Known for their high quality headphones and Bluetooth products, Jabra have launched one of the first premium products in the new space of truly wireless earbuds with the Jabra Elite Sport. We’ve been trialing a pair of them of the past couple of weeks in a noisy office, an equally noisy LA Fitness gym and while running. Here is our world exclusive review of what may be an unrivalled set of earbuds!
Here are the main features of the Elite Sport from Jabra:
- Superior sound with up to three hours of music and calls (plus up to six hours additional charge from the portable charging case
- Flexible wearing options with single or stereo earbud use
- Advanced heart rate analysis with automatic fitness level testing of VO2 Max, recovery advisor and race predictor
- In-ear audio coaching with real-time feedback
- Integrated Training Management with Jabra Sport Life app
- Three-year warranty against sweat and waterproof to IP67 rating
- Secure fit – perform at your best with incredibly light, ultra-secure earbuds
- Supports all major smartphone operating systems, including Android & iOS
- Integrated Jabra Sport Life app and support for all leading third-party fitness apps
What’s in the Box?
The Elite Sport comes Jabra’s typical high end packaging that you may want to keep because it’s just some well put together. Slide the box containing the units out, flip its cover open and you’ll see the Jabra Elite Sport earbuds and their essential storage / charging cases (more on it later). The headphones have the Small size Jabra EarWings that are designed to hold them in place already on them. On the inside of the box there are Medium and Large sized EarWings along with no less than six pairs of EarGels of varied sizes. There is also a micro USB cable that is used to charge the earbuds via the charging case. It is not proprietary USB technology. Any micro USB cable can be used in its place.
The Jabra Elite Sport has a sleek yet extremely effective design. Since it houses all of its circuitry and speakers in just two pieces there is a little more bulk that wired Bluetooth earbuds. However, the additional volume is nominal and causes not wearer discomfort. Jabra has put together two individual earbuds that look discrete and certainly won’t be out of place on the ear of a Secret Service agent. During testing we ran into many instances where others started speaking to us because they were unaware that we were even wearing earpieces.
Our favorite feature of the Jabra Elite Sport is the fact that it uses the firm’s EarWings to keep them in place. This is a proven feature that results in now slippage even during grueling runs and weight workouts. They also result in no over the ear component that gets in the way of glasses and sunglasses.
An essential part of the Jabra Elite Sport is its charging case. It’s a classy piece of equipment that can readily pass as a jewelry case. In all black with charging lights, it has molded area that you place the ear buds into for a charge. Close it and your Jabra Elite Sport earphone are recharged for up to three hours. Another cool feature of the case is that it is small enough to fit in your pants pocket without creating an unsightly bulge.
Setting up the Jabra Elite Sport
We used the Jabra Elite Sport with a Samsung Galaxy S7 running Android and an Apple iPhone 7 Plus with iOS. In both cases pair the earbuds with our phones was seamless and required little additional action from pairing them with wired earphones. There is a voice-guided prompt that tell you what to do on your phone after powering on the Elite Sport to make things easy. However if you’re experienced with Bluetooth devices you’ll be fine without it.
Since the Jabra Elite Sport lacks wires the right earbud (which seems to be the main earbud since it has the power button) has to sync with the left earbud. This is done by holding the volume down button on the left side for three seconds. After this was done we never had to do it again as we tried out the Elite Sport every day for at least three hours of phone and music time.
Since the Jabra Elite Sport has just two buttons on each earbud it is worth the time investment to review its user manual to figure out the intricacies of them. We were able to determine the basics (e.g. volume up and down, power on and off and connecting to the Jabra Sport Life app without the manual. However you really have to read the documentation to get the most out of the product. For example, only by doing so would you know that holding the up and down volume buttons at the same time gives you the unit’s battery status.
We touched upon the fit of the Jabra Elite Sport earlier. The fit of the earbuds in the ear is secure, comfortable and near immovable. As mentioned earlier, their EarWings are key to this. The accompanying EarGels (there are three silicon gels and three foam tips of various sizes) are also essential to getting a near customized fit of the Elite Sport. This does require some tinkering to get the correct combination for your ears. However, once done you’ll be happy with a true hand free and unwired experience that looks extremely cool as well.
