The Jabra Elite 8 Active are the best wireless headphones for sports, but not only. I tested these true wireless earphones, the first to be IP68-certified for water and dust resistance. In addition to their very robust design, the Jabra Elite 8 Active also offers good adaptive active noise reduction and a rather nice high-frequency audio signature. Read on for my full and honest review.
- Rugged, waterproof IP68-certified design
- Multipoint port detection
- Solid battery life
- Intuitive physical controls
- Comprehensive Jabra Sound+ application
- Excellent value for money
- Not the best active noise reduction on the market
- No HD codec
Jabra Elite 8 Active: All deals
In a nutshell
The Jaba Elite 8 Active have been available in France since August 31, 2023, at a price of $199.99. They were launched at the same time as the Jabra Elite 10 (review), the manufacturer’s current flagship, with a strong focus on active noise reduction and audio quality. The Jabra Elite 8 Active are more focused on sports use, with a robust, waterproof design.
They do not benefit from the new ANC technology of the Jabra Elite 10. Their drivers are smaller than those of the Jabra Elite 10. But they have a better IP68 rating (compared with IP57 for the Jabra Elite 10) and their casing is also water-resistant to IP54 standards, whereas that of the Jabra Elite 10 is not at all.
I’m perhaps the furthest thing from a sportsman. These headphones don’t suit my needs. But apart from this specific use, the Jabra Elite Active 8 are excellent wireless headphones. The audio quality is very good, although a little too high-pitched. Noise reduction isn’t the best on the market, but it does its job well. Autonomy is very solid, and the Jabra Sound+ application is always a pleasure to use.
The Jabra Elite 8 Active have a slightly more monolithic design than the Jabra Elite 10, but retain this very compact and discreet form factor. They are IP68-certified, and their charging case is also IP54-certified.
- IP68 for the earphones and IP54 for the charging case.
- Compact, discreet design.
- Port sensor.
- Volume controls on earphones.
The Jabra Elite 8 Active are the “world’s toughest” earphones, according to Jabra. And the manufacturer isn’t messing around with that at all. It hired an external company, Force Technology, to test the resistance of the Jabra Elite 8 Active against the market’s main competitors.
Jabra has even published the test report on its official page, which details the test protocol. But the report does not detail which models were tested against the Jabra Elite 8 Active. So I don’t give it that much credence, personally. I see it simply as a marketing argument like any other, or even a way of legally insuring one’s back, given the audacity of the promise to sell the world’s most resistant earphones.
In short, the Jabra Elite 8 Active are made for sports use. The earphones are IP68-certified. This means they’re totally dust-tight, and you can immerse them continuously underwater to a depth of 1.5 m. Even their casing is IP54 certified, which is very rarely the case. You can’t submerge it, but it will withstand splashes. According to Jabra, the Jabra Elite 8 Active can also withstand 1 m drops without suffering any damage.
The problem is that I’m not at all athletic. My body shape is more like that of a big, soft potato. And the only thing I have in common with an athlete is sweating – not after running 10 km, but after climbing a dozen steps.
But I soaked the Jabra Elite 8 Active in a glass of water for about ten minutes. I also put my head underwater in my bathroom for a few minutes while wearing the headphones. And I dropped them several times on the floor from a height equivalent to my height (I’m 1m90). I didn’t notice any malfunction during my several weeks of testing.
Strangely enough, the Jabra Elite 8 Active don’t have any retaining wings like most sports earphones. No need, according to the manufacturer, who assures us that its Jabra ShakeGrip technology provides optimum support.
And I can confirm that the earphones stay firmly in place. My highly scientific protocols (not at all) confirmed this. I did my classic head-banging test, shaking my head as if at a Sabaton concert. I vigorously pulled my jacket hood on and off several times. And I also chewed hard during my meals. The headphones always stayed firmly in place without me having to readjust them.
