Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 review: The best workout earbuds just got better

 Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 in charging case held in hand.
Credit: Future

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2: Specification

Price: $229 / £199 / AU$329
Colors: Black, coral, navy, olive
Battery life (rated): 8 hours (ANC on); 14 hours (ANC off); 32 hours (ANC on w/charging case), 56 hours (ANC off w/charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 (codec support: SBC, AAC, LE Audio)
Durability: IP68-rated (earbuds), IP54-rated (charging case)
Size: 0.8 x 0.8 x 1.1 inches (per bud); 1 x 1.8 x 2.6 inches (charging case)
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud); 1.6 ounces (charging case)

Building on the Elite 8 Active’s universal acclaim, Jabra wasted no time creating a follow-up, one that features bigger specs and an innovative charging case. Say hello to the Elite 8 Active (Gen 2).

This next-gen Elite 8 Active — on sale now from the Jabra website and online retailers including Amazon — not only take over the reins as Jabra’s true sporty flagship, but they set new standards for the sub-category.comes with stronger adaptive active noise cancelation and spatial audio, plus a smart case that doubles as a Bluetooth transmitter to stream audio to the buds. Series staples like a damage-proof design and high battery life also remain intact.

The control scheme hasn’t changed, nor have some of the shortcomings present in the first-gen release. Even so, the Elite Active 8 (Gen 2) are undeniably the best workout earbuds and outshine the top-selling Beats Fit Pro with excellent performance across multiple verticals.

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 packing box with buds and charging case alongside
Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 packing box with buds and charging case alongside

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 review: Price & Availability

  • $30 price increase compared to original

  • New color options

The Jabra Elite 8 Active (Gen 2) are selling for $229/ £199/ AU$329 and can be purchased directly from the Jabra website or popular online retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. Four colors are available: black, coral, navy, and olive.

This version introduces a $30 price hike over their predecessor, making it more expensive than the $199 Beats Fit Pro, yet more affordable than the $249 AirPods Pro 2 (both Lightning and USB-C versions).

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 review: Design

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 worn by reviewer Alex Bracetti
Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 worn by reviewer Alex Bracetti
  • Jabra’s strongest-ever earbuds (IP68) and charging case (IP54)

  • Secure fit with Jabra ShakeGrip

  • Physical buttons affect comfort

What else can be said about the Elite 8 Active’s design other than it’s indestructible and well built. Jabra put these buds through military testing to establish an IP68 certification for dust- and waterproof protection. They can survive huge dust clouds, as well as 1-meter drops and 1.5-meter submersion. A 2-year warranty is guaranteed against failure from dust and water.

The new smart charging case is IP54-rated for dust and water resistance. Compared to other Jabra cases, this one is larger, but slimmer, and has a sleek, curved rectangle design. It weighs nothing at 1.6 ounces and slides into denim pockets.  Added to this version is a pairing button on the front that also activates Bluetooth transmission when wired into an audio source.

Jabra’s ShakeGrip technology enhances stability and sustainability. A “liquid silicone sock” is wrapped around the buds to prevent corrosion and produce a comfy and secure fit. Never once did they fall out or require adjusting on runs. I also didn’t experience any fatigue when wearing them for 4-hour stretches daily. The silicone material also staves off scratches better than the plastic used on standard Elite models.

It's time for Jabra to consider touch controls because their physical button setup remains problematic. Every press pushes the buds further into your ears, causing unwanted soreness around the concha.

Jabra Elite 8 Active review Gen 2: Features

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 spatial audio features
Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 spatial audio features
  • Feature-filled companion app

  • Intuitive pairing options

  • Shortcut widget simplifies listening mode activation

Nearly all functionality runs through the Jabra Sound+ app. Here is where you’ll find all the major audio features, including EQ, music presets, Sound Modes (ANC/Hearthrough), and Spatial Sound. Call Experience lets you adjust different settings (equalizer, sidetone) on voice calls, MyControls is for control customization, and Soundscapes hosts multiple audio vignettes for stress relief. Rounding out the app are battery level indicators, Find My Jabra (earbuds), firmware updates, and a sleep timer function.

