Jabra's sport headphones are attractive but pricey
Ask any athlete - from weekend warriors to hard-core pros - the story will be the same: When pushing yourself hard in a workout, your gear must be a help not a hindrance.
For this reason, finding the perfect sports headphones takes some persistence.
OUT OF THE BOX
The Jabra Elite Sport wireless headphones are attractive right out of the box: black and sleek, with a smoothly tactile Danish design. They are accessorised with a selection of foam tips, ear gels and ear wings in several sizes, making it easy to get a custom fit to ensure a firm connection which promises to maximise sound and stability while exercising.
Once the right accessories are fitted, the headphones are easy to lodge securely in the ear, and with clear left-right markings, it's hard to get it wrong.
Pairing was also easy. The buds paired quickly to my iPhone and synched seamlessly to each other.
I trialled the headphones with a range of music including hip hop, pop, rock and classical. The audio quality is very good for a sport headphone. Bases render well while the top ranges are clean and clear. Spoken audio is also rich and full, meaning top-quality podcasts are broadcast as their makers intended.
The Elite Sport also has a safety-focused "hear through" option, which reverses the noise cancelling function, making use when road running or cycling safer.
These headphones easily passed my reasonably high sound-quality expectations when sitting indoors, but their true worth would be tested during a workout.
ON THE GO
I tested the Elite Sport headphones while running over short and long distances. Again, my expectations are high. When pacing on a run or ride, the last thing you need are loose headphones or poor and distracting sound quality. Running is painful enough.
The snug fit of the buds when paired with the correctly sized ear gel, meant the sound quality was maintained on the trail even over long distances. This meant instructions and progress updates from my existing fitness app were clear. Phone calls were also easy to receive and the sound quality good at both ends of the call. (The headphones verbalised the name of the incoming caller before the call was accepted).
Meanwhile, all this talking and listening aside, the headphones also stayed stable even near the end of a sweaty long run. Though they do not have behind-the-ear brackets included with many other sports models, the Elite Sport maintained their fit and remained secure even when perspiration levels rose. I also tested these in the rain - not difficult to achieve in a New Zealand autumn - and they stood up to their waterproof promise.
The only significant on-the-go criticism I would make is that when still familiarising myself with the controls, the on-ear controls felt confusingly alike to my fumbling fingers. The volume and on-off buttons also need a firm push - my perfect pair of headphones would be equipped with a softer touch control system.
THE EXTRA BITS
Finally, these headphones are not called elite for nothing. They are also partnered with a fitness app and heartrate monitor that tracks your workouts and performance. If you are not already committed to a fitness app, the Jabra Sport app which provides voice feedback on a range of metrics may be an option for those who want this extrinsic motivation.
The app includes a find-my-headphones function which given they are truly wireless and impressively small, will no doubt come in handy.
They also come with an attractive storage box cum charging case, allowing you to recharge on the go. The Elite Sport offer three hours battery life, with an additional two charges possible in the charging case without plugging in, promising to get you through a reasonably decent long-haul flight or impressive ultra-marathon.
ARE THEY WORTH IT?
At $399 the Jabra Elite Sport headphones are top-of-the-range. They offer impressive sound quality, functionality and design aesthetic, as well as added value you may-or-may-not value. If you are an athlete that responds well to good quality music on the go and will benefit from the high-spec functionality these are a good, albeit pricey, buy.