Another plus point is the physical control buttons. Visually, the headphones appear to be devoid of them. The button presses don’t stand out in relief, and the surface of each earpiece is monolithic, with no cut-outs for buttons. And even from a mechanical point of view, the buttons are sensitive enough to prevent the earphones from being pressed too far into your ears.
Apart from that, I’m still a big fan of the form factor of Jabra earphones, inspired by a guitar pick. They’re discreet, very compact and quickly forgotten once inserted in your ear. The semi-intra format also makes them more comfortable to wear over the long term. The silicone tips rest on the auricle and don’t completely penetrate your ear canal.
Audio & microphone quality
The Jabra Elite 8 Active don’t offer any major new features in terms of audio. There are 6 mm diameter drivers, a standard frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, basic SBC and AAC audio codecs but with Dolby Atmos sound for 360° audio.
- High-frequency audio signature.
- Surprisingly balanced sound reproduction despite everything.
- Ready for Bluetooth LE Audio codec.
- No HD codec.
- Unconvincing 360° audio.
The Jabra Elite 8 Active doesn’t benefit from all the audio enhancements of the Jabra Elite 10. The drivers are 6 mm in diameter rather than 10 mm.
The Jabra Elite 8 Active doesn’t offer an HD audio codec, just the basic SBC and AAC. But they are already compatible with the Bluetooth LE Audio protocol. The latter will enable the use of LC3/LC3+ audio transmission, which promises better audio quality.
Typically, Jabra headphones have a “V” audio signature. The Jabra Elite 8 Active are no exception. The headphones place a little more emphasis on bass and treble. The sound is sufficiently dynamic to compensate for a few excesses throughout the frequency range.
The bass is sufficiently punchy and doesn’t spill over too much into the mids. Highs are brilliant, but don’t drift into sibilance. So you’ll hear the various instruments and voices (especially female ones) very well. But if you turn up the volume a little too high, you’ll get sibilance, with whistling “S” and “F” sounds that make your eardrums creak a little.
Personally, I think Jabra should have opted for a slightly lower profile, with more responsive bass. In general, when we use earphones for sports, we tend to listen to tracks focused on rhythm (mainly bass) rather than the rest of the musical message. But that’s a very personal and totally subjective opinion. I’m sure some of you prefer classical music to metal at the gym. To each his own.
The Jabra Elite 8 Active also support Dolby Atmos technology and 360° audio. You can put on a playlist with dog pack sounds in 360° to really give the impression that they’re chasing you, and so motivate you to run faster.
More seriously, though, I wasn’t really convinced by this function. For certain tracks specifically mixed for Dolby Atmos, it works quite well. Except that the Jabra Elite 8 Active don’t offer head tracking (HRTF) like the Apple AirPods Pro 2 (review), for example. 360° audio really makes sense for watching movies, series and videos with greater immersion, in my opinion.
Active Noise Reduction (ANC)
The Jabra Elite 8 Active features active noise reduction (ANC). This is not the latest technology found on the Jabra Elite 10. We’ve kept the classic hybrid ANC, which isn’t the best on the market.
- Good passive insulation.
- Well-attenuated structure-borne noise.
- Not the best ANC on the market.
- Voices have difficulty being filtered effectively.
- Transparency mode lacks naturalness.
Jabra headphones still offer excellent passive sound insulation. We’re talking here just about noise attenuated by the simple design of the earphones, the materials used, etc.
Jabra’s hybrid active noise reduction is generally decent, but not up to the level of the industry’s best. Solid-borne noise is generally well handled. But human voices and wind noise are a little more complicated. The Jabra Elite 8 Active do, however, offer a specific wind noise reduction mode. I didn’t find it transcendent in terms of effectiveness, but I did notice a small difference.
The same goes for the transparency mode. It does its job well, and if you go for a run in town, you’ll be able to stay aware of your surroundings. But the rendering is sorely lacking in naturalness.
