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Jabra Elite Active 75t review: The best buds for blocking noise and water

Jabra Elite Active 75t

Jabra Elite Active 75t Headphones

“For $20 more than the Elite 75t, you get complete protection from water and a super-secure fit.”
  • Secure and comfortable fit
  • Great sound quality
  • Waterproof
  • Good call quality
  • Very good noise cancellation
  • No wireless charging
  • Average battery life
MSRP $200.00

Yes, Jabra’s Elite Active 75t are almost one year old, but it’s time to take a second look at these sports-oriented true wireless earbuds. Why? Well, Jabra just updated the firmware, suddenly endowing the Elite Active 75t (as well as the less expensive Elite 75t) with a major new feature: Active noise cancellation (ANC).

To make the occasion, we’ve updated our original review with some new observations, a new rating, and all of the ANC details you need to know.

They’re still $200 and they still offer full waterproofing via an IP57 rating, but it’s time to find out if the addition of ANC changes the game, or simply changes the name.

Design and comfort

Jabra Elite Active 75t
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

We’ll just come right out and say it. The Jabra Elite 75t are the best-fitting true wireless earbuds we’ve ever tried here at Digital Trends, and the Elite Active 75t are identical. They share the same ergonomic shape that feels like it was custom-formed for my ears. I know they won’t fit everyone like a glove, but your odds of getting a good fit are better with these buds than with many of the other options out there.

Rest assured, the Elite Active 75t won’t be unintentionally jarred loose.

The Elite Active 75t double down on those ergonomics with a slightly rubbery outer surface. It’s barely noticeable until you insert it in your ear, when it becomes readily apparent that they won’t be going anywhere unless you pluck them free.

This is true when you first put them in, and it’s still true an hour into your workout as the sweat has gone from a trickle to a torrent. Most people will find the Elite 75t are perfectly secure, but if you want an extra measure of assurance, the Elite Actives offer just that.

If you’ve ever shied away from the Jabra Elites because they lack the ear hooks of a Powerbeats Pro or JLab Epic Air Sport, rest assured, the Elite Active 75t won’t be unintentionally jarred loose.

I found the default medium tips to be an excellent fit, but Jabra also includes a small and a large set too. Now that these buds feature ANC — something which relies heavily on a good fit to be effective — I think Jabra should include a few more ear tip sizes. If you’re having trouble, there are a number of third-party ear tip companies on Amazon.

Audio quality

Jabra Elite Active 75t in case
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Elite Active 75t sound great. Some true wireless earbuds, especially at more affordable pricing, feel like a compromise. You get the convenience of going completely wire-free but at the cost of decent sound. That’s not the case here.

The Elite Actives do what good earbuds should: Bring your music closer, letting you discover nuances that you might not have heard through speakers or even some headphones. With low, mid, and high frequencies all fully rendered, the Elite Active 75t compare favorably to mid-range wired earbuds, and the similarly priced but not fully wireless Bowers and Wilkins PI3.

To get noticeably better sound, you’ll need to jump up to the $300 Master and Dynamic MW07 Plus.

They bring your music closer, letting you discover nuances that you might not have heard before.

Though Jabra hasn’t discussed the acoustic differences between the Elite 75t and the Elite Active 75t, I can tell you they have unique sound signatures. The Elite 75t are big and bombastic with a bass-forward sound that some might find overpowering. The Elite Active 75t are much more evenly balanced by comparison. You can still tweak EQ to your heart’s content using the free Jabra Sound+ app for Android and iOS, but their default setting is a very pleasant neutral, suitable for most music genres.

Noise cancellation

Passive noise isolation on the Elite Active 75t is already top-notch. Once they’re firmly wedged in your ears, I guarantee you’ll need to use Jabra’s HearThrough system to have a face-to-face conversation. But there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to dealing with continuous droning sounds like loud fans, traffic, or the white noise of an aircraft’s engines.

And while Jabra’s newly released ANC capability doesn’t bestow upon the Elite Active 75t the cone-of-silence effect that best describes the AirPods Pro ANC, it still makes a very noticeable impact on the amount of sound that can make its way into your ears.

There are two things I really like about ANC on the Elite Active 75t. First, the Sound+ app lets you personalize the feature. This is partly because the Elites don’t have the feedback mics that allow hybrid ANC earbuds to make adjustments on the fly, but it’s also because our ears are slightly different from one another. Being able to adjust the ANC to compensate for those differences helps dial it in.

Second, the Sound+ app lets you decide how you want ANC to work. Want to toggle between ANC and HearThrough? No problem. Prefer to ignore ANC and simply switch between HearThrough and ANC off? You can do that. Wish you could cycle through all three modes simply by pressing the same button? Yup, that works too.

When you consider how effective and well-implemented ANC is on the Elite Active 75t, it’s astounding Jabra has made it available as a free upgrade. If the Elites were made by Tesla, you can bet ANC would be a paid extra.

