The Jabra Elite 4 Active were announced just ahead of CES 2022, and complete (for now, at least) the company’s latest lineup of workout-friendly true wireless earbuds.
They're not the most exciting earbuds to be revealed at the tech expo, but they’re certainly among the highest-spec wireless buds for the price, coming with active noise cancellation, decent battery life, and a design that makes them ideal for use while working out.
In practice, these are a good-sounding pair of earbuds that you can easily use while exercising. They're comfy, feature on-ear controls, and sport an IPX4 water-resistance rating that will keep them protected from sweat and rain.
The Jabra Elite 4 Active aren't the best-sounding in-ear headphones on the planet, though, lacking the wide soundstage you'd get from a pair of audiophile-focused buds. In addition, noise cancellation is good, but not great.
Nevertheless, the Jabra Elite 4 Active are definitely worth considering if you want a pair of running headphones that sound decent but won't break the bank.
Jabra Elite 4 Active price and release date
The Jabra Elite 4 Active are available to buy now for $119 / £119 / AU$179, putting them at the lower end of the price scale for true wireless earbuds.
They’re cheaper than the brand’s flagship model, the Jabra Elite 7 Active, which cost $179 / £169 / AU$279, and pricier than Jabra’s budget buds, the Elite 3, which come in at $79.99 / £79.99 / AU$119.
For comparison, the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today, the Sony WF-1000XM4, cost $279 / £250 / AU$449.
Available in black, navy, and a fetching mint green color, the Jabra Elite 4 Active are as functional and well built as any Jabra earbuds we’ve tested so far.
The smooth-feeling housings aren't supplied with any wingtips to keep them secure in your ears whilst working out, but the Elite 4 Active feel very snug nonetheless. Plus, they do come with a range of different-sized ear tips so you can find your perfect fit.
Unlike the Jabra Elite 7 Active, they don’t feature the rubber-type ShakeGrip coating to hold them securely in your ears. However, so long as you’re using the correct tips for your ears, you should find that the Elite 4 Active stay in place while working out.
Another workout-friendly design feature is the Elite 4 Active’s IP57 dust- and water-resistance rating, enabling you to use them whilst exercising without having to worry about sweat or a spot of rain causing them to malfunction.
On each housing sits a physical button that you can press to control your music playback, adjust the volume, accept, reject, and end calls, and summon your device’s voice assistant.
Physical buttons on in-ear headphones are a bit divisive; you might love not having to learn a series of swipe gestures, or you may hate the sensation of pushing the buds further into your ear canals every time you want to pause your music.
In any case, it’s great to see that Jabra has included on-ear volume controls – it saves you from having to dig your phone out of your pocket, and it’s a feature that’s often overlooked by earbud manufacturers.
Usefully, the Jabra include a small LED on each housing that indicates the battery status of the buds, as well as when they’re in pairing mode, powering off, or updating the firmware.
You’ll also find an LED on the front of the charging case, which also provides an indication of battery life remaining. The case itself is made from plastic, with a flip-top lid and a USB-C charging port on the back. The plastic construction means it does feel a little flimsy, but that’s to be expected at this price.
Like other Jabra earbuds and headphones, the Elite 4 Active present an enjoyable listening experience; but they aren't class-leading in terms of audio performance.
Inside the Jabra Elite 4 Active are 6mm drivers and a customizable equalizer via the Jabra Sound+ app, allowing you to adjust the sound to your tastes.
Listening to We Don’t Talk About Bruno from Disney’s Encanto, the percussion sounds nicely detailed and voices are clear and resonant, even as the harmonies build in complexity. The bass sounds rich and well controlled, and there’s a good level of clarity in the trebles – although they can sound a little harsh at higher volumes.
Moving on to Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot, the electric guitars jump right to the front of the mix, displaying tons of energy and dynamism. Benatar’s vocal is front and center, too, while the rhythm section sounds neat and tight.
As good as they sound, the Jabra Elite 4 Active don't possess the wide soundstage and dynamic dexterity of models such as the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus. Listening to Nelcy Sedibe's Holotelani, everything sounds pleasant enough; but the mingling guitar riffs, percussion and vocals don't have enough space to shine individually, and there's no sense of sonic direction.
Playing with the EQ settings means you can really dig into the kind of sound you like best. For us, boosted bass and slightly rolled-off trebles did the trick, taking the edge off those harsh high frequencies. There are also a number of EQ presets to choose from, including Neutral, Speech, Bass boost, Treble boost, Smooth and Energize.
If you're using the Jabra Elite 4 Active while working out, we'd recommend trying the Bass boost preset to allow those low frequencies to really power your exercise session. Otherwise, we preferred the Neutral preset for a well-balanced sound.
It’s a shame there’s no auto-pause function when you remove the buds from your ears – but that’s a small bugbear rather than a deal-breaker.
The active noise cancellation is pretty good, if not exceptional, blocking out a decent level of ambient sound, allowing you to listen to your music in relative peace. While you can personalize the noise cancellation via the app, we didn't notice much of a difference compared to using the standard settings.
There’s also a HearThrough mode, which lets you tune in to your surroundings without having to remove the earbuds. You can use a slider in the app to choose just how much sound passes through the buds, too.
We found this feature to be less successful: we could hear a dog barking, for example, but we missed a knock at the door.
Battery life and connectivity
Jabra says that the Elite 4 Active will last for up to 28 hours with the charging case, with seven hours of playback provided by the earbuds themselves – and that seemed about right in our tests with active noise cancellation switched on.
Battery life is longer than what you get with the Apple AirPods 3 and the Sony WF-1000XM4 – although far less than the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0, which offer a whopping 80 hours of playback. Saying that, Lypertek’s buds don’t come with active noise cancellation, which can be a big drain on battery life.
Connectivity comes courtesy of Bluetooth 5.2, and pairing them with our iPhone 13 mini was a breeze. To set them up, you’ll need to download the Jabra Sound+ app, where you’ll be able to choose your EQ settings, adjust the HearThrough levels, and update the firmware when needed.
Should I buy the Jabra Elite 4 Active?
Buy them if...
You need earbuds for working out
The Jabra Elite 4 Active are ideal for use during exercise thanks to water resistance and a secure, comfy fit.
You like to tinker with your sound
The Jabra Sound+ app lets you adjust the EQ settings to your heart's content, while also providing a choice of presets to select from.
You're on a budget
There are better-sounding earbuds out there, but few offer so many features for the price.
Don't buy them if...
You're after best-in-class sound
The Jabra Elite 4 Active offer an enjoyable listen, but the soundstage isn't wide enough to give every instrument the space it deserves.
You want complete silence
The active noise cancellation is decent, but not the best available. Check out the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, if silence is what you crave.
You forget to pause your music
There's no auto-pause feature when you remove the earbuds from your ears, so expect your music to continue playing all day long unless you turn it off yourself.
- Check out our guide to the best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy