Jabra Elite 85h evaluation: like the remainder, however not the very best


Jabra’s Elite 85h are price contemplating for lots of the similar causes you may want Sony’s 1000X M3, Bose’s QC35, or one of many different fashions in our roundup of the very best wi-fi headphones. They’re good at silencing distractions with noise canceling (NC), they match comfortably for hours at a time, they usually’re easy to pair and use.

It’s a virtually full bundle that’s spilling over with different interesting options like SmartSound, Jabra’s clever preset-switching perform that routinely adjusts to ambient noise, and wonderful battery life that outperforms its rivals. All that’s lacking is implausible sound, and for me, that’s a deal-breaker.

I can’t ignore that Jabra’s newest over-ear mannequin is a implausible worth. Sony and Bose dominate the dialog surrounding wi-fi noise-canceling headphones, however Jabra’s pitch is properly price listening to.

Jabra’s greatest accomplishment right here is its battery life. The Elite 85h meet the corporate’s claims of as much as 30 hours of life with noise canceling (NC) switched on. That’s the identical goal that the Sony 1000X M3 goal for, however Jabra’s headphones appear to final a bit longer. Our evaluation unit lasted almost every week while not having to be charged, and its auto-pause characteristic seemingly performed a job in that. Additionally, since turning them off is as simple as twisting the ear cups — an motion I all the time carry out once I take off over-ear headphones — that in all probability saved some battery, too.


The Elite 85h are bulkier than I’d favor for private use. If attainable, I favor to not be carrying the most important set of headphones in a crowd, however with these on within the subway, that distinction goes to me. Fortunately, their measurement doesn’t impression how snug they’re to put on. At 40 grams heavier than the 1000X M3, the distinction could also be noticeable within the hand, however not after they’re on my head. The scarf, lined with a pretend leather-based materials on the underside, is snug, and importantly, it’s not going to budge when you set the scale that works for you. I’ve worn these for the previous few weeks and I haven’t needed to readjust or take them off on account of discomfort.

Jabra’s ear pads, additionally coated in a leather-like materials, clamp down simply sufficient to create a very good seal. They’re not as breathable as I’d like, however that’s extra of a criticism in regards to the over-ear, closed-back kind issue generally. My ears are on the small facet, besides, the inside of the pads doesn’t enable for a lot wiggle room. So, if attainable, I’d advise that you just attempt these before you purchase them. (Or ensure the retailer that you just’re shopping for from permits for returns.)

If you happen to’ve been delay by the all-plastic look of hottest over-ear fashions, you may like Jabra’s woven cloth look. The material on the ear cups and headband is carried out properly and feels clean to the contact, however it’s arduous to understand how gracefully it’s going to age after publicity to the weather, or taking the headphones out of your bag for the umpteenth time. Jabra features a arduous zip-up case with the 85h, which is useful for preserving them. However with or with out the case, they’re fairly simple to tote because of the swiveling ear cups and articulating headband.


Design-wise, these Jabra cans do a couple of intelligent issues that I want my Sonys may do. The ear cups can swivel to take a seat flush along with your chest, and doing so routinely turns off the headphones. And if you happen to all of the sudden want to drag the Elite 85h off your head, no matter you’re listening to will pause, then resume after they’re again over your ears.

Most individuals will likely be pleased with how the Elite 85h sound, however I favor a heat, bass-forward sound, which is one thing that Jabra’s new headphones don’t present. They sound a bit colder in comparison with my Sony 1000X M3, and the finer particulars that I normally discover in my favourite songs are inclined to get muddled. I anticipate to be wrapped in sound once I placed on over-ear headphones, however the 85h go away me wanting extra.

Jabra’s Sound Plus companion app allows you to create your personal equalizer preset (complimenting 5 premade choices), however even my finest try at making a passable EQ doesn’t change the truth that these lack the punchy, encompassing, detail-rich high quality that received me over once I tried the Sony 1000X M3. Comparatively, my music by the 85h sounds distant and flat, like I’m caught watching the live performance from the ticket counter as a substitute of being among the many crowd, washed over with element and heat.


