The Jabra Elite Active 75t had a high bar to meet after the excellent Jabra Elite 65t and subsequent Elite Active 65t. Fortunately, Jabra's latest wireless earbuds live up to their predecessors and then some.
Jabra's Elite 75t was a great set of buds, but had its flaws. More importantly, it wasn’t as “practically perfect” as the AirPods Pro due to a few noticeable drawbacks (e.g. buggy controls, poor call quality).
Jabra responded by launching its greatest model to date: the Elite Active 75t. Priced at $200, these all-new sports buds fix nearly everything that was wrong with the Elite 75t, while keeping signature attributes intact such as lively, personalized audio and steady battery life.
They also come waterproof, and can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water. The end result is the best wireless earbuds that money you can buy.
Battery life: 7.5 hours (earbuds); 28 hours (charging case)
Speaker size: 6mm
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Size: 0.9 x 0.76 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 1.2 ounces (charging case); 0.2 ounces (per earbud)
IP rating: IP57
Jabra Elite Active 75t price and availability
Jabra also launched a wireless charging-enabled version of the Elite Active 75t in Dark Grey and Navy for $230, though it’s sold exclusively on Jabra’s website.
Other colors such as Sienna and Mint will hit store shelves sometime in Spring 2020.
Jabra Elite Active 75t: Design
The Elite Active 75t shares the same attractive aesthetics and silhouette as the Elite 75t and is 22% smaller than Elite Active 65t. Looks aside, the most important design element here is the IP rating: IP57. Jabra constructed these buds to be waterproof, as well as dust- and sweat-resistant. In other words, you’re going to get some long-term use out of them, just as long as they don’t fall into the ocean. I also love the built-in magnets on the interior that allow you to link to the buds together, so they don’t roll off flat surfaces so easily.
The charging case looks exactly the same as the one bundled with the Elite 75t, although it does feel slightly more rugged. Despite not being water resistant, it affords enough protection to keep the buds secure when not in use. The magnetic lid shuts tightly, while the magnetic connectors on the inside keep the buds locked in, so they don’t spill out and fly across the floor when dropping the case – unlike the AirPods Pro.
Fit has never been an issue for the Elite series. Very little has changed, as the Elite Active 75t provides some of the best on-ear stability and grip control when properly adjusted on the ear. Never was I worried about the buds popping out when doing lateral exercises (e.g. burpees, side planks). The true hero might be the silicone/gel tips, which create a nice, tight seal and absorb sweat well to limit slippage. Jabra also brought down the Elite Active 75t’s weight (0.19 ounces), making it an ultra-featherweight option that won’t strain your ears or pockets; I sported them for 2 to 3 hours daily before fatigue set in.
You’ll find three sets of ear tips in different sizes and a USB-C charging cable on the inside. It’s a decent amount to work with. What I do find funny is that Jabra has more colors available than accessories. Navy, Titanium Black, Dark Grey, Copper Black, Mint, and Sienna are the six currently available.
Jabra Elite Active 75t: Controls and digital assistant
Due of its tiny form, the Elite Active 75t benefits most from having two physical buttons (the inlay on the front of each bud) and on-ear detection. Both control schemes worked slightly better here than they did on the Elite 75t. Each button produced a nice click sound that ensured me of intended commands being executed. The buds also registered movements accurately; removing them automatically paused music and placing them back on resumed play.
The controls have gone untouched. You’ll use the left bud to enable/disable HearThrough mode (1x press), forward track (2x press), play previous track (3x press) or lower volume (long press). The right will be used to play/pause music and answer/end calls (1x press), enable digital assistant (2x press) or raise volume (long press).
I’m happy to report that the digital assistant integration on these buds is also more functional than the Elite 75t. I didn’t get a chance to test Alexa, but Siri and Google Play registered and responded to my voice commands quickly. You shouldn’t have any issues mouthing off orders to Apple or Google’s AI bots.
Jabra Elite Active 75t: Active and passive noise cancellation
If this the first time you have ever heard about a company integrating active noise cancellation into a pair of wireless earbuds via firmware update, don’t feel ashamed. It’s ours as well. Nonetheless, downloading the latest Jabra Sound+ app version (4.7.1) and the newest firmware update gives you access to the feature; it’s about a 10 minutes process.
