We’ve reviewed our fair share of Jabra true wireless earbuds on this site, and overall, we’ve been consistently impressed by the quality of the audio, the richness of Jabra’s app, and the value that you’re getting for the price.
The Jabra Elite 8 Active continues this trend, but I can’t help but notice that this year’s Jabras have significant price bumps from their 2021 predecessors – the Elite 8 Active retails for S$308 vs the S$268 Elite 7 Active, and the Elite 10 retails for S$378 vs the S$318 Elite 7 Pro. That’s a ~15% and ~19% price increase respectively.
Do the improvements justify the price hike? Let’s find out.
Jabra Elite 8 Active Key Specifications and Features
- Water and dust resistance: IP68 rating for the buds, IP54 rating for the case
- Bluetooth 5.3, SBC, AAC codec, multipoint support
- 8h/14h earbuds battery life, 32h/56h case battery life, with ANC on/off respectively
- Wireless charging
- Fast charging: 5min in case will give up to 1h listening time
- Jabra ShakeGrip technology for secure fit in ears
- Jabra Sound+ app for software customisation, Android Fast Pair, voice assistant, Spotify Tap
- “Adaptive Hybrid” active noise cancelling (ANC), HearThrough
- Dolby Spatial Sound
- 6mm drivers
- 6 mics
- Colours: black, caramel, grey, navy blue
Design & Build
The design of the Elite 8 Active’s case was perhaps the most immediately observable change from the Elite 7 Active. Initially I was disappointed, as I preferred the more refined look of the previous model’s; in comparison, the Elite 8 Active’s case looked generic, easily mistaken in the sea of countless other earbuds. Practically however, the design is a slight improvement from its predecessor in the sense that it is slimmer, allowing it to slip more easily into pockets.
The build also has a rather significant step up: the buds are now IP68 rated instead of IP57, and the case itself has gained an IP54 rating. Excessive perhaps, but the improved rating will certainly give you better peace of mind during intense workout sessions or when taking the buds with you to the pool or beach.
Speaking of peace of mind, the tagline for the Elite 8 Active is “Nothing Tougher”. Jabra claims that they are “the world’s toughest earbuds”, having passed the US Military Standard 810H tests for ruggedised technology. A claim that the old Elite 7 Active didn’t have.
As with all of Jabra’s more premium offerings, the Elite 8 Active’s case is built with noticeably higher quality plastics than their cheaper offerings like the Elite 4 Active. There are no creaks whatsoever, and the hinge opens and closes shut with a satisfying snap.
The buds themselves are coated in a soft touch material that’s nice to touch and ensures that the earbuds stay secure in your ears even during workouts. Jabra has provided 3 sizes of eartips to ensure that you get the right fit for your ears.
Overall, other than the generic case design, the build quality of the buds and case are about as good as it gets. If you’re looking for something that can withstand a beating, the Elite 8 Active certainly can.
Sound is perhaps the one area that isn’t significantly improved from the Elite 7 Active. They both use 6mm drivers, and from my memory, sound quite similar. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – I loved the sound on the Elite 7 Active. Clean, balanced sound, with just an added bit of warmth for a bit more oomph during workouts. Bass is present but not bloated, and vocals are clear. It sounded great across a variety of genres, from Taylor Swift to Linkin Park, to Saba. And, if you’re not happy with the warmth of the default sound signature, you can easily tweak it in the extensive Sound+ app.
Speaking of the Sound+ app, this is where you’ll toggle the new Dolby Spatial Sound. This is another new addition to the Elite 8 Active, and (I suspect) where the bulk of the price increase comes from, other than the military certification.
Jabra made a big deal about the partnership with Dolby at their launch event, even bringing a Dolby representative on stage to talk about their collaboration on bringing Spatial Sound to the new earbuds. To be clear, the Spatial Sound on the Elite 8 Active isn’t the same as that on the Elite 10 – while the Elite 10 has Dolby Atmos with Dolby Head Tracking, the Elite 8 Active only has “Dolby Audio” for its Spatial Sound.
Either way, it doesn’t really make a difference to me as I kept Spatial Sound off after playing with it for the first couple of hours. What it tries to do is create a more immersive and surround-sound experience via software, but I’ve found the effect to be a bit disconcerting, sacrificing detail and intimacy for the impression of a wider sound stage. I found that I preferred it off than on.
- Active Noise Cancelling. Works great to block out the noise of a train or bus. Bose or Sony probably have stronger ANC but I’ve found the Jabras to feel more natural. Plus, they cost less.
- HearThrough. It works in quieter places, but in busy areas like in a hawker centre, I found that it unnaturally amplifies background chatter to the point where it was difficult for me to listen to the person I was talking to. I’d often have to end up removing the earbud from my ear to be able to hear the other party clearly, which isn’t good.
- Battery life. It feels like the battery lasts forever. I used it for several hours on a daily basis for 2 weeks, but I’ve only charged the case once. And honestly, I probably didn’t even need to charge it until much later as I charged it when the battery indicator turned orange (“medium battery”, about ~50% charge), when I could’ve held off until the indicator turned red. Jabra claims a total battery life of 32h with ANC on, and I believe them.
- Microphones. I’m not the best person when it comes to reviewing microphones as I hardly take calls on my earphones, so you’d have to check other review outlets if the microphone quality is particularly important to you. But I haven’t had any issues with it, and Jabra claims that their 6 mic technology has clear calling technology to reduce background noise and isolate your voice during calls.
- Sound+ app. As usual the Sound+ app is brilliant for updating your firmware, adjusting control settings, and tweaking the EQ to your liking.
Pricing & Conclusion
- Impressive ruggedised build quality, military tested, IP68 water resistance for the earbuds, IP54 for the case
- Fits well, secure
- Audio quality is good with EQ customisation in the Sound+ app
- Excellent battery life
- Good ANC
- Excellent software customisation and features in the Sound+ app
- I’d rather have Spatial Sound off than on
- HearThrough isn’t usable in busy areas as it amplifies crowd chatter
- Significantly more expensive than its predecessor
The Jabra Elite 8 Active retails for S$308 from Jabra’s official website, but you can probably get it for cheaper on places like Lazada or Shopee.
I also had an Elite 10 in hand, and with its larger 10mm drivers, I found its sound to be a bit more detailed with a slightly wider sound stage than the Elite 8 Active. Though to be honest, it isn’t a huge deal unless you compared them side-by-side. The Elite 10 is also significantly (S$70) more expensive, and drops the ruggedness. Head Tracking is cool, but after the first couple of tries, it seems to be little more than a gimmick.
The older Elite 7 Active can be had for S$228 on Jabra’s website at the time of writing. Is the addition of Dolby Spatial Sound and the improved ruggedness on the Elite 8 Active worth the S$80 price premium? That’s for you to decide, but for me personally, I think I might save the money and get the older model.
If you must have “the world’s toughest earbuds” and want good ANC and sound quality though, the Jabra Elite 8 Active certainly delivers and overall gets a recommendation from me.
As always, when purchasing online, check if you can get additional cashback on your purchase with ShopBack. You can also check out our deals page for more Singapore deals.