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Jabra Elite 10 review: The most comfortable earbuds ever?

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 179
inc. VAT

Delivering class-leading comfort, heaps of features and strong audio, the stylish Jabra Elite 10 are the manufacturer's best earbuds yet

Pros

  • Class-leading comfort
  • Dolby Spatial Audio with head tracking
  • Effective controls

Cons

  • Stronger sound and ANC on competitors
  • Average mic quality
  • Slow charge time

The Jabra Elite 10 mark a new phase for the Danish manufacturer. It’s released numerous true wireless earbuds over the past few years, including several entries in its Pro and Active ranges, but the Elite 10 are the first to incorporate its new “ComfortFit” technology.

This makes use of a semi-open earbud design combined with oval “EarGels” fashioned from soft silicone to provide a fit that allows for a certain level of ambient awareness and reduces pressure build-up in your ears. I’ll discuss the design in detail later but suffice to say, it’s a hit. By sacrificing a little bit of noise cancelling efficacy, the Elite 10 make huge gains in the wearability department to become some of the most comfortable earbuds on the market.

And with a strong audio performance, plenty of useful features and great build quality to complement that ultra-comfortable fit, the Jabra Elite 10 are a true wireless option worth serious consideration.


Jabra Elite 10 review: What do you get for the money?

Launched alongside the Jabra Elite 8 Active, the Elite 10 are Jabra’s new flagship earbuds and have an RRP of £230. At the time of writing, however, their five colourways – Cocoa, Cream, Gloss Black, Matte Black and Titanium Black – were all available for £179 from retailers including Amazon, Currys and Argos.

Each bud weighs a lightweight 5.7g, has a soft-touch silicone skin and comes with an IP57 rating for dust and water resistance. Housed inside the buds are 10mm drivers able to deliver AAC and SBC audio over Bluetooth 5.3. Multipoint pairing with up to two devices is present and correct and there’s support for Dolby Atmos spatial audio with head tracking; a first for Jabra earbuds.

The Elite 10 use six microphones for calls and voice assistant functionality while offering various customisation options in the Jabra Sound+ app, including EQ controls, ANC and transparency (HearThru) modes.

With ANC on, they provide up to six hours of battery life, extending to 27 hours with the accompanying case, which can be topped up via the included USB-C cable or using a Qi wireless charger. Jabra includes four sizes of oval EarGels that wrap around the buds to secure them comfortably in your ears no matter the shape of your lugholes.

While you’re not short of options where similarly priced noise-cancelling earbuds are concerned – the Apple AirPods Pro 2 (£229), Sony WF-1000XM5 (£259) and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II (£279) are just a few of our favourites – the Jabra Elite 10’s semi-open design gives them an attractive USP.

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Jabra Elite 10 review: What do we like about them?

That design is an obvious place to start. The Elite 10 are Jabra’s most stylish in-ear headphones yet, with all five colourways exuding elegance. The build feels sturdy too and is comparable to the Elite 8 Active, albeit with a lower IP rating of IP57 instead of IP68.

Jabra describes the Elite 10 as semi-open earbuds owing to their use of pressure-relieving vents and wide silicone tips that don’t fully seal your ear canals, resulting in a halfway house between traditional silicone-tipped earbuds and open-fit options like the Apple AirPods.

It’s a design that works extremely well: put them in your ears and the Elite 10 are among the most comfortable earbuds you can buy. They exert even less pressure than the cosy Elite 8 Active and I didn’t think twice about using them all day.

Their in-ear stability warrants no complaints either. I was slightly concerned that the absence of long nozzles that reach down into your ears would see them come loose but the Elite 10 remained remarkably secure, even during exercise. I preferred them to the Elite 8 Active when running too, since the reduced occlusion meant I wasn’t as aware of the reverberations caused by my booming footsteps.

I anticipated the semi-open design would affect noise cancellation, but the Elite 10 surprised me with how well they performed. They kept distractions to a minimum in a bustling gym and busy office, and I rarely found myself needing to push the volume of what I was listening to higher than around 65%.

The semi-open design means you’re not completely isolated from ambient noise while listening to audio, which will be a pro or con depending on your intended usage. The sound of rustling leaves and wet car tyres still made its way to my ears, and when you’ve not got anything playing, you’ll be able to pick up a fair bit of what’s going on around you.

As such, don’t expect the Elite 10 to compete with the best noise-cancelling earbuds around, but they are certainly much more effective than fully open-ear buds like the JBL Soundgear Sense and block enough noise to be used as daily drivers.

