Jabra has managed to carve out a strong reputation for its true wireless earbuds over the past several years, even as the competition from larger companies continues to get better. But the company recently decided to shake things up and overhauled its lineup by introducing three new models at once. The $199.99 Elite 7 Pro are the company’s new premium buds, with the $179.99 Elite 7 Active offering the same core features and sound with tweaks that make them a better fit for workouts. At the entry level, you’ve got the Elite 3 that I reviewed in September, a no-frills set of earbuds that nail the basics for $80. The higher-end Elite 7s have better sound, active noise cancellation, wireless charging, and more extensive water resistance.
But at least initially, they’ve also sacrificed something that’s always been a standout feature of Jabra earbuds: multipoint Bluetooth support. It’s still somewhat rare to find buds that can connect to two devices at once, which allows you to seamlessly take phone calls while listening to music or watching a video on your laptop, for example. Jabra has consistently offered multipoint with its previous Elite 65t, 75t, and 85t earbuds. However, the Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active are both launching without this important functionality; Jabra’s website says multipoint will be added via firmware update sometime in January.
With that selling point still MIA, the Elite 7 Pros lack any big draw that might lure people away from the competition. They’ve got a nicer design than previous Jabra buds and excellent voice call quality, but those are things available in buds from Apple and Samsung and don’t really separate the Jabras from the pack.
The Elite 7 Pros have a more stylish, refined design compared to all past Jabra buds. The in-your-face microphone holes are gone, and the clicky button with the Jabra logo is now teardrop-shaped and takes up the entire outer surface, so you’ll have no trouble finding it with your finger. The curves of this matured design also make the earbuds easier to grab out of the charging case and less prone to accidental drops when you’re handling them. The case has a USB-C port on the front, which is unusual, but not a downside in practice. It also supports Qi wireless charging.
Unfortunately, the Elite 7 Pros and their ear tips aren’t as good of a match for my ears as the older 75t and 65t buds were. Something about the fit just isn’t doing it for me. When the earbuds are fully inserted into my ears, the sound can be thin and passive noise isolation suffers, so the ambient noise in my local coffee shop can get distracting. I get the best bass response and audio quality with these earbuds by stopping short of putting them all the way in.
In that sweet spot, the Elite 7 Pros have rich audio with ample bass — though I still think the older 75t buds hit harder in this regard. But the mix here is a lot cleaner. Listening through Taylor Swift’s remake of Red, the earbuds were detailed and had nice warmth to them on acoustic tracks. I wasn’t blown away by their soundstage, but the overall balance makes up for that some. The vocals on Amanda Shires’ “Home To Me” were crisp and stood out beautifully from the rest of the mix. But the new Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats album The Future didn’t sound as rockingly big and powerful as on the 75t buds, which feel like they still carry more weight and oomph in their sound signature at the cost of accuracy. Unsurprisingly, Jabra is also outdone by the upper echelon of earbuds like the Sony 1000XM4s.
Jabra still has room for improvement when it comes to active noise cancellation, however. At their price point, the 7 Pros disappoint in this category and don’t get rid of as much background noise as I expected. The company says its Elite 85t earbuds continue to offer the best ANC performance of the whole lineup. But the HearThrough transparency mode also trails the AirPods Pro and Bose with a less natural sound
Ears are all different, so I can’t ding Jabra too badly for these not being perfect for me. An XL set of ear tips would’ve helped, though. If you’ve got smaller ears and found the company’s older buds uncomfortable or bulky, these might be an improvement and not the regression they’ve been in my case. Jabra says it used data from 62,000 ear scans to design the earbuds’ shape and gel tips, but even after all that, the fit is just off for me. Maybe aftermarket tips can help. Either way, I’m glad Jabra has gone back to round ear tips instead of the oval-shaped tips from the Elite 85t buds that don’t always stay in my ears well.
It’s always worth highlighting how many features Jabra crams into the earbuds’ companion smartphone app on Android and iOS. You get extensive EQ customization, settings, remappable controls, an audio test to tailor the sound profile to your hearing, and extras like soundscapes (white noise, thunderstorm, etc.) meant to help you relax. You can also set up different moments for the various points of your day with personalized levels of noise cancellation and transparency for each environment. It’s about as full-featured as earbud apps get.
One nice advancement with Jabra’s latest Elite buds is that you can now use either one independently; it used to be that only the right earbud could be used by itself, but now you’re free to use the left one independently, too. Battery life is rated at up to eight hours of straight music playback and 30 including case recharges. Those are both only slight improvements from the 7.5 hours and 28 hours that Jabra said the Elite 75t earbuds could achieve. The dust and water resistance rating has also gone up from IP55 to IP57.
From Jabra’s perspective, the standout feature of the Elite 7 Pros — and what separates them from the Active model — is voice call performance. The company has reworked its algorithms to do a better job at canceling wind and other disruptive sounds, and it also added bone conduction tech to the mix. This makes the voice pickup sensors automatically activate when they sense vibrations in your jawbone. These tweaks have resulted in excellent voice quality for both phone calls and Zoom or Microsoft Teams conferencing that ranks among the best next to Apple’s AirPods. It’s especially impressive outside, where wind is effectively hushed. If multipoint does actually come along in January, these might well become the best option for multitasking between work and your music playlists.
But in their current state, Jabra’s Elite 7 Pro earbuds aren’t an essential upgrade compared to the 75t, which have way more thump to their sound and can already handle multipoint Bluetooth connections. In my own case, the older buds also fit much better, but other reviews (including from early buyers) suggest that the 7 Pros are working just fine for many ears out there. Jabra has made legitimate improvements to voice calling, so if that’s an important factor for you, they’re worth a look. But in any case, I’d wait until January before buying to make sure Jabra comes through on its promise of adding multipoint.
Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge