What’s the difference between being a member of the elite and being an ‘active’ member of the elite? As far as Jabra is concerned, the difference is roughly £20 (or $20).
Adding that premium onto the price of its Elite 75t true wireless in-ear headphones buys you a pair of Elite Active 75t. At a glance, there’s little to indicate where your extra outlay has gone – in fact, look quite hard and it still isn’t all that obvious.
The Elite Active 75t are designed for the more active true wireless earbud wearer. They are rated at IP57, which translates to being resistant to dust and waterproof up to a depth of a metre, so they should have no trouble coming through the dampest of workouts unscathed. The Elite 75t, on the other hand, are rated at a more humdrum IP55 and therefore can’t withstand anything but a mild sprinkling of water.
Elsewhere, the Elite Active 75t have a soft, mildly rubberised coating that helps them stay snug and secure in the wearer’s ear. The tidily proportioned charging case is also covered in this grippy material, which should help prevent it dropping from sweaty fingers.
The earbuds themselves are neat and discreet by the standards of most rival ‘sports’ in-ears. At just 5.5g each, they’re not much of a burden to wear and once in situ (Jabra provides only three sizes of silicon eartips to help facilitate a decent fit) they prove comfortable and resistant to movement – even if you’re in the throes of a proper workout.
Compared with alternative ‘sports’ designs that have various ear-hooks or stems to help them stay in place, the Elite Active 75t might appear rather under-engineered – but that doesn’t prove to be the case.
Despite their small dimensions, the Elite Active 75t earbuds are good for five hours of playback time (more if you lower the volume or turn off the active noise-cancelling) and there’s another 20 hours or so in the charging case.
Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity helps with battery life efficiency here, and should the worst happen, you can eke out another hour of operation from just a 15-minute charge. The Jabras are compatible with Qi wireless charging, too.
Type In-ear true wireless earbuds
Dynamic range 20Hz to 20kHz
Battery life 7.5 hours (28 hours inc. charging case)
Bluetooth version 5.0
Dimensions (hwd) 1.6 x 1.9 x 2.2cm
Weight 5.5g (each)
There is a choice of six different finishes, including blue, green, grey, bronze-ish and a couple of variations on black. No matter which colour you choose, though, you’ll be buying an impeccably built pair of earbuds that feel made to last. Jabra has even managed to find room for a ‘pressure relief vent’ on each earbud, designed to regulate in-ear pressure generated by lower frequencies, and a couple of mics per earbud to deal with call quality and active noise-cancellation.
There are also physical touch-controls – little ‘push/push’ buttons – but they’re not quite as successfully implemented here. There’s certainly more positivity to commands when using a button rather than the more common capacitive touch-surface, but pressing the earbud can compromise the nice comfortable fit you’ve achieved. It also proves quite hit-and-miss when adjusting volume levels with a ‘press and hold’ action.
Fortunately, it’s possible to control the Elite Active 75t in a couple of other ways too. They’re compatible with all worthwhile voice assistants (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri – but not Bixby) and thanks to the beamform technology deployed around the mic array, your instructions are understood just as readily as your voice-calls.
There is also Jabra’s impressive Sound+ control app, where you can finesse the level of active noise-cancelling, fiddle with EQ settings and decide on the amount of ambient sound you want to hear. It even features a hearing test to try and establish the sort of EQ profile that will suit you best.
With the earbuds positioned comfortably (which is easy to achieve) and the volume level just so (not so easy if you use the push-controls; much easier if you just use your music player), the Jabra Elite Active 75t make a decent first impression.
They certainly have no problems making sense of a Tidal Masters file of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ Going To A Go-Go. Detail levels are high across the board, and there’s a nice sense of space to the overall presentation. Down at the bottom of the frequency range, there’s plenty of impetus and worthwhile control of bass notes too. The midrange sounds clear, so that inimitable vocal is expressive, while ‘perky’ is perhaps the best way to describe the Jabra's treble.
Switching to a slightly less antiquated recording reveals some shortcomings, though. Dance Yrself Clean by LCD Soundsystem enjoys the same spacious character and the same assertive low-frequency presence. But as well as showing up a slight shortage of dynamic expression and rhythmic drive, the track also exposes the earbuds as being rather brash at the point where the midrange crosses over into the higher frequencies.
What might initially sound like winning clarity doesn’t take long to become rather wearing and tiring – certainly nine minutes of the LCD Soundsystem tune is plenty.
The longer you listen, the more polarised the Elite Active 75t’s talents and shortcomings become. Their facility with fine-detail retrieval never stops being enjoyable, but their lack of dynamic headroom robs Why Am I Treated So Bad? by Cannonball Adderley of expression and drive. The clean, well-organised low frequencies are undermined by the over-confident upper-midrange, and the pleasantly open, spacious sound is neutered by the lack of rhythmic energy.
It’s much easier to be positive about the Jabra's active noise-cancellation. Even at its highest setting, it’s quite light-touch – but it minimises external sound without too much of the artificiality that can afflict the sound quality of less capable alternatives. You’ll never be set entirely free from aircraft or passenger drone – but the character of the Elite Active 75t doesn’t change simply because you’ve ramped up the ANC.
Like the little girl in Longfellow’s poem, when the Jabra Elite Active 75t are good they’re very, very good. But when they are bad they are – well, ‘horrid’ is a bit strong. But they’re most definitely a bit of a disappointment.
As far as fitness-orientated true wireless in-ear headphones go, the Jabra Elite Active 75t do some things well. They’re smaller and less over-engineered than the norm, yet no less secure; they cancel noise well; in some ways they are an enjoyable listen. But the sound they make is too compromised in too many areas to make them an easy recommendation.
- Sound 3
- Comfort 4
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best sports in-ear headphones
Read our Bose SoundSport Wireless review
Read our JBL Reflect Flow review