Two features you won’t find on the Elite 8 Active (Gen 2) that are exclusive to the Elite 10 (Gen 1 and Gen 2) are Advanced ANC and Dolby Head Tracking.

Outside of the app are special wireless features like Bluetooth multipoint and one-tap pairing for Android and Windows devices. There’s even a shortcut widget to enable the listening modes (ANC/Spatial Sound) without entering the app. It automatically appears on the notification bar of your smartphone. You’ll also see it pop up on the touchscreen when waking your device from sleep mode.

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 review: Controls

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 worn by reviewer Alex Bracetti testing touch controls
Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 worn by reviewer Alex Bracetti testing touch controls
  • Multifunctional buttons are reliable for operation and painful

  • Digital assistance is on-point

  • Spotify Tap doesn’t work

Single-, multi-, and long-press gestures are responsive, and tactility feels fluid. As previously stated, pressing the buttons will push the buds further into your ears. This becomes frustrating and painful after several attempts. One way to limit using them is assigning your most used functions to the one-press gesture or using voice activation for playback, call management, or volume. Google Assistant and Siri demonstrate flawless speech recognition and execute commands accurately.

Spotify Tap is onboard, but like the Elite 10 (Gen 2), the feature doesn’t seem to work when toggled.

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 review: Sound quality

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 worn by reviewer Alex Bracetti working out at the gym
Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 worn by reviewer Alex Bracetti working out at the gym
  • Energetic sound with fine-tuned bass

  • Smart case streams audio to buds

  • Spatial audio doesn’t match up to rivals and head tracking is MIA

The original Elite 8 Active was revered for its powerful, bass-heavy sonics. It’s unknown if Jabra tweaked their 6mm dynamic drivers or soundstage, but the low end continues to dominate the frequency curve and sounds more balanced on these buds. There are still some nice sounding mids and highs to digest. You can also tweak sound in the companion app by creating a sound profile via EQ or selecting from six well-engineered presets that complement their respective categories.

I revisited Dead Prez’s “Hip Hop” on the Elite 8 Active (Gen 2) and loved the adrenaline boost it provided before a treadmill run. The record’s monstrous bassline and pounding kick and snare rhythm were reproduced superbly, fueling my energy tank through the first quarter mile. I felt that same energy from Eminem’s “Till I Collapse.” The rapper’s fiery rhymes remained prominent over the intensified wave of echoing claps and pummeling kick drums. This showed me Jabra’s commitment to fine-tuning their midrange.

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 bud being held between fingertips
Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 bud being held between fingertips

Jazz records were perfect for cooling down. The smooth horn and piano play on Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” kept my body relaxed, though it was small details like the veiled double bass and hi-hat that captured my attention; both instruments were more accentuated on the Elite 8 Active than most sport buds.

Much of my listening time was spent on lossless streaming platforms including Apple Music and Tidal, which deliver CD-quality streams at the full bitrate. Spotify tracks were mostly satisfying.

New to the listening experience is the LE Audio-enabled smart case that can transmit audio to the buds when wired into an audio source. This is perfect for streaming content from an iPod Classic, home TVs, in-flight entertainment systems or the outdated treadmill at your gym with built-in monitor and aux port. Most importantly, sound quality isn’t compromised, so you can enjoy spatial audio and workout playlists from any device.

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 control app showing EQ adjustments
Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 control app showing EQ adjustments

Jabra’s Spatial Sound format is said to have been improved from the previous iteration, though the modifications aren’t significant. It’s still a fine feature for adding arena-like acoustics to the soundstage. Some tracks sound like you’re placed several seats behind the front row of a live performance, which is fine. Bass-heavy recordings create more boom than I would like. The Elite 10 (Gen 2) comes with exceptional headtracking technology that creates a more immersive listening environment and is something the Elite 8 Active (Gen 2) should have received considering their higher price tag.