So, how does it fare against all other models that are actually engineered from scratch with ANC? So-so?!?? I give Jabra all the credit in the world for attempting to bring a premium ANC experience to what are already excellent wireless earbuds, but you shouldn’t expect grand results.
However, the technology is impressive enough to tell the difference in performance when turned on and listening to music simultaneously. The combination of actions blocked out close to 70% of the ambient noise around me, which consisted of my brother-in-law shouting via smartphone speaker, a running dishwasher, and hard rain hitting the windowpane. The latter was pretty much muted, but the closer I got my smartphone, the more audible my bro-in-law’s voice was, though it was still pretty low and unclear.
Personalizing the feature is a bit tricky, which requires placing the selector on a specific box to find the strongest noise suppression for you. It’ll take a few tries to establish the proper setup, but, personally, I find leaving the selector right on the Jabra block to produce the best results. Just know that whatever works for me, may not be suitable for you.
Jabra repositioned its four-microphone system — each bud has one mic in the front and one in the back — to cancel ambient sounds from different angles. It’s not capable of completely silencing a construction site, but then again, neither are the ANC-equipped AirPods Pro. What you do get is a fair amount of noise reduction that makes it possible to hear music peacefully in moderately loud environments; I wasn’t distracted by the chatty shoppers on the Trader Joe’s line.
Jabra Elite Active 75t: Audio quality
The Elite 75t stands out one of the best-sounding pair of wireless earbuds out there. However, as mentioned in my Jabra Elite 75t review, the low end becomes a bit “overbearing” on particular songs. I’m happy to report this isn’t an issue on the Elite Active 75t, as the soundstage is better balanced to produce detailed and vibrant audio.
Since we’re talking some of the best sport headphones here, bass often takes precedence when discussing sound quality. There is certainly enough here to fuel you through the most vigorous workouts. Pressing play on Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” helped kickstart my pre-workout routine, as the reverberation I felt from the introductory (and iconic) guitar riff and pounding kick drums boosted my energy levels; I was quick to jump on the treadmill near the song’s conclusion.
Method Man & Redman’s “Da Rockwilder” helped crank things up during the middle of my 5K run. The booming amalgamation of 808 effects and propulsive lows got my adrenaline going. This is a record that can sound like one distortion-filled disaster with the wrong earbuds, but the Elite Active 75t does such a terrific job of minimizing the fuzzy bass tones for a crisp listen.
Recovery time often calls for more melodic tunes, which, for me, consists of jazz classics. Ahmad Jamal’s “Poinciana” delivered tranquil vibes. The rhythmic bass lines and high-pitched keys were handled delicately, which allowed me to appreciate certain nuances like the fingertip-friction sounds from the guitar play.
Volume does get high on these buds, so I advise bringing it down a few notches when indulging in boomy content; that goes for all of you EDM and hip-hop lovers. Sound doesn’t distort, but it gets really loud to the point that it starts hurting your ear drums and renders HearThrough useless. The great news is that listening at mid-level volume provides excellent clarity and tight bass.
Jabra Elite Active 75t: App and special features
Jabra Sound+ offers some sweet incentives that allow for personalized sound and calls. The built-in EQ remains the app’s killer feature, which listeners can meddle with to create different sound profiles. There are a handful of music presets available as well that cater to specific genres. All of it comes in handy, though most people will find the default sound profile to be great on its own.
Jabra has its own transparent mode dubbed HearThrough that opens up the soundstage to hear what’s around you. It’s a great solution for outdoor runners who want to be more mindful of their surroundings, whether running during the day or at night. I felt it worked better for close encounters, such as conveying sandwich orders to a deli clerk. Another special mode in the app is Soundscapes, which has 12 unique settings that produce soothing noises to relax you. I’ve found this feature incredibly useful for bringing down my anxiety levels; listening to 15 minutes of nature sounds was so relaxing and calmed my wedding-planning nerves.
