Jabra Elite Active 75t review: The perfect fit
No true wireless earbuds have given me the same wow factor that Sony’s WF-1000XM3 did the first time I tried out their superior Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Sony is good at that, nailing that next-gen feeling, but I still had my issues with those buds for all their magic. Comfort, battery life, these were woes I was willing to forget for that unmatched ANC. But wow factor only lasts so long, and once it wears off, you’re left to contend with the compromises made to deliver that superior technology.
With Jabra’s Elite Active 75t buds, I feel like I’ve found my auditory soulmate. Are they as cutting-edge as the Sony buds? No, but the sound is still great, and the added benefits they offer (at a much better price) make them a more reliable, rounded pair of buds—the type of earbuds you could take home to your parents.
What we like
- Solid water resistance that can take 1 metre of water for 30 minutes at a time
- Comfortable fit for extended listening
- Active noise cancellation (ANC) added in post-release update
What could be better
- ANC drains battery life
- Bass is a little heavy (and a little messy) out of the box
The Active difference
How much do the Jabra 75t Elite Active buds cost in Australia?
The Elite Active 75t earbuds ($329) cost $30 more than the Elite 75t ($299) at the recommended retail price. However, some decent discounts at Harvey Norman, Amazon, and JB HI-FI at the time of writing make the Elite Active 75t buds cheaper than the Elite 75t. As discussed above, the Elite Active 75t offers everything the Elites do, with added water and dust resistance, so you’d be mad to pay more for the inferior Elite 75t.
Pricing accurate as of last page update 11/11/2020. Changes may occur.
What’s in the box?
Every Jabra Elite Active 75t purchase nets you the earbuds themselves, a compact charging case, three pairs of tip replacements (small, medium, and large), and a short USB-C to USB-A charging cable. There’s no power adapter packed in, so you’ll have to wrangle a spare USB-A wall charger (or charge it via your computer’s USB port).
- 2x 5.5g wireless earbuds
- 1x 35g charging case
- 1x short USB-C charging plug
- 3x silicon eargels (small, medium and large)
- Warranty and warning documentation
65t to 75t upgrades
Incremental upgrades to a great pair of buds.
Much like smartphone manufacturers, Jabra has gotten itself into the rhythm of regular, incremental upgrades. Though, a $200 to $300 upgrade is a lot easier to swallow than a $1,000+ iPhone. Still, the 75t upgrade won’t be entirely necessary for those who invested in 65t. The overall audio quality in the 75t Elite Actives is just as evenly balanced as the 65ts before them. The addition of Active Noise Cancellation is probably the biggest reason to upgrade, but even still, the 65t have some of the best passive noise cancellation I’ve seen in wireless earbuds.
Comfort and design
Suited for long listening sessions.
For me, the most attractive upgrade that the Jabra Elite and Elite Active 75t bring to the table is its more ergonomic design. I’ve had a lot of trouble finding a pair of wireless earbuds that I can wear for long sittings. Next to the AirPods, I think the 75ts are the most comfortable I’ve worn. The small tweaks to the 65t design have made a world of difference. I can comfortably wear the Elite Active 75ts throughout a full workday without needing a break. Even some of the more comfortable buds I’ve tested, such as Sennheiser’s Momentum buds, get you feeling a little claustrophobic after a few hours.
The Jabra Elite Active 75ts are lightweight at 5.5g, below average for true wireless earbuds, and close to what AirPods weigh. A couple of grams might not seem like much, but it makes a noticeable difference for long sittings. For comparison, Sony’s outstanding WF-1000XM3 earbuds weigh 8.5g each, and you feel it after an hour or so.
They also come with small, medium, and large gel tips in the box if you need to make some adjustments.
I’ve been reviewing the Elite and Elite Active 75t buds over a more extended period than I usually would (by virtue of having two separate products to review), but they’ve not once slipped out without me knocking them out.
Durability and water-resistance
Elite 75t takes a splash but Elite Active can take a dunk.
Those who opt for the Active upgrade get a textured rubber finish, making them easier to grip. The grip provides a little added security if you’re working up a sweat, but at first glance, there’s not a noticeable aesthetic difference. It didn’t even click with me that one had a rubber texture until I had it pointed out to me.
Both the Elite and Elite Active 75t are water-resistant, but the Elite Actives can take a little more water. Elite 75t buds are IP55-rated, meaning they are dust resistant and can take a splash of water from any angle. But the Elite Active buds are water-resistant in up to one metre of water for 30 minutes at a time, which is a significant difference.
I err on the side of caution where water resistance is concerned, but I have been caught in the rain wearing the Elite Active 75ts with no repercussions.
Overall sound quality
Swings a little bass-heavy on factory settings.
The audio from both the Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t is top-shelf for wireless earbuds. Neither pair makes any significant sacrifices for their compact size. To me, comparable buds such as the Jaybird Vistas feel like they put fitness features, like durability and comfort first, losing the focus on detail somewhere down the track. That’s not the case with Jabra Elite Active 75t; they have a smooth, rounded profile that swings a little bass-heavy on factory settings.
You might find the bass from the Elite/Elite Active 75ts a little overcooked out of the box. I like the punchy bass you get on factory settings (especially if I’m working out), but those who want a more rounded experience can always drop the bass in the custom EQ settings found in Jabra’s Sound+ app (iOS and Android).
