Bottom line: Jabra gives its latest activity-focused earbuds the goods to stand out in a crowd and feel super comfortable doing it. The fit is on point in so many ways, as are the design and customization, making the Jabra Elite 7 Active an intriguing choice for your ears.
- Excellent audio quality, including ANC
- Better fit and comfort
- Very good durability
- Reliable button controls
- Nice color options
- Custom ANC is a pain to use
- Don't submerge them in water
It used to be that Jabra would never release two Elite pairs of earbuds at the same time. So if you wanted to go with the "Active" pair, you would need to wait until they came after the regular pair had their time to shine. Jabra reversed that this time by releasing the Elite 7 Active at the same time as the Elite 7 Pro.
They sport a lot of similarities between them, which means the Elite 7 Active are worthy of attention given how good their siblings already are. However, a simple focus here should appeal to a subset of people. So, if you're an active person and don't necessarily care about phone call clarity, read on to find out why these may be for you.
Jabra Elite 7 Active: Price and availability
Jabra launched the Elite 7 Active in October 2021 and made them available for $179.99. They came out at the same time as the Elite 7 Pro, which are pretty much identical in almost every way, save for a couple of unique differentiators. Given they came out together, Jabra is likely going to keep these available for a while. At some point, you can also expect good sales to knock down the asking price, too.
They come in black, navy, and mint.
Jabra Elite 7 Active: What's good
In some ways, I feel like I'm writing a review for two pairs of earbuds that initially come off as twins. Jabra used to make its Elite Active earbuds more rugged than their standard siblings, maybe tweaking an extra thing or two to add some separation. However, in this case, the Elite 7 Active aren't blazing any trail; they're instead following the lead. Jabra made it clear the Elite 7 Pro are the top dogs in this duo, but for the most part, the gap between them isn't all that big.
Case in point, the form factor is the same except for one key change. The Elite 7 Active have a rubberized veneer in contrast to the harder plastic you see in the Elite 7 Pro. That's significant for a couple of reasons. First, the extra friction afforded by the rubberized build means these earbuds probably won't move or wiggle as much if they get sweaty. It's a design principle Jabra carried over from the excellent Elite Active 75t, and it can be super convenient when you're moving a lot and building up perspiration.
The second point is that Jabra didn't have to make the Elite 7 Active uncomfortable to get there. The ear tips are the same between earbuds, so if you find the Elite 7 Pro to fit snugly, you will likely feel the same here. In fact, even if you have ear tips lying around from the Elite Active 75t, they will fit perfectly fine. And even though the Elite 7 Active share the same IP57 dust and water resistance with the Elite 7 Pro, I give the edge to these earbuds simply because of the material Jabra used to make them. I'm also a little more partial to the color options here, which I find more pleasing than those available with the Elite 7 Pro.
The similarities with the Elite 7 Pro also extend to setup and execution. You will need the Sound+ app to set up active noise cancelation (ANC), which is mandatory. You can't just start using ANC out of the box, you have to customize it to your ears in the app first (more on this later). All other custom options are the same, too. Whatever you can select using the Elite 7 Pro, you can also apply to the Elite 7 Active.
Jabra engineered these earbuds to sound the same, at least when it comes to audio content. The 6mm drivers aren't the heavy-hitters you see in competing earbuds, but they make up for that in clarity and consistency. I liked how balanced the sound signature was, offering a nice balanced mix of lows, mids, and highs. You can tinker with that using the EQ in the Sound+ app, including choosing among the available presets. If you're looking to go hard at the gym or a rigorous run, you should be able to pump up the bass with these. Codec support is limited to AAC and SBC, which is a shame, as it would've been nice to see Jabra support aptX and LDAC, too.
Thing is, when you are doing something active, you would expect ANC to help drown out some of that background or have the HearThrough transparency mode let some of it in for safety's sake. Instead, ANC is gradual, so you can use the slider to apply more or less of it, which is great, but even at its best, it won't match the superb performance of the Sony WF-1000XM4 or the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. The catch is that, of those two, Sony's pair aren't that rugged, and Samsung's, while certainly durable, will be more prone to sliding out of your ear when sweating.