The Elite 8 Active are stuck with SBC and AAC, two codecs that stream music acceptably well, but lack the resolution and speed transmission of upscale codecs like aptX and LDAC.

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 review: Active noise canceling

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 showing ANC settings in control app
Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen-2 showing ANC settings in control app
  • Robust noise reduction

  • Marvelous wind resistance

  • Newer HearThrough mode is unbeatable

According to Jabra, the first-gen Elite 8 Active’s adaptive ANC delivered 1.6x more noise cancelation than the company’s older version. They weren’t lying. The technology is supposedly 2x stronger on the Elite 8 Active (Gen 2). The only noticeable change my hearing detected was better high-frequency blockage.

Turning it on completely blocked out the construction noises occurring outside of my window. There weren’t any disruptions when passing by a street fair. The Wind Noise Reduction setting kept the soundstage free of harsh whoosh effects. Using the feature indoors was just as rewarding. My son’s electronic toys and loud TV programs weren’t as discernible as they were when testing the first-gen model. Really loud sounds like car horns and sirens caught my attention during outdoor runs.

Natural HearThrough is introduced on the Elite 8 Active (Gen 2) and is supposed to be twice as effective as the previous version. I couldn’t tell much of a difference between the two iterations. All I know is that HearThrough is still the best transparency mode out there. Vocal capture is outstanding, allowing listeners to hear conversations loud and clearly, be it face to face or from across the street. The inter-city railroad was audible from several blocks away. The ambient listening mode came in clutch during late night strolls; I was more aware of oncoming traffic and sidewalk runners.

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 review: Call quality and connectivity

  • Stellar voice calling

  • Blocks out background noise on voice calls

  • Great wireless performance

The original Elite 8 Active was a fantastic calling headset, and the sequel is no different. Most calls were met with positive feedback. My wife complimented how loud and clear I sounded. ANC performed terrifically on voice and video calls, which oddly isn’t the case on the more powerful Elite 10 (Gen 2).

Bluetooth 5.3 ran smoothly. The buds maintained stable connectivity in standard wireless mode and when using the smart case. Range extended up to 50 feet in open spaces. Multipoint technology worked extremely well when paired to two devices simultaneously.

Google Fast Pair grants one-tap pairing with Android devices, and Microsoft Swift has been added to instantly pair with Windows 10 devices (or higher). Pairing to iOS/macOS devices was seamless too.

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 review: Battery life

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 being wirelessly charged
Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 being wirelessly charged
  • Lengthier playtimes than most wireless buds

  • Up to 56 hours via charging case

Battery life is on par with the first-gen version, which is longer than the AirPods Pro 2 (5.5 to 7 hours) and Fit Pro (6 to 7 hours). A full charge translates to 8 to 14 hours of listening time, depending how you use the buds. ANC sucks up the most juice and using spatial audio knocks off 2 hours. The wireless charging case holds up to 56 hours. A 5-minute quick charge generates 1 hour of listening time.

Jabra Elite 8 Active Gen 2 review: Verdict

Advanced adaptive noise cancelation and extended audio functionality via smart care are nifty upgrades that keep the Elite 8 Active (Gen 2) at the top of their class. Retained hallmarks like an energetic sound signature, superior battery life, and an unbreakable shell only add to their value.

Whether these changes warrant a $30 price increase is up for debate. Factors like discomfort and missing high-end features (Advanced ANC, Dolby Head Tracking) can surely sway exercisers to look at rivals with similar feature sets like the Beats Fit Pro, which are cheaper and frequently on sale for as low as $150. The first-gen Elite 8 Active can also regularly be found discounted and offer nearly the same performance. Don't forget to bookmark our best headphone deals page for all the latest discounts.

Still, there’s no denying the Elite 8 Active (Gen 2) as a category leader and top-tier model that greatly benefits runners and workout buffs, no matter their MSRP.