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Jabra's shock exit spells good news for Beats, Anker, and Sennheiser

Jabra's loss is another's gain.
By

Published onJuly 10, 2024

A man wears the Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys

I have enjoyed Jabra earbuds for years. The Elite Active 75t have accompanied me to the gym and on walks in the early morning drizzle more times than I can remember. Fast-forward four years since their launch, and Jabra has announced it is axing its entire earbud lineup for good. Shocking though it is, the company swiftly brushed the news aside. On June 11, 2024, the company unveiled the last products in the Elite line, the Jabra Elite 10 Gen 2 and Elite 8 Active Gen 2. While both buds are one heck of a swan song, there is no guarantee of support lasting beyond 2024. If you are anything like me, workout earbuds once resigned to the peripherals seem increasingly enticing by the minute.

From Elite to obsolete

A photo of the Jabra Elite 10 Gen 2 earbuds being held in a hand.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
These earbuds are excellent, even if they’re moribund.

GN (Jabra’s parent company) is retiring its Elite earbud category to focus on more profitable areas in its Hearing, Enterprise, and Gaming business. Digging through the numbers, it is fairly easy to understand why. In 2024, revenue in its Consumer business is estimated to be impacted by around DKK -450 million compared to a year earlier. Similarly, its Gaming and Consumer division saw 0% organic growth in Q1 of 2024. This compares to 17% growth in Q1 of 2023. The company cites increasing competition and rising manufacturing costs as two major reasons for these trends.

According to Jabra’s Interim Report for Q1 of 2024, the company’s ReSound Nexia hearing aids will offset much of the anticipated financial downtrends. This makes sense, given the product has seen 14% organic revenue growth in 2024. Its Hearing department also enjoys a three-fold profit margin on its more pedestrian Gaming and Consumer category. Consequently, Jabra plans to deplete its earbuds stocks by the end of 2024 by offering “extraordinary promotional activities.” In other words, Black Friday sales will be crazy this year.

Jabra is retiring its true wireless earbuds category to focus on more profitable areas of its business.

The Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 are almost certain to go on sale, and I’d be remiss not to grab a pair. The problem is that Jabra has already hinted prices will be lower the longer we hold out. The gamble is that the remaining stocks could be depleted before the autumn sales are announced. The good news is that if you grab a pair, Jabra claims it will continue providing updates and support for several years. The bad news is that many of its older earbuds have already been discontinued. For example, the Jabra Elite Active 75t were pulled from shelves at the end of 2021. This followed just one year after their final firmware update (version 2.0.0) launched in October 2020. Given Jabra’s latest buds are already on sale, there is no guarantee vital firmware updates won’t expire in 2025.

Don’t get me wrong — the Jabra Elite Active 75t are some of the best exercise buds I’ve ever owned. But the fear of dwindling support for the Elite 8 Active Gen 2 in the future makes me question their purchase. Instead, turning to Beats, Anker, and Sennheiser for all my flagship workout-friendly features may be all I need.

Jabra has workout-oriented features down to a (75)t

The Jabra Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds (navy) covered in water droplets behind a Casio digital watch.
Jabra’s earbuds have always had strong durability to protect against water and dust damage.

Like most workout enthusiasts, I gravitate towards earbuds with a list of exercise-friendly features. For example, smaller earbuds suit my ear shape better and feel much more secure. Larger buds, on the other hand, come loose far too easily when I go for a run. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro ($139 at Amazon) fall foul of this, having fallen out of my ears many times during a rigorous workout regimen. While Jabra workout earbuds do not ship with wing tips or over-ear hooks, they wear Jabra’s signature grip coating. This is excellent for keeping the buds in place. I also enjoy the tactile buttons found on Jabra’s earbuds. These feel more robust and assertive than touch and pressure-sensitive stems.

Call me aloof, but I am not a huge fan of my gym’s workout playlist. Thankfully, passive isolation and noise canceling protect my music mix from the outside world. While some of the earlier Jabra earbud models struggled with noise canceling, they really nailed it with their latest models. The Jabra Elite 10 Gen 2 have the best noise canceling of any earbuds we’ve tested to date.

Jabra's workout earbuds are some of the best in the business. However, a lack of future support could change things.

Gym-goers generally prefer headphones with a bassy sound profile for working out. These are more desirable than their less bassy counterparts, given that added bass is known to affect physical endurance and exercise. My tried and true Jabra Elite Active 75t are a great workout companion, accentuating sub-bass frequencies by roughly 8dB. This is handy for pumping through a tough exercise but is less suited for critical listening. For example, the earbuds reproduce Royal Blood’s “Mountains At Midnight” fuzzy bass tone pleasingly, with extra emphasis on the kick drum. However, the vocals sound comparatively subdued.

Perhaps one of the most important features I look for in any workout earbud is a robust IP rating. The Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 have IP68 dust and water resistance. Crucially, the buds are perfectly suited for handling a sweaty cardio workout. But with Jabra retiring its workout-friendly buds, is it time to consider the alternatives?

Actively looking elsewhere

A hand holds the Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
The Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 are great all-around earbuds.

Beats, Anker, and Sennheiser will likely be the biggest beneficiaries of Jabra exiting the market. For example, the Beats Fit Pro ($159 at Amazon) are still billed as some of the best noise canceling workout earbuds that money can buy. Their tapered and angled wing tips are extremely comfortable, and they wear an IPX4 water-resistant build to guard against sweat. The Beats Fit Pro also own an OS-agnostic feature set, including automatic device switching on iOS and the comprehensive Beats app on Android. Noise canceling is also very good, attenuating even more midrange frequencies than Jabra’s latest Elite 8 Active Gen 2.

I suspect the Anker Soundcore Life A1 will scoop up a lot of Jabra’s share of the workout earbud market once its stocks run dry. These buds cost as little as ($49 at Amazon) and wear a robust IPX7 water-resistant build. They also ship with five ear tip sizes and three sets of wings to attain a comfortable and secure fit. Sure, there’s no noise canceling here, but the buds do an excellent job of passively isolating your music mix. In particular, the Soundcore Life A1 quell high-pitched frequencies above 1kHz very effectively. They also own a very bassy sound profile, although you can cycle through three EQ presets straight from the buds.

Beats, Anker, and Sennheiser all deliver compelling workout-friendly earbud alternatives to Jabra.

Serious athletes should consider the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Sport, on the product’s website. These earbuds feature a heart-rate sensor and body temperature sensor. They are also water resistant, have wing tips for a secure fit, and have ANC.

With all three companies delivering excellent workout-friendly earbuds, I find it hard to see how they will not benefit from Jabra’s shock exit from the true wireless earbuds arena. But what do you think? Will Beats, Anker, Sennheiser, or another earbud manufacturer benefit most? Let us know in the poll below.

Will Beats, Anker, or Sennheiser benefit the most from Jabra's shock exit?

23 votes
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