Jabra Elite 8 Active review: Tougher than the rest

Audio expert Jabra's latest workout buds will last longer than your will to exercise

Jabra Elite 8 Active review
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
T3 Verdict

Jabra went out of its way to create what surely is one of the best workout-ready TWS earbuds today, the Elite 8 Active. These ultra-rugged yet compact buds sound pretty good, thanks to Dolby Audio, although adaptive ANC and wind-neutralising HearThrough could be slightly better.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Extra durable construction

  • +

    Dolby Audio with spatial sound

  • +

    Optimised ANC and Wind Neutralising HearThrough

  • +

    Updated form factor for long-term comfort

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Wingtip-less design isn't suitable for vigorous exercise

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Writing this Jabra Elite 8 Active review filled me with both joy and dread. On the one hand, I was blown away by the predecessor of the buds, the Jabra Elite 7 Active, which currently sits at the top of T3's best running headphones guide. However, I was concerned about trying them for the same reason: I didn't want Jabra to apply changes to headphones that work perfectly fine as is. Said changes are pretty significant, too, which added to my concerns.

Thankfully, these ultra-rugged headphones deliver a superb workout experience, and thanks to the addition of Dolby Sound, they don't sound half bad, either. I know it might be strange to give the successor of a 5-star product four stars while saying they improved on their predecessor, but it's worth keeping in mind that the market is ever-changing, and the competition is stronger than it was a couple of years ago.

One thing is for sure: if you need durable, truly rugged workout headphones, you won't find a better option than the Jabra Elite 8 Active. Read my full review below, where I'll talk about what changes Jabra applied to the headphones and why you should consider investing in a pair.

Jabra Elite 8 Active review: price and availability

The Jabra Elite 8 Active true wireless earbuds were launched on 31 August 2023 and are available to buy now at Jabra in Caramel, Navy, Black and Dark Grey colourways for a recommended retail price of £199.99 at Jabra. The suggested retail price of the Jabra Elite 7 Active was $179/ £169 / AU$ 279, so the price has gone up, which is sad but understandable.

Jabra Elite 8 Active review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Jabra Elite 8 Active review: specifications

  • Driver size: 6mm
  • Sound: Dolby Audio, multiple EQ modes in the Jabra Sound+ app
  • Codecs: AAC and SBC
  • Microphone: 6-mic call technology with wind noise-protecting mesh
  • Ingress protection: buds – IP68-rated; case – IP54-rated
  • Active noise cancellation: Adaptive Hybrid ANC
  • Hear-through: Wind Neutralising HearThrough
  • Battery life: buds – up to 8 hours, case – additional 24 hours (ANC on)
  • Weight: 5g (per bud)
  • Connection: Bluetooth 5.3, Bluetooth Multipoint connection, Ready to support Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) & LC3, LC3plus codec with future firmware update
  • Other features: Jabra ShakeGripTM technology for a secure fit in a wing-free design

Jabra Elite 8 Active review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Jabra Elite 8 Active review: design and build quality

The Jabra Elite 7 Active was already IP57-rated, which is very close to being the highest ingress protection rating against solids and liquids for any non-industrial product. So you could very rightly assume the new Elite 8 Active won't improve on this. You're mistaken. I was, too, before Jabra's representatives introduced me to Highly Accelerated Corrosion Testing (HACT).

HACT requires the earbuds to pass 11 full cycles of testing, including enduring 2 hours in 40°C temperatures with 93% humidity, going through a 15-minute splash test in salt water, and surviving a 15-minute 40°C heat drying test to prove their anti-corrosion credentials successfully. And yes, the Jabra Elite 8 Active passed this test.

You might think this is completely unnecessary, but as Jabra explained, we don't just sweat pure water. Exposure to this salty, corrosive sweat can eventually compromise the quality of your workout earbuds. By putting the Elite 8 Active through the HACT, Jabra essentially says, "Hey, guys, look, the buds will be able to cope with your sweaty ears, no matter what."

Plus, the Jabra Elite 6 Active has an IP68 rating, meaning you can wash the buds under running water after the workout to ensure they stay in tip-top conditions for yours to come. The case is also IP54 dust and splash-proof, so you don't have to be too gentle with it, either.

Jabra Elite 8 Active review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

These super tough earbuds also completed all the required tests for the US Military Standard for Ruggedised Electronics (810H). This is the same test most rugged outdoor watches claim they passed, and it involves everything from humidity and high temperature to rain and altitude checks. Even the charging case is IP54 rated to be dust and splashproof!

The Jabra Elite 8 Active has a similar design to its predecessor and uses the same ShakeGrip technology to ensure the buds stay in your ears during workouts without using wingtips or ear hooks. However, a larger surface area is now covered in ShakeGrip to maximise in-ear grip.

The stem connecting the main body of the buds with the part that slides into your ear canal has been shortened, which makes for a more comfortable listening experience. You can choose from four different ear gel sizes, although the Jabra Elite 8 Active won't help you find the correct fit as the Elite 7 Active did. (I've been told this feature will be added later via a firmware update).

