It’s not hard to find good truly wireless workout headphones that have a comfortable but very secure fit, plenty of water and dust protection, and active noise cancellation (ANC). Jabra’s Elite 7 Active, JBL’s Reflect Flow Pro and Jaybird’s Vista 2, just to choose from three recent models, all qualify. But with prices starting at $ 150 and can go as high as $ 300, they aren’t as friendly on your bank account as they are on your morning runs.
What it doesThey look really cool – they’re fully waterproof, designed to fit securely, and even feature some useful extras like ANC, transparency mode, and customizable EQ. All for the much more reasonable price of $ 120. Are these the training buttons you’ve been waiting for? Let’s find out.
Jabra Elite 4 active
MSRP $ 120.00
“Budget-minded fitness buffs will have a hard time finding a better set of buds.”
- Comfortable and secure fit
- Totally waterproof
- Very good sound quality
- Effective APN
- No wireless charging
- No wear sensors
The Jabra fit
Jabra’s Elite line of true wireless earbuds are some of the best-fitting and most comfortable we’ve reviewed, and the Elite 4 Active is no exception. They are almost identical in shape to the budget-priced Elite 3 and are very similar to both the Elite 7 Pro and the Elite 7 Active, meaning they fit very well. With a selection of three sizes of silicone ear pads in the box, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a combination that works for you.
The part of the earpiece that sits deeper in the ear is made of soft plastic, while the part that sits just inside the outer ear has a slightly rubbery texture. It’s not as grippy as the finish Jabra used on the Elite 7 Active, but it has more texture than the Elite 3. Will you stay seated during your intense workouts? For most of the time, the answer is yes.
The combination of their small size, ergonomic shape, textured finish, and light weight makes them as secure as possible without adding physical aids like ear muffs, wingtips, or ear hooks. But anything that changes the shape of your ear canal – like talking, laughing, sneezing, or just grinning from ear to ear because you just surpassed your personal best – could affect the way the Elite 4 Active feel and so Therefore, they require adjustment.
Press a little harder
Physical controls are still the way to go, and Jabra is still the master.
The Jabra controls are legendary too, as far as I’m concerned. Because the company always uses physical buttons and never touches the sensors, you get a pleasantly tactile click when you press them. And that never leaves any doubt as to whether you did well or not. The Elite 4 Active controls share this heritage, but require more force to use than other Jabra models.
I attribute this to the fact that the button is hidden behind a thin rubber membrane on the outside of the headphones (part of the reason they offer such strong IP57 protection), but the surface itself is quite small. The result is a button that, while still highly accurate and tactile, requires almost twice the effort to press than the Elite 3 or Elite 7 Active.
Still, I prefer the physical buttons on the Elite 4 Active to the touch controls on just about any other headset, especially when you’re trying to focus on your training. Also, like all physical buttons, you don’t need bare skin or special gloves to use them, another plus, especially in cold weather.
Unlike the Elite 7 series, Jabra does not allow you to customize the Elite 4 Active controls, but the default settings give you everything you might need, such as play / pause, skip tracks, answer / end calls, mute microphone, ANC /transparency. , voice assistant and volume control. You can use each headset independently, and if you’re an Android user, you even have the option to replace Google Assistant with Amazon Alexa. Android users also have the option to use Spotify Tap instead of a voice assistant, to instantly access their Spotify Premium playlists.
A pair of training headphones are useless if they can’t give your favorite tracks the power and presence to motivate and move you. Here, the Elite 4 Active definitely has what it takes. They combine Jabra’s well-balanced sound signature with an extra slice of bass. We’re not talking about a bass that vibrates your fills, but it’s exactly what you need to feel the beat of your music as you hit the pavement or throw your fists at a punching bag. Whether you’re inspired by AC / DC, Kendrick Lamar, or BTS, the Elite 4 Active are more than capable of keeping up.
I put the Elite 4 Active head-to-head (ear to ear?) With the Elite 7 Active, and both models were surprisingly close. Unsurprisingly, the Elite 7 Active had a bit more detail and a wider soundstage than the Elite 4 Active, but since neither model is aimed at critical listening, I don’t think there is enough of a difference to recommend the Elite 7. Active over 4 Active, at least not from a sound quality standpoint. We will discuss the other differences later.
