As the premium ANC headphone market heats up, more and more companies are trying to get in on the action… and the latest company to jump into the premium ANC headphone market is Jabra with their New Jabra Elite 85H’s. And Jabra definitely came out swinging cause their new headphones are packed with the latest tech specs and features… and over all I’m pretty impressed by Jabra’s first try.
The Jabra Elite 85H’s retail for $300 which is $50 less than everybody’s favorite Sony 1000XM3’s and Bose QC35’s. And if you want to pick these headphones up I’ll have them linked down below.
Now first lets talk about the carrying case that comes included with the Jabra Elite 85H’s… its actually very good. Its a hardshell carrying case that’s completely wrapped in the same buttery smooth synthetic leather found on the ear cups and headband on these headphones… and inside there are compartments where you can store your cables and dongles just like with the carrying case that comes included with the 1000XM3’s.
Now when it comes to the headphones themselves, over all I’m very impressed by their build quality. When you extend their headband it just glides into position, the ear cups pivot and swivel very smoothly, and when you flex the headband there’s very minimal sound. In general the materials used on these headphones feel very premium. The fabric covering the headband and ear cups feels very soft, the plastic portions are made to look like brushed aluminum, but most importantly like I mentioned earlier… the synthetic leather on these headphones is buttery smooth. And I really like that cause synthetic leather on other headphones like the 1000XM3’s can feel very plastic.
Now when it comes to their over all design personally I’m not the biggest fan… these headphones are a bit on the chunkier side. Even though the ear cups themselves are fairly low profile, due to their flared out yolk design its makes the headband on these headphones not look as low profile compared to other ANC headphones on the market. But they’re definitely not the worst looking headphones out there. Just minor nit picks.
Now when it comes to fit, there’s good news and there’s bad. The new good news is that these headphones have some very spacious over ear ear cups. They’re not as spacious as the Bose QC35’s but they are more spacious than the Sony 1000XM3’s. So these headphones would be a good candidate for someone who has larger ears or ears that stick out a lot. And like I mentioned earlier, the synthetic leather on these headphones is buttery smooth… so that’s a plus. And these headphones are comfortable to wear cause the ear cups apply an even amount of pressure all around. The bad news is, that I have to say that these headphones are not big head approved. These headphones have a very snug fit… and I found that I could only really wear these headphones for at most an hour straight before suffering wearing fatigue. Now I’ve given these headphones time to break in and even tried readjusting their headband, but I still don’t find them to be as comfortable as their competitors. So to be on the safe side, I gotta say these headphones are not big head approved.
Alright, now with design and fit out of the say let's get into tech specs and features. Like I mentioned earlier, Jabra really tried to cram in as many features as they could into their 85H’s. First off when you rotate the ear cups to their wearing position the headphones will power on, and when you rotate the ear cups back to their flat position the headphones will power off again. Not a lot of headphones have this feature, but its pretty cool.
These headphones also have on ear detection where if you take your headphones off they’ll automatically pause your music… and when you put them back on they’ll start playing again. Personally I don’t like to use this feature on any of my headphones, so I just turn it off. But I’ve found its very accurate so these headphones aren’t going to start randomly pausing your music when you're walking around like some other headphones with this feature do.
Now when it comes to battery life, these headphones have an advertised battery life of 36 hours with ANC turned on. And that’s very impressive cause right now the industry standard for battery life on ANC headphones is around 25 hours. And Jabra even claims that if you use these headphones with ANC turned off they’ll last you for 41 hours.
And the fast charging on these headphones is also fairly impressive. If you charge these headphones up from a dead battery for 15 minutes they’ll get you 5 hours of playback time. And thankfully these headphones charge via a USB C port. Its pretty obvious Jabra wanted to make their headphones standout with impressive battery life specs, and they executed on that very well.
And when it come their bluetooth connectivity… again Jabra executed on that very well too. These headphones are rocking bluetooth 5.0 but most importantly they can be connected to 2 devices at the same. So you can easily hot swap from your phone to computer like I do. And these headphones are also good for watching videos on your phone cause they don’t have any latency issues. The only exception is that there is like a quarter second delay when watching youtube videos on an iPhone. But other than that they’re perfect.
But when it comes to the active noise cancelation on Jabra Elite 85H’s unfortunately it doesn’t perform as well as their competition. Now don’t get me wrong, these headphones do block out a considerable amount of noise and they do so without a noticeable amount of cabin pressure which is always a good thing to see… but these headphones just don’t block out as much noise as the Sony 1000XM3’s Bose QC35’s or surface headphones.