Controls and app

Jabra Elite Active 75t
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

We’re seeing more and more true wireless earbuds opt for touch controls instead of physical buttons. That’s not a bad thing, especially if those touch controls are responsive and easy to use. Some, like Apple’s AirPods Pro, are excellent. Others, well, not so much.

That’s why I appreciate Jabra’s single physical button on each Elite Active 75t earbud. They’re easy to find with your fingers (whether gloved or naked), easy to use (a light press is all that’s needed), and they can control every major function including volume and voice assistant access.

If you don’t like the default controls, you can change them within the Sound+ app using the MyControls feature, something I wish every true wireless earbud company would do.

Portability and ports

Jabra Elite Active 75t charging case
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Even if your true wireless earbuds can last all day like the amazing Samsung Galaxy Buds+, you probably won’t wear them all day long, so a good charging case matters. The Elite Active 75t’s charging case is really small, which makes it easily pocketable. The flip-top lid is easy to open even one-handed, yet it closes with a satisfying clack thanks to a tiny magnet.

A second set of stronger magnets do a great job of keeping the earbuds docked in their sockets until you’re ready to remove them. The overall construction and materials of the case are both excellent and a tiny LED on the back gives you a color-based battery status when you open or close the lid.

The USB-C connection is convenient for charging (assuming you’re a USB-C kinda person), but there’s no wireless charging — a small disappointment considering the price.

Battery life

Jabra claims a 7.5-hour lifespan on the Elite Active 75t (with ANC off) before they need to be returned to their charging case. With ANC on, this number drops to 5.5 hours. I managed just under that number when playing music between 50% and 75% volume. In today’s world, that kind of performance is good — certainly better than anything Apple’s products can do (the AirPods Pro get about 5 hours with ANC off) — but it’s still well shy of the top of the charts.

Is this a problem? That depends on your habits. Few of us will ever want or need to listen with our buds for longer than 7 hours at a time. Still, it’s a competitive world out there, and if Sony’s WF-SP800N can deliver 13 hours in a set of earbuds that cost the same amount, it tells us what we should be expecting from other true wireless buds.

With a total of 28 hours (charging case included) and a fast-charge time of 15 minutes for one hour of extra playtime, the Elite Active 75t can still get you through a full day, with almost no break in the action.

Durability

The Elite Active 75t aren’t the first true wireless earbuds to offer the kind of waterproof protection afforded by an IP57 rating, but we’d be hard-pressed to find a set that has made no compromises to do it.

This is the real reason you should consider the extra $20 when deciding between the Elite 75t and the Elite Active 75t. It’s kind of like an insurance policy. You pay a little more upfront to give yourself the peace of mind that even if these buds go for an unintended kerplunk, they’ll survive to play another day.

Does that insurance policy hold up? I wore them at the gym, in the shower after the gym, and let them sit in a sink of water for 10 minutes with no issues at all.

Technically speaking, IP57 means you could take them swimming, which I have done, but I advise against it. For one thing, water and Bluetooth make poor bedfellows. You’ll probably experience connection problems. Secondly, as secure as the Elite Actives are, you’re going to be a sad puppy if one or both manage to work their way loose in the ocean. In a pool, I’m guessing the odds of recovery are slightly better.

Too close to call

I found the call quality of the Elite 75t to be very good in almost all situations and the Elite Active 75t performed equally well. Your callers should have no trouble hearing you unless you decide to take your conference call while sitting next to a construction site.

Being able to use the right earbud on its own is handy for calls, as is the sidetone feature for when you’re making dual-earbud calls. It functions just like HearThrough mode, letting you hear as much of your own voice as you like.

Being able to adjust the amount of sidetone and switch it on and off during a call is the cherry on top.

Warranty information

The Jabra Elite Active 75t are backed by a two-year manufacturer’s warranty against dust and sweat.

Our take

Identical in almost every way to the superb Elite 75t, the Jabra Elite Active 75t offer a more secure fit and better protection from water for an additional $20 investment. They possess a flatter EQ that reduces the heavy bass signature of the Elite 75t, which may entice those who have no need of the extra ruggedness but simply want a more neutral sound. And with their new ANC capability, they feel like a product from 2020, not 2019.

Is there a better alternative?

Sony’s $200 WF-SP800N are in a dead heat with the Elite Active 75t when it comes to price, sound quality, and ANC. They’ve got superior battery life, but they don’t offer as much water protection. Their ear fins provide an extremely secure fit, but they’re also a lot bulkier than the Jabras both in the size of the buds themselves as well as their charging case which isn’t nearly as pocketable.

Before Jabra added ANC to the Elites, the Sony were a pretty strong alternative. Now it’s down to personal preference.

How long will it last?

Jabra’s products are solidly built with high-quality materials. The Elite Active 75t are no exception. We expect they will last many years as long as they aren’t abused.

Should you buy them?

Yes. The Jabra Elite Active 75t’s secure and comfortable fit, along with excellent sound quality and protection from both dust and water, makes them a perfect companion for everything from your daily commute to the most grueling of workouts. Now that they have ANC too, they’re darn near perfect.

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