JABRA ELITE 85H

Design & Construction

The Jabra Elite 85h is the Jabra's first attempt at creating its version of an ever-popular Noise-Cancelling headphone that every audio company seem to have. Will Jabra beat the best of the best or will the Elite 85H be just another noise-cancelling headphone in this saturated market? Let's dive in straight to the design and construction. Starting off, the Elite 85H is built mainly out of a plastic body, metal headband and a fabric layer covering its headband and earcups. The earcup cushions are leatherette. On the left earcup, there is only one button on the back of the earcup to toggle between SmartSound modes. On the right side, there is (From Back-Front): the Smart Assistant button, 3.5mm input, the USB-C port. Controlling the rest of the playback functions are on the face of right earcup itself. Press the bottom button for Vol-, top button for Vol+, centre button for play/pause, double press to skip forward and triple press to skip backwards. The Smart Assistant button brings up Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa with a single press. Something missing here is the presence of a power button, that is because the power is controlled via the earcup positions. Swivel the earcup into wearing position and the headphone will turn on. Swivel it flat to power down the headphones. A red LED will light up when it is left to charge. It takes about 2.5 hours to charge from a dead battery. Pairing via Bluetooth is simple and quick. It is also worth noting that the headphones only require 15 minutes of charging for 5 hours of playback. The Smart Assistant button on the right earcup can not only bring up your phone's default assistant or Alexa with a single press but also mute the headphones when the user is in a call. The button on the left earcup cycles through the different noise-cancelling modes like full noise-cancelling, ambient sound and off. Both earcup pivots bear the Sony logo. The headphones have thick cushions which are meant for providing a comfortable experience with the headband being light and well-padded to not cause discomfort for users who wear spectacles. On the headband, there is also thick cushioned headrest which provides for a very comfortable experience. However, it is important to note that the cushions cause ears to heat up a bit and even ear sweat on warmer days. The exterior of the headphones gives off this durable look that does not pick up fingerprint smudges and facial oils. On the top, the headband holding the structure is made of metal and the earcups pivot left and right and folds flat for easy storage. The biggest selling factor here is the Elite 85H being rain-resistant so you can walk through rainy weather with an ultimate peace of mind. Just keep in mind that the fabric does retain water so the headphones will be soaked thereafter.

Sound Quality

The 40mm headphone drivers produce a decent sound signature to provide for a very immersive experience. Based on user experience, the noise-cancelling is the sub-par when compared to headphones in a similar price range. I could hear my surroundings muffled when there was no music on. With music on at around 70% volume and full noise-cancelling, that is when my world turned silent. Definitely not the best when compared the top-dogs of the industry. via Jabra Sound+ App available for download on the App Store and Play Store. SmartSound allows for toggling of different noise-cancelling modes like In Public, Commute and In Private. Each has different levels of noise-cancelling and ambient sound mode. These are all automatically detected by the headphone itself. Of course, users can toggle the amount of ambient sound let in, turn on full noise-cancelling or just turn it off completely via the button at the left earcup. The next function is the auto pause and plays which stops the music playback when you take off your headphones and resumes them when you put it back on. It is also good to know that the app has an internal equalizer to enable the best output of music. With a large category ranging from Default, Speech, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Smooth and Energising. You can also choose to customize your own too! This makes the headphones customisable for all genres of music ranging from soothing jazz to fast EDM tracks. Highs are crisp and clear. Mids come off as balanced and forward, and bass is weak and distorts the sound quite a bit at around maximum volume. Occasionally, the bass cracks and gives off a popping sound. Definitely not the best sound when compared to the rest of its competitors of the same price point. There was only a little sound leakage even at full volume and no high-volume distortion. On the bright side, call quality was great with the caller hearing me loud and clear regardless of the environment I was in. 

Connectivity & Portability

The headphone operates both passively and wirelessly. In wireless mode, it supports Bluetooth Version 5.0 for clear audio transmission. The mic and controls on the earcups are disabled in wired mode and users cannot charge the headphone and use it at the same time. However, the volume remains similar in both wireless and wired mode. Listening via the USB Type-C cable is also unavailable. The battery life peaks at 36 hours with Bluetooth and Noise-cancelling on and 41 hours in wired mode with noise-cancelling. The headphones' connectivity to the app is perfect as I do not experience any hiccups in Bluetooth connectivity. The headphones stow flat and fold up into a more compact profile. It also comes with a USB-C cable for charging, a 3.5mm cable for wired use and an airplane adapter to tap into in-flight entertainment. A hard-shell carrying case is also included to protect the headphone from drops and scratches.

PROS​​

  • Long Battery Life

  • Easy Controls For Music Play & Calls

  • SmartSound

  • Ambient Sound Control

  • In-App Equalizer

  • Fantastic Call Quality

  • Rain-Resistance

  • Folds Up into a Smaller Profile

  • Hard Carry Case

  • Airplane Adapter

  • USB-C Fast Charging

CONS​​​​

  • Weak Soundstage

  • Distorting Bass

The Bottom Line

The Jabra Elite 85H is a decent noise-cancelling headphone housing comfortable ear cushions, customisable noise-cancelling, long 36 hours battery life, superior call quality and easy to use controls. It is a pity that the sound quality is simply disappointing compared to its rivals. It is highly recommended for daily commutes and long flights. Three colours are available to fit users of different genders and more will be released in the future.

WE RATE IT!

9/10

Other Notable Competitors

BOSE QUIETCOMFORT 35 II
BOWERS & WILKINS PX
SENNHEISER PXC 550
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