Sunday, May 22, 2022

Jabra Elite 7 Active Review: For Fitness-First Consumers, These Are The Truly Wireless Earbuds To Get

The buds may be smaller than their predecessors but so is the charging case. The revamped charging case goes for an oval design that easily slips into any pocket without any bulge.

Jabra Elite 7 Active Review: For Fitness-First Consumers, These Are The Truly Wireless Earbuds To Get
Jabra Elite 7

Active noise cancellation, check. Power-packed audio performance, check. Comfortable fit in the ears, check. Left and right buds can be operated independently, check. IP57 for dust and water resistance, check. A small form factor, check.

Yes, the Jabra Elite 7 Active checks all the boxes necessary to be a great product in today’s cut-throat environment. The competition may be fierce but Jabra has taken a good product, the Elite Active 75t, and made it great.

The Jabra Elite 7 Active are very similar to the company’s pricier Elite 7 Pro but also profoundly different. Why you may ask? Well, the Elite 7 Active is specifically targeted toward the fitness crowd. Both pairs are fully waterproof but only the Elite 7 Active comes with a more secure and consistent fit, which helps when you’re out and about for a jog/run.

The Elite 7 Active’s from Jabra are priced at Rs 15,999 but you can find it as low as Rs 12,999 at the moment.

Design: Small, secure, and comfortable fit

A minimalist approach is what the Elite 7 Active’s are going for. They are 16 percent smaller than their predecessors while retaining similar comfort levels. They may not be as flashy or fashionable as their competition - Powerbeats Pro - but they have real good build quality going for them. There’s a hard plastic sheath to provide for immense durability. The Elite 7 Active’s are IP57-rated which means they are sweat proof, waterproof and “workout-proof” as Jabra are terming them.

The buds may be smaller than their predecessors but so is the charging case. The revamped charging case goes for an oval design that easily slips into any pocket without any bulge. It’s lightweight, coming in at 1.6 ounces and the USB-C charging port has been moved to the front, something which I’m not much of a fan of.

There’s the re-engineered EarGels that are made of composite silicon. The company is calling this the ShakeGrip. “Jabra ShakeGrip is an earbud coating made with a special Liquid Silicone Rubber compound that holds the earbuds securely in the ear. Jabra ShakeGrip keeps your buds firmly in place when you are active,” reads the brief from the company’s website.

The ShakeGrip does seem to have improved the comfort levels. The Elite 75 Active’s can be worn for hours on end before noticing any issues. I didn’t time it exactly, but a couple of podcasts and many an hour of listening to instrumental music while working flew by before I took them out of my ears for a break. Even taking them out for a job/run and you’ll be rest assured that there is no fear of them falling out. In fact, you can put on and remove your mask without interfering with the buds.

The buds come in black, mint of nacy colours with three different sized sets of ear gels for the optimum fit. There are push-button controls on the outer panels of each of the buds. 

Tap once on the left earpiece to toggle between ANC and HearThrough mode. A double tap and you can bring up the voice assistant. The right earpiece is reserved for playback and call management. A double tap can skip forward while a triple tap skips backwards. Press and hold the right earbud to raise the volume, and similarly press and hold the left earbud to reduce the volume.

Sound and call quality

While the design is just one aspect of TWS earbuds, sound and call quality is a whole different ball game. Out-of-the-box, any of the Jabra earphones sound unbalanced and that’s the case with the Elite 7 Active as well.

With the Elite 7 Active, you get 6mm drivers and a Sound+ companion app that allows you to tinker with the sound profile. To get the most out of these earbuds, tinkering with the Sound+ app is a must-do.

Setup is breezy. The buds sync instantly and pairing them to the smartphone - iOS and Android - is very simple and takes just a few seconds. There’s a MySound test within the app that personnalises the the earbuds and the results are very good. There’s also MyFit, which checks to make sure that the buds are currently in place.

The default sound signature is Neutral in the companion app. This ‘mode’ places too much emphasis on the lows but if you enjoy strong bass, then you can get that by enabling MySound. You can get a good sharp treble and wide soundstage despite the small nature of these buds.

There’s also a clarity in the voice, even at 80 percent volume. Any volume above that is not recommended as it distorts the sound and is bad for your hearing. I listened to a variety of songs from “Take Five” by The Dave Brubeck Quartet to “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish and could easily hear the vocals as well as distinguish between instruments.

I was surprised by the fact that even at a reasonable volume of 50-60 percent, the bass still packed a punch, in songs like Sail by AWOLNATION. You can dial this up a notch higher through the in-app EQ, but not something I’d recommend unless a specific song demands it.

As mentioned above, there’s both active noise cancellation (ANC) and HearThrough modes. ANC works pretty well indoors, but outdoors it fails to keep away the wind when on a run. HearThrough allows you to adjust how much exterior sound you want to let in.

There are four internal and external microphones that help for call quality. The quality was just fine and both sides could hear each other clearly. I wouldn’t use these as my go-to pair for work calls or Zoom meetings, but for anything casual, they pass the test.

Do the Elite 7 Active’s last more than just a couple of hours?

No one likes to keep their buds glued to a charger. Jabra says that the Elite 7 Active’s will last 8 hours with ANC and 10 hours without. With the case, you get another 3 chargers for a total of 30 hours. The Elite Active 75t’s provided only 5.5 hours of life. The difference is noticeable and very well worth the upgrade.

In fact, the Elite 7 Active’s have much better fast-charging capabilities. 5 minutes of plug-in time and you get an hour of playtime.

Verdict: Should you buy these buds?

At Rs 15,999, the buds are priced a little higher than they should. Since the launch, I’ve already noticed a price of Rs 12,999 at some retailers. At that price, the Elite 7 Active’s are a very good deal. You get good ANC, a power-packed audio performance and a comfortable and secure fit. You can take the Elite 7 Active’s on a run or to the gym without worrying about them failing at any point of time. 

If you’re into fitness, then these are definitely going to be the ones to get over the Elite 7 Pro. There’s the WF-1000XM4 that Sony just launched in the country that are top-of-the-line earbuds with unmatched sound quality and top-tier ANC. Those buds are much higher priced though. You could go with last year’s model from Jabra, the Elite 75t, but the bulkier design and less durable fit is a turn off.

The Elite 7 Active’s combination of great sound, good battery life and a secure fit is a plus for most consumers. Buy these if you go out for runs and/or to the gym a lot. If not, wait for a discount on the Elite 7 Pro’s and go for those instead.