The Jabra Elite 4 Active headphones are the best sports buds you’ll find for £120, and offer a similar experience to the best options on the market for £160-£190, including Jabra’s own Elite 7 Active.
- Good sound quality
- Reliable and comfortable fit
- ANC and HearThrough modes
- Relatively low price
- No wing tips means a less secure fit
- Less customisation than pricier models
- ANC is just OK
It seems like just yesterday I was hailing the Jabra Elite 7 Active as the best running headphones going, thanks to the balance of price and features they offer. However, Jabra has outdone itself with the new Elite 4 Active buds, which have all the key features of the 7 Active for £50 less.
The Elite 4 Active headphones don’t just undercut Jabra’s own top sports buds either. The premium feature set they offer means you no longer need to consider £150-plus models like the Jaybird Vista 2 or JBL Reflect Flow Pro for gym headphones with active noise cancellation, impressive sound quality and a long battery life.
Jabra Elite 4 Active Review: Price And Availability
The Elite 4 Active headphones are available now on the Jabra website and cost £119.99 – that’s £50 cheaper than the Elite 7 Active buds and £40 more than Jabra’s entry-level truly wireless headphones, the Elite 3, which don’t offer ANC.
The Elite 4 Active are in-ear headphones that don’t have wing tips or an earhook, instead relying on their light weight (5g per bud) and shape to stay in your ear during exercise. They have a similar design to the Jabra Elite 3 and Elite 7 Active headphones, though lack the 7 Active’s ShakeGrip silicone coating that increases the security of the fit.
Each bud has a multi-function button on it. These are easy to use during exercise though slightly stiffer than the buttons on the 7 Active in my experience, and the range of controls available is extensive. Along with controlling playback and volume, you can turn the buds off – a surprisingly uncommon feature on truly wireless headphones – switch between the ANC and HearThrough mode and, if on Android, get one-tap access to Spotify.
The buds are IP57 rated, which is the same rating as the Elite 7 Active but higher than the IP55 on the Elite 3 buds, which points to the active focus of the Elite 4s. They are waterproof up to depths of one metre for 30 minutes, and while the IP55 rating of the Elite 3 is enough for sports use, withstanding sweat and rain comfortably enough, extra protection on this front is never a bad thing.
The Elite 4 Active’s case is larger and less sleek than the Elite 7 Active’s case, but still small enough to pop in a pocket or running belt and forget about. There are three colours available – black, navy, and mint green – and in-ear tips in three sizes in the box.
With no wings or ear hooks, the Jabra Elite 4 Active buds will undoubtedly not stay in place during exercise for some people. However, I have always found Jabra’s wingless design to be remarkably secure, and the lack of other protrusions means that their buds are more comfortable to wear for long stretches than most of those that do have wings or hooks.
This remains the case with the Elite 4 Active buds, which have stayed comfortably in place for me through outdoor and indoor runs and cycles, strength workouts and yoga sessions. Sometimes the left bud needed adjusting during sweaty indoor runs in particular, but I cannot fault the fit, and I was surprised that it felt very nearly as secure as the Elite 7 Active buds, which have the ShakeGrip coating for a little extra stickiness.
Powered by the same 6mm drivers you find in the Elite 7 Active buds, the sound quality on the Elite 4 Active headphones is impressive. One feature that is on the Elite 7 Active but not on the Elite 4 Active is a hearing test that then sets up a personalised sound profile. However, you can adjust the EQ on the Elite 4 Active buds via sliders or by picking presets like Bass Boost, and overall I found the quality matched up to the Elite 7 Active.
The bass is powerful and there is clarity across the range, and while you can find truly wireless sports buds that sound better if you spend over £200, the Elite 4 Active are as good as almost anything I’ve tested under that price, including the Jaybird Vista 2 or Bose Sport Earbuds. Sony’s WF-SP800N buds are one set that sound better, but I couldn’t get them to stay in my ears while exercising.
There are ANC and HearThrough modes on the Elite 4 Active buds too, and you can customise these within the app. You need to be in a noisy area to set up the ANC so you can set up how much sound to filter out, and after that you can toggle between ANC and HearThrough with a tap on the left headphone button.
The ANC is OK, filtering out some low-level noise when travelling in particular, but it’s not outstanding and the passive noise cancellation provided by the in-ear fit isn’t a huge drop-off. The HearThrough mode is more useful for me – it allows in more external noise so you’re more aware of your surroundings when running or cycling on the road.
You can adjust how much external noise is let in via a slider that pops up in the Jabra app when you have HearThrough turned on. One quirk here is that you cannot do the same with the ANC mode, whereas a slider does appear when using the Elite 7 Active. That £50 upgrade has to give you something extra, I guess.
The Elite 4 Active headphones last seven hours on a charge while using ANC, and the case contains another 21 hours of juice. That’s slightly less than the Elite 7 Active, which last eight hours on a charge and have 22 more in the case, and the pricier buds also have a faster quick charge feature. It takes five minutes of charging to get 60 minutes of playback with the Elite 7 Active, whereas it takes 10 minutes of charging for the Elite 4 Active to last an hour, which is the same as in the Elite 3 buds.
You can use each of the headphones by itself and charge the other at the same time, which can also extend the play time available overall.
Are The Jabra Elite 4 Active Worth It?
The Elite 4 Active are now the best-value pick in Jabra’s range for sporty people, and if you get on with the wingless design they’re the best-value sports headphones on the market. I also used the Elite 7 Active buds while testing the Elite 4 Active and for the most part I couldn’t tell you which was in my ears at any given time: the upgrades on the 7 are fairly minimal in the real world in my experience, though that ShakeGrip coating does help a little with fit.
Given that I rated the Elite 7 Active headphones as the best all-round sports headphones available, getting pretty much the same experience from headphones that cost £50 less is delightful and makes the Elite 4 Active easy to recommend. My only gripe would be that it does a disservice to those who bought the Elite 7 Active headphones late last year that the Elite 4 Active came out hot on their heels offering most of the same features for less.
If you do need a wing tip to keep buds in your ears then the Jaybird Vista 2 or JBL Reflect Flow Pro would be my top alternatives, though they both cost considerably more than the Elite 4 Active at £189.99 for the Vista 2 and £159.99 for the Reflect Flow Pro.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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