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I Abandoned My Favorite Headphones for These Hi-Fi Workout Buds: Jabra Elite 8 Active Review

Serious about your workout soundtrack? The Elite 8 Active earbuds from Jabra are about the best I've used for everything from lifting to cycling and running.
(Photo/Miya Tsudome)
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While some folks are content listening to whatever the gym is playing during their workouts, I just can’t do it — unless somebody is playing Wu-Tang. I’ve got to be able to change it up to suit the moment — heavy lifting calls for heavy metal. On cardio days, I like to match the BPM of the music to my heart rate to give me a little extra boost, and on active recovery days, I want to take it down a notch and find the flow. An excellent set of headphones is a must-have for me, not just in the gym but throughout my day-to-day.

Enter the Jabra Elite 8 Active ($199). These buds stood out for their top-tier sound quality, the in-app sound and control customization, excellent battery life, and no-nonsense controls. I tested the Jabra Elite 8 Actives in a variety of situations, from easy zone 2 conditioning sessions to heavy lifting days, cycling, running, skiing, and even while writing this article. Throughout this round of testing, I found myself reaching for these headphones more often than any other headphones.

In short: With class-leading sound quality and battery life, the Jabra Elite 8 Active earbuds simply blow other workout headphones out of the water. The pass-through spatial audio mode is key for keeping your wits about you in a busy gym, and the accompanying app allows for EQ changes and even tracking down lost buds. If you’re serious about your workout tunes, these are the headphones to get.

Check out GearJunkie’s Best Workout Headphones Buyer’s Guide to compare the Jabra Elite 8 Active headphones to the rest of the workout-ready earbuds on the market.

Jabra Elite 8 Active


  • Type In-ear style
  • Battery 8 hours with ANC; up to 32 hours with case
  • Weight 10 g buds; 46 g with case
  • Bluetooth version 5.3
  • Charging Up to 3 hours
  • Rating IP68 + MIL-STD-810h
  • Microphones Six


  • Excellent Bluetooth connectivity
  • Great sound with deep tone
  • Good battery life, extended with case
  • Best-in-class button controls
  • Super secure fit


  • The case is a little slippery
  • Pricey

Jabra Elite 8 Active: Review

First Impressions

Diminutive in size, the Elite 8 Active buds pack in a lot of tech; (photo/Paul Mandell)

I received these headphones without knowing too much about them. My current earbuds are the Google Pixel Pro, and until this round of testing, I had considered the Pixel Buds to be the best headphones that I’ve personally used. Out of the box, the Jabra Elite 8 Active headphones exude an air of quality. While the case is slippery, the buds themselves are coated with a grippy texture that makes handling them super easy.

I set up the Jabras and headed to the gym for my deadlift session of the week. I was immediately impressed with the sound quality and user experience during my session, and by the end, my beloved Pixel buds weren’t looking so hot. Around midway through testing, I found myself grabbing the Jabra Elite 8 Active every time I headed out the door. These things are killer gym buds.

Fit, Finish, and Performance

The author on a rowing machine wearing the Elite 8 Active earbuds
Whether in the gym or running outside, the fit and waterproofing on these earbuds couldn’t be bested; (photo/Matt Bento)

The fit and finish of the Jabra Elite 8 are top-tier. These buds are both IP86 waterproof and dustproof, which makes sweating them out of your ears particularly difficult, and if you do happen to drop one, it won’t pick up any nasty particulate off the gym floor. 

Like most other headphones these days, the Jabras include a selection of silicone tips to dial in the best fit for your ears. This is especially important for folks in the outdoor fitness community, since losing an earbud on a run or ride can put a damper on your session with quickness.

During testing, I took them on a handful of runs around the local trails, brought them along for our usual mountain bike ride, and even took them out to lap some groomers at the local ski resort. Throughout testing, the earbuds stayed firmly in place with little to no slippage, even during our high-output sweaty runs.

Sound Quality, Customization, and User Experience

The author connects the Elite 8 Active earbuds to the app
The advanced functionality of the Sound+ app really allows you to tailor your experience with these earbuds; (photo/Matt Bento)

The sound quality, battery life, and ANC/spatial audio are all excellent. Each bud lasts 8 hours between charges, and users can expect up to 32 hours between charges with the case. This came out to approximately one 2-hour charge every week for our tester, making it the best in class for battery life.

