I did not get a chance to review the first Jabra Elite Sport, as the Jabra folks did not reach out to me. This time round when Jabra released the new upgraded version with longer 4.5 hour battery life, NXT Singapore received a review unit and they passed it to me.
Jabra and Me
Personally, I expected nothing less from Jabra, having reviewed countless Jabra headsets. Jabra was never known from the start to produce great audio, but around 2013, they got the right audio tuning. The sound signature was not designed for the critical audiophiles, but I find them to have a great audio balance and achieves sufficient vibes for listeners on workouts, while delivering satisfying joy during non-workout moments. I even bought the Jabra Sport Pulse for my own use.
The Jabra Elite Sport takes the Jabra Sport Pulse and evolved it. Rated IP67 water resistant, the distinctively-coloured ear-wings are designed to wrap around the circumference of the earbuds so that they do not fall out casually. The earbuds are really huge, but ergonomically shaped to fit the ear walls, and felt like wearing custom in-ear monitors. If you have small ears, you might feel that they might fall off. The ear-wings then come in handy to secure the buds to the ears.
Personally, I prefer that the buttons are mechanical instead of capacitive touch, so that I can operate them even with sweaty fingers. The embossed buttons give clear indication on what I am pressing. The left earbud operates the volume (click) and tracks (press and hold), the right earbud operates the power (press and hold lower button), play-pause-call (click lower button), Hear Through (ambient) mode (double click lower button), and coach feedback (click upper button). The ambient mode sounds quite natural but it’s still not as loud as when the earbuds are removed, and there is no option to adjust the ambient sound amplification.
Similar to the Beoplay E8, when the left earbud is more than 20cm away from the right earbud, the left earbud gets disconnected and the audio changes to mono instantly. The Elite Sport hence probably also uses NFMI (near field magnetic induction) to sync the earbuds.
I like that the the foam tips are not sticky, and is my choice of tips instead of the silicone which I felt does not give me sufficient seal.
The Jabra Elite Sport provides 4.5 hours of battery life, and real life use might be slightly lower, especially the right earbud which tends to drain faster. The case provides additional 2 charges so you should be getting over 13 hours before you need to plug to AC charger. The case is rock solid and snaps shut tightly like a jewellery case, so you need 2 hands to get it open. The earbuds sit on the charger without any magnet holding them in place, so be careful when you open the case so that they do not drop out. Once the case is opened, the earbuds are powered up automatically, so you just pop them in your ears and start listening immediately.
Sport Life App
To maximise the capabilities of the Elite Sport, install the Jabra Sport Life app and connect it to the earbuds. With the app running, the in-ear heart-rate analyser will be activated to track the heartrate, as well as your workout stats, via the tri-axis accelerometer. The heart rate reading is quite accurate, at least it is close to the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro that I am reviewing. Jabra claims the heart rate monitor works with other fitness apps like Runkeeper, Runtastic, Strava, Endomondo, MapMyFitness. I have tested with Runkeeper and it works.
Stats tracked include: time, speed, distance, pace, steps, cadence, calories, heart rate, heart rate zone, VO2 Max estimation, repetitions. You can also enable real-time audio coaching which gives audio feedback on the workout stats. The app is pretty detailed in tracking various workout types, but one thing that disappoints me still is that the data does not get stored on the cloud, so if you change phones, the data is lost. I had no problems getting the app to work with the earbuds through the Sony Xperia XA1 Plus smartphone, but your experience may vary due to non-standard smartphone hardware and Android OS.
True to my expectation, I loved the Sport Elite audio tuning, just as I loved the Sport Pulse. Both possesses similar audio traits, which is cosy full-range bass, forward mids, and sufficient sparkle at the treble to discern the sound staging. I love the overall warmth of the earbuds yet does not sound muffled, nor too piercing. The tuning allows me to turn up the volume so that I am immersed in the beats while not too hurtful at the high frequency. I connected them to several smartphones and all of them delivered good audio signal reproduction without audible distortions.
One thing that my ear picked up was the minor audio static on the right earbud when the heart-rate monitor is activated. The static is inaudible when music is played and when you are engrossed in the workout.
I am very pleased with the upgraded Jabra Elite Sport, retaining the lovely audio signature that I fell in love with since the Jabra Sport Pulse, while offering sufficient battery life of 4.5 hours (plus 2 additional charges on the casing). Its comprehensive spec for sports use is matched only to Bragi The Dash, but the latter audio quality was less enjoyable to me. Retailing at S$368 with 3-year Singapore warranty and comes with Lime Green Grey (this review unit) and Black, this is the true wireless earphones to get for sports and fitness enthusiasts who demands better audio.
The Jabra Elite Sport gets my full 5-star rating, just like the half-wireless predecessor, Jabra Sport Pulse.