Jabra Elite 10 noise-cancelling earbuds
PAT PILCHER has pushed many an earbud into his cavernous canals of late, but Jabra’s new Elite 10 takes the cake.
My earbud cup runneth over! Having just finished testing Sony’s well-regarded buds, Jabra’s flagship Elite 10 noise-cancelling buds landed on my doorstep. They’re Jabra’s top-end models aimed at challenging Apple, Bose and Sony. Having bunged them into my earholes, what’s my verdict? Are they any good? Read on!
The review units I tested were finished in matte black and had a grippy silicone finish with a tactile button on their exterior. Given their tiny form factor, they’re easy to fumble, so a grippy finish makes a lot of sense. They also come with four silicone ear tips (S, M, L and XL). The bud’s clever ergonomic design saw them sitting firmly in my ears, and as the ear tips didn’t go too far into my ear canals, they were a super comfy fit.
The Elite 10’s are kitted out with 10mm dynamic drivers, capable of delivering sweet sounds from 20Hz to 20kHz. Bluetooth 5.3, AAC and SBC codecs are supported. Jabra says a future firmware update will support the LC3 and LC3plus, but it’s still some time away. The Elite 10 come with Google Fast Pair and multipoint connectivity, which saw a dialogue pop up on my Galaxy Z Fold once I’d opened their charging case, asking if I wanted to pair them. Testing their multipoint connectivity saw the same result on my Windows PC. Getting set up is almost completely effortless.
While I don’t often use earbud controls, I tend to have mixed feelings about tactile controls. While they are usually less susceptible to accidental presses, I initially changed listening modes from ANC to ambient when plunking the Elite into my ears. Having become aware that this was an issue, I was a tad more careful when handling them, and accidental presses became a non-issue.
A standout feature that’s bound to appeal to sporty and outdoorsy types is the Elite 10’s IP57 rating. The 5 means they’re well protected against dust, while the 7 means they can survive a dunking at depths of up to a metre for 30 minutes. This means that wearing them during a downpour or sweaty running outdoors isn’t a problem. If they get grubby, run them under a tap to clean them! (Do try this at home, kids! I tried, and it worked.)
Their charging case is a slim number with rounded edges and is finished in a grippy matte finish. It sports status LED and USB-C port but also supports wireless charging. Speaking of charging, the Elite 10 gives just over 6 hours of use when fully charged. Their case can provide an additional 21 hours (with ANC on). Turning off ANC increases their run time to a hair less than 8 hours and 30 minutes. Your mileage will vary depending on listening levels and their distance from your phone. Going from zero to fully charged took around three hours, and five minutes of charging gave about an hour of use.
As well as the buds, you can also install the Jabra Sound+ app (Android/iOS). It shows the battery life for each earbud and the charging case and allows you to switch from ANC to ambient. Volume levels for ambient mode are adjustable thanks to a sound level fader. You can also enable another nifty feature, Dolby Spatial Sound. It also comes with head tracking. Turning your head, sees audio panning appropriately. In the end, I disabled head tracking as it was distracting. That said, Dolby Spatial Sound did nice things to the soundstage.
Lastly, you also get a five-band EQ, with several pre-sets, and a Soundscapes section, which might be useful if you like relaxing to looped nature recordings or white noise.
On the ANC front, the Elite 10 delivered solid noise cancellation that impressed. Loud low-frequency sounds were hushed to inaudible levels, and only super loud mids and highs managed to penetrate the Elite 10’s cone of silence. The ambient mode was also accurate and allowed me to quickly switch into conversations and, crucially, have greater environmental awareness, such as when crossing the road.
In use, the Elite 10s delivered ample bass, and I was pleased to note that while their bass packs plenty of near tactile “thump” at lower volume levels, it remained clean when I cranked things up. Mids and highs were also sparkly but not too bright. This was notable in Holst’s Planet Suite, where a clean, transparent sound with decent lows and Dolby Spatial helped reproduce a concert hall setting with surprisingly decent accuracy.
Taking the Elite 10’s walkies through Wellington’s RF-congested CBD to test their Bluetooth and calling chops, they delivered surprisingly clear calls for me and my test caller, even at a noisy intersection with buses roaring through. Their Bluetooth stability was decent, too. No dropouts at locations have historically caused many buds to curl up their toes and disconnect.
The Elite 10 buds can easily sit shoulder-to-shoulder with their high-end counterparts from Apple, Bose and Sony. They are super comfortable to wear, and their ANC and audio are top-notch. Add an excellent IP rating and a decent app seals the deal.