I think even the most hardcore anti-Apple punter will grudgingly admit that when it comes to true wireless earbuds (TWS) there is nothing more fuss-free than Apple’s AirPods Pro 2.
In terms of pure specs, AirPods Pro 2 is somewhat neutered by the fact that they do not support high-resolution codecs and only transit via SBC and AAC. At the same time, it’s also proof that you can sound decent despite audio file compression–it’s about the sum of its parts. Plus, the day-to-day experience remains the benchmark.
The Jabra Elite 10 looks like a direct competitor in this regard. Jabra shares the same streamlined approach to the user experience. And much like the AirPods Pro 2, the Elite 10 is not built around a pair of groundbreaking multi-driver tech with a sophisticated crossover circuit to please audiophiles; that said, the Elite 10 is very different from the rest of the Elite series as it uses a semi-open design similar to an earlier Jabra model, the Elite 85t.
Like the AirPods Pro 2, the Elite 10 does not support high-resolution codecs, and you’re limited to SBC and AAC for now. However, the earbuds are built on Bluetooth 5.3, and Jabra has confirmed LE Audio support with LC3 to be on the way. LC3 is geared towards efficiency, which says a lot about Jabra’s thoughts about this. And I’d have to agree–for mainstream users, while high-resolution codecs like LDAC 2.0 can transmit almost lossless audio at 990 kbps, you are more susceptible to signal drops depending on your environment, effectively relegating this to enthusiasts-only territory. It’s hard to ‘curate’ an experience for a lay user who just wants something that works if you intend to have your cake and eat it too.
So how does the Elite 10 fare in terms of audio quality? Compared to the regular Elite earbuds–which have a signature v-shaped sound–the Elite 10 sounds like it has a gentler curve with more refined mids and high-end. The soundstage gives the impression that it’s more open and spacious. The Elite 10 works best with sparse arrangements, which I feel lends itself well to its spatial audio features. If that’s the intent, then the Elite 10 did a good job.
The fact that the Elite 10 supports Dolby Spatial Audio is a big plus, as it certainly improves the audio experience for a wide range of content, especially for video streaming. Trading off extreme musicality for a solid, ‘all-rounder’ performance? Why not. Plus, spatial audio does add a sense of space that may come across as faux high-resolution music. The Elite 10 also supports head tracking if you are into that sort of thing. Granted, content needs to support Atmos for all of these niceties to come to fruition, but this is becoming the norm. For example, just sign up for Apple Music for a simple, no-frills way to enjoy spatial audio.
In true Jabra fashion, the Elite 10 has all the necessary features covered. The case and earbuds are water and dust-resistant: IP57 for the earbuds and IP54 for the case. You can rinse your earbuds, but the case is effectively only splashproof. The package comes with a set of four ear tip sizes to better your chances of getting a perfect fit. One thing to note: because the shape of the speaker vent is unique, you’re restricted to replacements from Jabra. At the moment, there are no third-party replacement ear tips yet.
One thing that Jabra gets right a lot of the time is the fit, and for me, at least, it’s pretty much business as usual with the Elite 10. This is a pretty chunky boy, and yet it rests gently in your ear canal and never feels uncomfortable. It’s not designed to hug your ear canal, so the upside here is that you don’t get that annoying thump every time you set your foot down during runs–and it still stays snug. Also, for some reason, you always get the sense that there is sound leaking through, but it could be the semi-open design; either way, once you turn on ANC, it all works out.
I would consider the Jabra Advanced ANC and hear-through capable enough to meet the needs of day-to-day commutes; the ANC filters out chatter and reduces most loud noises to reasonable levels. It has some resistance to wind, though that depends on the angle it’s coming from. The hear-through seemingly makes people’s voices slightly nasal, but you can hear your surroundings clearly, which is the most important bit.
Likewise, the mic also fares well enough with noise in the background, and you (or, rather, the other person on the line) can hear the algorithms do their work. That said, your voice does get more and more digital-sounding the more chaotic it is, but we found it worked well enough for you to make haste for somewhere quieter without breaking up the flow of the conversation.
The one thing that I personally like is the fact Jabra still uses physical buttons instead of touch controls. There’s a definitiveness in knowing that you are doing something, and the controls are kept fairly simple–ANC settings on the left and media and call controls on the right. But of course, they are customisable. The breadth of features available means that you’ll need the Sound+ app to adjust the rest of the settings, but thankfully it’s fairly simple to navigate.
The battery life is pretty OK as well–with ANC on, over five hours is more or less guaranteed with every charge, and the case holds another 21 hours of charge. The charging case supports Qi wireless charging, but why bother (sorry, I’m biased) when you can charge it fully via USB-C in just over an hour.
The Jabra Elite 10 won’t set the world on fire, but it’s low-key one of the safest bets as a viable AirPods Pro alternative for those on the Android platform (AirPods Pro 2 needs iOS for many of its key features to work), especially if you like your devices simple and easy to use. One can also make a case for Sony’s WF-1000 XM5 as they’re effectively in the same price bracket, but in ‘philosophy’, that’s an entirely different kettle of fish altogether. Furthermore, the Elite 10 can be bought at as low as SGD328 (RRP 378) at Stereo, so that’s a big plus as well.
Jabra Elite 10
Price SGD 378/ MYR1,299
Value Proposition ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐
Design & Build Quality ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅½☐☐
An excellent AirPods Pro 2 alternative, especially when you can buy it below RRP, the Elite 10 continues the grand Jabra tradition of reliable workhorse earbuds you can rely on for pretty much anything, be it music, ANC or calls.