Jabra is a Danish brand specialising in audio equipment, specifically headphones and earphones. They’re one of the few companies that has been consistent with every product. Every new iteration will not blow you away with some new-fangled design or insanely good performance but they’ll be just as good, if not better than the previous ones.
That’s how I feel about the brand-new Elite 8 Active. The truly wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds are tougher, and better at drowning out noises and boosting the battery life.
At ₹17,999, the Jabra Elite 8 are more expensive as compared to its predecessor. They come in four colours - caramel, navy, black and dark grey. Does the price bump justify the product’s place at the top of the pile in a hyper-competitive market that includes Samsung’s Galaxy Buds2 Pro, Apple’s AirPods Pro (2nd generation), Sony’s recently launched WF-1000XM5 and others? Let’s find out.
The Elite 8 Active’s don’t stray too much from the design of their predecessor with their noise-isolating structure. They’re a minimal upgrade to the Elite 7 Active. They get six instead of four microphones, much-improved adaptive noise cancelling tech, an IP68 rating, and wind-reduction technology. The ShakeGrip fit (with a choice of small, medium and large silicone ear gels) is top-class and not for a minute did I think they’d fall out.
Jabra is billing these as the "world's toughest earbuds", so even if they do fall out of your ears, or you accidentally drop them, they shouldn’t be causing you any worry. The one thing I’ve always loved about the Elite 8 Active is that they have physical control buttons. These can be used for controlling music playback, answering calls, and going back and forth between active-noise cancellation (ANC) and HearThrough transparency modes.
As I said earlier, the earbuds themselves have an IP68 rating (fully waterproof and dustproof), while the case comes with a dust and splashproof IP54 rating. The earbuds themselves have passed nine military standard durability tests.
The new charging case offers wireless charging and comes with rounded corners for better pocketability.
Being rugged is at the centre of these earbuds and is a differentiator among its major competitors. While being rugged is one thing, do these earbuds also offer great sound quality like the Elite 7 Active? The short answer is, yes.
The Elite 8 Active comes with the same-sized 6mm drivers as its predecessors which bring forward good punchy bass. These earbuds may not have the accuracy and precision of some of its more expensive counterparts, but there is a soothing sound with complete soundstage that are hard for one to complain about. These buds, like most others these days, come with excellent clarity (podcasts and songs with strong vocals shine through) and punchy bass.
Jabra also announced the Elite 10 earbuds recently, which focus on sound rather than fitness and ruggedness. Noticeably, the Elite 8 Active are not as good as the Elite 10, in sound quality, call quality and ANC, but they are a step above the Elite Active 7 earbuds.
There’s a bright and punchy sound with these Elite Active 8 earbuds. Activating Dolby Spatial Sound enables a wider soundstage, meaning a more open sound with added depth. Playing around with the EQ modes rewards one with a better listening experience. In short, the Elite 8 Active deliver a rich and clear sound that has a good balance of highs, mids, and lows. It won’t miss a beat and neither will the bass overpower the entire listening experience.
With the Elite 8 Active earbuds, a good seal (in-ear fit) isn’t hard to come by. That’s good as the passive noise-isolation works much better. Even the ANC has been improved as it no longer needs to be calibrated before doing its job. ANC now works in the background to reduce noise levels around you.
There’s a little bit of rattling in the sound at louder volumes, which isn’t very good. At times, the instrument separation isn’t there on tracks like Take Five by Dave Brubeck. But overall, most songs - from Taylor Swift to Electronica - will provide for a good listening experience.
Calls also, for the most part, sound good. There will still be some outside sounds that leak in, but it’s barely noticeable on shorter calls.
The HearThrough (aka transparency mode) is a great feature to have and works best on these buds. They’re mostly for runners or walkers, who need to hear the outside world while traversing the roads.
Companies always rate their battery life higher than real-world tests. For once, Jabra has got it spot on. The Elite 8 Active’s are rated for up to eight hours on a single charge (with ANC on). I routinely got about eight hours during my review period. This was with 60-70 percent volume. The case gives you another three charges. The case also supports fast charging and wireless charging. With just a few minutes of charge, you can get over an hour of playback.
The earbuds are rated for up to 14 hours with ANC off. While I couldn’t test those numbers, I’m fairly certain it’s quite accurate.
If you’re a fitness freak or have a fear of the earbuds falling out, then these are the TWS earbuds for you. They are sweat-proof, water-resistant, and have an impeccable, comfortable fit.
The Elite 8 Active’s are more than just a sibling to the superior Elite 10’s. The Elite 8 Active’s are probably the best rugged earbuds in the business and they have their very own unique place in the market. These earbuds are durable, and rugged, and come with good ANC support and long battery life. There’s also the all-important physical button (especially important during jogs/runs), and an EQ to toy with.
If you want earbuds that you can trust at the gym, by the swimming pool side, during your morning runs, or just for your office commute, then the Elite 8 Active should be on top of your shopping list. They are a bit of a bargain (at ₹17,999) when compared to Sony WF-1000XM5, Apple’s AirPods Pro or the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3. Only Samsung’s Galaxy Buds2 Pro are comparable at the same price.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts @IMSahilBhalla