There are better sounding wireless earbuds, for sure. Sony’s reigning wireless champ is a little more detailed, for example.
The gorge between over-ear and in-ear wireless audio is still vast, but earbuds like the Jabra Elite Active 75t are shining examples of that gap getting smaller and smaller.
Active noise cancellation
Welcome post-release update but not a game changer.
Jabra introduced active noise cancellation (ANC) to the Elite/Elite Active 75t earbuds as a software update post-release. It uses the 75t’s four microphones to identify and exterminate external noises (like roadwork, office banter, etc.).
The 75t’s added ANC is a nice post-purchase bonus, but the 75t’s attempt is nowhere near as useful as the noise-cancelling you’ll find in earbuds like Apple AirPods Pro or Sony WF-1000XM3. It’s a tick in the pros column, and it makes a noticeable difference, but I wouldn’t rush out and buy the 75ts if superior ANC is what you’re after.
To give you an example of the 75t’s ANC limits, my morning coffee run passes a lot of roadworks (and road rage), and the 75ts don’t quite have the gusto to filter out the surrounding noise at a healthy volume. But it’s effective enough that I can’t hear someone calling my name from another room in the house.
We haven’t tested them out yet, but Jabra claims its yet-to-be-released premium 85t earbuds have better active noise cancelling thanks to an additional mic in each bud (a total of six microphones).
Won’t stop you from removing your headphones to have a chinwag.
Most noise-cancelling earbuds and headphones have some sort of push-to-talk feature, which uses forward-facing microphones if you get caught in conversation while wearing your buds. I’ve never seen this executed well enough to stop me from removing the bud from my ear, and the 75ts don’t buck the trend. HearThrough has a warbled underwater effect that makes holding a conversation tough. But again, this is no different from any other earbuds I’ve reviewed.
Despite months of isolation, I still think removing your earbuds to have a conversation is possibly the bare minimum social grace you need to be a functioning member of society.
Great out of the box but just okay with ANC switched on.
Battery life is a late-game disappointment with the Jabra Elite Active 75ts. Before Jabra enabled ANC, I was easily getting the 7.5 hours of use Jabra advertises (not to mention the 28 hours in the charging case). Those figures are competitive, above average for the earbuds we’ve reviewed so far. There are outliers in the competition, like Audio-Technica’s enduring (and uncomfortable) wireless earbuds and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live, but 7.5 hours is still a solid inning.
I’d go nearly a full work week for everyday use without needing to charge the 75ts but the introduction of active noise cancelling shaves a few hours off each buds’ battery life. With ANC activated, the microphones are continually working to analyse your surroundings, which is a noticeable drain on battery life. It’s a couple of hours less in the scheme of things, but it has turned charging the 75ts from a sometimes chore to a more regular requirement.
Sure, I could switch ANC off, but there’s rarely an occasion where I’ll pass up the additional isolation.
Setup and user experience
Helpful companion app that lets you tailor your listening.
Most Bluetooth earbuds these days are relatively easy to set up, but I can’t understate just how smooth my time with the Jabra Elite Active 75t buds has been. From the moment I popped them out of the box (with a decent amount of charge ready to go) till the moment my fingers type this here review, the setup and user experience have been nearly faultless.
Before the last software update, I experienced the occasional quirk where the volume would dial down randomly when connected to my PC or laptop, but the ANC update seems to have sorted that out entirely.
I also haven’t experienced a shred of the same connectivity issues I’ve had with older Bluetooth technologies. Huawei’s last-gen Freebuds Lite, for example, were stuck in the Bluetooth 4.2 ages. This resulted in many a lost connection and other interference quirks (like disruptions from traffic lights and passing cars with their own Bluetooth signals). I’ve had zip of that with Jabra’s Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds.
The icing on the UX cake is Jabra’s Sound+ app. It offers deep customisation, multiple sound profiles for different environments, and, more recently, MySound, a feature that tunes the 75t’s audio via an in-app hearing test. Taking the time to tailor my listening via MySound was two minutes well spent. After a short series of responses, I truly felt like the audio profile was optimised for my ears. Mind you; this was after weeks of screwing around with EQ settings for the sake of this review.
The Sound+ app lets you store multiple audio profiles for different environments (presets include Commute and Focus) and offers presets that prioritise whatever your ears desire, whether that’s boosted bass, speech for podcasts, or overall energy for workout sessions. I rarely tinker with these presets myself, but they’re nice to have. Lastly, it offers necessary battery information (for the case and buds) and has a small library of ambient tracks, such as white noise and waterfall, if you need a little help getting to sleep.
Are they worth the asking price?
For my money, absolutely. For me, the Jabra Active Elite 75ts come close to knocking Sony off its true wireless perch. They’re behind in a few departments where it will matter most (noise-cancelling and overall audio quality). But on the other hand, they are also a lot more comfortable than Sony’s WF-1000XM3s. They’re also cheaper, more durable, and the battery lasts a lot longer. In fact, I’m changing up our ranking, the Jabra Elite Active 75t are the best true wireless earbuds I’ve tested so far.
Is it worth spending the extra dough on Active over Elite Active 75t? Even at the RRP, I’d say yes. An additional $20 – $30 for water-resistance peace-of-mind is a sound investment in my book, and as I mentioned above, you can find the Elite Active 75t cheaper than the 75ts if you catch it on special.