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For the past couple of years our all-round best sports headphones have been the Jabra Elite Active 75t. In recent months Jaybird released the terrific Vista 2 buds and JBL launched the Reflect Flow Pro headphones, both of which offer a similarly excellent experience to the 75t.
But here come the Elite 7 Active buds, which, with absolutely no regard for how numbers work, are Jabra’s successors to the Elite Active 75t. The Elite 7 Active buds aren’t a radical departure from the 75t, but improve in a number of small ways to nudge Jabra ahead of the competition once again.
The Elite 7 Active buds improve the battery life with eight hours in the buds with active noise cancellation (ANC) turned on and a total of 30 in the case, up from 7½ hours on the 75t buds and 28 total. The design has also been tweaked to provide a more secure fit and the price has dropped to £169.99 – the Elite Active 75t were £179.99 at launch, though they have been available for £129.99 at times.
Other key features are the same. Both sets of buds have ANC and an awareness mode; there’s the same IP57 rating, meaning they are waterproof (up to a point, they can withstand depths of up to one metre for 30 minutes); and they both have Jabra’s ShakeGrip silicone coating on the outside of the headphones to make the fit more secure.
This coating is a key difference from Jabra’s other new truly wireless headphones, the Elite 7 Pro, which are built more for general use and offer better call quality than the Elite 7 Active. The Pro buds also cost £199.99, and for our money a more secure fit and saving £30 is more attractive than improved call quality.
The fit of Jabra’s sports and running headphones has always been exceptional. Indeed they are the only in-ear headphones that don’t have wings or an ear hook that reliably stay in my ears. The Elite 7 Active buds outperform Jabra’s older models, with the new design nestling into the ear even more securely. During runs, strength workouts and yoga sessions with inversions they haven’t come loose once, and normally in-ear buds like this squirm free of my ears the moment I start running.
The sound the Elite 7 Active buds generate is similarly impressive. The standard set-up offers a prominent amount of bass, and the sound is clear and powerful across the range, then you can adjust the EQ in the partner app to suit your preferences. I’d say the range of customisation available is smaller than you get with Jaybird’s app, but the overall sound quality is comparable to the Vista 2 buds, and along with the Bose Sport Earbuds it’s the best I’ve come across on sports headphones in the £150-£200 bracket.
The HearThrough awareness mode is handy at times. You can adjust the amount of ambient noise you want let in via a slider in the app, and it’s worth dialling this down when running outside otherwise the wind masks the sounds you actually want to hear.
The ANC has to be set up in the Jabra app first and it has to be done in a noisy environment, which is understandable but also a bit of a faff. You can adjust the amount of ANC in the app as well, though I found it needed to be turned all the way up to make a substantial difference in filtering out the sound of traffic or when travelling by train.
Overall, the ANC is OK on the Elite 7 Active – it outperforms the Vista 2, but only marginally. You get better ANC on the Sony WF-SP800N, though I did find the Sony headphones didn’t fit securely enough for running.
Jabra has retained the control set-up on the Elite Active 75t, with a multifunction button on the side. This is easy to use even during intense exercise and you can customise your controls and pick what commands you want for single, double and triple taps on each side. You can also control the volume by holding the right button for up and the left button for down, and turn off the headphones by pressing both at the same time. That last control might not sound like much, but a lot of truly wireless buds can only be turned off by being placed back in their case, which I find annoying.
There really isn’t anything I can truly fault about the Elite 7 Active buds. You can find better sound on the Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport or B&O Beoplay E8 Sport, but they are much more expensive at £300-plus, and the fit and battery life aren’t as good. If you’re looking for the perfect balance of price and features, the Elite 7 Active buds offer it: they just edge out the Jaybird Vista 2 and JBL Reflect Flow Pro headphones in all-round excellence. That said, if you can find the Elite Active 75t in a sale at a substantial discount, I’d buy them because the updates on the Elite 7 Active, while useful, are not essential.
Buy from Jabra | £169.99
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.