Tested: Jabra Elite 4 Active earbuds are well-rounded champs with ANC and Google Fast Pair

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Earlier this year, Jabra expanded its lineup of mid-range true wireless earbuds with a new pair of fitness-focused offerings. The new Jabra Elite 4 Active clock in with a $120 price tag, and notably deliver some pretty compelling features for the going rate like active noise cancellation, water-resistance, and even Google Fast Pair. But with frequent price cuts to $100 or below, we’re checking out just how good of a value these earbuds are.

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Jabra Elite 4 Active hands-on review

Earlier this year Jabra launched one of its more recent mid-range earbuds with the Elite 4 Active. Joining the rest of its sport series releases, the $119.99 buds arrive with more than just a fitness-oriented form-factor, with active noise cancellation to go alongside Google Fast Pair support.

Backed by an IP57 water-resistant design, these fitness earbuds also sport pretty notable battery life. The buds themselves clock-in with seven hours per charge, while the case provides another 28 for throwing in your gym bag or everyday carry.

Here’s a closer look at the spec sheet:

  • These durable, wireless earphones with a secure active fit and wing-free ergonomic design are specifically designed for an active lifestyle. IP57 water- and sweatproof. 
  • These noise cancelling earphones have four microphones for clear calls on-the-go. Hear your surroundings with adjustable HearThrough technology or activate ANC to suppress ambient noise to keep you focused. 
  • Customizable equalizer and bass boost for powerful sound. Use only one earbud with Mono Mode. Each earbud offers up to 7 hours battery; up to 28 hours of battery life total with the case and fast-charge.

9to5Toys’ Take

On my quest to go hands-on with many of the year’s best earbuds, Jabra was nice enough to send over a pair of the recent Elite 4 sport buds, and I’ve been trying them out for the past few weeks.

Right out of the box, and they already impress thanks to some pretty solid packaging. Recyclables out of the way, the charging case has a nice feel that’s comprised of a more hollowing-sounding plastic. It isn’t the most extravagant build in the world, but does have a very satisfying hinge design that’ll keep fidgeters happy. The charging case also has quite strong magnets snap the buds into place, which are far stronger than other earbuds I’ve tried in the past.

As far as these earbuds go, each of the Jabra Elite 4 Active modulars are coated in a rubbery texture that has a very, very premium feel. One of the bigger selling points when these first launched was the more lightweight build, and Jabra has certainly delivered on that front. While I can’t compare these to the Elite 3 from personal use, I can attest to how feathery these new releases are.

On the sound front, I was pleasantly surprised by how Jabra Elite 4 Active performed – though not without some initial skepticism. Unlike the initial unboxing experience on the form-factor front, the audio mixing isn’t great when you boot these earbuds up for the first time. The drivers themselves are very bass-heavy, and the initial tuning reflects that. Diving into the companion app lets you adjust the EQ balance and actually has some pretty solid presets that make the mids and highs more distinct and crisp compared to the overpowering bass, so I am willing to forgive the less-than-stellar performance right out of the box.

Active noise cancellation, on the other hand, is one area where these earbuds certainly excel. The eartips and overall design already make for a compelling way to block out ambient audio, but the actual ANC features really take a step up to help drown out annoying AC units and loud subway cars, amongst other noise throughout New York. The transparency mode that matches Jabra’s ANC isn’t quite as good on the Elite 4 Actives, but is still pretty solid. The audio passthrough is just fine, but ultimately still sounds like you’re wearing earbuds. Only a few buds out there can get past that uncanny valley, so I am not holding it too hard against these fitness offerings.

The one thing that I ultimately find that the Jabra Elite 4 Active are missing is auto play/pause detection. It’s a higher-end feature that would have been particularly helpful with the fitness aspect that the brand leans into and seems like the one piece of functionality that really should have made the cut.

Overall, the Jabra Elite 4 Active are pretty solid earbuds, though I would certainly stay clear of buying them at full price – not just because we frequently see markdowns, but because the feature set is much more compelling at the $100 price point. Spending that kind of cash to score ANC alongside Google Fast Pair is going to be an open and shut case for many, and the fitness-focused design

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