- Rugged and durable
- A stock sound profile that’s easy to love
- Effective ANC and ambient mode
- REALLY comfortable for long-term wear
- Long battery life
- No aptX or LDAC support
- Tweaking the EQ makes the sound imbalanced
- Ambient setting makes certain noises more jarring
Jabra earbuds are often associated with comfort, and the Jabra Elite 8 Active very likely sits at the top of the pile when it comes to comfort.
It’s all thanks to the oval design and the ShakeGrip coating on the earbuds, which ensure a mild fit with little pressure on the ears. These are probably the most snug-feeling earbuds that never feel fatiguing to wear.
Granted, this is a subjective take, given the near-infinite variability of ear shapes, but Jabra’s track record gives me little reason to think otherwise. To my mind, this alone should be enough to warrant a purchase if this is within your budget, but let’s look at the rest of its features first.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Elite 8 Active has been overengineered for ruggedness. On paper, at least. It passes STD-MIL-810H US Military Standard Testing compliance and HACT (Highly Accelerated Corrosion Testing), which implies that on top of regular ruggedness, these earbuds can probably cope better in our hot and humid weather. It feels mildly assuring because I’m unsure how long the ShakeGrip coating will last. So far, it has been holding up (it’s been a couple of months).
I’ve been very careless with these earbuds, exposing them constantly to water, rain, and whatnot (but not coffee; I’m not a slob), and so far, the Elite 8 Active has upheld its claims. And it’s nearly impossible to shake off, no matter how violently you shake your head (assuming you fit them correctly).
Now, let’s delve into the meat and potatoes – sound quality. The idea of 6mm drivers seems underwhelming, but the Elite 8 Active nonetheless delivers a punchy, energetic sound profile. The bass is deep and satisfying without overwhelming the crisp mids and highs. It’s a well-rounded sound profile that will please most listeners, whether you’re into Beethoven or Beyoncé. I’d even wager that more people are likely to gravitate towards the Elite 8 Active than the Elite 10 that launched at the same time, even though the Elite 10 is technically superior in sound quality.
Now, the not-so-good part — if the stock sound profile isn’t to your liking, tweaking the EQ creates some form of imbalance between frequencies; it’s as though Jabra pushed those 6mm drivers to the limit and found a sweet spot, which is designated as the stock sound profile (Neutral). The long and the short of it is that I’d rather leave the Elite 8 Active at stock settings. It’s pretty bassy, energetic and relatively well-balanced as it is.
The Elite 8 Active also supports Dolby spatial audio; while it offers a more immersive soundstage, it can sometimes sound a little rough with some artefacts. It sounds better for movies and TV shows than music. There’s no head tracking, but given the price and the feature set, I don’t see this as a downside, especially when head tracking is not exactly a life-changing enhancement. If this is important to you, The Elite 10’s version of spatial audio (and head tracking) is a marked improvement.
The ANC and ambient mode on the Elite 8 are decent and effective enough to make rail commutes pleasant. The quality of the ambient setting (Jabra calls it Hearthrough) is also sufficient for you to make out conversations. I don’t quite like that the ambient setting also seems to emphasise certain noise frequencies, but I don’t think it’s an issue if it’s merely passing noise — I think it’s more important that you can hear what’s happening around you.
By default, the Elite 8 Active doesn’t quite shield itself against wind noise, but it has a feature whereby you can prioritise wind noise cancellation (which compromises ANC and ambient). The wind noise cancellation works well enough and is quite effective for the microphone. It takes some strong winds to force some deterioration in sound quality, and even then, there’s enough clarity to have a conversation. However, I wished they had placed an easily accessible toggle on the main menu rather than nested in the settings.
I’m also pretty satisfied with the battery life — I don’t need it to be that long. Still, Elite 8 Active seems to be able to consistently hover close to the eight-hour mark with ANC, which is like saying you can use these for your marathons and still have enough left over for the journey back home. The case supports Qi wireless charging as well.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Elite 8 Active is pretty much in the Rolls Royce category of headsets designed for the active among us. But I think this is pretty much a life-proof pair of earbuds everyone can appreciate. The recommended retail price of SGD308 seems pretty steep, but the street price of SGD228 makes these earbuds good value.
- Jabra Elite 8 Active - 7.7/107.7/10
Jabra Elite 8 Active
SGD308 (street price SGD228)
You don’t need an active lifestyle to appreciate the ruggedness of these earbuds. It’s practically no-fuss and works and advertised. These are hard to beat at street prices.