Ever since Apple “killed” the headphone jack with the iPhone 7 back in 2016, I knew it was a matter of time before I needed to get a pair of wireless earbuds. I struggled to look for a decent pair of truly wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds but eventually found an ideal pair with the Jabra Elite Sport in 2017.
Those earbuds certainly served me well. Their hardy build quality and IP67 rating are hard to come by even today. I also loved the level of comfort offered, wearing them for extended periods to listen to music and podcasts.
So, this year when Jabra introduced the Elite Active 75t, a pair of wireless workout earbuds that are targeted towards fitness enthusiasts, I was intrigued. I thought since I wanted to exercise more often, these may be the perfect pair of earbuds to keep me motivated.
Are they great for workouts?
Upon receiving the earbuds, I was eager to head to my local gym to give them a try. Firstly, I loved how small and lightweight the earbuds felt, their low profile doesn’t protrude out too much from my ear. The charging case is also very compact, easily fitting into my pocket, I also liked the new rubberised finish on the earbuds and case.
Jabra claims the earbuds have an IP rating of IP57 which meant I could confidently wear the earbuds even during intense workout sessions without having to worry about any sweat damaging them.
But what if you were to drop it in a puddle of water? Embarrassingly, this happened to me as I was walking outside when I took the earbuds out to inspect them. But, I’m happy to say that the earbuds survived the ordeal. Jabra doesn’t market these as headphones you should swim with, so I wouldn’t recommend submerging them.
On top of their impressive build quality, I was very impressed with how well these headphones fit me too. I found the earbuds have a secure fit in my ear without ever feeling that it is too tight or uncomfortable over long periods. This also means that in my hour or so workout sessions, I ran into no comfort issues.
Even though these earbuds do not come with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), they still do a good job with passive noise cancellation thanks to the good seal. Still, I would have appreciated having ANC to help tune out the crappy music playing in the gym.
On a positive note, I appreciate the inclusion of a transparency mode, called HearThrough, on the Elite Active 75t. The feature came in handy as I jogged around my neighbourhood, because it’s important to be aware of my surroundings. Admittedly, they are no match for AirPods Pro’s transparency mode because Apple’s sound more true to life and natural. But HearThrough does what it says on the box, so I won’t penalise it too much here.
Do they sound good?
There is no denying that sound quality is at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to buying a new pair of wireless earbuds. So, I am happy to say that the Elite Active 75t exceeded my expectations when I tested them.
As I tested the Jabra’s with a variety of vocal and instrumental music, I noticed that the earbuds had a prominent bass sound signature. I’m personally not a big fan of this, I like to hear more of the mids and highs, but I get why Jabra went with this choice because most workout tracks tend to be bass-heavy.
While I found this profile great for getting some cardio exercise done, it was not great for times when I wanted to listen to more quiet or vocal sounding tracks. I also found the bass to be quite fatiguing when listening to rap or R&B tracks. Fortunately, there is a way around this by turning the bass down via the EQ settings in the Jabra’s Sound+ app (iOS/Android).
Despite my complaints about the bass levels, the Jabras do retain a lot of detail and clarity. When listening to more instrumental music, I was able to hear individual instruments clearly even though the rumbling of the lows proved distracting.
Now, I will admit that I’m not an audiophile as I consume most of my music over Spotify and YouTube Music. But for my consumption habits, I have to say that I found the Elite Active 75t’s sound profile to be so much richer, clearer and deeper compared to my old Elite Sport.
Comparing them with something more modern, I borrowed a pair of Apple AirPods Pro and a Sony WF1000XM3 to see how the Jabra holds up. To my surprise, I much preferred the Elite Active 75t’s sound over the AirPods Pro, which sounded really flat. That said, the Sony WF-1000XM3 still pulled ahead in sound quality as it offered better mids and highs.
The Elite Active 75t use Bluetooth 5.0 and I had no issues getting them to connect with my Android smartphone and Windows laptop. I especially liked the multi-point feature that allowed for seamless connectivity between two devices at once. This came in useful when I would be able to listen to Spotify on my laptop while still being able to hear my phone’s notification rings.
