuds. While not as tiny as the 1More ComfoBuds Z, the Elite 7’s 0.768in X 0.642in x 0.709in dimensions fit more snuggly than the 75-or-85ts.
Jabra estimates battery life to run up to 8 hours depending on ANC use—less ANC, more listening time. With the charging case, the total time before a full recharge runs up to 30 hours. Sleep mode helps retain charge when the headset is not in use. 5 minutes of charge result in an hour of playback. 30 minutes of charging results in a 50-percent charge.
The Elite 7s also prove robust with an IP57 rating, meaning they are protected against dust and survived an immersion test of between 15cm and 1m for thirty minutes. Jabra believes in the quality by offering a 2-year warranty on registered Elite 7 earbuds.
I find the Elite 7s comfortable and effective for business calls, and pleasurable for music or listening to audiobooks or video streams.
What could be improved
I’m not a fan of the new wireless charging case beyond its new shape. The case needs a lip or notch or something to make it easier to open.
For some reason, Jabra places the USB-C charging port (yeah for USB-C!) on the front of the case, which is well, a little odd. It’s not dysfunctional, just awkward when trying to retrieve earbuds during a wired charge. I would prefer in on the back of the case. I do, however, almost always charge via wireless, which makes port placement less of an issue.
I would also like to see hands-free digital assistants invoked without the need for the app to be open. Alexa may be hands-free, but it only works if Alexa is the active app on a phone.
Jabra Elite 7 Active: The Bottom line
I have not had the opportunity to evaluate the Elite 7 Pros, which some reviews rate a bit higher. I have evaluated most of the previous models in the 7 Active’s linage and found the new model as good or better than its predecessors. Solid ANC combined with excellent phone call support, customizable sound profiles, and waterproof and dustproof design makes for a compelling set of true wireless earbuds.
Jabra provided the Jabra Elite 7 Actives for review. Images courtesy of Jabra unless otherwise noted.
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