Jabra Elite 4 Active review - Waterproof in-ear headphones with high-resolution audio
The Danish company Jabra has introduced their latest model of sports headphones. The Jabra Elite 4 Active earbuds are similar to the slightly more expensive Elite 7 Active, but they come with fewer microphones and lack the audio protection feature PeakStop. The battery life is shorter as well. On the flip side, the true wireless headphones now support aptX, weigh a little less and sport a lower MSRP of 119 Euro (~$135).
|Driver||dynamic driver, 6 mm, 20-20,000 Hz|
|Audio codecs||SBC, AAC, aptX|
|Battery capacity (earphones)||not available|
|Battery capacity (charging case)||not available|
|Wireless charging||not supported|
|Weight (per earphone)||5.0 g|
|Weight (charging case)||37.5 g|
|Microphones||2 MEMS microphones per earbud, 100-8,000 Hz|
|Included in the box||headphones, charging case, silicon ear pads (S, M, L), USB cable, quick start guide|
|Price (MSRP - in Germany)||119,- EUR|
Case and ergonomics - light and waterproof
The Jabra Elite 4 Active earbuds are currently available in the colors black, mint green and navy. The charging case of our navy blue pair is made of a matte plastic, feels very pleasant to the touch and the magnet closure works reliably. Magnets also keep the earphones locked in place during transport and ensure a reliable charge. The contacts on the earphones are recessed in the housing for the most part, but are almost flush at the inner edges, so skin contact is certainly possible.
For an optimal fit, we used a twisting motion to insert them into the ear canal and locked them in place behind the anthelix (the curved inner ridge of the ear). Anchored this way, even excessive movements had no chance of dislodging the buds. To ensure a proper fit, Jabra supplies three different sizes of silicon tips, although the small size is truly tiny. Provided the correct tip is used, the fit is very decent with a slight amount of pressure, although that doesn't detract from the overall wear comfort. Either earbud can be used independently: as soon as one is taken out of the charging case, the Jabra Elite 4 Active functions like a monaural headset - certainly an advantage in an office or home office setting.
Far from common in this price range is the IP57 certification, which means that this particular True Wireless Headset (TWS) is able to withstand exposure to dust and temporary immersion in fresh water.
Features and operation - TWS headphones with ANC and Fast Pair
Pairing the Jabra Elite 4 with Apple devices or a Windows PC is a simple affair when using the conventional pairing process, but Google's Fast Pair is also supported when connecting to Android devices. The TWS headphones are compatible with all the popular voice assistants and can access Spotify Tap on Android.
Instead of sensor panels, the Elite 4 Active are equipped with physical buttons, so erroneous inputs are unlikely. Music and calling features are controlled via single, double, and triple presses as well as press-and-hold inputs. Pressing the buttons with a finger nail works more reliably, since using the finger tip requires more pressure than we would like.
The Jabra Sound+ app is well designed and allows for a very granular customization of the earbuds as well as for firmware updates. We highly recommend adjusting the active noise cancellation (ANC) in particular to ensure optimal results. Android users can adjust many of the settings directly in the Bluetooth configuration menu.
Sound - Decent audio despite smaller drivers
The earbuds feature 6 mm dynamic drivers with a frequency range from 20 to 20,000 Hz and support the audio codecs SBC and aptX according to Jabra. AAC seems to be missing from the list, but we will try to get some clarification on the matter.
The sound is balanced and pretty clean, but the lower registers feel somewhat restricted and bass lacks punch when playing certain genres. The treble range could be crisper as well, but overall, the Elite 4 Active headphones are decent performers.
Jabra of course also has professional headphones for business applications in their portfolio and promises outstanding call quality for the Elite 4 Active as well. We found that to be true in quiet environments and although the microphones record voices at rather low volume levels, we sounded natural and clear on the other end. Background noises unfortunately put a significant dampener on the microphone performance and we were barely audible when in the proximity of busy main streets. It is important to ensure proper fit of the earbuds, as it is possible for a part of the ear to touch the microphone mesh otherwise.
The passive noise suppression already does an admirable job reducing ambient noise. For the active noise cancellation to be as effective as possible, we recommend adjusting it according to personal preference. With ANC active, the lower frequency range gets curtailed somewhat, but the lows remain audible. Overall performance of the active noise cancellation is about average in our opinion. The user-adjustable HearThrough technology uses the microphones to pick up sound and play them in your ear - a useful feature we think, particularly when exercising in a city.
Verdict - A well-equiped and affordable sports headset
The Elite Active 4 are attractive sports headphones which are both smaller and lighter than the Elite 7 Active. Both models are IP57 certified, so they aren't affected by inclement weather and can withstand a short plunge into water as well. Given their price, the audio of the Elite Active 4 is decent, but the sound isn't balanced all that well and bass lovers in particular are going to be disappointed.
The Jabra Elite 4 Active are small and compact in-ear headphones which can handle adverse conditions.
Concessions also need to be made when it comes to the overall call quality, as higher ambient noise levels (think street noise) tend to overwhelm the microphones. Maybe our very early test sample is to blame here, so hopefully Jabra can improve the state of things via a firmware update. As long as the environment is suitably quiet, the Elite 4 Active works well enough. The ability to use one earbud as a mono headset is a plus as well.
If you are looking for headphones with integrated heartbeat monitor, consider the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro. The higher-end Elite 7 Active are better suited for telephony, but cost more money as well.