As far as sound quality, the preset is very good on its own, but if you download the Jabra Sound+ app, you will be able to toggle between different EQ presets and/or adjust the bass, mid-range, and treble. This lets users fine-tune their sound according to the genre or according to their listening needs. 

The Sound+ app lets users update their firmware, change the basic functions of their buds, and even find their buds if they’ve set them down in a forgettable spot somewhere. On their own, the buds are excellent, but the Sound+ app rounds out the experience of the Jabra Elite 8s and makes for a complete suite of features.

I also found the spatial audio feature to be particularly helpful during testing — especially when riding my bike to the trailhead and lapping groomers at the resort. It’s also a great feature for increasing situational awareness when the gym is bustling.

And for those of you who need to zen out and get some work down, the active noise cancellation does a great job of creating an auditory bubble to help you zone in and drown out unwanted background noise. You’ll also be able to customize the amount of noise pass-through in the Sound+ app.


The author uses the Sound+ app to adjust the functionality of the Elite 8 Active earbuds
The Bluetooth connectivity is seamless on the Elite 8 Actives, and I never needed to repair them once set up; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

The batteries were fully charged straight out of the box, and pairing with Bluetooth took a minute or two, but the startup guide included in the box made things simple. Once paired, the buds automatically connect to your phone when opening the case. This is true for one or both buds at a time, and if you do want to pair the second bud, the pairing is seamless and works every time. 

The claimed range for these buds is 10 m or a little over 33 feet, but during testing, I strayed quite far from my phone — up to double the claimed range with little to no problem. It is worth noting that we had a direct line of sight during that time, but I’m confident that users will have little issue staying connected in the gym or studio.

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Standout Features

Getting back to basics with analog buttons on the earbuds means no accidental skips or pauses while working out; (photo/Matt Bento)

During my recent testing of a handful of other workout headphones, I had repeat issues with unwanted pausing, skipping, and disconnecting with other buds that sport touch control. One of the things that helps the Elite 8 Active stand out is its lack of touch controls. Other headphones, like the Beats Fit Pro and the JBL Endurance TWS, have clunky touch-sensitive controls that detract from their performance. 

Jabra decided the best way to navigate these potential issues was to do away with them altogether, and I had no issues whatsoever with unintentional pausing or skipping because of the more traditional buttons, thanks to the old-fashioned analog control. 

Users are still able to tap to skip and pause songs or answer calls but need to depress a physical button on the bud to do so, making unwanted interruptions a nonissue during testing. You’ll also be able to customize the layout of your controls via the Sound+ app, an especially useful feature for lefties or folks who may not otherwise be able to tap one side or the other.

Room for Improvement

The slick coating on the case made it a bit slippery to hold, but it’s honestly not a big deal; (photo/Paul Mandell)

Finding something to nit-pick with these buds was, in a word, difficult. I was incredibly impressed by the design and performance of the Jabra Elite 8 active. The only thing I could find to be bothered about was the coating on the case, which is particularly slippery and led to inadvertently flinging the case across the room in a few instances. 

These headphones performed flawlessly throughout our testing and easily beat out their competitors with their fit, finish, and function. At $199, they are spendy but comparably priced to other headphones on the market, like the Beats Fit Pro, but beat them out with better connectivity and ease of use, which is why they are the top dog in my book.

Jabra Elite 8 Active: Conclusion

The Jabra Elite 8 Active headphones bested every other pair I’ve tested for working out in; (photo/Matt Bento)

I was consistently impressed by the Jabra Elite 8 Active headphones throughout my testing. So much so that I ditched my previous favorite buds in favor of these. The fit and finish are the best of any headphones that I’ve personally used.

The sound quality and EQ customization provide better sound than any of the other buds on our best-of list this year, and the no-frills touch controls help the Jabras avoid tech bloat and stand out from their competition.

The price tag of $199 is certainly steep, and those who maybe aren’t fanatical about their workout audio may be better served by a value headphone like the JBL Endurance Race TWS or Anker Soundcore Sport X10. Both of these headphones slide in less than $100 cheaper than the Elite 8s, but the difference is noticeable.

When combined with the excellent battery life and solid in-ear security, it’s easy to see why these buds took home our Best of 2024 award. If you are looking for an uncompromising set of headphones to take you from the gym to the trails and anywhere in between, the Jabra Elite 8 Active is your headphone. 

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