Jabra released the Elite 4 earbuds a few weeks ago promising “maximal comfort” and “optimal sound” alongside multipoint Bluetooth connectivity, ANC and an IP55 rating.  They are big goals so of course we had to test them out to see if Jabra delivered in their promises.

Design, Comfort and Fit

Jabra sent us the Light Beige colourway of the Elite 4 earbuds and we were pleasantly surprised with how they looked.  Once you insert the earbuds, they really look very close to white – an off white.  If you are an active person I’m not sure how clean they’d keep but they’d still most likely keep their colour better than earbuds that are true white.

The design of the Elite 4 is similar to previous generations of Jabra earbuds.  The Elite 4 look quite big in photos but in person they are actually quite small – it could also be that the lighter colour makes things look larger (the opposite of “black is slimming).  Side by side with my Sony LinkBuds S they are similar sizes but the Jabra Elite 4 earbuds do have an extra 2mm or so that will stick out of the ear canal.

The cases are also similar sizes with the Jabra charging case offering 22 hours of added playback in the case while also being slim and able to fit into your pocket easily.  Gone are the days of big, bulky charging cases for your earbuds.

The Jabra Elite 4 sit partly in the ear canal and partly in/on the outer section of the ear.  Because of this they are extremely comfortable because they do not rely on being jammed into the ear canal to stay in.  Instead, to secure themselves in the ear they are twisted back so that the shape of them fits into the crooks and cervices of the ear.

Now by extremely comfortable I mean that they are earbuds that I was able to wear for the entire time the battery lasted in the ear.  Sometimes earbuds are comfortable but you still need a break after a couple of hours due to a bit of rubbing on the ear and/or its canal.  These are not that.

That brings me to my next point.  Because they sit partly out of the canal, they do not feel anywhere near as secure as many other earbuds.  These are not earbuds you will be wearing skiing down the mountain but in my general gym use or weights and a bit of running on the treadmill I had no issues with them falling out.  They just didn’t feel super secure and you have to wonder if that’s because they didn’t give that stuffed-and-jammed-into-the-ear feel.  The comfort makes them feel less secure?

One thing that cannot be overlooked – and something that some earbuds lack – is the ability to use the earbuds one at a time, and with either earbud.  Some earbuds which do not fully support the latest Bluetooth technology allow only the right earbud to be used if the second earbud is in the case.  The Jabra Elite 4 allow single earbud use with either side.  A small thing but essential for many.

Control of playing media and ANC level on the earbuds is done by a push button on each earbud. The buttons are not capacitive touch buttons but instead physical press buttons. Usually, I haven’t liked this because the buttons were difficult to press but the buttons on the Jabra Elite 4 are extremely easy to activate but not so easy that you press them taking the earbuds in or out.

Touch sensitive buttons can suffer from accidental touches when putting in or removing from your ear. I love this solution from Jabra and although it is possible they did it because it was a cheaper option, I actually prefer this choice.

Sound quality

First off I started testing these headphones against the Sony LinkBuds S and the sound from both is extremely similar.  The Jabra Elite 4 have a wider sound range it seems with more bass but in obtaining this bass they do lose some of their crispness compared to the Sony earbuds.  

Problem with this comparison is that the Jabra are priced at just $139 while the LinkBuds S RRP is $199 (at the moment – they launched at $349).  $60 is $60 and in this case it’s around 30% of the price so it’s not fair to compare the two.  

Comparing to a pair of JBL Live Pro 2, which are still priced higher but are closer in price at least, the sound quality was comparable once again.  The JBL are the best sounding earbuds at this price I’ve ever used with a crisp sound across a broad range of frequencies.  

The Jabra Elite 4 had a better bass than the JBL earbuds and seemed to have a broader range of sound profile – across all types of music.  They lacked the super crisp notes of the JBL but overall sound was great.  You get broader sound profiles but lose some of the crispness.  Give and take.

Overall though, at just RRP $139 they exceed the quality you’d expect from a set of earbuds at this price.

The Jabra App

The Jabra Sound+ app is extremely basic, but then that is all most people need.  Within the app all you can do it change the sound mode (ANC, HearThrough or off), change the equaliser to one of their presets or modify it to your liking and set up the ANC to “suit your specific hearing profile.”

Although basic it is all I need.  I do like to edit equaliser on earbuds to get the sound frequencies to levels I prefer and although I prefer ANC on most of the time it is nice to also be able to change that for times I need to hear outside noise.

One nice addition is the permanent notification on Android when connected to the earbuds.  This notification has three tappable buttons for ANC, HearThrough and Off.  The notification also displays which earbud (or both) are connected and their battery percentage.  

Unfortunately, there is no notification, nor any sign within the app, of just how much battery is left within the charging case.  You’ll have to judge that by noticing when the earbuds are not at 100% when you take them out of the case after charging for a while.

Final thoughts

Jabra, with the Elite 4 true wireless earbuds, has produced an extremely comfortable set of true wireless earbuds with decent sound and ANC. All for a sub $140 price which is impressive. The earbuds do not feel as secure as some but unless you are performing acrobatics, it is unlikely you’ll have much issue.

The sound isn’t audiophile quality but for $139 you shouldn’t expect that. These days though $139 buys you some decent sound quality. If you are on a tight budget you should definitely be looking at the Jabra Elite 4 if you want a set of comfortable true wireless earbuds with ANC and good quality sound.

The Jabra Elite 4 is available in selected retailers including JB Hi-Fi with MSRP AU$139/NZ$159 — you can learn more about Jabra Elite 4 here.