Jabra Elite 8 Active review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Jabra Elite 8 Active review: sound quality

The Jabra Elite 8 Active delivers significant improvements in the sound department. The size of the driver remained the same (6 mm), but active noise cancellation (ANC) is said to be stronger. The buds use an Adaptive Hybrid ANC system that automatically adjusts depending on your environment. Jabra claims that the buds scan the ears to measure sound levels almost continuously to ensure ANC is always spot on.

This scanning feature somewhat replaces MyFit in the Sound+ app. This was used to help people find the best ear gel size to optimise passive noise cancellation. Instead, Elite 8 Active optimises ANC without the users' input, which is admirable, although I think some of us would still appreciate it if the Sound+ app helped find the right ear gel size. Jabra said MyFit will most likely be added to the feature roster later.

As well as Adaptive Hybrid ANC, the Elite 8 Active buds also have what Jabra calls Wind Neutralising HearThrough technology on board, muffling any wind interference without blocking out traffic noise. Better still, you can switch between ANC and HearThrough by pressing the face plate of the left earbud.

The Jabra Elite 8 Active earbuds use a 6-microphone setup for calls (and for other features, such as ANC, etc.). The mics are said to have a wind noise-protecting mesh cover and beam-forming capability, so people can hear you better even when the air moves around your face quickly.

Jabra Elite 8 Active review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

And if this wasn't enough, Jabra worked with Dolby to update the sound of the Elite 8 Active, which is Dolby Audio-enabled. They also added Spatial Sound for media (no head tracking, though). This helps you feel more immersed, making it feel like the sound is coming from around your head, not just left and right (a.k.a. stereo sound).

You'll find six music presets in the Jabra Sound+ app to personalise the sound of the buds, and you can also create your own presets. I generally go with 'Energize', which slightly lifts the lows and highs. I often find Jabra headphones lack power in those regions anyway, but since there is an easy fix, I don't mind.

The buds sound excellent overall, which is a relief, as I really enjoyed the sound of their predecessor, and I was curious if the changes would land well. Truth be told, expecting Dolby Audio to sound terrible was a bit of a stretch on my part. Plus, Jabra is well-versed in creating audio products for people with terrible hearing due to their history in designing hearing aids. So you'd assume their buds have a balanced sound – surprise, surprise, they do!

Jabra Elite 8 Active review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Jabra Elite 8 Active review: workout performance

I took the Jabra Elite 8 Active on quite a few runs to test the capabilities of the ShakeGrip and the ANC/HearThrough. The buds stayed firmly in place during exercise from the get-go for the entire duration of the run – top marks there. They weren't just secure, but the Jabra Elite 8 Active buds also felt comfortable in my ears.

As for the ANC... well. Good passive noise cancellation is a prerequisite for good ANC. If the fit isn't right, no matter how much wind neutralisation the algorithm can do if the wind blows into your ear around the ill-fitting ear gel. I live by the coast and am lucky (?) enough to have a lot of wind blowing by my head as I run, and I must say, in full headwind, I struggled to hear the music in the buds.

(Truth be told, I usually don't crank up the volume higher than 75-78 dB to protect my hearing. I'm sure at full blast, I could have heard the Jabra Elite 8 Active just fine.)

Interestingly, I found the HearThrough almost better for cancelling out some of the environmental sounds than Adaptive ANC. It allowed me to hear my surroundings and also lowered the wind's sound level. I also enjoyed that I could switch between ANC/HearThrough quite easily by pressing the left face plate.

Jabra Elite 8 Active review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Jabra Elite 8 Active review: verdict

The Jabra Elite 8 Active is more expensive than its predecessor but also much better workout earbuds overall. These TWS buds are more rugged, fit better and have more nuanced sound, thanks to Dolby Audio. I wish Jabra had included the MyFit feature at the launch, allowing you to find the perfect-sized ear gel to maximise passive noise cancellation. That's only a small grief, though, considering how well-rounded these buds are and how capable they are for workouts.

As I mentioned in the intro, despite the improvements, the Jabra Elite 8 Active, the successor of a 5-star product, only earned four stars this time. This is not to say they aren't excellent; on the contrary, they are brilliant workout buds, the most rugged on the market, with excellent sound. However, ANC and HearThrough features are underwhelming, which is a shame.

That said, algorithms can be tweaked via software updates, so it's not impossible that once Jabra improves the buds, they won't get a better rating. For now, they aren't perfect, just really good. If you need durable headphones, you need the Jabra Elite 8 Active. Easy as that.

Jabra Elite 8 Active review: also consider

If you need premium Jabra TWS earbuds for everyday use, you should definitely check out the new Jabra Elite 10. These semi-open-ear compact headphones have a larger driver (10 mm), ANC, Dolby Atmos sound with head tracking, and more. I only managed to listen to them a couple of times so far, but they are an impressive set of earbuds for indoor use.

Alternatively, have a look at our best noise-cancelling earbuds guide for more options. Not all of them are workout-ready, but some of the listed buds are compact enough for all-day use. If comfort is what you're after, I'd highly recommend Beats' Studio Buds Plus; these tiny headphones have amazing sound and weigh next to nothing. Read my full Beats Studio Buds Plus review.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.