In the realm of over-ear headphones, you aren't exactly at a loss for choices. There are quite literally thousands of different options, so settling on a single pair can feel daunting.
We got a chance to test the Jabra Elite 85H, and in this post, we're diving into what we liked, what could be improved, and who these headphones are a good fit for. If you've heard about the Elite 85H and are considering buying them, keep reading this Jabra Elite 85h review to determine if these headphones are a good fit for you.
The Bottom Line:
Here's the basics you need to know about the Jabra Elite 85H before deciding if they're right for you.
These water-resistant, ANC headphones impressed us with the overall sound quality, build quality, and features. They're one of only a few over-ear headsets out there that can withstand rainy weather conditions, making them great for athletic audiophiles. They're not cheap, but the overall quality is well worth the price.
Who Are These Headphones Best For?
These noise cancelling headphones are a great choice if you've got a passion for great audio, but can't afford super-premium priced headphones. The sound quality was impressive, and the features that go along with it make them a great everyday pair of headphones.
If you like to wear over-ears when you're working out, the Elite 85h is one of the few that's water and sweat-resistant, making it an excellent choice for athletes.
These headphones have excellent active noise cancellation and have a battery pack that'll last almost an entire workweek. The headphones can get a little warm after a while but are comfortable enough to wear for 6+ hours at a time.
Accompanied by a robust faux leather casing with a soft fabric interior, the Elite 85h emanates a sense of quality and class from the get-go. Aside from the premium headphones, you'll find a USB Type-C charging cable, an airplane audio adapter, and a 3.5mm Aux cable tucked inside the case's divider.
Available in Navy, Gold Beige, and Titanium Black, the Elite 85h boasts a minimalistic chic design, with each set coming with a one-color approach. The headphones are mostly plastic, including the extendable arms, which feature a brushed-metal appearance. Fortunately, the plastic is quite sturdy and provides more flexibility, accommodating both smaller and larger heads.
The Elite 85h has an aesthetically-pleasing meshed-fabric material on the headband and the external surface of each ear cup, giving your headphones a sense of personality. Thanks to the faux leather, the headband and ear cup's underside are foam-cushioned and exceptionally-soft for added comfort.
Not to mention, the headband has been pre-tensioned, meaning you can use it for long hours, and you won't feel intense pressure on your noggin. Unlike most of Sony's headphones which incorporate touch controls, the Elite 85h features physical buttons. The right ear cup comes with a set of control buttons. With the larger fingertip-sized indentation, you can pause or play your music and answer calls too.
Alternatively, the tiny dots surrounding that button allow you to skip tracks by long pressing the tiny button and regulating your music's volume with a short press.
In contrast, the left ear cup keeps things pretty simple. We noticed only a single button that enables you to cycle through ANC modes. By now, you've probably noticed that we haven't mentioned a power button. Well, that's because the Elite 85h doesn't have one. Instead, your headphones will turn on automatically when you turn the cups towards each other and turn off when you flatten them out.
What sets great premium headphones apart from good ones comes down to sound quality and unique features. The Jabra Elite 85H can hold its own in offering fantastic sound against other similarly priced options, but what about their characteristics? Here's what you need to know.
ANC & Hear Through
Active noise cancellation is a great feature to have. However, it's pretty standard at this point when you get to headphones that are $200+. The Jabra Elite 85H has effective active noise cancellation that works excellent for dulling conversations and keyboard clicks, but struggles with super-low frequencies (but this is common with most ANC at the moment).
The hear through setting was one of our favorites. This isn't groundbreaking by any means, but you only get this feature in premium-level headphones that generally cost a lot more than the 85H. With this setting on, the headphones use their built-in microphone to amplify your surroundings, not dull them. This is great if you want to listen to music but still be aware of what's happening around you or need a little extra help hearing conversations.
If you travel a lot, you'll be glad to know that these headphones can collapse to fit compactly in a carrying case. This is great if you need to take your headphones with you, but don't want to wear them while you transport them.
The case that comes with the headphones is sturdy and will protect the headphones while they're in your bag.
In general, over-ear headsets are more comfortable for long-term use than in-ear headphones are, and the Jabra Elite 85h isn't an exception. These top-quality headphones are exceedingly comfortable, even with your glasses on. They can be worn for 6+ hours at a time with minimal breaks and cause next to no discomfort.
Besides being plush, the ear pads leave plenty of space for even the most outward-facing ears. Although its ear cups are somehow bulky, they fold flat easily and rotate up toward the headband.
