Jabra Elite 7 Active

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Here’s the thing about exercise outside: Sometimes, you need to be aware of your surroundings, but seconds later you might want to block out the annoying heavy breathing of another runner coming up behind you. The $179 Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds offer the best of both worlds with a single, gentle tap of a button — because no one wants to dig out their phone or fumble with a stem in the middle of a workout.

The Elite 7 Active earbuds aren’t the first to feature active noise cancellation (ANC) and transparency modes; Sony has the $199 LinkBuds S, Apple has the $249 AirPods Pro and EarFun has the $79 Air Pro 2. But Jabra’s wireless earbuds are by far the easiest to use and the most customizable to your lifestyle and hearing preferences. However, they do come with some caveats. Here are the pros and cons I’ve found after working out in Jabra’s latest buds.

If you want a pair of excellent-sounding workout earbuds that make it easy to both block out and let in the outside world, the Jabra Elite 7 Active are well worth the purchase.

What we liked about them

Great sound quality

With the Elite 7 Active earbuds, Jabra promises to immerse you in sound — and it succeeds, by a long shot. Even in HearThrough mode, the audio never veered toward tinny, which I’ve experienced with Shokz OpenRun Pro’s bone conduction technology and to a lesser extent in the open-ear JVC Nearphones. Instead, my favorite workout playlists practically boomed out of the 6mm speakers; it’s a rare occasion for me when I’m not listening to volume at 90% or above, and I ended up turning these down several times.

Jabra Elite 7 Active

To get the most out of the speakers, you’ll need to download Jabra’s Sound+ app. The app comes loaded with presets like “Bass boost” or “Energize” that will make you pumped to work out, or you can use the customizable equalizer to create your own presets depending on what type of music you’re playing. I tend to listen to bass-heavy music when I work out because I love to really hear the beat, so I opted for the “Bass boost” preset during most workouts; “Energize” didn’t prioritize the beat in quite the same way. (On calls, I would switch over to “Speech,” which drops the bass and ups the treble.) You can even create your own unique hearing profile under settings (based on age, gender and a quick “tone test”) and the speakers will automatically adjust to that profile next time you press play.

Quick transitions between listening modes

The Elite 7 Active earbuds come with two important listening modes: Active Noise Cancellation, which blocks distracting background noise, and HearThrough technology, which uses the microphones in the earbuds to amplify sounds around you. Those features aren’t unique to Jabra, but what is is the fact that you can switch between modes with a simple press of the button on the left earbud. I found this especially helpful during outdoor activities: As I ran to and from a lake near my house, I enabled the HearThrough mode so I could stay alert to traffic on the streets; once I was safely off the streets and running laps on the lakeside path, I turned on ANC so I could get in the zone.

In Jabra’s Sound+ app, you can use adjustable sliders to customize the frequency levels of ANC and HearThrough to whatever fits your environment best. The difference between the five levels of sound are noticeable too; as I played with the settings at my desk, I could easily hear the sound of my AC working overtime fade away while turning down HearThrough and activating ANC.

What we didn’t like about them

Jabra Elite 7 Active

That plugged-up sensation

The key with earbuds — especially for working out — is that they stay put. Jabra reengineered its sports earbuds using a special liquid silicone rubber compound that holds the buds more securely in the ear without the need for ear wings. The design is also 16% smaller than Jabra’s previous smallest earbuds, with a more tapered, rounded fit that molds to the shape of your ear. (They’re also a mere 5.5 grams each — just a 10th of a gram heavier than Apple’s AirPods Pro, which feature similar noise cancellation and transparency technology.) And they do stay put! I didn’t register any slippage, even on a two-hour run.

Unfortunately, that rubber compound creates a pressurized feeling that’s so common with in-ear earbuds (TBH, there was such a solid seal I don’t know if I even needed the noise cancellation mode). The Elite 7 Active earbuds do have vent holes that aim to relieve pressure in your ears, but I found that plugged-up sensation to be super uncomfortable the longer I worked out; I even had to remove the earbuds during one long phone call. Maybe my ears are more sensitive than I realized, but this factor would lead me to choose open-ear headphones like the Shokz OpenRun Pro or the JVC Nearphones.

Call quality isn’t great

Considering the Jabra Elite 7 Active are meant for activity, call quality isn’t a top priority, but I found the experience jarring whenever I answered the phone. There are four microphones packed into the Elite 7 Active earbuds, and Jabra promises “outstanding call clarity.” But I found my own voice to be the loudest part of any call I took, and even playing with all the customizable settings couldn’t make for a more pleasant conversational experience (this was not, apparently, an issue on the other end; when I polled several people I called, they had no issues hearing me clearly).

Bottom line

As far as music quality and customizing sound profiles go, Jabra’s Elite 7 Active earbuds surpass all of my go-to workout headphones. I loved that I could customize my listening experiences and adjust the sound modes on the go.

I just wish my stamina for working out in these would last as long as the earbuds’ battery life, which promises eight hours of playback and an hour of power after a five-minute charge (I never fully drained them over the course of two weeks of testing; I just popped the buds back into the case after every use so I didn’t lose track of them). If, however, your ears are even slightly sensitive to that pressurized feeling earbuds can create, these won’t be the right fit for you and you’ll likely prefer an over-ear or open-ear option.

But for up to $70 less than dual-mode competitors from Sony and Apple, music fans will love the immersive listening experience Jabra creates with the Elite 7 Active earbuds.

How the Jabra Elite 7 Active compare

Weight

0.2 ounces per bud

0.19 ounces per bud

1.02 ounces

0.49 ounces per bud

Ambient noise

Yes (via Hearthrough mode)

Yes (via Transparency mode)

Yes (via open design)

Yes (via open design)

Active noise cancellation

Yes

Yes

No

No

Battery life (rated)

Up to 8 hours

Up to 6 hours

Up to 10 hours

Up to 8 hours

Quick charging

1 hour from a 5-minute charge

1 hour from a 5-minute charge

1.5 hours from a 10-minute charge

3 hours from a 30-minute charge

Water resistance

IP57

IPX4

IP55

IPX4

Colors

Black, Mint, Navy

Black, White, Sage Gray, Stone Purple

Pink, Black, Blue, Beige

Black

Price $149.72 $199.95 $179.95 $179.95