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I tested the 'world's toughest earbuds' and now I don't run without them

Jabra's new Elite 8 Active are dustproof, waterproof, and sweatproof, so you can wear them anywhere without worrying.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Jabra Elite 8 Active
Matthew Miller/ZDNET

I've always listened to music while running and exercising so having wireless earbuds that sound great and can withstand my extreme level of sweating is important to my lifestyle. Many earbuds have been in my ears over the past couple of decades, but Jabra remains one of the best thanks to the reasonable pricing, solid performance, great call quality support, and comfort.

Also: These open-ear headphones ditch the bone conduction tech for something better

For the past couple of weeks, I have been working out with the new Jabra Elite 8 Active, which the company claims to be the "world's toughest earbuds." So, I put them to the test to see if they're worth the money or not. Read on.

View at Jabra

The Elite 8 Active is the first pair of Jabra earbuds I have tried with the Jabra ShakeGrip design element. That consists of a soft-touch coating around the entire earbud and a contoured design optimized to fit in your ear securely. 

Also: The best earbuds you can buy right now

Immediately after my briefing in New York, I paired the Elite 8 Active with my Garmin Enduro 2 and headed out into the heat for a short run. Given it was sunny and hot, I sweated profusely, and yet the earbuds stayed firmly in place the entire time while flawlessly playing my classic rock playlist.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Speaking of watches, this is the first time I have heard of an audio company touting smartwatch compatibility front and center. Yes, Bluetooth earbuds are typically supported by smartwatches, but it is nice to know that Jabra actually tested this capability and advertised the functionality proudly. I've tested the Elite 8 Active with the Garmin watch, Apple Watch Ultra, and a COROS Apex 2 Pro and saw perfect playback performance.

The Jabra Elite 8 Active incorporates adaptive hybrid active-noise cancellation, Jabra's second-highest level of ANC. It works very well and yet doesn't completely drown out noise, so I've been comfortable running with the earbuds in the city. Spatial sound is also provided via Dolby Audio.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The Jabra Sound Plus app is available for the Elite 8 Active on both Android and iPhone devices. I highly recommend that you install and use this software for the best audio experience. The app provides the battery status of the buds, sound mode toggles, equalizer settings, button control settings, firmware updates, and more. 

The flat surface outside of the earbuds serves as a button that can control functions with a single press, double press, and triple press. These are very easy to trigger and use while running or participating in more active exercises, which is great.

Also: Earbuds with neckbands are back in style, and I'm not mad about it

The Jabra Elite 8 Active are very light at just 5 grams each and they can be used together or in single earbud mode. In terms of battery life, expect the earbuds to last up to eight hours with ANC on and 14 hours with ANC turned off. The charging case provides up to three additional full charges and supports fast charging (five minutes of charging provides up to an hour of listening) and wireless charging.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Phone calls are still an important part of my business and personal life so being able to make and receive calls while out and about is a factor to consider. With three microphones in each earbud and some back-end sound algorithms to help with clarity, the Jabra Elite 8 Active are a great solution for calls while working out.

Also: These $35 wireless earbuds have no business being this good

Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity is provided with support for multipoint connections, too, so I can easily pair the buds with up to 10 devices scattered across my gadget desk if I want to.

ZDNET's buying advice

For those looking for a set of earbuds that are optimized for an active lifestyle, the Jabra Elite 8 Active is just about perfect. I cannot think of anything missing from the spec sheet, and after using the earbuds for several workouts, I am convinced they are the best workout earbuds currently available today. Even if you don't sweat with them on, the earbuds are great for inclement weather use and in environments that are often too rough for standard audio products.

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