Jabra is out to change the game. Since it released its first true wireless (TWS) earphones way back in 2016, it’s been a major player in the space. For the last three years, it’s been refining the formula with the Elite 65t, Elite 75t, and Elite 85t. This year’s release is the biggest upgrade we’ve seen yet: The Elite 7 Pro takes what made its predecessors so popular and improves upon them, throwing out ideas that didn’t work, and going back to the drawing board on fundamental features like call quality. Coming to market at $199, they have the makings of a holiday-winning Christmas gift but have a few important considerations you should know before adding it to your cart.
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Jabra Elite 7 Pro – Design and Features
The Jabra Elite 7 Pro kicks off the Pro line-up for Jabra, essentially branding these headphones as Jabra’s Best of the Best. It releases alongside two other new true wireless headsets, the Elite Active 7 and Elite 3, which target active users who want to use their buds while working out and those looking for the best bang for their limited buck. The Pro, on the other hand, aims to impress across the board with excellent sound performance, active noise cancelation, and new MultiSensor Voice technology for outstanding call quality.
Compared to last generation’s Elite 85t, the Elite 7s are both a return to form and a substantial upgrade. They’re notably smaller and fit much better in my medium-sized ears. Jabra claims they’re 16-percent smaller than the Elite 75t, it’s previously smallest earbud, and the difference is immediately noticeable. Even if the 85t wasn’t overly large, like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, the Elite 7 Pros feel more in line with the small, lightweight style in true wireless earbuds today.
Perhaps even more importantly, Jabra has improved the fit from last generation. The Elite 85t departed from the usual style of Jabra’s earbuds, opting for stubby nozzles that didn’t secure in the ear canal. Many users enjoyed their comfort, but others like myself found them less secure and offering worse ANC performance due to the looser seal. The Elite 7 Pros return to the original design and feel much more stable when exercising or even lightly jogging to the mailbox. Jabra also dropped the oval shape and went back to circular tips, which I find better for a snug fit (and also finding replacement silicone tips).
The case has also received an upgrade and been downgraded in size. It’s now much flatter and slides into the pocket more easily. It’s held closed by strong magnets, while another set is hidden under the soft-touch interior to draw the buds down onto their charging pins. The lid still feels a bit cheap, but that’s been the case on each of Jabra’s headsets, and I’ve yet to have one fail on me yet. Oddly, the charging port is on the front of the case. Using the short included cable means the case will likely open toward you when charging, which was awkward and felt backward.
One thing that hasn’t changed is how you control the buds. The face of each bud doubles as a multi-function button to manage calls and control media. At this point, it feels almost weird to have physical buttons on a flagship earbud as most of the competition has moved to capacitive touch, but there’s something reassuring about a physical button. There’s no mistakenly changing tracks when you mean to adjust the volume from an unintentional finger slide. The buds do push into your ear when pressing the button, which didn’t both me but could be uncomfortable if you have sensitive ears.
Learning the ins and outs of the buds takes a bit of time, but it should be familiar if you’ve used other true wireless sets. By default, a single tap of the right earbuds will answer/end calls and play/pause music. Tapping twice skips the track or rejects the incoming call and a triple tap directs to the previous track. Tapping the left earbud once will cycle through the Elite 7 Pro’s different sound modes (ANC, HearThrough, and off) and double-tapping will summon Google to do your bidding. These controls can also be customized through the app, but even if you do, you’ll be left controlling volume with your phone which is disappointing.
Inside the buds, Jabra has completely reworked the tech driving its aural endeavors. The Elite 7 Pros uses a custom 6mm driver that’s been tuned for a wide range of music and entertainment. The inner chambers and component configuration have been designed to eliminate distortion and interference. While I’d need a measurement rig to test those claims, I don’t need anything special to tell you that these are the best sounding buds Jabra has designed yet. The bass is full and thumpy, vocals are smooth and sweet, and instruments are detailed. The sound can also be customized with a graphic EQ inside Jabra’s Sound+ app.
Even though the sound improves on last generation, the Elite 7 Pros may still leave audiophiles wanting. Unlike the XM4s or even the Galaxy Buds Pro, there’s no special codec here to support high-res listening. This follows suit with the Elite 85t, but while Jabra was reinventing its flagship line, it would have been nice to see support for AptX for users with subscriptions to HD music services like Tidal.
The buds also feature improved Active Noise Cancellation and HearThrough modes. There are five intensity levels for each mode, as well as the ability to turn them off and use passive noise canceling, so you can really tailor the level of isolation you would like. The active noise cancellation is a clear improvement over the Elite 85t but falls short of the current market leader, the Sony WF-1000XM4. While the XM4s cut out some mid-frequency noise, the Elite 7 Pros definitely focus more on lower frequencies and droning noises, like engines (which is perfect if you plan to use these on a plane or the subway).
HearThrough mode, on the other hand, may just be the best available on a true wireless earphone today. It’s clear, natural, and non-robotic. I found myself leaving both earbuds in and just using HearThrough mode to better enjoy my music without missing what was happening in my workplace. There were times I completely forgot I had earbuds in and had conversations completely unobstructed.