With clear high frequencies and satisfying mid-ranges, I found that the default tuning worked well with all genres of music I threw into these headphones, but if it’s not to your liking, the Jabra Sound + app allows you to adjust the EQ through a series. presets and manual options. You won’t be able to drastically alter the sound signature, but there is more than enough freedom to enhance (or de-emphasize) the bass and treble for various listening preferences.
It’s worth noting that these headphones don’t support the Bluetooth AAC codec that Apple prefers for all of its phones and tablets; You will use SBC on these devices instead, but they do support aptX on Android devices if yours supports that codec. . Going from an iPhone 11 to a Google Pixel 5, I could hear a slight improvement on the Pixel, but it was hardly noticeable.
A little silence please
Hear that? No? That is the point.
Some Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) systems, like Apple’s AirPods Pro, can magically eliminate external sounds to the point where they just disappear when you turn ANC on. The Elite 4 Active’s ANC system definitely reduces some of the frequencies reaching your ears from the outside, but it’s not that cone-of-silence effect that Apple has achieved.
But who is complaining? Especially at this price, any ANC system that helps eliminate unwanted sound is a good thing. And that is exactly what you get. Switching from passive sound isolation to ANC offers a noticeable reduction in traffic, fans, background conversations, and other annoyances.
The best part is that with a click of the left earbud, you can switch from ANC to transparency mode, which brings the outside world in. Or, using the app, you can decide to use that button to toggle between ANC on and off. , transparency on and off, or all three modes in sequence.
You can also decide how much of that external sound to include with an in-app slider setting. The transparency mode does a good job of letting you hear other people and sounds, but your own voice remains a bit muffled.
Using the Elite 4 Active, like most Jabra headsets, is very good. Your voice is heard very clearly and the microphones seem to have no problem keeping unwanted background noise from overwhelming your conversations. While testing them, I found a bit of wind, not much, but it barely registered in my recordings.
You can choose to turn on the sidetone (which is like transparency mode but for phone calls / video calls), and this allows you to hear your own voice more clearly, reducing the fatigue that some headphone calls entail.
Battery for all day
How much battery life do you need in a set of true wireless headphones? I’d say more is always better, but the Elite 4 Active claims seven hours of playtime per charge, plus the three additional charges in the charging case (for a total of 28) should be enough. If you want even more time, Jabra says you’ll get 8.5 hours with ANC off and a total of 34 hours with the case.
In testing, with ANC on and the volume set to 50%, I got close to six hours of use, but it’s still pretty decent. A quick charge feature gives you an additional hour of use for 10 minutes of charging.
Jabra includes a Find My earbuds feature in the Sound + app that keeps track of the last known location when the Elite 4 Active was connected to your phone, making it easy to locate lost earbuds. You can also make the headphones play a sound so you can find out which sofa cushion they are under.
what is not included
While the Elite 4 Active has a decent amount of features, this is what you’ll find in some other headphones, including the more expensive ones.:
- Wireless charging
- Use sensors to automatically pause music
- Fully customizable controls
- Hands-free voice assistants
- Bluetooth multipoint (to connect two devices simultaneously)
The Jabra Elite 4 Active are the perfect set of training headphones for those who want great sound, a great fit and excellent protection from the elements, without spending more than $ 150.
Are there better alternatives?
The Elite 4 Active seems to have found a nice little niche. You can pay more for the $ 150 JBL Reflect Mini NC and get wireless charging and voice activated assistants, but the total battery life is not as good as the Jabra and Reflect Mini NC is IP56 vs IP57 for Elite 4 Active .
You can also spend less and get the Anker Soundcore Spirit X2, a set of earhook-style headphones, which have better battery life and even better protection against water and dust, but have no ANC or transparency mode. , and there is no app. -EQ-based settings.
So while there are certainly plenty of alternatives when it comes to a set of wireless training buttons, we haven’t found any that combine the Elite 4 Active’s features with its affordable price.
How long will they last?
While these kinds of things are never easy to predict, Jabra makes high-quality products, and the Elite 4 Active looks well-built and relatively tough. Their IP57 rating will protect them from most dust and water, even total submersion, and Jabra offers an extended two-year warranty to customers who register their headphones through the Jabra Sound + app.
Should you buy them?
Yes. While they may not fit as well as training buttons with ear hooks or ear flaps, theThey’re a great option for budget-conscious athletes who don’t want to compromise on the essentials.