With Apple and Samsung both offering earbuds that deliver excellent sound quality and compelling ecosystem tricks, it’s getting increasingly harder for regular old earbud makers to stand out. Even mainstays in the category like Jabra can sometimes get lost in the mix — despite having an expansive product lineup. So today Jabra is announcing two new premium earbuds at the same time, with each targeted at very different use cases. The flagship Elite 10 ($249) is intended to be the company’s best-sounding and most comfortable pair of earbuds yet, while the fitness-geared Elite 8 Active buds ($199) have reached a new level of durability (with the ratings and certifications to prove it). Both also mark Jabra’s embracing of spatial audio.
During a recent preview of both products, Jabra told me that consumers rank comfort as the most important factor when shopping for earbuds. This led the company to rethink the core design when coming up with the Elite 10 buds, which have a semi-open design to avoid any clogged-ear sensation or unpleasant occlusion. This helps differentiate them from the rest of Jabra’s closed-style buds. The Elite 10s also feature oval-shaped, super soft silicone ear tips that don’t go very deep into your ears at all. But despite being shaped for extended comfort and that semi-open style, Jabra says these earbuds deliver its most powerful active noise cancellation yet. “Using scanning technology, the earbuds measure noise leakage and play infrasonic sound waves to determine the individual ear canal shape,” the company says. “The ANC filter is then applied dynamically, automatically switching to the most effective ANC level.”
The Elite 10 earbuds include new 10-millimeter drivers that are larger than what you’ll find in Jabra’s Elite 7 Pro or Elite 85ts. Driver size isn’t everything, but Jabra claims this upgrade will lead to more detailed and richer audio reproduction. The company also partnered with Dolby to add head tracking spatial audio to its latest flagship buds. Some people will never be convinced that head tracking is anything more than a parlor trick, but at least the option is now present for those who find it adds some immersion and a wider sound field to their music and movies. Between both earbuds, the Elite 10s have a six-mic system intended to provide the clearest calls of any Jabra earbud while reducing any hint of wind noise. Jabra claims you’ll get up to six hours of continuous battery life (or 27 hours including the case). That’s actually slightly less than what the Elite 7 Pros offered, but you’re getting stronger ANC and beefier sound in exchange.
Then there’s the Elite 8 Active, which the company touts as “the world’s toughest earbuds.” They’re rated IP68 for dust and water resistance, which is above the status quo IPX7 that most premium earbuds have. But apparently Jabra wasn’t satisfied to stop there: these also meet the Military Standard 810H for ruggedized electronics, which means they’ve survived extremes of temperature tests, shock and impacts, pressure drops, salt water, and complete submersion. Then came Highly Accelerated Corrision testing:
This requires our earbuds to pass 11 full cycles of testing, including enduring 2 hours in 104-degree temperatures with 93 percent humidity, going through a 15 minute splash test in salt water, and surviving a 15 minute 104-degree heat drying test, in order to successfully prove their anti-corrosion credentials.
That’s a whole lot of testing. The ear tips on the Elite 8 Actives have Jabra’s signature ShakeGrip coating to keep the buds firmly in place during rigorous exercise — without requiring wing tips or other backup measures for maintaining a steady fit. Their adaptive ANC is more powerful than both the Elite 4 Active and Elite 5, and the Elite 8 Actives support spatial audio (albeit without head tracking this time). Battery life stands at eight hours of straight playback or 32 hours counting case recharges.
The Elite 10 and Elite 8 Active share a lot of features in common: they both support wireless charging, multipoint Bluetooth, standalone mono mode for either earbud, and both are LE Audio ready. A future firmware update will add compatibility with the LC3 and LC3 Plus codecs, but out of the box you’re limited to AAC and SBC. Both pairs of earbuds also support Fast Pair on Android and Swift Pair on PC. You’ll be able to order Jabra’s latest earbuds in September, and stay tuned for my review of the flagship Elite 10 model.