Jabra’s NC impact is extra spectacular. Screeching subway vehicles and honking taxi cabs are hushed by the Elite 85h, and something that’s much less of an assault to your ears is, in fact, dampened much more. I wish to drum, so NC is extra of a necessity than a nicety for me. I’m capable of inform the standard of the impact by the amount that I’ve to regulate the headphones to whereas I do my drumming. These do a very good job of protecting my cymbal splashes and most every little thing else I’m doing to a minimal, permitting me to maintain up with the music with out cranking up the amount too excessive. I nonetheless don’t assume Jabra’s NC is nearly as good as Sony’s, which is sort of dangerously efficient at blocking sound, however I’d be completely happy to carry these to the observe studio.

Past customizing the EQ, the Sound Plus companion app allows you to activate SmartSound, a characteristic that makes use of the headphones’ microphones to routinely modify what Jabra calls “Moments,” three EQ and NC presets primarily based in your environment. If you happen to let it take the wheel, it’s going to shuffle between “In Public,” “In Personal,” and “Commute” relying on what it hears. The way it works for you’ll rely on what kind of auditory extremes you’re uncovered to, and in my expertise commuting in NYC, it ceaselessly succumbs to false positives.

At my desk, the app decides to undertake the “In Public” setting. Once I go outdoors into the busy streets, it stays “In Public” till one thing very loud, like a bus, drives by. That sound tells the software program to modify to “Commute” mode, because it thinks I’m on a bus. Comprehensible, I first assume, till it permits the “HearThrough” characteristic, which I’ve set to set off on this mode. Ideally, I need to have the ability to hear chatter, and the subway announcer over my music, not a roaring engine on the road.


The system is sometimes correct and good to have, like when it switches from “In Public” to “Commute” once I transfer from the subway platform to inside a practice. I’ve but to have the app routinely change to “In Personal” mode, although, which could be a telling signal that there’s an excessive amount of noise air pollution in my life. However no matter its success charge, I favor to make use of the button discovered on the left ear cup’s facet to do all of this myself. Tapping it toggles between NC and “HearThrough,” whereas holding it for a second will cycle by every of the “Moments,” similar to the SmartSound characteristic, however manually.

Jabra has by no means been eager on contact controls, and also you received’t discover them on the Elite 85h. Of their place are a bunch of buttons, most of that are on the best ear cup. Regardless that you’ll be able to pause and resume music by eradicating the headphones, there’s a concave button that performs the identical perform. It’s flanked on prime and backside with raised, rubberized nibs that modify quantity or, if you happen to maintain them, they will skip or reverse tracks. You’ll discover the good assistant button across the rear of the best ear cup, and you’ll chat with Siri, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa when you configure it by the companion app. You should utilize this button to compose messages along with your voice, set appointments and alarms, test the climate — , good assistant stuff.

Unhealthy swipe controls, and most of them are dangerous, can spoil an in any other case wonderful set of headphones. The Sony 1000X M3 are a very good instance of this, as they will misunderstand contact instructions or misfire within the chilly. The one benefit of contact is that when it really works, it’s nearly easy. Jabra calls for a bit extra focus: to vary a track, it’s good to click on and maintain one of many raised buttons on the best ear cup for a second. It feels a bit extra cumbersome and I don’t like the sensation of compacting the Elite 85h any nearer to my head. Although not less than its buttons received’t fail me within the winter.


I really feel snug suggesting Jabra’s Elite 85h to anybody who has $300 to spend, however not with out a main caveat: Sony’s $349 1000X M3 provide superior sound high quality, they usually hit on a lot of the similar beats, with their almost-as-good battery life and higher NC. Plus, they generally value lower than $300.

Even with unrefined sound high quality, the Elite 85h provide the very best battery efficiency I’ve seen in over-ear headphones, they’ve competent NC, and their ear-cup-twisting mechanism to energy down is darn useful to have. I’d wish to see Jabra put extra concentrate on enhancing sound high quality and shrinking down the design to make its subsequent over-ear mannequin rather less cumbersome. Pairing enhancements like these with all that the Elite 85h get proper would seemingly make for an superior set of headphones.

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