Besides that, the Bluetooth tech gives earbuds a 10m wireless range, that allowed me to enjoy music even when I put my phone away in my gym bag while I run on the treadmill. In use, I found the connection quality good for the most part although it would sometimes stutter or skip during playback when I had the phone in my pocket. Still, these moments were rare and I didn’t find it to be a deal-breaker.
So apart from listening to music, I often found myself using the Elite Active 75t for phone calls. I found the built-in microphones on the earbuds, two on each side, are good for its class.
I made several phone calls with the Elite Active 75t, the Elite Sport and Sony WF1000XM3 just to gauge how each wireless earbud sounded to the person on the other side of the line. Consistently, the receiver of the call would say the call quality from Elite Active 75t sounded better. No doubt, Jabra’s fancy microphone tech is working as advertised.
How long does the battery last?
Battery life is an important characteristic when deciding on a pair of TWS earbuds. I often experience low-battery anxiety when using my wireless devices but I am happy to report that isn’t the case with the Elite Active 75t.
On their own, the earbuds are said to offer 7.5 hours of continuous use and up to 28 hours with the charging case. That roughly works out to approximately three charges, which is decent but nothing too impressive especially when you consider the fact that these have no ANC.
Testing it out, I found I was able to get around seven hours of continuous music listening on these earbuds while listening to music at 70% volume. This falls just shy of half of the workday, a situation where I would normally pop on my earbuds after lunch and continue wearing them until I clock out of the office.
That means while the Elite Active 75t will beat out ANC headphones like the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3, it still doesn’t quite compete with the modern non-ANC headphones like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+. In fact, Sony’s own workout headphones, the WF-SP800n can last up to 9 hours on a single charge with ANC turned on.
That said, I was not able to completely run the earbuds battery dry during my test. And, it felt reassuring that in the case I did, the USB-C powered charging case held an additional two charges to help me get by.
From my observation, the charging case takes about two hours to fully charge when it is completely depleted. In case you were wondering, there is a fast charge feature that offers up to an hour of music playback when you charge the case for just 15 minutes.
I also found the earbud’s automatic battery conservation mode to come in handy. This means that the Elite Active 75t will automatically turn off should I accidentally leave it out of the charging case or walk away from it.
Should you buy the Jabra Elite Active 75t?
The TWS earbuds market is a very competitive space and there’s no shortage of choice for consumers. That is why I find the Jabra Elite Active 75t’s retail price RM999 (Lazada/ Shopee) to be too high for what it offers. For that kind of money, that puts these wireless earbuds squarely in the premium category where options like the Apple AirPods Pro (RM1,099) (Lazada/Shopee) and Sony’s WF-1000XM3 (RM949) (Lazada/Shopee) reside.
While these two wireless earbuds are not designed as workout earbuds, they both certainly can be used for the occasional workout and sound a lot better than Jabra’s wireless offering. Most glaringly, both of these earbuds from Apple and Sony come with ANC. Elite Active 75t’s lack of noise-cancelling feature puts it at a severe disadvantage in this price range.
Granted, I’ve seen the Elite Active 75t on sale for as low as RM769 which is pretty respectable, but if you take sale prices into consideration, you can get the Sony WF-1000XM3 for below RM600 if you buy at the right time.
Of course, the Elite Active 75t has the benefit of an IP57 water resistant rating over the two headphones mentioned earlier, but how much that weighs into your decision will depend on you. If you really want a pair of bass-heavy water-resistant headphones for your workouts, Sony’s new WF-SP800n can also be yours for RM150 less. Plus, these come with ANC and still boast a longer battery life.
That being said, I don’t think that the Elite Active 75t are a bad pair of TWS earbuds. Even though I’m not someone who exercises regularly, I still find myself coming back to these headphones as my daily drivers—even over my WF-1000XM3. A big part of that is due to the Elite Active 75t’s compact size and excellent microphones which make them great on-the-go headphones. Plus, they sound good enough for my music needs so the trade-off is worth it in my opinion.
I just wish they were a little more affordable, or offered more premium features like ANC, considering the kind of headphones it competes with in the high-end segment of the market.
Photography by Jinn Xiung with Sony RX100 Mk V.