These buds are almost wholly ideal for workouts, but the fit isn't for everyone. If you're lucky enough to have compatible ears, then you can revel in the Jabra Elite 7 Active's IP57 rating, lengthy battery life, and speedy charging. If you have incompatible ears, then the ShakeGrip coating will probably keep 'em in -- but they won't be super-comfy.
It’s hard to work out, unless you’ve been conditioned from a young age to think that exercise is fun. The rest of us need motivation. That motivation often comes in the form of music. We’ve also been conditioned to believe that every montage should be a musical number. But exercise equals sweat and sweat melts headphones. Most headphones. The Jabra Elite 7 Active in-ear buds should survive anything you can throw their way. Except for maybe a 16kg kettlebell. They’re tough, but not that tough.
But, at R3,300 a pair, they really have to be quite decent to justify the buy. You can snag some quite impressive audio hardware for not too much more than this. Samsung, in particular, would like your attention. Fortunately for Jabra, these are a little better than what Sammy’s fielding just now.
First ditch effort
The two buds are lightweight — about 5.5 grams apiece. This is light enough to disappear from your attention. They live in a somewhat sturdy, compact charging case that won’t make much of a lump in your gym kit. But we’re not thrilled with the case’s build. The plastic is sturdy but it only feels strong in one direction. Downward pressure is the business, but we’re not sure about that hinge. Lateral stress feels like it might rip the lid off. Eish.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active buds themselves make use of a surface coating Jabra has chosen to call ShakeGrip. It’s not something you use in a public bathroom to prevent sprinkling, either. It’s a textured plastic that seems to increase stickiness the sweatier you get. We managed some quite exuberant workouts with these in place, and they didn’t budge a millimetre — even when NOFX’s The Brews kicked in at just the right moment. But not everyone is this lucky. The Elite 7 Actives are a ‘one size fits all’ sort of arrangement, so there might be some slippage if your lugholes are expansive. They’re not as bad as Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro, though. They’re neatly balanced overall.
Leave it alone
And there is loads to look forward to. The noise-cancelling isn’t as all-enveloping as that offered by Sony’s megabuds, but the hear-through mode is fantastic. Provided you’re not rocking out to blaring punk, you should notice what’s going on around you. Even if you listen to your workout tunes turned up to 11, you’ll still have a spot of situational awareness to play with.
Part of this is thanks to the app. Noise-canceling can be individually tuned, thanks to an in-app test that lets you choose how much of the world to block out. It also lets you take the blame if it’s not working right, but we don’t talk about that. The Jabra Elite 7 Active buds also have an interesting software feature — an actual hearing test. The test improves sound output based on how buggered your ears are from years in the pit at beer-and-vomit gigs, and there’s also a fit test. This ensures you’ve used the right-sized tips.
The agony of victory
All that really remains is performance. As mentioned, they stay where you’ve put them (for the most part). The controls are physical, though the buttons are responsive enough to touch that you don’t need to force the buds into your skull. They’re also perfectly situated so that sweaty adjustment won’t skip or pause a track unless you want it to happen.
Audio is, bluntly, great. You’ll hear every single note of Grailknight’s Pumping Iron Power, even over the sound of that one chap who gets a little too into his grunting. You know who you are, dude. You can pick a pre-defined sound profile but we found that the neutral one was more than enough to enjoy all the genres: punk and metal. Oh, all right, pretty much everything sounds great through these buds. Even the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry reading the complete tales of Sherlock Holmes are an absolute joy. Fry would sound good even through a drive-through speaker but that’s not the point.
Jabra’s in-ears are comfortable enough to use as your daily set, which is a point in favour of buying these as workout buds. They’ll last about eight hours on a charge, which’ll get you through your workday. Pop them in the case on your way to the gym and you’ll have more than enough to get through a Crossfit session (as long as the gym is more than five minutes away). If you’re having trouble deciding whether to go all audio or throwing a little versatility in, we’re able to confirm that you can have both…
Jabra Elite 7 Active Verdict
It’s hard not to like the Jabra Elite 7 Active ‘buds. They’re packed with software features, are designed to withstand the rigours of the gym (home or external), and don’t skimp on the audio quality. They’re easy to manage, even when you’re dripping with moisture, so that playlist will carry you right up to muscle collapse with nary a stutter. We also never encountered so much as a single connection mishap or a dropped earbud throughout our extensive test period. Your mileage may vary on that latter point but Jabra’s ShakeGrip covering really does what it says on the tin. You are very unlikely to be disappointed in these — unless you manage to rip the lid off the case. That’d be pretty disappointing, sure enough.