The sound quality offered by the ranks among the best we’ve ever heard from a wireless earbuds and does rival that of high end wired units.
High and mid frequencies come across crisp and clean regardless of which EarGels you use with the headphones. The best enjoyment of lows (bass) is dependent on the EarGels that you select to use with the earbuds since these frequencies benefit from sound not being loss. Therefore you’ve got to select a proper fitting EarGel that fits your ear canal in a snug manner to get best low frequency experience with the Jabra Elite Sport.
The volume level of the Jabra Elite Sport does go up quite high with quality streams (e.g. Spotify and iHeartRadio) and audio files. The highest level is a bit loud and may be a bit much for most people. We typically used the Elite Sport at about 80% of its maximum volume. Going to 100% does not introduce any sound distortion but may be bad for your heading with quality sound coming across at 320 kbps.
A brilliant characteristic of the Jabra Elite Sport is its HearThrough feature that utilizes the unit’s built-in microphones to let in ambient noise and event engage in conversations without removing the earbuds. It is enabled by default but can be turned off with the tap of one of the buttons on the right earbud. We were amazed that we could speak to other people without taking off the Elite Sport and hardly turning down its volume approached.
As you can tell from our pictures of the Jabra Elite Sport there is no visible microphones on the earbuds. We’re not sure how Jabra’s engineers did it but there are microphones on both earbuds that work remarkably well! We’ve done many a phone call with the Elite Sport and have yet to have anyone complain about the quality of the sound from our side. Upon listening to phone calls using wired Bluetooth earbuds and the Jabra Elite Sport we actually found the latter to sound better. This could be because there is no sway from a hanging microphone to adversely affect the sound of your voice reaching it.
The battery life of the Jabra Elite Sport on a full charge is 3 hours. This is in line with most other truly wireless earbud sets on the market and also with most wired Bluetooth units from our experience (regardless of what their manufacturers may say). The charging case for the Elite Sport carries two full charges allowing you to get up to 9 hours of use out of your earbuds. This is a brilliant value add that creates much less worry when using the Jabra Elite Sport. We all know about the dreaded low battery warning from wireless earphone in the midst of a run or workout. Two hours of charging the case gives it a full charge. In case of emergencies, you can get 1 hour of playtime from charging the case via a micro USB for 15 minutes.
The Jabra Elite Sport has an impressive range that is equal to that of the latest generation of wireless Bluetooth earbuds. We’ve left our music-playing phone a good 40 feet away and without the signal between it and the Elite Sport breaking up at all. This was in a commercial gym with metal equipment all over the floor. We have also never encountered any loss of connection between the earbuds and the phone in over two weeks of use.
The Jabra Elite Sport is a tough little product. We’ve dropped the earbuds and their charging case. We’ve also sweat on the earbuds while working out. The entire setup is still working as well as it did coming out of the box. The earbuds do require some cleanup from time to time because they pick up stray earwax (or maybe that’s our hygiene problem?). Given that they’re built to withstand 30 minutes of being submerged in 1 mete of water they are easily cleaned up with a swab with some rubbing alcohol on it or a wet wipe. Our biggest worries about the Elite Sport are losing them because o they are diminutive and dropping them in a toilet. The latter is a test we refuse to conduct!
The Jabra Elite Sport is accompanied by a very well done Jabra Sport Life app. This is essentially a piece personal training software complete with an assertive English-accented female instructor. Pressing the Sports button at the top of the right earbud lets the Elite Sport monitor you heartrate while you follow one of the pre-built routines on the app. These include a VO2 fitness test, weight training and running routings. We used the heartrate monitoring capability of the earbud during weight lifting and running workouts to get a sense of how hard we were training. The results from the Elite Sport were in line with those of Fitbit and Polar fitness trackers. Of course, with the Jabra Elite Sport in ear you can leave you fitness tracker at home and avoid carrying around extra electronic hardware.
Jabra has done with again with the Jabra Elite Sport. It’s a complete package and now the gold standard in the truly wireless earbuds space. From its cool design to quality sound to comfortable fit, the Elite Sport is well worth its current price point of $249. An internet search will reveal several reputable retailers selling it as low as $199.