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Jabra Elite 8 Active review - Rugged in-ears with a full sound

Unbeatable? With the Elite 8 Active, Jabra is offering nothing less than the toughest true-wireless stereo headphones in the world. In addition to being dust- and waterproof, they have also passed tests according to the MIL-STD-810H standard. This pair of in-ears also supports 3D audio and provides an exceptionally secure fit. Read our review to find out why these in-ears may appeal to more than just athletes.
(Photo: Daniel Schmidt)

The Jabra Elite 8 Active is a pair of conventional true-wireless stereo (TWS) headphones aimed primarily at athletes owing to its rugged design. It boasts exceptional protection against dust, water and impacts whilst providing a secure fit.

Sound quality shouldn’t be too shabby either thanks to its 3D audio and Dolby Audio support. Additionally, Jabra promises high-performance active noise cancellation (ANC).

In this review, we'll discuss whether this combination is a success and whether the Elite 8 Active is worth its €200 (US$200) price tag.

Specifications

Fit type In-ear
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.3
Range 10 m
Drivers 6 mm, 20 - 20000Hz (Music mode), 100 - 8000Hz (Voice mode)
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Battery capacity not specified
Charging port USB-C
Wireless charging yes
Weight 5.0 g or 0.18 oz (earphones), 46.4 g or 1.6 oz (charging case)
Firmware version 3.1.6
Package contents Earphones, 3 sets of EarGels, charing case, USB-C to USB-A cable, documentation
Price (RRP) €200 or US$200

Case and ergonomics - Elite 8 Active earbuds are dust- and waterproof

The Jabra Elite 8 Active is made of plastic. The earbuds are covered with a liquid silicone rubber compound designed to enhance their durability and to provide a more secure fit, a feature Jabra calls ShakeGrip technology. Once positioned into your ear canals, the earbuds are absolutely secure; vigorous jumping and head movements will not dislodge them.

Boasting an IP68 rating, these in-ears are both dust- and waterproof. Even the charging case has IP54 certification, meaning it at least offers some protection against dust and splashing water. Moreover, Jabra claims that the Elite 8 Active has successfully passed nine tests based on the MIL-STD-810H standard. For instance, the earbuds have been independently verified to withstand loose load vibrations, temperature changes and shocks, high humidity (humid heat), salt mist and drops, and have also undergone a highly accelerated corrosion test.

The Jabra Elite 8 Active has impressive build quality. The earbuds are held securely in the charging case by magnets. The case's lid likewise closes magnetically and stays shut even when shaken forcefully. However, the case of our blue review unit is very susceptible to fingerprints.

(Photo: Daniel Schmidt)
(Photo: Daniel Schmidt)
(Photo: Daniel Schmidt)
(Photo: Daniel Schmidt)
(Photo: Daniel Schmidt)

Features and operation - LC3 and LC3plus are coming via updates

The Jabra Elite 8 Active is just as user-friendly to set up as other in-ears from the brand, such as the Elite 10. Pairing it with Android devices is a breeze thanks to its support for Google's Fast Pair. The system will detect the headphones straightaway and prompt you to pair the devices. In a similar vein, Microsoft’s Swift Pair lets you easily connect the in-ears to Windows PCs. The pairing process can also be manually initiated with the built-in buttons, enabling you to connect the Elite 8 Active to any computer, tablet or smartphone. The Jabra TWS headphones can remember up to ten devices and connect to two simultaneously. The company calls this Bluetooth Multipoint, which is essentially dual Bluetooth connectivity. It is also possible to use just one earbud in mono mode whilst leaving the other in the charging case.

The Jabra Sound+ app, available as a free download in the App Store and Play Store, enables not only firmware updates, but also the configuration of features like active noise cancellation (ANC), HearThrough and music equaliser. Spotify Tap is likewise available as an option.

Moreover, the Elite 8 Active is equipped with in-ear detection, which allows you to automatically pause media playback when one or both earbuds are removed from the ears. There is also an option to auto-answer calls by inserting one earbud. These two control options can be enabled individually, meaning you can use the in-ear detection solely for media playback, for example.

Each earbud has a customisable physical button that responds to one to three presses. Beyond controlling media playback and answering calls, you can use the buttons to activate a predefined voice assistant on the connected device.

Sound - Elite 8 Active shines with its versatility

The Jabra Elite 8 Active is equipped with compact 6 mm drivers. Despite delivering a pleasing sound for a pair of TWS headphones, they are very heavy on the highs. In comparison with the Elite 10, which features larger drivers, the lower frequencies are less prominent. One notable positive is the low noise floor, which contributes to a clear sound output. Even though the Elite 8 Active is slightly lacking in oomph during action films and rock music, the earbuds still manage to deliver a great audio experience.

You can use either one or both earbuds for phone calls. In quiet settings, voice captured by the earbuds has a natural quality. However, the microphones struggle to handle loud ambient noises. Wind noise reduction works fairly well on the Elite 8 Active. Whilst it has a noticeable impact on HearThrough and the ANC, this is a trade-off that we’ll gladly accept for outdoor use. In our testing, the person on the other end was always clearly audible, but the clarity of our voice took a hit in very windy conditions. We also found that we had to slow down significantly during a bike ride in order to remain audible. Although not flawless, the wind noise reduction is noticeably more effective than that on competing headphones. 

Like with the Elite 10, the HearThrough feature also works well on this device, but it is accompanied by a hissing sound that is noticeable in very quiet environments. However, this noise disappears entirely when the background is busier. The adaptive hybrid ANC too is highly reliable and can completely filter out many intrusive noises. 