Meanwhile, the HearThrough mode feels like it stagnates compared to the Elite Active 75t because of the very design that makes them so comfortable. Jabra took away some of the orifices that allowed ambient noise to naturally seep in, putting more of an emphasis on the microphones to do the job. They do it well, but not with any identifiable improvement.
It's great to have auto-pause to cease playback when removing either earbud or using only one in mono, and while Jabra erred big time in not including multipoint at launch, it rectified that through a January 2022 firmware update that enabled the feature, so you stay connected to two devices at once.
If you were concerned Jabra would use capacitive touch controls on the Elite 7 Active, fear not because they are indeed physical buttons, and they work fabulously well. They're responsive and reliable, so it's hard to make mistakes when pressing them, and I like how easy they are to customize in the app. If you want to use Alexa as your preferred voice assistant, it works nicely with Spotify, letting you tell it what you want to hear, which is great when you're doing something and don't want to touch your phone.
The Elite 7 Active hold no real advantage over their Pro siblings on battery life. You will get the same results, which is a good thing. With ANC on, you get up to eight hours per charge, depending on how loud you're listening. The case gives you another three charges for a total of 30 hours. If you're in a tight spot and need some tunes fast, plug in via USB-C for five minutes, and you can get up to one hour of playback. From the Qi symbol at the bottom of the case, you will see that they are also compatible with wireless chargers for added convenience.
Jabra Elite 7 Active: What's not good
The other major thing that sets the Elite 7 Active apart from its Pro sibling is Jabra's MultiSensor Voice Technology. These earbuds don't have it, meaning that phone calls won't be as clear as on the Elite 7 Pro. I tested them both to gauge the difference, which is noticeable enough on both ends. Friends I spoke to noticed a decreased clarity in comparison. That's not to say calls will be bad, but they won't be as crystal as they would be with Jabra's other earbuds.
I'm also not sure why Jabra insists on forcing users to customize the ANC experience. It's an odd choice for a company that makes so much else elective, and the process of setting it up isn't as good as it should be. You need to do it with background noise to gauge the difference, which at times I felt was negligible from one setting to the other. It's possible Jabra will improve this with a firmware update, but we'll have to see if that comes to pass.
And if you are going to be adventurous with the Elite 7 Active, it's best not to dunk them in water. The IP57 rating does allow for submersion, but I would be wary of doing so. Whatever you do, make sure to never put them in salt water. That's just asking for a malfunction.
Jabra Elite 7 Active: Competition
The Jabra Elite 7 Active could easily be among the best wireless earbuds, not to mention the best workout earbuds, but those lists also come with tough competition. The Jabra Elite Active 75t are still viable options, even if they aren't going to fit quite as well as the Elite 7 Active can. If you care about call quality and don't mind the less rubberized build — as well as a willingness to pay a little more — you will get that with the Elite 7 Pro.
For equal parts rugged and custom sound, look out for the Jaybird Vista 2, which have one of the deepest EQs of any pair of earbuds in existence. For stability, comfort, and lack of interest in phone call quality, the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC are considerably cheaper. You just have to be OK with ear hooks.
Jabra Elite 7 Active: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You need something comfortable
- You need something durable
- You want active noise cancelation
- You want reliable onboard controls
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You're on a budget
- You want better phone call quality
- You want more codec support
- You want even better sound quality
4.5 out of 5
It's easy to like the Elite 7 Active as more of the underdog stepping away from the spotlight. They come with a 'best of both worlds' element to them in that they are so much like the excellent Elite 7 Pro, yet have an identity all their own that fits with active lifestyles. Plus, you no longer have to pay a premium to get that, and that feels like a sweeter deal once you put these on and start breaking a sweat.
They sound great, and check off the right boxes on comfort, battery life, and app support. It's not always easy to find rugged earbuds that do this much so well, but you can count on the Elite 7 Active to take care of those things every time you wear them.
Jabra Elite 7 Active
The Jabra Elite 7 Active stick with the rugged designs of the past and make the features stand out with excellent audio quality, battery life, and support to go with the excellent fit and comfort you get with them. It's a winning combination that sets your ears free with almost any activity.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.
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