Durable, dunkable design
Sleek and small
Loaded with features
Sound lacks balance
Fit can be tricky
Editor's Note 11/18/2020: This review has been updated to reflect the addition of digital Active Noise Cancellation to Jabra's Elite 75t series, which Jabra added via firmware (at no extra charge) to both models. While not as powerful as the noise canceling in the newer Jabra Elite 85t, the update complements the headphones' already impressive passive noise isolation, i.e. noise blocking.
As with Jabra’s previous “Elite” line, 2018's 65t series, Jabra offers two versions of its latest earbuds: the Elite 75t and the Elite Active 75t. The “Active” buds are a slightly pricier, more workout-ready pair than the Elite 75t. Also like the 65t models, either choice is a value-packed option depending on your needs, and the vast majority of this review (apart from the water-resistance rating) applies to the Elite 75t as well.
While Jabra’s new push for bigger bass in its 75t series is actually a step back to my ears, there’s too much to like about these earbuds to quibble much. Whether you’re looking for a rugged set of earbuds for your workout routine or just a reliable pair for everyday use, Jabra’s Elite Active 75t provide plenty of reasons to take them home.
About the Jabra Elite Active 75t
The Jabra Elite Active 75t officially released in February 2020. Like other true wireless earbuds, they aren’t constrained by wires of any kind. But it’s their tiny, minimalist form factor that makes these stand out from the legions of other true wireless earbuds—apart from their sister pair, of course.
As referenced above, Jabra’s Elite 75t offer nearly all the same functions and features as the Elite Active in a design that’s slightly less durable for $20 less.
Here’s a breakdown of the Elite Active 75t’s basic specs:
- Price: $199.99
- Battery life: up to 7.5 hours per charge, up to 28 hours with the charging case
- Rapid charging: 60 minutes of listening on 15 minutes charge
- Colors: Copper Black, Navy, Titanium Black
- Speakers: 6mm drivers
- Calling: 4 MEMS microphones with noise reduction technology
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
- Dust/water resistance: IP57
- Paired devices: 8 total, 2 simultaneously
- Ear tips: small, medium, and large
- Weight: 35 grams with charging case, 5.5 grams per bud
What we like
I used the word “coolest” in the intro for good reason. From the moment you open the micro-sized case to find the sleek buds staring back at you, their battery indicators flashing like a steely wink, you can’t help but be struck by the cool factor. Though the difference in the actual weight and size seems minimal on paper, the 75t earbuds feel like an order of magnitude smaller than Jabra’s 65t series (and most other earbuds)—especially when placed in your ears.
The matte charging case is similarly compact, matching up well with Apple’s AirPods Pro case, both of which fit easily into your pocket or fist. The buds snap to attention when returned to their magnetic stands as all quality true wireless earbuds should, and the lid gives a satisfying click when snapped shut.
An embossed logo at the front joins a battery indicator and USB-C port at the rear as the only accents to break up the minimalist design.
Upper-class battery life
Battery life is always a complex benchmark for true wireless earbuds, as their charging cases often provide rapid charging and multiple recharges to supplement playback time.
That said, while new chipsets and wireless technologies like Bluetooth 5.0 (and 5.1) make it possible to cram 10 hours of listening or more into increasingly small packages, the minimum for a quality experience (set by Apple's AirPods) is right around 5 hours, with multiple recharges in the case. Anything less can become a hassle.
With as much as 7.5 hours per charge and 28 hours with the case (or about 5.5 hours with ANC) the Elite Active 75t handily exceed that minimum, offering nearly a full workday of straight listening. We’ll deduct a few points for their rapid charge time (it takes 15 minutes for an hour of listening compared to Apple’s 5 minutes), and testing at moderate volume was closer to 7 hours, but it's still an impressive number.
Active Noise Cancellation, is a hot feature in true wireless earbuds these days, and was previously one of the few options the Elite Active 75 didn't include. Before adding ANC, the Elite 75t blocked most exterior sounds by way of a snug in-ear fit, and covered their tracks via the inherent masking effect of whatever audio you were listening to. With the addition of customized digital ANC, the earbuds do an even better job keeping outside noises at bay, and can now help drown out drone noises too.
It's not as effective as the ANC used in Jabra's Elite 85t, and it's also not adjustable. That said, the mix of sound cancellation and isolation worked quite well in at-home tests, effectively drowning out noises like fans and vacuums when tested against other top noise-canceling earbuds.
Apart from their waterproof design and multiple microphone array, the majority of the 75t’s other features derive from Jabra’s Sound+ app, which is one of the most comprehensive in the genre. The app offers all the standards a good app should, like adjustable (and saveable) EQ settings, firmware updates, and even a “find my Jabra” feature. But that’s just for starters.
