Jabra Elite 8 Active Lightning Review: Tough Sounds

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Launched in September, the Jabra Elite 8 Active is touted to be the world’s toughest TWS earbuds to date. So much so it boasts a MIL-STD-810H military standard rating in durability, with the ability to withstand harsh temperatures, exposure to water, and even falls from considerable heights.

Surely, cost and engineering in mind, Jabra had to make some sacrifices in the audio department to achieve the product’s ruggedness, right? As it turns out, not at all.

What Am I Looking At?

The new Jabra Elite 8 Active shares a very close resemblance to its predecessor.  As such, making a return is the brand’s ShakeGrip design that enables for a secure fit on your ears without the need for wingtips, whereas newly introduced on the buds are durable shells with watertight silicone coverings which grants them the aforementioned military standard rating, as well as a higher IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

The heavy duty design also applies to the accompanying charging case, though do take note that it features a lower IP54 rating. And for those particular about fittings, rest assured that included in the buds’ packaging are different choices of ear tip sizes to help you find a conforming pair for your ears. 

What’s Good About It?

jabra elite 8 active review

On top of its strong resistance to the elements, the Elite 8 Active are also considerably light. Thanks to this, each earbud is comfortable to wear, while the ShakeGrip design further ensures a secure fit at all times. Throughout my time testing them, I rarely felt any strain after several hours of use, nor was there any need for me to do any adjustments to the fitting.

Speaking of long term usage, Jabra claims that the buds are capable of lasting over eight hours, with an additional 24 hours more available via its case. While I’ve rarely found myself using the earbuds for more than four hours a day, knowing that I still have plenty of battery life to spare for another week or so is very assuring.

In terms of audio, the Jabra Elite 8 Active’s performance definitely falls within the high end TWS spectrum, but just slightly shy of hitting audiophile territory. Out of the box, the buds’ default Neutral EQ setting gives a well balanced delivery of mid and treble frequencies, but with significant boost in bass. The latter of which is enough to provide the thumping beats in tracks such as “Fly Away” by Urbandawn as well as “Time Flies” by BRADIO a satisfying yet significant presence.

 

jabra elite 8 active review

Its soundstaging is fine, providing some depth that allows the listener to differentiate each layer of audio and direction within a track. However, don’t expect spatial-levels of clarity as vocals, instruments and other harmonics tend to sound a bit too close to one another and also muffled at times. Jabra did include Dolby Spatial Sound to help enhance this, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Meanwhile, the active noise cancelling performance on the Elite 8 Active is decent, allowing you to fully enjoy music, podcasts and even videos without needing to worry about any distractions from your surroundings – at least auditorily. As with most ANC-equipped earbuds in the market, you do have the option to enable passthrough audio by a simple tap of a button, but keep in mind that you’ll need to open up the Jabra Sound+ app in order to disable the feature entirely. 

Based on feedback from friends and family alike, hands-free calls done via the earbuds are clear and precise, thanks to the onboard noise cancelling microphones which help isolate the caller’s voice from ambient audio and wind. On that note, engaging in a phone conversation will automatically activate passthrough mode on the Elite 8 Active, allowing the caller to be aware of their current surroundings.

Another plus point is the buds’ personalisation capabilities through the Jabra Sound+ app, which lets you fully customise the button presses on each side to fit your needs, though I personally find that the preset ones are already good enough as they are. Besides that, its onboard multipoint connectivity is convenient, allowing you to connect it to multiple devices seamlessly, without needing to switch manually.

What’s The Catch?

jabra elite 8 active review

The Jabra Elite 8 Active’s rugged design certainly benefits it in terms of durability and water resistance, though it does come with a caveat. Silicone, the material used to cover each earbud and the charging compartment in its case, is known to be a dust, dirt and grease magnet, so expect to do some cleaning from time to time. It’s a nitpicky gripe, but it’s something I should highlight nonetheless.

And remember the Dolby Spatial Sound feature I mentioned earlier? Yeah, keep that deactivated. Primarily because it can actually transform your listening experience into an unpleasant one due to its inaccuracies in defining depth. Ever wondered how it feels to be outside of a concert instead of attending it in person? Well, this particular feature can help you with that.

Should I Buy It?

jabra elite 8 active review

 

At RM1,049, the Elite 8 Active undoubtedly falls on the more pricier side of the TWS spectrum. On the flip side, what you’ll get is a pair of rugged earbuds with decent battery life, and a punchy sound delivery that’s perfect for those who use bass-heavy tracks as part of their workout playlist. But regardless of whether you’re out for a run or just casually listening to music while commuting, the Jabra Elite 8 Active is an audio companion that’s worth considering.

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