Like you may have just seen, the Elite 85H’s just don’t block out as much noise as their competition… but over all their ANC is fairly decent for a few key reasons. First off, these headphones do a very good job of rejecting wind noise when used out doors cause their microphones (and there’s 8 of them) are all below the fabric mesh covering the ear cups. The ANC on these headphones also doesn’t really affect the sound stage or instrument separation on these headphones when listening to music, except for a slight difference in the bass, and like I mentioned earlier these headphones don’t have a lot of cabin pressure. So for those reasons I gotta say the ANC on these headphones is ok… its not the best, but its ok.
But something I really don’t like on these headphones is their ambient mode. Now these headphones, like most new headphones have an ambient mode were they will pump in all the sound around you so you can still be aware of what’s going on when you’re walking around in the city or working at your desk. And through Jabra’s app you can even adjust how much ambient sound you would like to let in. Unfortunately I found that ambient mode on these headphones produces a lot of hissing in the background. Now this hissing isn’t noticeable when listening to music, but it is very noticeable whenever you’re watching TV with these headphones. But my other problem with the ambient mode on these headphones is that they pick up everything. They aren’t smart enough to block random loud noises like a police siren or a dog barking like other headphones are. And just so you can see what I’m talking about here’s a quick demo. Major headphone warning.
So I feel that have an ambient mode that’s smart enough to actively block out random loud noises like on the Sony 1000XM3’s is important cause they are going to save your hearing and save you from sudden jump scares.
But now lets talk about the sound quality on these headphones. Over all I think they sound decent, but they don’t sound amazing. Personally I think the instrument separation and sound stage these headphones is a little weak, and they also don’t get that loud… which in the long run is probably a good thing but I know some people will complain that these headphones don’t get loud enough for them. But for me they get loud enough. But again Jabra did a good job of executing on the basics here… the bass on the Elite 85H’s don’t bottom out even with ANC turned on (which can be a problem with some other ANC headphones) and the highs don’t get tinny. The Bass on these headphones over all is pretty decent, it doesn’t kick as hard as the Sony 1000XM3’s but they have more bass than the Bose QC35’s.
Now through Jabra’s app you can go in and select from a few pre-made EQ’s or you can make your own. So you can make these headphones sound however you want. Jabra’s app also allows you to customize moments on these headphones so you can have pre set settings for how you would like your headphones to behave in a certain situation. For example if you’re commuting you can set the headphones to have ANC turned on and use the speech equalizer, if you’re in public you can have the moment set to have hear through turned on with the bass boosted equalizer or if you’re in private you can have can have their ANC and hear though feature turned off and use your own EQ. You can even use Smartsound and have the headphones automatically cycle between these moments for you. But since Smartsound is an audio based system I did find its accuracy isn’t the best so I personally don’t like to use. But you can still cycle through these moments by pressing and holding on the button on the left ear cup. But still, if you don’t want to bother with smart sound or moments you can still just cycle through ANC and hear through on these headphones by just pressing on the button on the left ear cup.
But I wanna take a moment to talk about the controls buttons on these headphones cause again Jabra did a very good job on these as well. Like I just mentioned the left button is used to cycle through your ANC settings or moments and there’s a dedicated voice assistant button on the right ear cup… which is something I’ve been asking for on other headphones for a while now. But the physical media control buttons on the right ear cup are also great. Even though they’re very inconspicuous… they’re very easy to find, they’re easy to tell apart, and they have great tactile feed back. And like I’ve said in the past, I think its smart that some headphone manufactures stick to physical buttons instead of using a touch pad, cause some people just don’t want to bother with using touch controls or having to deal with random false positives.
And finally here’s the microphone test. And just like everything else Jabra did a good job with this as well. Now the audio quality isn’t as good as say AirPods, but the microphone on the 85H’s is definitely up there and I think its descent enough for phone calls. Which isn’t the case for a lot of other headphones out there.
But over all I’m very impressed by the new Jabra Elite 85H’s. Jabra did a very good job of executing on everything that they needed to very well. These headphones have a staggering 36 hour battery life which honestly was a challenge for me to drain, they have fast charging, and they have a USB C port. Their ANC blocks out a decent amount of noise without having a lot of cabin pressure or picking up wind noise. And these headphones sound decent enough. The only problems I can point out on these headphones is that their ambient mode has a noticeable back ground hiss to it and its not smart enough to block out random loud noises. Which for someone who uses ambient mode on their headphones a lot is very important to have. Like I mentioned earlier these headphones are not big head approved and I’m not the biggest fan of how they look, but those are 100% subjective and nit picky reasons. If you’re thinking about picking these headphones up I would say go ahead, but personally I would recommend spending the extra $50 and getting the 1000XM3’s cause you’ll be getting the better performing ANC and ambient modes. And personally I do think the M3’s look better… But if the Jabra Elite 85H’s go on sale then I would definitely pick them up.