Dolby Atmos audio quality, an impressively comfortable build, and easy-to-use physical buttons on each earpiece as opposed to a capacitive touch surface. I’d almost forgotten just how good Jabra can be at its best, but a review of the market will tell you when it comes to the Jabra Elite 10 wireless earbuds, the brand has swiftly nailed the brief for an excellent pair of lifestyle earbuds.
“Lifestyle earbuds” are distinguishable from sports earbuds. The latter is what Jabra is generally known for, given the Copenhagen-based company has always excelled when it comes to building quality audio devices for runners and gym junkies. Jabra’s lifestyle-geared earbuds are lesser known but they are no less valuable. The Jabra Elite 10 is proof of that; these are some of the best earbuds I’ve tested all year.
There are a few reasons for that and I covered the major ones in the first sentence of this review. The sound is excellent, the build is supremely comfortable and I think Jabra has finally helped me decide whether I like touch controls or physical buttons better. I like physical buttons better.
Jabra Elite 10 Review
Jabra Elite 10
- Physical buttons are so much easier to use
- Lightweight and very comfortable
- Slim charging case fits snugly in pocket
- Sound quality is mostly excellent
- Not the best noise cancelling at this price
- Call quality can be quite weak
- No high-end Bluetooth codecs
Easy to clean with a seamless look. Jabra has built a really nice and soft silicone jacket for the Elite 10s, kept slim so they don’t awkwardly protrude from the ears. And it’s always a bonus when they don’t have those stems that Apple keep pushing with the AirPods.
A good range of silicone tips comes with the buds as expected, but I’m lucky enough to have fairly standard size ears so whatever is default fits me like a glove. You can always tell when you have a snug fit because the passive noise cancelling is immediate and noticeable. Having the right fit also boosts sound quality considerably, so it’s very much a mark in Jabra’s favour that the Elite 10 comes with enough tips for a wider variety of users.
I find these to be some of the most supremely comfortable earbuds I’ve tested for a long time. Ear fatigue is no issue. The devil is in the details when it comes to things like this, and it says a lot that Jabra has presented earbuds much more comfortable than pricier alternatives this year. This is not only thanks to the weight (each earbud weighs 5.7 g, which is slightly less than Sony’s excellent WF-1000XM5) but the bean-like shape of the bodies which house all the tech required to make these things work.
It’s a delicate balance to stuff competent drivers and mics into an earbud and still make them slim, light and stable. When music isn’t playing, the only thing reminding me that I still have these diminutive buds plugged into my ears is the passive noise cancellation. There’s a lot of value in that.
My favourite thing about the design is the physical buttons on each earpiece. Yes, it feels much more premium to have a touch surface that can easily perform functions like toggling ANC, controlling playback and answering (or ending) calls. But touch surfaces are also notoriously finicky and hard to get right for many manufacturers. Sometimes the surface area is too tight and there’s more room for error; mostly it’s just annoying adjusting your earbuds and accidentally pausing the music each time.
With physical buttons, none of these issues exist. There’s some quick tactile feedback and the response follows soon after. My only issue is that the response isn’t fast enough when it comes to adjusting volume. You press and hold the left piece to turn the volume down and the right to turn it up; you just have to long-press the button for longer than you should.
Jabra excels when it comes to water and dust-proofing. Again, this brand is at its best when it’s building sports earbuds to take to the gym and on runs without any concern about sweat. The Jabra Elite 10 is IP57 rated, which isn’t the top of the line when it comes to protection, but it’s certainly higher than most other earbuds.
The AirPods Pro, for example, is IPX4, which only has very light protection against water (4). The X indicates that not enough data is known to give the earbuds a dust-proof rating, but it’s safe to say the protection is quite low. I wouldn’t take the AirPods Pro to the gym; I’d have no issue with the Elite 10 unless I’m dunking them in water for more than 30 minutes.
Finally, the charging case. The case mirrors the buds in that it’s super slim and very light while still easily hosting each piece when it comes time to charge them up. My issue with Sony’s WF-1000XM5 this year is that the surface of each piece is glossy and slippery so it can be difficult to scoop them out of the case. I have no such issue with these Jabra earbuds.
On the inside, each bud fits a 10 mm driver capable of a frequency range from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. That’s very decent; not enough to really nail the low-end but enough for a beautifully balanced soundstage.
The pair I’m reviewing also comes in a new Cocoa colourway, which is between brown and red and looks almost like violet from a distance. It’s not the most attractive colour but you can also opt for either Cream or Black.
The feature set is where the Jabra Elite 10 earbuds falter. As above, there are no high-quality Bluetooth codecs like aptX. You’ve only got the standards AAC and SBC. This is more than enough for a stable, quality Bluetooth connection and satisfying audio, but not enough for hi-resolution streaming and low latency. I’ve tried streaming Netflix with these but there can be a lag at times.
ANC is also quite disappointing and I struggle to really tell the difference between noise cancelling and hear-through mode. Whatever mic array has been included doesn’t work efficiently enough. While you’ll get a sufficient level of insulation from external noise with ANC toggled on, the Jabra’s fall far behind similarly-priced alternatives.
I’d say if ANC was super important to you, then the Elite 10 might be a disappointment. That said, you can still expect a decent level of suppression when it comes to lower frequencies. I’d also like to note that the voice that tells you when ANC is on or off in response to the left piece’s button is much too quiet and speaks under the music so softly that you can’t even hear it.
Battery life is rated for 6 hours with a total of 27 when coupled with the charging case. That’s more or less what you can expect at this price point anyway so Jabra don’t get any marks for keeping up with that standard. Although it’s still an impressive feat having a battery that efficient while still maintaining that small profile.
Jabra is not a hi-fi company, nor does it claim to be so. This brand is simply laser-focused on creating good quality earphones that don’t need to overcompensate with finicky software tricks and upscaling.
As such, you’re not going to milk the upper echelon of sound quality out of these buds, but what you’ll get is more than enough for me. The bass is strong but not overly so, the mids punch well, and the highs are bright even if they lack a bit of presence.
Dolby Atmos does help quite a lot when it comes to clear instrumentation, offering a degree of spatial audio that a lot of lesser earphones can’t handle. You can also turn on head tracking to test out what is absolutely the most fashionable thing in wireless earbuds right now. Although it’s far from perfect.
Verdict & Value
The Jabra Elite 10 is one of the best pairs of earbuds I’ve tested this year from a design point of view. The colourway might not be the most attractive, but the small, lightweight build has plenty of benefits.
The question is whether I’d pay $379 for these or save a bit more and get some earphones with better codecs and vastly superior noise cancelling. And that’s a tricky one because while I do love these earbuds it’s hard to justify the price given the quality of the ANC.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad. It’s just not the level of ANC I’d expect if I was paying anything more than $300.
Yet if you can afford it and don’t necessarily need to fortify yourself from external noise, then the Jabra Elite 10 is an easy pick for some of the best wireless earbuds this year.
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Jabra Elite 10 Review — Frequently Asked Questions
How much does the Jabra Elite 10 cost in Australia?
The Jabra Elite 10 retails in Australia for $379.
What colours is the Jabra Elite 10 available in?
The Jabra Elite 10 is available in Cocoa, Cream and Black.
When was the Jabra Elite 10 released in Australia?
The Jabra Elite 10 was released on 31st August, 2023.