Jabra announced two new features were coming to Sound+ via firmware update: MyControls and MySound. MyControls will let you assign the controls on both ear buds for personal preference, while also granting the option to use one earbud for mono listening, which also extends battery life. MySound is the more promising addition and uses adaptive sound technology to create a sound profile that’s tailored to your hearing. While previously scheduled to launch in early Spring, the current COVID-19 situation has delayed the update with no ETA.
Call Experience is another great feature you won’t want to take for granted, as it optimizes call quality by increasing how loud and deep your voice sounds on calls. Keep this in mind when trying to hold a conversation in rowdy settings. Some of the app’s other notable features include the Find My Jabra mode for locating misplaced buds and toggle options for the controls.
Jabra Elite Active 75t: Battery life
Jabra increased the juice levels on the Elite Active 75t, which has a rating of 7.5 hours on a single charge. It’s the same as the Elite 75t and more than the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours), but also less than the Powerbeats Pro (9 hours). My test run saw the buds tap out around the 7-hour mark, a time frame that is still impressive when factoring in heavy Spotify streaming and loud volume. This was perfect for about 4 to 5 days of exercising (1.5 hours daily) before having to toss them in the charging case.
Speaking of which, Jabra’s case offers longer battery life than both of Apple’s models, promising up to 28 hours of listening time. It’s always best to measure this number by charging cycles, which in the case of the Elite Active 75t equates to about 4 full charges. That sounds pretty good. Three weeks of testing and I’ve only had to recharge the case once. Something else that stands out about the case is its battery management, which does an excellent job of preserving power; I had the buds in there for one week without touching them and the battery levels were unchanged.
Something else worth taking into account is that the Elite 75t case can also be used to charge these buds, although Jabra doesn’t advise doing so because there could be “some compatibility issues.”
Jabra recently launched a new version of the Elite Active 75t that supports wireless charging, so you can place the case on any one of your Qi-enabled wireless chargers to juice up the buds, sans wires. We’re currently waiting on our review unit to test the device’s wireless charging capabilities.
Jabra Elite Active 75t: Call quality and connectivity
In terms of call quality, the Elite 75t was a disappointing step back for the brand. I’m not sure if Jabra made any tweaks here, but the Elite Active 75t is a much better calling headset, granted there are still some minor issues present. Having full conversations where my fiancée could hear each syllable and make out full sentences without any interference was pleasant.
There were times where she did hear some background noise like keyboard clatter, plus she noticed my voice sounded slightly distant when speaking in crowded areas, but it never got to the point where we decided to hang up and continue our chats over texts.
Bluetooth 5.0 performs superbly. Android and Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro) instantly paired to the buds whenever I took them out the charging case. What I liked most was the multipoint technology, which allowed for seamless connectivity between two devices at once and never caused any issues when controlling playback; it was cool using my MacBook Pro controls to pause and skip tracks that were playing from my Google Pixel 3XL. The buds also demonstrated strong connectivity to enjoy music from about 50 feet away from my smartphone.
Jabra Elite Active 75t: Verdict
While the industry has held the AirPods Pro to the highest standard, the Jabra Elite Active 75t is the new category leader. Audio is spacious and warm, delivering just the right amount of boom to kickstart your workouts without compromising the mids and highs. Battery life (both on a single charge and the charging case) is superior to all AirPods models. The extremely durable shell also reassures you that it’s going to take more than some severe environmental conditions to damage these buds.
Comparing the Elite Active 75t to the AirPods Pro will instantly bring up specific criticisms — the biggest being lack of active noise cancellation. It’s really not a big deal, especially since Jabra’s passive noise cancellation does a solid job of minimizing ambient sounds. In fact, it performed moderately well against Apple’s ANC technology, which we break down in our face-off feature.
What about the AirPods Pro’s flawless iOS connectivity? The Elite Active 75t also has the wireless prowess to pair quickly with iOS and Android devices. And even with its newly announced features unavailable till Q2 2020, there is still plenty of functionality in the Sound+ app to appease feature mongers.
Then there is the cheaper price point, which, when considering the Elite Active 75t’s overall performance, is a steal at $200. Neither the AirPods Pro ($249), nor the Powerbeats Pro ($249) is as financially rewarding. Whether it’s worth spending the $30 extra on the wireless charging version has yet to be determined.