Their case for general use is strengthened by their sound quality – the Elite 10 are the best-sounding Jabra true wireless earbuds I’ve tested. Out of the box, they provide clear, detailed sound that is well-balanced, if perhaps a touch bright at times; Sampha’s voice sounded more forward than usual on Plastic 100°C.

Bass is punchy and controlled and has sufficient weight to harness the destructive beat of Evian Christ’s On Embers, while more serene hip-hop tracks like Earl Sweatshirt’s 100 High Street are handled capably too. The snare-heavy drumming on Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Give It Away was impactful but not too in your face and this well-judged reproduction suits most tracks very nicely.

The high-frequency hiss of the cymbals on that latter track, like the upper-middle frequencies, felt slightly too prominent but had sparkle and highlighted the buds’ excellent imaging. The soundstage is fairly wide too and is a great backdrop for a sound signature that is both fun and energetic.

Bring those high frequencies down slightly using the customisable equaliser in the Jabra Sound+ app and you’ll get an even better acoustic balance. Manual EQ adjustments make a noticeable difference to the sound and the same is true of the six EQ presets: Neutral, Speech, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Smooth and Energize.

One of the Elite 10’s headline features is support for Dolby Atmos with head tracking, and this is adjustable in the app. With both on, sound follows your head’s movement in a 360-degree field and repositions itself within five seconds of you changing the direction you’re facing. I found that the earbuds tracked my head movements accurately and the results were reasonably immersive across a range of content.

When watching Dolby Atmos-supported content such as the nature documentary Our Planet, the Elite 10 portrayed precise spatial detail, but the buds are also able to use Dolby Spatial Sound upscaling to deliver an impressively spacious experience regardless of what you’re watching and which platform you’re watching it on.

The earbuds also feature convenient depressable button controls. Touch control fans need not be put off by this, however, as they require minimal force to activate compared with buds like the Sony WF-C500 or Jabra’s Elite 8 Active. While I sometimes accidentally pressed the buttons when adjusting the fit, the controls were otherwise extremely user-friendly.

By default, the right bud plays/pauses audio with a single press, skips to the next track with a double press, and restarts a track with a triple press. The left bud toggles through ANC modes or activates your voice assistant, while a long press on the left bud reduces volume and the same action on the right increases it.

These controls can be fully personalised within the companion app, which is always good to see. Wear detection is also effectively implemented. The Elite 10 automatically pause audio when one or both buds are removed from your ears and resume playing it when put back in and I had no issues with how this worked during testing.

Jabra Elite 10 review: What could be improved?

While the Elite 10 sound great, there’s still room for improvement. High frequencies could be reproduced with greater detail and I found the default sound profile a little bright on occasion. I picked up on some sibilance during certain recordings too, but was able to remedy this reasonably successfully by dialling down higher frequencies a touch using the custom EQ.

Given their premium price tag, it’s disappointing that the Elite 10 don’t support any high-resolution codecs. They’re able to get surprisingly close to other flagship earbuds despite this, but the absence of LDAC or aptX Adaptive support is a definite shortcoming.

Elsewhere, the semi-open design didn’t work as well for holding conversations as I’d hoped. Voices sounded muffled compared with other ambient noises in my environment, meaning that I typically removed the buds when needing to speak to someone for more than a few seconds. There is a HearThru transparency mode available, however, which goes a long way to overcoming this issue.

My remaining criticisms are fairly consistent with those I mentioned in my review of the contemporaneous Elite 8 Active. Voice clarity while on calls and making recordings is slightly better here but could still be clearer and suffers if you’re in noisy environments. Call performance is ultimately satisfactory but some way behind that of the Technics EAH-AZ80, which are class-leading in that department.

Battery charge time to full is also stubbornly slow, matching the three hours it takes to top-up the Elite 8 Active. You’re also getting two hours less juice in the buds and five hours less total battery life, which makes that wait more painful.

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Jabra Elite 10 review: Should you buy them?

The Jabra Elite 10 are definitely worth considering if you’re on the hunt for a new pair of true wireless earbuds, especially if comfort is high on your priority list. They’re the comfiest buds I’ve ever tested and their semi-open design balances sound isolation and ambient awareness effectively.

It’s a design that sees them outperform fully open-fit earbuds where sound quality and active noise cancellation are concerned and they’re not short on impactful features and customisation options either. Up against flagship buds that fully seal off your ear canals, however, they’re not quite as impressive. The Sony WF-1000XM5 offer high-resolution codec support and richer, more detailed audio, while the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II do a much better job attenuating external sound with ANC engaged.

But if you’re looking for a happy medium between open-fit and traditional silicone-tipped buds, you’ll struggle to find a more complete pair for the money.

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