(The Gear Loop) - Jabra has long been known for creating workout-specific headphones, designed to withstand abuse in the gym and being covered in the wearer’s sweat day in, day out.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active are based on the company’s Elite 7 Pro and essentially feature much of the same technology, but come shrouded in Jabra’s "ShakeGrip" rubber coating that is designed to sit tight in the ear and also protect the delicate inner workings from general exercise abuse.
Being completely free from wires, these diminutive buds come in their own neat carry case, where each bud cleverly snaps into its charging location thanks to a magnetic system. From here, the buds can draw charge (22 hours in total) and add to the already impressive eight hours on offer.
Jabra’s app allows users to fine-tune the sound profile (more on that later), while Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) comes as standard here. It’s not the best but it does a good job of drowning out ambient sounds.
Of course, users can also make and receive calls, but Jabra hasn’t carried over the bone condition technology from the Elite Pro models, so audio quality here isn’t quite as good, either.
As a workout-specific true wireless headphone, the Jabra Elite 7 is a solid option, purely for its robust build quality and excellent IP57 waterproof rating.
The fit is largely excellent and we can image most folk won’t have any issues, as that silicone coating does a great job of dripping the inner ear. The only thing we found is the weight of the bud caused a bit of movement when running.
Up until Beats released its Fit Pro, we’d have argued that these are some of the toughest true wireless headphones for running, cycling or generally working out.
That said, some of our favourites so far have been the Jaybird Vista 2, purely because they offer a more secure fit (in our opinion) and the sound quality, noise cancellation and hands-free call tech is just that bit better - even if they’re not quite as robust.
Jabra Elite 7 Active
- Comfortable in ear
- Great sweat and water resistance
- Good sound for the money
- Fit isn’t perfect
- Active Noise Cancellation not the best
- We prefer more nuanced sound profiles
In the Loop
Everything you need to know about the Jabra Elite 7 in bite-sized chunks:
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Supports AAC and SBC codecs
- 6 mics for hands-free calling
- ShakeGrip sillicone coating
- Up to 30 hours battery life
- Bluetooth 5.2
- IP57 waterproof rating
- Weigh just 5.5g per bud
Fit & feel
Unlike some rival true wireless headphones, the Jabra Elite 7 does away with any fancy wings or tips to keep the buds in place in the ear - instead opting for a silicone coating that grips the skin and stops them from moving about.
That said, the actual bud itself is quite large and a lot of the weight (a mere 5.5g per bud) is located at the top, meaning we found they had a tendency to slowly start to creep around in the ear, especially when running.
It was nothing major, but having to make several minor adjustments during a half hour run might irritate some. That said, this could just be our weird ears, because according to Jabra, it scanned thousands of different ears to determine the best size and shape of its buds, but they didn't scan ours.
Once in place, operating the headphones is really simple and there’s a nice mix of physical button to press and some capacitive touch controls for skipping tracks and activating the ANC, this stops any accidental activation when touching the buds.
Performance during workouts
Thanks to Bluetooth 5.2, the Jabra Elite 7 pair effortlessly with most devices and will actually link to multiple devices at once for seamless transfer between phone and tablet, for example. The operating range is a claimed 10m (33ft) and we found them to be excellent.
Even in a busy gym, it’s possible to leave a phone by a running machine as you top up a water bottle, with no interruption of playback. On top of this, you can pair the buds to a maximum of eight devices, which should be enough for anyone.
There’s also a Jabra companion app that gives the user the option to cycle between the various noise cancellation modes, flicking it off, activating it or allowing some sound to enter via a "hear-through" mode, which is the safer option when running out in public.
You can also do this via the bud, but it requires tapping it and cycling through the modes, rather than selecting the one you want right away.
The app also allows the user to tweak the sound profile and graphic equaliser, something we suggest you definitely have a play with, because it took us a while to get a sound we really liked. There's also the option to get exactly the right sound profile with a little hearing test that comes as part of the app. Clever stuff.
As we mentioned previously, we had a few minor gripes with the buds not staying firmly in place (we actually prefer a wing for added security), even after trying a few different tips, but the buds were otherwise faultless during exercise, fending off sweat and water admirably and generally being tough little cookies.
This is such a subjective topic, as some folk merely want the punchiest bass and biggest sound available when tackling a tough workout or taxing run, where others like more nuance and subtlety to their audio profiles.
It took us a while to tweak the equaliser to achieve a sound we liked, as many of Jabra’s presets weren’t great, with mid-tones lost to too much bass orexcess treble making things sound tinny.
There are rivals out there that place sound quality over anything else, such as the Technics AZ40 we tried as part of our best running headphones round-up, but then they aren’t as robust as these.
We feel that trading a bit of sound quality for a package that won’t disintegrate in a gym bag or give up at the slightest whiff of perspiration is probably a good thing.
There’s also the possibility to make and receive hands-free calls - not something we do too much during exercise, but handy if you want to leave these buds in for extended time. The quality is very good, although the bone conduction tech of Jabra’s Pro models is missing, so it’s not faultless.
Get up to speed on a bicycle or run during a blustery day and there’s a fair amount of wind noise cutting through. The same can be said for the ANC technology, which does a fairly good job of cutting out ambient noise but it’s not perfect and loud music from a gym sound system will still cut through.
Jabra’s workout-specific true-wireless buds are tough and appear to be designed and conceived to take a bashing in the gym and in the gym bag. The battery life is impressive and will suit those who need to soundtrack a long run or ride, but we weren’t blown away by the sound quality, nor is the Active Noise Cancellation the best in the business.