If you’re like me, a good set of headphones is crucial when you’re out on training runs, especially long runs. They have to be comfortable, have good sound, and definitely cannot slip out of your ears when you get all sweaty. I upgraded to bluetooth headphones awhile back but was on the search for a pair that are truly wireless. The Jabra Elite Sport Wireless Headphones were strong contenders and I jumped on the chance to test some out.
Jabra Elite Sport Wireless Headphones Features:
- Great for: Professional training
- Battery: Up to 13.5 hours
- IP Rating: IP-67
- Training features: Heart rate & VO2 max monitor
- Charging case: Yes
- Music playback: 4.5 hrs + 9 hrs charging case
- Talk time: 4.5 hrs + 9 hrs charging case
- Warranty: 3 years against sweat
- Price: From $219.99
Be a cord-cutter with the Jabra Elite’s
If asked what I like best about the Jabra Elite Sport Wireless Headphones it can be summed up short and sweet: So nice not having wires! There isn’t anything bouncing around while you run or workout that you get with fully corded headphones. And no cord rubbing on the back of your neck that you get with other “wireless” ear buds.
Let’s talk about my three criteria. First and foremost is comfort. How did the Elite Sport feel in ear? Overall they felt pretty good. Out of the box you get three different sizes of silicone “ear gels”, three different sizes of foam tips, and three sizes of silicone ear wings. You can customize within those to get the best fit. I’ve only ever used the “ear gel” style. On the Elite Sport the gels were super comfortable in ear. I tried out the foams and found that the ear buds felt quite a bit more secure in my ear but the pressure of the foam trying to expand caused discomfort after about 20 minutes of continuous wearing. The foams aren’t for me, but the gels worked great. I appreciate the adaptability.
Second criteria is sound quality. You’re wearing headphones for a reason. There are two things that I consider within sound quality: first is the quality of the speakers while listening to music. Overall, I’d rate the sound quality as “pretty good”. You can hear the highs and lows pretty well and there is only a little bit of a “tinny” sound that comes through. I think the sound quality of the Bose SoundSport is higher than the Jabra Sport Elite. The second sound criteria is how well the ear buds filter wind noise. When you’re a year-round athlete and most of your training is outdoors, you’re going to be in the wind. I’ve used headphones where the wind blows through, drowning out the sound of your music. The Sport Elite did a good job of keeping the wind out.
To help put this to the test even more, I wore the earbuds on my bike commute home to see if a direct, constant, fairly strong headwind could get through (I normally don’t wear headphones when commuting or riding but for the sake of testing I did). They did a great job! I was able to hear my music loud and clear without having to crank up the volume!
Jabra also included a feature call “listen through”. Essentially, you can choose to let in background noise or not, with the press of a button. This is awesome if you are out running in, let’s say, an urban environment and you want to hear traffic, turn it on and you can hear it. In the gym and sick of their crappy music? Turn it off and go into your own music-world. I really like this feature.
Third criteria is non-slippage. As it turns out, I’m a sweaty guy and I sweat a lot! I used to get extremely annoyed with my corded earbuds as they would always slip out of my ears when I got hot and sweaty. I strongly believe that there are few things as aggravating as your earbuds slipping out when you are tired, hurting, and pushing through your run or workout. Come on earbuds, stay in! The Elite Sport passed with flying colors! I didn’t have an earbud slip loose in any of my testing! This included in rain, hot runs, and hot workouts that involved a lot of jumping. At one point I wanted to see if I could get them to come out so I tried a bunch of stuff like shaking my head and spinning my head like a metalhead during a screaming guitar solo. Even when I tried I couldn’t shake them loose.
Those are my main criteria but there’s a lot of other good things about the Jabra Elite Sport Wireless Headphones for us to talk about.
The Sport Elite are more than just earbuds that play music. They sync with your phone and with the Jabra Sport app they will track your workouts. The app is fully featured with the ability to track a number of sports from running (treadmill or actual running), cycling, walking, hiking, gym workouts, spinning, and even a partnership for TRX workouts. Included are preprogrammed workouts if you need a little guidance or you can set up your own training plan and goals.
You also get updates on how you are doing throughout the workout. During runs, at regular intervals you get updates on things like pace, average pace, heart rate beats per minute, average cadence, etc. I found the updates while running too frequent (happened at .8 miles, 1 mile, etc). The default settings provided too many updates each time it would chime in. I was super annoyed. The good news in, within the app you can customize it! Jabra includes about 20 metrics you and include (or not) which is great.
At the end of the workout you can see your stats. It keeps track of your “fitness” level overtime and let’s you know if you are improving or maintaining your level of fitness. This is of course subjective and is really only good as a trending measure over time.
For workout tracking, it did a good job. For the sake of testing I used the Elite Sport with the Jabra app, ran Strava, and also used my Suunto Ambit2 watch. I was expecting I’d see a fair amount of variability in results, especially with heart rate monitoring in ear vs a chest strap, but when I compared all three tracking softwares, they are all fairly close to each other. I didn’t see any large deviations between them. I also ran my “tried and true” routes and the measurements were accurate on distance!
They go as far as calculating your VO2 max. I am highly skeptical on how accurate this really is. Once again, I wouldn’t take this as an actual number that you quote but something that you use to track your progress over time.
Connectivity. This is a big topic. How good are the Elite Sport at staying connected. Well, if you keep the phone your person, it’s pretty good. I tested the range and came up a little disappointed. I don’t like to keep the phone on me during workouts. If I got more than about 8 feet away the connection would get crackly. When I run, I use a mesh hipbelt with the phone worn in front. I found that if I turned my head to the right and my body was in the way of the direct path from the phone to the right headphone it would start to break up. I expected better connection at such close range.
Battery Life is quite good. You can get up to 4.5 hours of music/talk time on a single charge of the earbuds. The case is also a recharging station and you can get 3 charges out of a fully charged case, for up to 13 hours of use.
I love the charging case. With it fully charged, I didn’t need to worry about having dead earbuds for quite some time. Every time you put the earbuds back in the case, they charge. This is awesome for workouts and for traveling. The case is small enough you can slip it into your pocket. Hands down the charging case is one of my favorite features.
I spent so much time and focus on the music and tracking aspect, I forgot that you can take calls while you are wearing the Elite Sport. I was highly skeptical on how this was going to work. The microphones are far from your mouth, I was sure the experience wasn’t going to be good. I was definitely wrong. Jabra includes two microphones, one for picking up your voice and one for picking up background noise to filter out. Other headphones I’ve used while running always let the wind in and the person on the other side usually cannot hear anything but wind noise. The tech Jabra uses is almost like magic. I was on a run, in a headwind, and talking with my wife and she could hear my loud and clear!
- Battery life & charging case
- Truly wire free!
- Connection range is fairly low
- Not necessarily bad but the sound quality wasn’t as good as I’m used to
- Skeptical on the accuracy of things like “fitness level” and “VO2” max – best to use these as trending metrics as opposed to actuals
The Bottom Line: Jabra Elite Sport Wireless Headphones
If you are looking for truly wireless earbud experience for working out, you should seriously consider the Jabra Elite Sport. They have a solid package and a good app experience. Comfort, battery life/charging, and the workout focus of the app is going to be hard to top.
Buy now: Available at Amazon.com