Jabra Elite Active 75t full review
True wireless headphones may still be in their infancy (it wasn’t that long ago that wearing AirPods in public was something to be embarrassed about…) but as Jabra enters its fifth year of making wireless earbuds it’s pretty clear they’re not going anywhere.
Its latest pair of buds, the Elite Active 75t - unveiled this week at CES in Las Vegas - follow firmly in the lineage of its first ever pair: 2016’s Elite Sport. Here’s how they shape up.
Price and availability
First up, it’s worth knowing that the Elite Active 75t will sit at the upper end of the market. When they release in February they’ll cost $199 - prices in the UK and other markets are yet to be confirmed, but will no doubt be similar.
That’s actually more than the £159/$159 AirPods (though not their high-end Pro variant), but the strong feature set and sport-friendly design mean the high price shouldn’t rule these out for anyone who exercises enough to get the most out of them.
If you’re tempted but not sure what else is out there, check out our ranking of the best true wireless earbuds to get a sense of how the new Jabras stack up.
Design and build: Classically tuned
Jabra hasn’t exactly torn up the rulebook in designing the Elite Active 75t - in fact, set them next to 2019’s regular Elite 75t headphones and you’d be hard pushed to spot the difference.
In fact, the easiest way to tell isn’t to look at them, it’s to pick them up: the ‘Active’ ones are coated in what Jabra calls an ‘active grip’ surface. It’s a subtly tacky, grippy finish that makes the buds much less slippy witihout changing how they look. To be honest it’s something I’d love to see on more non-sporty wireless headphones - they’re all easy enough to drop without throwing push ups into the equation.
These are compact buds - some of the smallest on the market, and a whopping 22% smaller than last year’s Active 65t - which means you’re less likely to knock them out of your ears with an errant arm movement, especially combined with the grippy finish. That’s essential for anyone hoping to use them to work out beyond the confines of a gym, but the low profile is immediately appealing for the kind of weight lifting and HIIT training I prefer too.
Together with an understated aesthetic, the small size makes these less immediately iconic than the AirPods, but less obtrusive too, and they still look better than the likes of Bose and Sony have managed so far in the space. Function has definitely come first here, but form hasn’t been forgotten entirely.
The range of colours helps. Most other brands still limit you to white or black, but Jabra is jumping on Pantone’s 2020 colour of the year bandwagon with a ‘Classic Blue’ finish, backed up by options including black/copper (an Amazon exclusive in the US) and titanium/black (a Best Buy exclusive), with grey, sienna orange, and mint all due in March and April.
Each colour comes with a matching compact battery case, and the buds attach magnetically so won’t fall out easily - something that probably should be standard but still isn’t. There’s not a lot else to say about the case: it’s compact, comfortably rounded, and has a simple engraved Jabra logo.
Finally, in line with the sporty aim these are waterproof, with an IP57 rating. That basically means they’ll be able to handle rain, sweat, and probably even a shower, but I wouldn’t take ‘em swimming. They’d fall out anyway.
Sound and battery: Last the distance
While I’ve seen the Elite Active 75t headphones in person, I haven’t actually had the chance to try them out - no-one wants to be the tenth journalist in a row to cram them into their ears at a press event.
So what I’ll say is this: Jabra has a pretty solid track record in the space, and while I didn’t use them myself the Elite 75t headphones are meant to deliver, so I’m fairly confident these will too.
Jabra isn’t touting any major new sonic advances here, though there are some firmware sound processing features to give it a boost.
Most interesting is MySound - a hearing test that will take advantage of hearing aid tech from one of Jabra’s sister companies, tuning the headphones to suit your individual hearing capabilities. We’ll see how much of a difference it really makes, but with similar tech from Nura proving popular expect to see this pop up elsewhere.
MyControl is less exciting - a set of controls to give you a personalised EQ, custom button controls, and the option to use either earbud individually. No bad thing, but nothing we haven’t seen before elsewhere.
Battery is more impressive. Jabra claims the earbuds will last 7.5 hours between charges, with 28 hours total in the case - one of the bigger battery lives you’ll find in wireless buds.
It’s partly because these are among the first to use a new ultra-low power Bluetooth component from Qualcomm, which means power consumption should stay just as light during calls or voice assistant queries as it does when simply listening to some tunes.
As for charging, 15 minutes in the case will give the buds an hour of playtime - that may not sound like a lot compared to phone charging speeds these days, but it’s not too shabby for true wireless. There'll even be some wireless charging variants in certain colours, but not until April.
It goes without saying that I’ll need to actually listen to the Elite Active 75t buds before I can really assess them, but on paper there’s a lot to like here.
If the battery life can match Jabra’s claims and the sound quality lives up to the company’s previous ‘phones, these could well be the new sports headphones to beat.