Application and features
The Jabra Elite 8 Active works with the Jabra Sound+ app, available free of charge on Android and iOS. It’s as comprehensive and easy to learn as ever for customizing your Jabra headphones.
- Application available on iOS and Android.
- No need to create an account.
- Clear, intuitive interface.
- Plenty of options for customizing the controls on each earpiece.
- Precise five-band equalizer.
- Port detection, auto-off/pause, Bluetooth multipoint and Spotify Tap.
- Active noise reduction and transparency mode, not manually adjustable.
The Jabra Sound+ app is the best companion app for wireless headphones. It’s available on Android and iOS, so you get the same features on both platforms. And best of all, it doesn’t require you to create an account, which is becoming increasingly rare.
Jabra is no slouch when it comes to features, either. Spotify Tap, port detection, music pause and auto-sleep, and multipoint Bluetooth are all included.
The Jabra Elite 8 Active’s five-band equalizer is another great feature of the Jabra Sound+ application. You can create your own audio profiles and save them, or choose from several presets.
Multipoint Bluetooth is equally effective. Pairing is quick on an Android smartphone with Google Fast Pair. On an iPhone, it’s a little less intuitive, but I had no major problems. Switching between my Windows PC and the iPhone 15 Pro Max I’m currently using was a breeze. This is all the more important as this function is absent from the Bose QC Ultra Earbuds, which cost almost 200 euros more.
Finally, the physical controls of the Jabra Elite 8 Active are highly customizable. Each earbud recognizes three types of support: single, double and triple. And for each type of support, you can choose from five functions to assign. Once the muscle memory kicks in, the controls are really intuitive.
Autonomy & recharging
The Jabra Elite 8 Active has an announced autonomy of 8 hours with ANC and 14 hours without. With the charging box, you can reach a total autonomy of 56 hours.
- Solid battery life, even with active noise reduction.
- Up to four recharges via the box.
- Wireless charging accepted.
- It takes a long time to fully recharge the headphones via the case.
Battery life of 14 hours without ANC and 8 hours with ANC put the Jabra Elite 8 Active at the top of the range. These are very good scores on paper, and I’m looking forward to checking them out in my full test.
In actual use, I was always able to last well over 7 hours with active noise reduction on all the time, at an average listening volume of 50%. That’s a very good score indeed.
The box can recharge the headphones four times on a single charge. It accepts wireless charging. Full recharging from 0 to 100% via the box can take up to 3 hours. Personally, I find this far too long. According to Jabra, 5 minutes of charging recovers the equivalent of 1 hour of listening time.
Jabra Elite 8 Active
|Format: Intra | port detection | physical controls | IP68
|Weight per earpiece: 5 g | Housing weight: 46.4 g
|Case dimensions: 24.4 x 46.9 x 65.4 mm
|6 mm driver | 360° audio
|20 – 20,000 Hz
|SBC and AAC codecs
|$199.99 | 229,99€
Would I advise you to buy the Jabra Elite 8 Active at $199.99? Yes, if you’re looking for active noise-canceling wireless headphones for sports. In my opinion, this is currently the best choice in terms of value for money.
The headphones are IP68-certified, so you can use them without the slightest fear while sweating through every pore of your skin. But even apart from this sporting use, the Jabra Elite 8 Active are excellent wireless headphones, in my opinion.
The audio quality is top-notch. The battery life of over seven hours with ANC active is among the strongest on the market. The physical controls are intuitive. And their compact, discreet form factor offers an excellent fit in the ear, even without silicone fins, while remaining very comfortable over long sessions.
The only shortcoming is the noise reduction, which lags behind the best references on the market. But these models from Apple, Bose or Sony are also much more expensive than the Jabra Elite 8 Active.
What do you think of the Jabra Elite 8 Active after reading this review? Would you consider buying these wireless headphones even if you don’t intend to use them for sports?
To find out more, take a look at our selection of the best wireless headphones with ANC, and our comparison of the best headphones for microphone quality.