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Jabra is a pretty well-known name in the fitness earbud industry, and they always seem to be coming out with something new. This time, they’ve improved upon an already quality product. The Jabra Elite Sport earbuds have been upgraded.
GeekDad Mordechai reviewed Jabra’s original Elite Sport earbuds back in February, but since then they’ve gotten some improvements, mostly in the battery life department. The older models were rated to hold a charge for 3 hours, but these new bad babies hold a charge for 4.5 hours, an increase of 50%!
My go-to earbuds have always been either the ones that came with my first iPhone (you know, the old ones that don’t fit your ears very well, because I also don’t much care what happens to them) or my Tonino Lamborghini ones that live in my purse. So fitness-specific earbuds were a new thing for me. I’m not a fitness guru. I don’t go running. Wii Fit or a treadmill are more my speed (literally). So I was wondering how I’d like the Jabras.
Are They Any Good?
Verdict? They’re fabulous for fitness. If you’re already generally fit.
Why? Because they stay in place when you move around, because they have quite a lot of functionality built in to support your exercise regimen, and their special features are much more useful for more intense exercise. While designed to be basically a workout assistant, the earbuds also work very well as just regular, wireless Bluetooth earbuds. Except that they’re huge.
Jabra Elite Sport Earbud Fit
Though the earbuds are a bit chunky, they come with a ton of sizing options. The part that fits just inside your ear canal has six different size options: three EarGel sizes and three Foam Tip sizes. The little rubbery knobby rings that go around the earbuds and anchor them in your ear (the EarWings) come in three different sizes as well. Jabra encourages users to try all of the sizes to get the best fit.
The earbuds came with medium EarWings and EarGels installed, so I started there. They were a snug fit, so I knew I wouldn’t be using the Large size of anything. I moved down to the small EarGels and small EarWings, and that fit better. They’re pretty comfortable to wear for a little while, but I found them fairly uncomfortable if I wore them too long, and then my ears hurt when I took them out. It’s probably just something that people get used to, or maybe my ears aren’t designed for this type of earbud. Regardless, the earbuds held in place no matter what kind of movement I was doing, unlike pretty much every other earbud I’ve ever worn, so I guess the snug fit did its job. If you’re serious about wanting audio with your fitness, or if you want the special features that these Jabra Elite Sport earbuds give you (see below), these earbuds are a good option. (If you have trouble fitting them, Jabra’s made a short video to help.)
Jabra Elite Sport Features
You can recharge these earbuds on the go. They already have up to 4.5 hours of battery life on a full charge, but you can recharge them twice inside the fully-recharged case. This gives you a total of 13.5 hours of power over the course of your day. Though most of us aren’t working out that long, these work well for long bike rides, camping, and non-exercise things like listening to a long audiobook, commuting, or taking a series of phone calls. The case is a hard-sized quality thing that measures 2 7/8″ x 2″ x 1″, making it easy to protect them when you’re not wearing them.
The earbuds come with a USB charging cable, which plugs right into the case. If the earbuds are inside the case while it charges, the earbuds will charge as well. Though the earbuds come with a small manual describing what the buttons do, I encourage you to go to the Jabra site, scroll to near the bottom, and they have videos showing how to use the buttons.
Though each earbud only has two buttons, the set has many more than four functions. With taps, double taps, and press-and-holds, you can power the earbuds on and off, change the volume, rewind/fast forward, skip forward and backward, play/pause, take a call, and pair with the app (see below). You can also double tap one of the buttons for hear through, so you can more easily hear what’s going on around you without affecting your audio. Jabra has a demonstration of this effect on their site.
As part of the earbud setup, you line up the earbuds in a certain way in your ears, creating a connection between your skin and the earbuds. If you’re doing it right, the earbuds will speak in your ear that your heart rate is detected. Detecting your heart rate is imperative to much of the earbuds’ fitness-related operation, such as a heart rate analyzer, built-in customized workouts with real-time coaching, workout guidance, fitness level tests and analysis, setting a training plan, seeing your training effect, recovery time information, comparing your body to others of your age and gender, and a ton of stats, such as calorie burn, duration, heart rate, average heart rate, cadence, speed, and heart rate zone. It even has a handy predictor that guesses how long you’d take to complete certain races, such as a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon.
All of this can be accessed through the Jabra Sport app, which was a breeze to set up and pair with the earbuds over Bluetooth.
One of the things the app encourages you to do when you get started, as well as periodically, is to take the VO2max test to track your fitness level development. The problem with that for me, though, is that they suggest you run for 15 minutes for the test. With my knees, there’s no way I could run for 15 minutes. And speed walking didn’t get my heart rate high enough for long enough. But, if it works for you, this feature compares your fitness level to the average for your age and gender and tells you how well you’ve been doing since the last time you took the test, if applicable.
Every time you’re done with a workout, the app gives you a post-mortem of your stats. It tells you your activity, what kind of workout it was, the duration, distance (not helpful on a treadmill), training effect (how easy the workout was for you), calories burned, heart rate (average, max, and min), heart rate zone, average cadence in steps per minute, and the ability to share your workout along with a photo. It also gives you a map of your workout showing where you started, stopped, and went, and where you had light/fat burn/cardio/intense/maximum heart rates. There is also a bar graph of how long you spent at each heart rate level, and a detailed analysis of your heart rate over your workout, elevation change, cadence, and training effect. It’s a data lover’s dream.
These earbuds would be fantastic for runners and other fitness enthusiasts, but don’t seem to be ideal for those just starting a fitness plan. I was hoping they’d help me get started with exercise again, but these are not for beginners (and the price tag reflects that). This was reinforced by the fact that when I chose “improve very gently” for my workout plan, it recommended I start with running for 2 1/2 miles. Couch to 5K this is not.
But these earbuds do have something to offer even the low-end fitness folks like me. The heart rate monitor is very helpful for helping to get your heart going without overdoing it. It gives gentle guidance while still allowing you to listen to music or an audiobook, and encourages you to keep your heart rate in the right zone, moving around more or less, depending on what you need. And it will keep track of all of your data, so you can see yourself improve over time.
Another plus is that the earbuds allow you to focus on your exercising by doing the repetition counting for you. There is an Automatic Rep Count feature that tracks your movement through the exercises with the built-in sensors. You can watch your progress through the reps on your phone’s screen and listen in your ears. The app also has videos that show you the correct way to perform an exercise.
Here are some of their specs (check their site for more info):
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Bespoke bass enriched speakers with 20Hz to 20kHz frequency range
- Passive noise cancellation
- Advanced calling with 4 x digital MEMS microphones with advanced noise cancellation technology
- Microphone Sensitivity: -38 dBV/Pa
- Microphone Frequency Range: 100Hz to 10kHz
- Waterproof for 30 minutes at one meter deep in fresh water
- 3 year warranty against malfunction due to sweat
- 1 year warranty otherwise
- Two microphones in each bud that help filter out background noise
Designed in Copenhagen, these earbuds are stylish looking while being extremely useful for fitness enthusiasts. Countless people swear by them, and their sound quality and extensive functionality is probably why. I just wish they fit my ears better.
The Jabra Sport Elite earbuds retail for $249.99 but can be found online for cheaper. With the latest upgrade, you can now choose between the original all Black and a Lime Green Gray color combination. Also, if you lose an earbud or your case stops working, the Jabra site also allows you to buy earbuds and accessories a la carte, so you can just buy the left earbud, right earbud, accessory pack (if you lose or tear your nubs or wings), or the charging case as needed.
Note: I received a set of earbuds for review purposes.