Test: Jabra Elite 4 Active – Cheaper but almost as good

Jabra describes the Elite 4 Active as a pair of affordable true wireless headphones for an active lifestyle. Among Jabra’s True Wireless headsets, they are a marginally more expensive alternative than the Elite 3 and significantly cheaper than the top models Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active.

Not because it is noticeable. The design is basically identical between the four models and it is only when I have them side by side that the case and earbuds on the Elite Active 4 feel a little more plastic than for the Elite 7 Pro. The Jabra Elite Active thus has a fairly small and flexible but slightly plastic case, and two earbuds that are small and flexible but still easy to grip and handle. The design is recognizable not only from the sister model but previous Jabra headsets for many years, but they have become smaller and lighter with each generation.

One could imagine that it was the liquid protection that characterizes Jabra’s models with the suffix Active. IP class 57 means that the headphones can withstand a rapid rumble in the water and sweat or a rain shower should not be a problem. But even the Jabra Elite 3 is IP-rated with the slightly lower rating IP55. What distinguishes Elite 4 Active (and Elite 7 Active) is instead mainly that the earbuds have a slightly more rubbery surface coating compared to the hard plastic on Elite 3 and Elite 7 Pro. This makes them even more grip-friendly, which is an advantage not only if you are sweaty or otherwise wet on your hands but in most situations.

Differences you have to look for

The differences compared to the more expensive models are noticeable in rather subtle areas. For example, I install Jabra’s app, which is not strictly necessary to use the headset but adds some features, and I notice that I do not get the same control of the fit on the earbuds that I got with the more expensive Elite 7 Pro. I think the included rubber plugs fit snugly and comfortably anyway, Jabra has done a really good job there.

Another feature that is missing is the ability to choose how the headset should be controlled. The function of the buttons is preset and fixed. Yes, because the earbuds actually have physical buttons on the outside and not just touch panels like most other True Wireless headsets. The buttons are soft enough to feel easy to use and hard enough for me to never accidentally press them.

Jabra Elite Active has active noise reduction, which is missing in the slightly cheaper model Elite 3. You can adjust the noise reduction yourself by dragging a slider in the app, but it is difficult to judge what is better or worse.

In general, I think that the noise reduction makes a difference without reaching the class that Sony and Bose hold. You hear that particularly low-frequency humming disappears, while much of, for example, traffic noise remains. Then the rubberized earbuds are also good at passively shutting out noise.

I compare the noise reduction with that in the more expensive Jabra Elite 7 Pro, and think they keep about the same level. In the more expensive earbuds, I think it’s too little, but I find it much easier to respect the level of noise reduction in the Jabra Elite 4 Active, for the price of SEK 1,300, it’s perfectly okay.

Sound that is more than approved

The same goes for the music sound. The headset has relatively small speaker elements and I think it is noticeable, the music sound sounds good but does not really lift. It may be smaller than I expected from Jabra’s top models, but in the Jabra Elite 4 Active I think I get a clearly approved music sound for the price tag.

Jabra usually does not let go of headsets that do not sound good during phone calls, and here Elite 4 Active also excels. When I test conversations, both I and the person I am talking to are heard well, in both calm and noisy environments. This does not mean that noise is filtered out, for example if I rustle with a bag while I am talking it breaks through and the rustling sounds really loud, and traffic in the background is not filtered out either, but my voice does not drown in the background noise and it still works good to make phone calls in a little noisier environments. The more expensive headsets in the Elite 7 series can also filter out background noise.

Another difference from the more expensive models is that the Jabra Elite 4 Active can only be connected to one device at a time. If I want to use the headset with, for example, both work and private mobile, or between mobile and computer, I have to move the pairing. This works acceptably between Android and iOS but is a minor hell between two Android mobiles. Despite, or perhaps thanks to, the fact that there is support for Google’s Fast Pair feature that should facilitate just this. At one point I sit with the Bluetooth menu on an android mobile where the headset appears three times, I do not know which one to choose and it does not matter because none of them work. Until it suddenly does without me knowing what I did right that I did wrong before.

This is not unique to Jabra, but it is my only real objection to the Elite 4 Active which otherwise feels like a surprisingly complete pair of True Wireless headphones for a cheaper price than what we are used to from Jabra.

Source: Mobil by www.mobil.se.

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