With that said, the only complaint we have (and this is the case for most over-ear headphones we've tested) is that they get hot after about an hour or two. If you're in a cool office, this isn't a deal breaker, but if you live somewhere warm, or don't have the AC cranked up, it can make your whole body feel warmer.
The battery life of these headphones is incredible. It's by far one of the features that makes them stand out against cheaper alternatives. With Bluetooth and Active Noise Canceling on, you can expect nearly 40 hours of playback time on a single charge. For most people, this is enough to get you through an entire work week!
On the other hand, with noise cancelling switched off, you get slightly more time, around 41 hours, give or take.
However, the time greatly varies depending on factors such as codec selection and listening volume. You can typically expect approximately 20 hours of battery life from over-ear Bluetooth headphones and around 8 hours for earbuds. The 40-hour battery life of the 85H blows these numbers out of the water.
One of the biggest challenges for Active Noise Canceling headphones is finding the perfect balance between blocking out background noise and retaining audio output quality. On the ANC side, Jabra Elite 85h comes with a wide range of noise canceling options thanks to its sound+ app. The sound+ has so many features but what really blew our minds was the customizable EQ that allows you to create or save your sound profile.
You get to enjoy multiple noise-cancelling "moments" with diverse levels of transparency. Actually, the Jabra Elite 85h offers the most versatile Noise Canceling range we've ever tested. What's more, its SmartSound tech, which features a Smart Active Noise Cancellation, analyzes your sound environment, and then decides on the perfect NC for the situation. That way, your Jabra headphones will be able to clear out ambient sound once it detects wind noise and any other unwanted noise.
Overall, the sound quality of the 85H was fantastic. There isn't a forced emphasis on specific frequencies like you see in some other similar alternatives. If you're looking to hear an accurate depiction of the audio you're listening to, the 85H has you covered.
The app enables you to enjoy the best EQ for your liking, and although we found the bass to be a little more hard-hitting, the 85h has still done a good job of creating a full soundscape.
While testing these headphones with different music genres, we noticed that bass-y songs didn't sound uncomfortable or overwhelming even at high volumes, nor was there any classic drop in the midst. When you set Jabra's headphones to their default sound profile, they present nicely balanced audio that sounds crisp, clear, and as it's meant to be heard.
Bluetooth Multipoint Connectivity
The Elite 85h features Bluetooth 5.0, so your headset will stay connected as long as you're within the 10-meter wireless range. Music buffs running firmware version 1.4.1 will benefit from AAC support for top quality. This provides dependable streaming on iOS devices. If you're an Android user, you can still use this codec, though keep in mind that its performance is volatile.
Unfortunately, the Elite 85h still can't support aptX. Luckily, Bluetooth multipoint acts as a compensatory feature. You'll be able to pair up to eight devices to your headphone and connect to two devices simultaneously.
How Are These Headphones For Phone Calls?
We wouldn't recommend the Jabra Elite 85H as your go-to for conference calls, but as far as everyday phone calls go, they're not bad. The headphones don't have a boom-style mic, so I was told the audio on the other end sounded "average." Not bad and easy to understand, but nothing to really write home about either.
On a similar note, you should know that depending on the frequency of your speaking voice, you'll have different experiences with these wireless headphones and how they perform in making and receiving phone calls. The Jabra Elite tended to be better at picking up high-frequency voices than lower ones.
If you have a baritone voice, you may be significantly quieter to the person on the other line. This isn't a deal breaker by any means, just something to take into account.
Are These Noise Cancelling Headphones Any Good?
Jabra Elite's noise cancelling is pretty much okay, but passive isolation is where this noise cancelling headphones outshine other products in the competition. With its preset-switching function, the Jabra Elite 85h can automatically adjust to ambient noise.
Although noise cancelling affects high-frequency sounds of about 1kHz, a more significant percentage of the heavy lifting comes from your headset's ability to block out environmental noise passively in this frequency range. So if you want to benefit the most from these active noise cancelling headphones, ensure you get the right fit - there should be no gaps between your head and the ear pads.
Should You Buy These Headphones?
Overall, for their price, the Jabra Elite 85H is a solid investment. They've become one of my personal favorite go-to work headphones because of their comfort.
These headphones are designed for people who appreciate good audio, but aren't looking for top-level, exceptional audio quality and frequency response that can cost an arm and a leg.
If you're looking for a solid, reliable pair of headphones for the office, around the house, listening to music, or using them while you're working out, I'd definitely recommend you pick up a pair of the Elite 85H.