Jabra Elite 7 Pro review: something is missing
Jabra has managed to build a strong reputation for its true wireless earbuds in recent years, even as the competition from bigger companies is getting tougher. But the company recently decided to shake things up and overhaul its lineup by introducing three new models at once. The $199.99 Elite 7 Pro are the company’s new premium earbuds, with the $179.99 Elite 7 Active offering the same core features and sound with tweaks that make them better suited for workouts. At the entry level, you have the Elite 3 I reviewed in September, a no-nonsense set of earbuds that nail the basics for $80. The more expensive Elite 7s have better sound, active noise cancellation, wireless charging, and greater water resistance.
But initially they also sacrificed something that has always been a standout feature of Jabra earbuds: multipoint Bluetooth support. It’s still a bit rare to find earbuds that can connect to two devices at once, allowing you to make seamless 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 launched without this key functionality; The Jabra website states that multipoint will be added via a firmware update sometime in January.
With that selling point still MIA, the Elite 7 Pros lack a major appeal that could lure people away from the competition. They have a nicer design than previous Jabra earbuds and excellent call quality, but those are things available in buttons from Apple and Samsung and don’t really set the Jabras apart from the pack.
The Elite 7 Pros have a more stylish, refined design compared to all previous Jabra earbuds. The in-your-face mic holes are gone and the Jabra-branded click button is now teardrop-shaped and takes up the entire outer surface, so you’ll have no problem finding it with your finger. The curves of this mature design also make it easier for the earbuds to be removed from the charging case and less prone to accidental drops when you grab them. The case has a USB-C port on the front, which is unusual, but not a minus in practice. It also supports Qi wireless charging.
Unfortunately, the Elite 7 Pros and their earbuds don’t fit my ears as well as the older 75t and 65t buds. Something about the fit just doesn’t do 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 be distracting. I get the best bass response and sound quality with these earbuds by not putting them in all the way.
In that sweet spot, the Elite 7 Pros have rich audio with plenty of bass – although I still think the older 75t buds hit harder in this regard. But the mix here is a lot cleaner. Listening to Taylor Swift’s remake of red, the earbuds were detailed and had a pleasant warmth on acoustic tracks. I wasn’t blown away by their soundstage, but the overall balance makes up for that. The vocals on Amanda Shires’ “Home To Me” were clear and contrasted beautifully with the rest of the mix. But Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ new album The future didn’t sound as rocking big and punchy as on the 75t knobs, which feel like they still carry more weight and oomph in their sound signature at the expense of accuracy. Unsurprisingly, Jabra is also outdone by the higher echelon of earbuds like the Sony 1000XM4s.
However, Jabra still has room for improvement when it comes to active noise cancellation. For their price, the 7 Pros disappoint in this category and don’t remove as much background noise as I expected. The company says its Elite 85t earbuds continue to offer the best ANC performance of the range. But the HearThrough transparency mode also follows the AirPods Pro and Bose with a less natural sound
Ears are all different so I don’t mind Jabra that these aren’t perfect for me. An XL set of earbuds would have helped though. If you have smaller ears and find the older company tops uncomfortable or bulky, this may be an improvement and not the decline they were 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 just isn’t right for me. Maybe aftermarket tips can help. Anyway, I’m glad Jabra has gone back to round earbuds instead of the Elite 85t oval earbuds that don’t always stay in my ears.
It’s always worth emphasizing how many features Jabra cram into the earbuds’ companion smartphone app on Android and iOS. You get extensive EQ adjustments, settings, reassignable controls, an audio test to tailor the sound profile to your hearing, and extras like soundscapes (white noise, thunder, etc.) meant to help you relax. You can also set different times for different times of your day with personalized levels of noise reduction and transparency for each environment. It’s about as complete as getting earbud apps.
A nice advancement with Jabra’s latest Elite earbuds is that you can now use both independently; In the past, only the right earbud could be used on its own, but now you are free to use the left earbud on its own as well. Battery life is estimated at up to eight hours of live music playback and 30 hours including charging the case. Those are both just minor improvements over the 7.5 hours and 28 hours that Jabra said the Elite 75t earbuds could achieve. The dust and water resistance has also increased from IP55 to IP57.
From Jabra’s perspective, the standout feature of the Elite 7 Pros – and what sets them apart from the Active model – is voice calling performance. The company has reworked its algorithms to better suppress wind and other distracting noises, and it has also added bone conduction technology to the mix. This automatically activates the voice recording sensors when they detect vibrations in your jawbone. These adjustments have resulted in excellent voice quality for both phone calls and Zoom or Microsoft Teams conferences that are among the best next to Apple’s AirPods. It is especially impressive outside, where the wind is effectively silenced. If multipoint actually comes in January, it could 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 over the 75t, which have a lot more sound and can already handle multi-point Bluetooth connections. In my own case the older buds also fit much better, but other reviews (including from early buyers) suggest the 7 Pros will work 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 checking out. But in any case, I would wait until January before buying anything to make sure Jabra lives up to its promise to add multipoint.
Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge