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What Run Oregon is Trying: Jabra Elite Sport headphones

It’s probably not the healthiest of habits, but I wear headphones pretty consistently throughout the day. In general, I listen in this order:

  • Favorite live webstream (east coast) when I wake up in the morning and go to work
  • Ambient noise throughout the work day to drown out constant coworker chatter
  • Music or podcasts on my run
  • Call my family or parents on the way home from work

While I have a pair of iPhone headphones (which has the benefit of standardized comfort but the drawback of a cord) and a pair of bluetooth headphones (which has the benefit of no direct wire connection to my phone, but does a wired connection between the two ear pieces), I am mostly pleased with my options, but things could be better.

The Jabra Elite Sport is the world’s first true wireless sports earphones in the US, and I couldn’t wait to try them out.

First and foremost, these aren’t just “headphones”. They are built like a runner and fitness-nerds dream. They track performance (think time, speed, distance, pace, steps, cadence, calories, heart rate, heart rate zone, VO2 max estimation, and reps, as well as have audio coaching). That’s just a “wow” right off the bat.

Are we sure these are headphones and not just a robotic gym membership?

Additionally, the Jabra Sport Life app keeps thinks tracked to the maximum level. The headphones are able to read heart rate (via clinical grade in-ear heart rate monitor) and inform you of your need to speed up or slow down to stay in your optimum zone. It will track your runs on a map and is also compatible with other popular running apps like Strava, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, and Runtastic.

The headphones will also analyze all its data – from your training tracking, to VO2 data tests, to heart rate monitoring and be able to spit out an estimate of what your race times will most likely be. Even if you mix in some cross training (note: you should!) it will give you workouts and be able to track your reps via motion TrackFit motion counting sensor. No more losing count!

Fit: Each pair comes with 2 buds, and three sizes of EarWings, EarGels, and FoamTips. I was a little concerned up front, as it took some time to get a comfortable fit. I had to change and cycle through the various sizes until I found one that worked for me. They appear to run on the bigger side, and other reviews on the web have expressed a challenge with fit. I, luckily, did not have this issue.

Even after getting them in, I was again concerned that these weren’t going to stay secure in my ear. I can honestly say that, after finding the right combination, these have stayed super snug and secure in my ears and all my concerns have been squashed. I was worried I was going to have to continuously press them into my ears on my runs, but they have been perfect.

Sound: One of the reasons that many runners choose to go sans-headphones is due to safety concerns. From cars and cyclists to potential attackers or dogs, its important to have an awareness of your surroundings – and most headphones can be a hinderance to that. The Elite Sport have a HearThrough option, which allows you to still hear music, but also allows ambient noise (traffic, other people, etc.) into the headset! During one run, I put in miles on come country roads with zero shoulder. While traffic was minimal, using the HearThrough option helped notify me of cars coming up behind me, without needing to look over my shoulder every 15 seconds. Though, if you are one who pumps your music super loud, the HearThrough won’t completely fulfill it’s capabilities.

Additionally, the HearThrough option can be turned off via the app and utilize their built-in noise reduction technology – which Jabra describes as being able to analyze external sounds and automatically switch to the earbud with least background noise. Therefore it’s easy to make calls in busy locations without being drowned out by the city’s noise.

Speaking of sound, these sound really great when you find the correct fit. I have also yet to experience any “hiccups” of disconnectivity while running.

Charging: Charging is a cinch – just stick your buds in the heavy-duty charging case (which can, and should, double as a carrying case) and plug it in. That’s it. I was happy to see that there wasn’t a requirement to charge each bud via an integrated port on the buds themselves. This is a great feature. What is doubly awesome is that the case itself can hold up to 9 hours (2 full charges) WITHOUT being plugged in – it’s essentially a portable charging station! The charging also occurs really fast. It takes no more than an hour or so for a full charge, so if you are strapped for time, a 20-minute charge will net you an hour – more than enough for a quick run. I did have some trouble with getting the case to fully close when earbuds were on them, but they still were able to charge nonetheless.

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This past summer, Jabra updated the battery life on the Elite Sports, moving from a 3 hour charge up to 4.5 hours (and 13.5 total hours if you include the charge case capabilities). I think this is was a fantastic decision, though it’s probably not a big deal for most of us runners out there (unless you are a marathoner or ultra participant). That being said, I believe that this test pair was an older pair, as the app showcased a battery-level max at 3 hours.

Drawbacks:

Though I really like these headphones, there were a couple of things that were minor drawbacks.

  • I am still doing some research, but I can’t figure out a way to have the run timer automatically stop when I stop. So, during times where I am waiting at a stoplight or taking pictures for our IG account, the clock still runs. What this leads to is a pretty inaccurate representation of my workout and average speed. For example, a few weeks back I was doing some country running and stopped a variety of times to take pictures. When the next voice check-in came up, it said that I was running 11 minute miles (when I was running around 8-9) and my overall workout was many minutes longer than I actually spent running. Therefore, in order to get a more accurate reading, I had to run the Nike Run Club app (which isn’t one of the programs Jabra can pair with) at the same time.
  • While I eventually figured out the fit of the tips and wings, I found that each time I pulled them out of my ear, the wings tended to stay put inside my ear. I have spent a lot of time pulling the wings back on the buds – a minor inconvenience, but sort of a bummer nonetheless.
For all us runners out there, it’s pretty amazing Jabra offers a 3-year extended warranty against sweat damage when you register through the app. So get out there and run and reconnect with your headphones while doing so!

Jabra

Company: Jabra (Facebook)

Products & Price:

Specs (from website):

  • Water proof up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes
  • Talk/Music time (with or without tracking): Up to 4.5 hours continuous play time
  • Charging Case provides additional 2 full charges of up to 9 hours
  • Bespoke bass enriched speakers with 20Hz to 20kHz frequency range
  • Passive noise cancellation
  • HearThrough providing external ambient noise into earbuds for awareness
  • Jabra Sport Life app compatible for Apple iOS and Android

More about Jabra:

We make life sound better.

Every day, our intelligent sound solutions inspire people in ways they never thought possible.

We inspire athletes, old and young to push boundaries and beat their best, thanks to our innovative sports headphones with real-time voice coaching and intelligent apps helping you stay motivated and in the zone.

At work, we empower you to be even more productive. We can help you concentrate more, communicate and collaborate better, and make conversation easier. We do this by helping you block out noise and delivering crystal-clear sound.

We also enable you to enjoy the music you love while you’re on the move, with rich and immersive sound. And you can effortlessly switch to making a call and back again. All with total clarity.

It’s our life’s work to transform lives through the power of sound.


 

Thank you to Jabra for providing us with a sample pack. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

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About Matt Rasmussen (996 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010. Matt joined the Run Oregon team in October 2011, and since then he has spearheaded the blog’s efforts to cover product reviews, news about businesses related to running, and running events in the Willamette Valley.

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