Of course, using these features will have an impact on battery life, but it’s not worth fretting over. The buds are rated for eight hours of listening time and six hours for calls. Just five minutes in the charging case can restore an hour of listening and 50-percent of the battery after just 30 minutes (though a full charge is two and a half hours). With the charging case included, you can count on roughly 30 hours of listening before needing to plug in.
One of the best qualities these new buds bring to the table is call quality. The Elite 7 Pros use a system Jabra calls MultiSensor Voice. Using three microphones on each earbud, the 7 Pros leverage beamforming technology and a proprietary voice sensor to hone in on your voice and cut out background noise. When the buds detect wind, they activate bone conduction sensors to isolate your voice, even with air blowing directly on them. It works remarkably well, better than any other earbud I’ve heard, including gob-smackingly high-end models like the Bowers & Wilkins PI7s. If you take calls outdoors or in noisy environments, these earbuds work amazingly well given their premium but not bank-breaking price.
I was also happy to see that Jabra has finally designed an earbud to be used in mono mod. Past Elite earphones forced you to use the right earbud to stay connected to your phone, but the Elite 7 Pros have no such restriction. If you like to keep one earbud in throughout the day, this will allow you to choose what’s most comfortable for your ears, and if you should happen to run one dry, you can simply switch over to the other for upwards of 16 hours of continuous listening.
Jabra Elite 7 Pro – Performance
As a long-time Jabra user, I was excited to experience Jabra’s “reinvention” for myself. The improvements here are absolutely worth investing in for fans of Jabra’s fit and functionality, but if you’re on the fence, there are some things the competition still does better.
Starting with sound, the stock tuning on the Elite 7 Pros definitely favors bass. These headphones can be thumpy, which is great for hip hop and pounding metal, and certainly makes movies and TV shows sound full and rich. Compared to the XM4s and Galaxy Buds Pro, however, they lack definition. Bass isn’t quite as wide and all-encompassing as the Elite 85ts, but you won’t get the same level of low-end detail here, even if you adjust the EQ.
Despite that, I was impressed by the amount of customization these buds offer. There are a half dozen EQ presets ready to be loaded with a tap, as well as a five-band equalizer to dial in your own sound. Using MySound, the app’s built-in hearing test, it can intelligently raise or lower certain frequencies to match your specific hearing profile. ANC is also personalized with a quick hearing test to account for any hearing differences between your two ears. MyFit sends a pulse through your ears to make sure you’re using the right tips. This app offers a big enough feature set that just about anyone should be able to find a sound signature they like, even without high-res audio playback.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for high-detail, the Galaxy Buds Pro are still the best bet. The Jabra’s can sound great, but they clearly aim for punchiness versus clarity in the mids and highs. Small nuances in music, like the sound of individual guitar strings ringing out, or the different layers of audio that make up the soundscape in your favorite music and games sound slightly more compressed.
I also expected more from the active noise cancellation. The ANC works well for droning motors, like engine sounds or AC units, but aren’t as effective against normal office noise. The sound of my mechanical keyboard wasn’t much different whether ANC was on or off. The same was true for side conversations that may have been happening within earshot around me. The WF-1000XM4s are still a much better option for office scenarios.
The lack of onboard volume control is also a substantial issue. The last thing I want to do when I’m on the go is dig around in my pocket for my phone’s volume buttons. I would gladly sacrifice the built-in triple-tap options for built-in volume control but it’s just not an option.
I also experienced several random disconnects when music wasn’t playing for 10-15 minutes at a time. The earbuds weren’t timing out (that was set for 30 minutes), but this never happened when sound was actually playing from the buds, so seems to be a bug that wasn’t resolved with the available firmware update for this review.
Despite those issues, I found myself coming back to the Elite 7 Pros again and again. Even without offering audiophile-levels of detail, the buds still manage to sound great for mainstream music. The combination of the customizable EQ and MySound personalization allow these earbuds to sound uniquely good on an individual level, and it’s noticeable when you swap to other earphones. These aren’t the buds I’m going to turn to when I want to really sink in and hear every tiny detail, but for everyday listening, they’re an enjoyable listen.
Most importantly, the fit is just amazing. Jabra has always had a good fit, but the Elite 7 Pros take that to the next level. The combination of smaller size and longer nozzle managed to lock these buds in my ears better than any other earbud I own without an ear hook. In a real way, these are earbuds that “just work” and allow you to get on with your day in comfort without worrying about a stray bud coming loose as you run to make the train.
The Jabra Elite 7 Pros offer outstanding customization and offer outstanding call quality even in challenging scenarios. They don’t have the best active noise cancellation and lack supporting features like aptX audio or a low latency mode for improved gaming, but make up for it with exceptional comfort, battery life, and a superbly natural HearThrough mode. They won’t be the best choice for every listener, but if you’re looking for an all-day wear tailored uniquely to you, these are a great choice.