Practically everything in the Elite Active 75t is adjustable, from their “HearThrough” transparency mode (designed to filter in environmental audio to keep you safe and alert) to auto-pausing audio when you pull them out. You can also do things like set music to pause when HearThrough is engaged, turn up (or off) your own voice during phone calls, and even add basic EQ to the caller’s voice. As mentioned above, the new ANC is not adjustable, but can be toggled between the transparency and off modes with a click of the control button.
The 75t also allow you to use one mono earbud at a time—though only the right earbud in this case—and you can even swap your phone’s default assistant for Alexa.
You’re welcome to sit back and let Jabra take the wheel, hardly noticing all the features at your disposal, but for those who love to tinker (like yours truly), the bounty of adjustable elements is impressive.
Comprehensive, easy-access controls
Two buttons. That’s all you’ve got for onboard controls in the Elite Active 75t, but partnered with Jabra’s loaded app, they’re enough. While there’s a bit of a learning curve here (play/pause is on the right side by default, while song skip is on the left), they’re among the easiest and most accessible controls you'll find.
The key is the soft return of the buttons. Unlike most tactile controls, they're giving enough that you don’t have to jam the earbuds deeper into your ear canal with each press. And yet, unlike most touch controls, they're not prone to accidental taps or miscues.
The design allows you to tap and hold your way to virtually any command—from turning on HearThrough to lowering volume or answering calls—in virtually any scenario. As an example, while doing yard work, I was able to quickly pause my podcast, turn on and off Hearthrough to chat with my wife and neighbor, and get right back into the action, all without taking off my gardening gloves.
In my experience, only the AirPods Pro's squeeze controls are easier to use than Jabra's system, and those don’t allow for volume control without swapping out another command. Advantage Jabra.
Able to take a beating (and a wash)
Jabra’s Elite 75t offer an IP55 rating, meaning they’re tested to resist dust and withstand jets of water. The Elite Active 75t go further, adding the ability to be dunked under one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. It’s not that we recommend doing so, but you can rinse the Elite Active 75t—or drop them in the sink—without fear.
That makes them ideal for workouts, as does their tight seal in your ears, which keeps them in place even under duress without the need for over-ear hooks like Beats’ Powerbeats and Powerbeats Pro.
What we don’t
Sound trades balance for bass
In an era when even Beats is backing down the mega bass, Jabra has gone the other way here. The engineers purposely ramped up the bass for the Elite and Elite Active 75t which, coupled with a super-snug fit, can get downright bone-shaking at times. It’s a major change over the 65t’s sound, which isn’t exactly audiophile quality, but does offer good balance and relatively impressive detail.
The 75t’s bolder bass is coupled with a lighter midrange and treble that can go from crisp to snappy at times. This makes instruments like percussion, especially snare drums, pop with more flair than usual. Vocals can also get sharper than I’d like, especially when cranking up the volume.
Luckily, the app's graphic EQ is your friend here. After dialing in better balance, I was able to discover some gorgeous moments like Paul Simon’s "American Tune," which exhibits finely plucked guitar work and effervescent vocals. Sinatra’s "Fly Me to the Moon" was also surprisingly good. The horns were smooth and clear, which isn’t easy for buds with brighter color up top. While sound is definitely brasher than I’d like, it’s passable and generally enjoyable for most music.
Fit (and comfort) can be tricky
Fit is always subjective, but it’s also one of the most important elements in true wireless earbuds, affecting both how you use the buds and how they sound.
Personally, it took some time to get the Elite Active 75t locked in. After swapping between the medium and small earbuds a few times, I ended up going with the latter, finding a fit that stayed properly in place regardless of what I did. But the earbuds tended to get uncomfortable after a couple of hours or so of use, especially in my weirdly small left ear canal. What’s more, my brother, who has even smaller ear canals, was unable to get them to fit at all.
Everyone’s ears are different, of course. But with only three ear tip sizes to supplement basic buds designed to fit quite snuggly, there’s not a lot of leeway here if the housings rub you wrong.
Should you buy them?
Yes, as long as you can get a good fit
While I wish for less bass and a more comfortable fit, there’s not much else to count against the Elite Active 75t. With an incredibly rugged design, almost every feature you could ask for (including noise cancellation), and perhaps the most accessible controls in the wireless world, these earbuds are an excellent choice for most users. Throw in AirPods-beating battery life and one of the coolest designs out there, and Jabra has an obvious winner on its hands.
If you don’t need a dunkable design and want to save a few bucks, the Elite 75t are also high on our list. And if you're willing to spend up, the Elite 85t offer a more comfortable and natural fit, better ANC, and better sound (though with only IPX4 dust/water resistance they're not as sporty or durable).
Any way you go, Jabra’s latest true wireless earbuds are crowd-pleasers that should be stalwarts in the genre for a long time to come.
Meet the tester
Managing Editor - Electronics@ryanwaniata
Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2013. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.
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