I’ve checked tons of wireless earbuds, but no matter how good they are, I keep running back to my AirPods Pro once I’m done. There’s something about the way Apple’s earbuds sound and feel to me that no other model can beat – until I got my hands on the Jabra Elite Active 75t.
I tested the Elite Active 75t on our best true wireless earbuds roundup (where they were recently named best buds for workout) but they stayed in my ears for weeks after that. Jabra’s earbuds offer a mix of comfort, style, and versatility that is hard to put down – all for a price that’s up to $ 110 cheaper than Apple’s high-end Buds.
Here’s why I dumped my AirPods Pro for the Jabra Elite Active 75t, and why they make a great (and much cheaper) alternative to the most popular wireless earbuds on the market.
Mike Andronico / CNN
The Elite Active 75t are one of the few non-Apple earbuds I’ve worn that just feel right – and they look better when booted. I don’t have a problem with Apple’s now ubiquitous earbud design, but I like that Jabra’s earbuds have a sleeker, flatter look that doesn’t hang out of my ears.
I also love having a pair of earbuds that are the right color. I’m rocking the Navy Blue Elite Active 75t right now, but you can get them in five other colors, including a flashy pink and mint green. I still hope Apple will bring out the next AirPods Pro in multiple colors (as it does with the AirPods Max) but my lively Jabras will for the time being.
More importantly, the Elite Active 75t are just as comfortable as my AirPods Pro. They’re a bit more voluminous than Apple’s buds, but they also form a soft, more secure fit, so the AirPods Pro feel a bit loose in comparison.
I’ve also grown to prefer the Elite Active 75t’s design when it comes to control. Unlike the tap controls found on most Buds, Jabra’s earbuds have physical buttons that you can use to, for example, skip tracks and activate your virtual assistant. This offers a unique tactile sense of control and avoids the risk of accidental prints that I’ve had all too often with more sensitive buds like the Samsung Galaxy Buds +.
While it’s easy enough to pinch the stems of the AirPods Pro to control music playback, the click of a button on the Elite Active 75t feels much more immediate and satisfying. Jabra’s Buds also offer finer control, so you can adjust the volume right from the earbuds in addition to the usual pauses, games, and summoning Siri.
And here’s the real kicker: when you use the left control key to toggle the sound mode, a built-in voice explicitly says the words “ANC”, “HearThrough” or “Off”, making it clear which setting you have activated. In comparison, the AirPods Pro emit one of three similar-sounding chimes once you switch modes, and I still can’t tell the difference between them after almost a solid year of use.
Speaking of noise cancellation …
Mike Andronico / CNN
For a pair of earbuds that cost a lot less than the AirPods Pro, the Jabra Elite Active 75t offers the same major selling points – and a lot more. Thanks to a firmware update after launch, the Elite Active 75t now has Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and is just as good (if not better) than what you get on Apple’s Premium Buds.
I was constantly shocked at the amount of noise the Elite Active 75t could drown out when every time I tuned in to ANC to better hear my podcasts, it turned chaotic construction sites and rolled trains into a barely audible ambience. In fact, I found that Jabra’s earbuds blocked even more noise than Apple’s buds, partly due to the tighter seal they formed in my ears.
And whenever I needed to hear my surroundings better while being dragged into the park by my dog, the Elite Active 75t’s Hearthrough mode did a great job of amplifying the outside world. This feature is very similar to the AirPods Pro’s transparency mode in terms of noise. While the transparency mode only offers a single setting, Jabra’s HearThrough feature offers six levels of customization that let you choose exactly how much external bat is selected above.
The Elite Active 75t not only fits many important functions of the AirPods Pro, but also offers many functions that Apple’s friends cannot. While Apple’s Buds let you make a few changes to your Bluetooth menu, Jabra’s earbuds have a full-featured app that lets you adjust sound balance, create custom audio profiles, and even play relaxing ambient sounds as soon as you have to study or work.
I didn’t really miss my AirPods Pro in terms of sound quality, which indicates how close Jabra’s earbuds come in the audio department. While I find Apple’s buds sound clearer and more balanced, the Elite Active 75t still sounds warm and lively enough to highlight the big guitars and vocals of my favorite indie and punk tracks.
And unlike the AirPods Pro, Jabra’s earbuds can be customized to your liking, with a fully customizable equalizer, as well as presets for boosting things like bass and treble. After trying a few different modes, I was able to reproduce the sound output from my AirPods fairly accurately using the treble boost. The deeper fit of the Elite Active 75t made the bass overwhelm on occasion, but I found it a little compromise to improve comfort and excellent ANC. Oh, and did I mention that the battery life is great? Jabra’s buds lasted six hours in a row with the ANC on (about an hour longer than the AirPods Pro), and I only need to charge the case every few days as I turn it on and off during my daily walks and work.
Mike Andronico / CNN
Dropping the AirPods Pro for the Jabra Elite Active 75t was a great pleasure – with one exception. For some reason, my iPhone 12 Pro sometimes no longer recognizes my Elite Active 75t, especially if you sit on my desk for too long.
I’m usually able to fix this by quickly poking the buds in and out of their housing (with the occasional re-pairing), but it’s an annoying catch – and one that I think I’ve never experienced before have AirPods Pro. We call the Pro the best earbuds for Apple users for a reason because they pair with your iPhone in seconds. This generally stays that way until you decide to manually unpair them.
There are a few other AirPods Pro-specific benefits too: Spatial Audio offers truly immersive 360-degree sound for supported movies and shows, and audio sharing comes in handy when you and another AirPods owner want to listen to the same tracks together. But none of these functions (nor the occasional interruption) were enough to make me run back.
Mike Andronico / CNN
I tested a review sample of the Jabra Elite Active 75t, but choosing which earbuds to buy between these and the AirPods Pro would be a breeze. Jabra’s Buds are only $ 139 (usually $ 179) on Amazon at the time of writing. This is absolutely ridiculous value for a pair of head-to-toe earbuds that occasionally outperform the AirPods Pro ($ 199; originally $ 249) in almost every way.
There are still some great reasons to get excited about Apple’s high-end Buds, from their better overall sound to their seamless connectivity with iPhones, iPads, and Macs. But the Elite Active 75t’s superb design, features, and noise-canceling form a winning combination that got this staunch AirPods loyalist to jump ship for the time being. And I’m not sure when I’ll be back.
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