At the moment, the Elite 8 Active only supports standard Bluetooth audio codecs. Nevertheless, there are plans to add LC3 and LC3plus in future, though the timeframe hasn’t been specified. Jabra also hasn’t mentioned anything about Auracast support.

Loudspeakers
THD
Shokz OpenFit (RMS: -1.5 dBFS)
0.48 % *
Jabra Elite 8 Active (RMS: -3.0 dBFS)
0.27 % *
THD+N
Shokz OpenFit (RMS: -1.5 dBFS)
0.72 % *
Jabra Elite 8 Active (RMS: -3.0 dBFS)
0.48 % *

* ... smaller is better

THD (Total Harmonic Distortion): Harmonic distortion quantifies the distortion caused by non-linear components (harmonic content) in relation to the original signal. THD specifically refers to the fundamental component. It's important to note that while the term "distortion factor" is often used interchangeably, it actually refers to the overall signal, not just the fundamental component.
THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise):  This value is comparable to THD, but in addition to measuring the interference power of harmonics, it also takes into account the impact of noise as an effective value. For the measurement, a low harmonic sinusoidal signal (typically at 1 kHz and > 0 dB) is played back through the headphones under test. This signal is then recorded by a linear measuring microphone (placed at a measuring distance of approximately 0.40 inches) in an artificial head

Both THD and THD+N values are expressed as percentages. The lower the value, the higher the fidelity of the signal.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2026.638.12524.534.73125.734.64029.637.85033.538.76317.938.58014.338.21001937.212510.739.416011.539.120011.341.52506.842.43157.146.54005.948.45006.155.4630657.38006.763.610006.366.712506.67216007.776.92000880.925008.585.831509.284.940009.179.5500010.276.2630010.276.2800010.9721000011.364.31250011.365.11600010.961.7SPL20.991.6N0.371.5median 9.1median 65.1Delta2.312.932.442.825.7412150.218.762.1286524.966.621.668.718.770.916.369.520.267.215.569.217.26920.771.618.270.113.5701471.513.974.412.975.214.67513.274.513.474.713.87813.481.113.683.814.183.613.578.513.576.813.764.513.96613.256.826.790.80.889.6median 13.9median 74.41.54.5hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseJabra Elite 8 ActiveShokz OpenFit
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
Jabra Elite 8 Active audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (91.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 24.1% lower than median
(+) | bass is linear (3.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 9% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (7.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 12.1% higher than median
(+) | highs are linear (6.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (24.1% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 69% of all tested devices in this class were better, 7% similar, 25% worse
» The best had a delta of 4%, average was 25%, worst was 134%
Compared to all devices tested
» 69% of all tested devices were better, 7% similar, 25% worse
» The best had a delta of 4%, average was 25%, worst was 134%

Shokz OpenFit audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (90.8 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(+) | good bass - only 4.8% away from median
(+) | bass is linear (2.9% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 1.7% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (1.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 6.5% higher than median
(+) | highs are linear (6.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.6% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 3% of all tested devices in this class were better, 1% similar, 97% worse
» The best had a delta of 4%, average was 25%, worst was 134%
Compared to all devices tested
» 3% of all tested devices were better, 1% similar, 97% worse
» The best had a delta of 4%, average was 25%, worst was 134%

Battery life - The Jabra in-ears has a lot of stamina

Jabra hasn’t disclosed any detailed technical specifications about the performance of the lithium-ion batteries in the device, other than stating that they can provide up to eight hours of use. In our battery test, the Elite 8 Active even managed to last more than ten hours with volume set to 65 dB(A) and the ANC enabled. That said, using the earbuds outdoors may shorten battery life since higher volume levels are typically required.

The charging case is able to fully recharge the batteries three times.

Battery Runtime - Spotify loop at 65dB/A (incl ANC)
Jabra Elite 8 Active
 mAh
615 min
Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro
58 mAh
517 min
Shokz OpenFit
58 mAh
451 min

Verdict - Great all-rounder for any situation

The Jabra Elite 8 Active featured in this review is kindly provided by Jabra Germany. (Photo: Daniel Schmidt)
The Jabra Elite 8 Active featured in this review is kindly provided by Jabra Germany. (Photo: Daniel Schmidt)

The Jabra Elite 8 Active in-ear headphones live up to their promises and proved to be very rugged in our testing. Not only do the earbuds have certified protection against dust and water ingress (IP68), but the charging case is also protected to a certain extent (IP54). Even salty sea air can't damage the headphones.

The Jabra Elite 8 Active is an excellent pair of in-ears, capable of enduring adverse conditions and providing impressive battery life to boot.

Soundwise, the Jabra Elite 8 Active delivers clear audio but may be lacking in bass. That said, the high-performance ANC, HearThrough feature and decent wind noise reduction make it a compelling choice. The product thus offers a superb overall package for athletes and users who favour rugged headphones.

If you prefer better audio quality and don’t mind a lower IP rating, Jabra Elite 10 is worth considering. The Shokz OpenFit and Huawei FreeClip are interesting options for those who don’t want in-ears and don’t need ANC.

Price and availability

The Elite 8 Active has an RRP of around €200 (US$200). At the time of writing, US-based readers can get it from Jabra's website at a much lower price of US$149 after applying a coupon code, whereas those in Germany have the option to buy it from Amazon for €154.

The prices listed are subject to change.

Transparency

The present review sample was given to the author by the manufacturer free of charge for the purposes of review. There was no third-party influence on this review, nor did the manufacturer receive a copy of this review before publication. There was no obligation to publish this review.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > Reviews > Jabra Elite 8 Active review - Rugged in-ears with a full sound
Daniel Schmidt, 2024-05-18 (Update: 2024-05-18)