While there was a lot of buzz around the apple AirPods, there has been a lot of action outside of the Apple world. Jabra entered the truly wireless earbud market with the new Jabra Elite Sport wireless ear buds and here is our review after a couple months of using them.
The Jabra Elite Sport wireless ear bud is basically a truly wireless version of the Jabra Sport Pulse bluetooth headphones. We have been using the Jabra Sport Pulse headphones pictured below for over a years now, they are our go to headphones for cycling. So we obviously wanted to compare the Jabra Elite Sport to these headphones. A side from the location of the buttons and additional bulk on the ear, these headphones are similar of course without the cord attached.
- Clinical grade Heart rate monitor
- Time, speed, distance, pace, steps, cadence, calories, heart rate zone, VO2 Max estimation, repetitions, real time coach
- Trackfit Motion Counting Sensor (Tri-Axis accelerometer)
- Voice control to answer calls
- Bluetooth version 4.1
- Jabra Sport Life App
- Performance Tracking
- In ear coaching
- One Earbud use
- Waterproof (IP67 rated [?]) up to 1 meter
- 3 Year Sweat warranty (requires registration)
- 1 Year Standard warranty
Using the Ear Buds
There is some getting use to using the earbuds. You will notice things like when you take the left ear bud out, and hold it more than 12 inches away from the right ear bud, it shuts itself off. Then when bringing it back to your ear, it reconnects and you hear it turn on. Additionally, we paired these headphones with phones and bluetooth computers. The ear buds do really well pairing and unpairing with the phone. However, on occasion when listening to Spotify on a computer, if we put the ear buds back in the charging case and closed it we had a hard time getting Spotify to realize when we put them back in our our and wanted to resume listening. I’m not sure where the disconnect is here, I assume it’s because of the charging that occurs and bluetooth connectivity is lost for a moment. We always had to restart Spotify and sometimes recycle the power on the ear buds. I did get use to the weird tricks and know when to do what with them to avoid issues like these but there was some learning curve.
We have sweat in these a lot through running and cycling and have had zero issues with them. While Jabra states they are IP67 rated and can be submerged in a water up to 3 feed, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to swimming with them in ear.
At first use of the Elite earbuds I was a little worried that the 3 hours run time wouldn’t be enough. Also, a little confused at why the battery life was so much shorter that the Jabra Sport bluetooth headphones. The Elite Sport have a bigger in ear pod, so I assumed the battery life would have been longer. For desk use, short travel they work great. Frustration may set in when the battery dies 3 hours into your century bike ride, and you haven’t to put them back in the charging case and continue your ride.
The case does a sort of quick charge. I placed the ear buds in the case for exactly 20 min and started using them right away. I was able to get an hour and a half of use from just a 20 min charge, I didn’t think that was too bad. A little
We did some extensive testing on the battery life. Keep in mind these were in pretty controlled environment where they likely weren’t loosing and reconnecting to bluetooth, or using all additional features like heart rate monitoring all the time.
First Use Fully Charged
4 Hours (10 Min Warning before shutoff), this was better than expected. Jabra claims only 3 hours of use.
20 Min Case Charge
1:32 (10 Min Warning before shutoff), again better than Jabra claims. Jabra states only about an hour of use after a 20 min case charge.
2nd Charged overnight in case
Put in case Red light on for a few seconds indicate charging
4 Hours (10 Min Warning before shutoff)
3rd Charge overnight in case
Opened case and saw yellow light on charging led
4 Hours (10 Min warning before shutoff)
Tried 4th Charge overnight in case
Open case saw yellow light indicating case was low on battery. I turned on the earbuds and heard “battery low”. The ear buds lasted about 10 min then died. There are definatly 2 solid charges from the case, but not a 3rd.
After 3rd charge placed headphones in Charger
We put the ear buds back in the charger after they were dead. A red light on the charger came on indicating the battery on the charger was dead. We then plugged in the charging case and a light came on indicating it was charging. We found it did charge the case as well as the ear buds when they were both dead, although I assume this is slower that just charging the case.
There are two lights on the front of the case indicating the charge in the ear buds. Also a single light next to the USB port that indicates the battery for the case. Additionally, there are lights on the ear buds that indicate their power, or you can press the left buttons and get a verbal read of the ear bud power.
Fitness Analysis App and Heart Rate
The one thing that really sets Jabra apart from most headphones is the apps. There are quite a few apps. You can change and adjust the EQ using the Jabra sound app.
Jabra Assist provides some feature adjustment to Jabra products.
Jabra Sport Life is the app that provides the sport coaching and heart rate monitoring. The app is a bit gimmicky, but there is value. The heart rate monitoring is really good and fairly accurate for an optical sensor. The coaching is fun to play with but not going to replace a real trainer. It’s worth noting that you must install Jabra Service app also for the Jabra Sport Life app to work.
There are 4 buttons on the pair of earbuds, 2 on each ear. The left ear bud controls the volume up (and battery status) and down (down button also powers on/off). The right controls the music playback. Double clicking the bottom right ear bud turns on HearThrough. Although I didn’t test HearThrough a lot in outdoor noisy environments, it was hard to tell when it was on or off.
The earbuds include Bespoke bass enriched speakers with 20Hz to 20kHz frequency range. While I am not an audiophile, these ear buds over delivered on expectations. Streaming from high quality Spotify they sounded great. They are fairly heavy on the bass side, and obviously have some eqing done to bump it up a bit. It’s not something you would be feeling from a headphone like Beats, it’s a more happy medium. The mid range in a variety of styles also sounded pretty good. The lows are defiantly amped up more than the mids. The highs were slightly lacking when hearing the drum high hats and cymbals of songs as well as guitar solos felt lacking a bit. These earbuds sound great, and better than most, but don’t be expecting studio quality sound from them.
There is also a feature called HearThrough that allows you to hear outside ambient noise to help with alertness and safety awareness.
There are 4 total microphones on the pair of earbuds. These microphones have noise canceling technology to switch between mics and reduce background noise. The microphone sensitivity is rated at -38 dBv/Pa with a range of 100Hz to 10kHz. It’s easy to access siri or google now with the touch of the button. Sound quality is good, and mic quality is OK when indoors and can bee poor when outdoors and windy.
What is in the box?
- A Pair of Jabra Elite Sport Bluetooth Headphones
- On-the-Go Charging and Storage Case
- Micro-USB Cable
- 3 sets of Ear Gels(TM) size Small, Medium, Large
- 3 sets of Foam Tips size Small, Medium, Large
- 3 sets of Ear Wings(TM)
- Warning, Warranty, and Quick start guide
The Sport Elite’s come in a nice looking easy to open box. A flap opens up to revel the charging case and ear buds. Under that is the many ear tips and wings for different fit options.
Earbud Ear Fit
There are 3 options to customize the fit and sound you want. The silicone ear tips are pretty similar to most ear buds. They do an excellent job of sealing out outside noise and enhancing the listening. The foam tips allow a little more outside sound in and don’t have the suction cup effect on your ear canal. Each come with 3 different sizes for your ear size. Lastly, Jabra offers winged tips for an even more secure fit inside your ear. We never found a reason to have to use the winged tips. The ear buds stay put really well for as large as they are in ear.
Compared to Jabra Sport
When riding bikes or running with the Jabra Elite Sport ear buds, we contently worry about them falling out, even though they never have. The though of having to find one on a trail in the woods would feel like searching for a needle in a hay stack. For this reason, we still like the Jabra Sport Pulse for biking. They offer the same features but are tethered together so the likelihood of loosing one is far less. Additionally, the battery last a lot longer per single charge on the Pulse, we often ride longer that 3 hours and would have to take the ear buds out and charge them through the ride.
For everything else, the new Jabra Elite Sports are our new wireless ear buds of choice. They retail for $249, but are often found on sale for $199. They are full of features that most bluetooth headphones are lacking. With the heart rate monitory, sports app and dual mics they are a great value.