Already present in different audio sectors (professional or general public), Jabra is launching into the active noise canceling Bluetooth headsets with the Jabra Elite 85h. Is it worth buying Jabra?Is it able to compete with Sony and Bose, both leaders of the market ? What’s the best Jabra Elite 85h Price?Let’s try to answer this question in our full Review.
The Jabra Elite 85h arrives on the Bluetooth headset market today dominated by two leaders: the Sony WH-1000xM3 and the Bose QC35 II. It aligns with the price of its two competitors while wishing to compete with them on sound quality and its ergonomic functions. If this is the brand’s first consumer headset, Jabra is already used to the requirement of call centers and athletes who want wireless headphones. They are also good for your inner fitness and sport in smart health home.It remains to be seen what this Jabra Elite 85h is worth compared to its two rivals.
Technical information sheet of Jabra Elite 85h
- Diaphragm: 40 mm
- Frequency response: 10 Hz – 20,000 Hz
- NFC: no
- Active noise reduction: yes
- Multi point: yes
- Optimization of atmospheric pressure: no
- Resistance: IP52
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Charging: USB-C
- Bluetooth: 5.0, HSP v1.2, HFP v1.7, A2DP v1.3, AVRCP v1.6, PBAP v1.1, SPP v1.2
- Audio codecs: SBC, AAC to come
- Autonomy announced: from 36 hours (with active noise reduction) to 41 hours (without RBA)
- Weight: 296g
This Review was performed with a model given to us by Jabra.
Comfortable despite its weight
Above all, the design and ergonomics of a helmet are important points that can sometimes work in favor or against a product. Jabra has therefore particularly worked on its wireless headphones to make it both comfortable and practical to use.
With its 296 grams on paper (against 255 g for the Sony and 240 g for the Bose), it scared me a little. Too heavy a helmet, it is the insurance of infernal migraines caused by a hoop which presses on the top of the skull and headphones which take the head in vice. Against all odds, I did not suffer for a moment from this heaviness. And after more than a week of use, it never hurt me or seemed oppressive.
Despite my small head and my lack of hair trim, the Jabra Elite 85h clings well to my ears, unless I leave in a head bang very violent. Even by accompanying the beat with a rhythmic head movement, it does not slip and its padded headband does not hurt my skull.
Headphones circum-aural are also very thick and comfortable on a daily basis. At first glance, I was afraid that they would tighten a little too much, but even a prolonged listening with glasses or on a larger head, no discomfort is felt. On the other hand, the shape memory pads keep you warm, very hot. Note in passing that they are removable so that they can be changed if necessary.
As for the finishes of the helmet itself, I admit to be mixed between a good general impression, in particular due to the fabric which covers both the headband and the ear cups, which makes it, according to my own subjective criteria , more beautiful than a Bose QC35, and a disappointment on the plastic parts which lack rigor. The hinges creak for example, which does not inspire confidence in particular.
Note that it is IP52 certified, which provides protection against rain.
No to touch
Jabra said “no” to touch. As a daily user of the Sony WH-1000xM3, I can confirm that touch gestures are not a particularly good idea and that there are regular hiccups like changing songs when trying to turn up the volume, Or vice versa. For all users like me, it is therefore good news that this Jabra Elite 85h has physical buttons.
We find a discreet button on the back of the left earpiece to change the profile of the headphones (noise reduction, external listening or nothing at all), its symmetrical on the right earpiece to activate an assistant and three discreetly integrated buttons on the main surface of the headset. Two for volume (which also manage tracks with a long press) and a main button for pairing and play / pause. No ON / OFF button, but I’ll come back to it.
All these buttons fall instinctively under the finger, it is impossible to miss them or to confuse them with each other.
2019 requires, there is under the right earpiece a USB-C port and a 3.5 mm jack port to connect the headphones with a wire.
Noise reduction to be tweaked
Besides the sound quality, the effectiveness of active noise reduction is today an important point on this range of headphones. If the Bose QC35 II has given acclaim to the category of noise canceling headphones, the Sony WH-1000xM3 has perfected the recipe and is now regarded as a benchmark. Spoiler : it is not the Jabra Elite 85h which will dethrone it, by the admission of Jabra managers who claim to aim above all for audio quality and that of calls, aware that the Sony ANC chip is very expensive and that it cannot yet supply enough volume to lower the price.
Where Sony offers a scale of 20 shades for the intensity of noise reduction on its latest Bluetooth headset, Jabra only offers a simple “on / off”. The rest is handled by the helmet itself and its artificial intelligence. On the one hand, it’s not bad, because adjusting the noise reduction to a millimeter is sometimes tedious, but on the other, it’s less choice for the user.
The passive insulation of the Jabra Elite 85h is already good as a base, which allows, without the active noise reduction, to already partially cut off unwanted noise. In an environment like a open space noisy, it already cuts off some of the distractions. Bass, on the other hand, continues to pass, and you will always hear engine noises or male voices.
Once the noise reduction is activated, the muffled noises are immediately reduced, but much less than at Sony. To give a concrete example: in the metro, with the Jabra Elite 85h, the general hubbub becomes unintelligible and the main mechanical noises are also greatly reduced. The name of the stations, however, remains perfectly understandable.
Here, no discomfort or this unpleasant feeling of hearing yourself swallow continuously.
In L’open space, the sounds are attenuated and I no longer understand what is said around me, even if I slightly hear a background noise. The brief and loud noises, like a horn in the street, on the other hand remain very distinguishable.
The strong point of this noise reduction is that it remains pleasant on a daily basis and maintains a good atmospheric balance in the earpiece. Some people (this is my case) do not support for example the noise reduction of Bose, a more effective hair, but very “deaf”. Here, no discomfort or this unpleasant feeling of hearing yourself swallow continuously.
Hear Through mode (literally ” hear through ”), Which uses the noise reduction microphones to transcribe outside noise into the headphones, for its part works very well. The sounds are crystal clear, it is possible to chat serenely with someone without feeling assaulted by the ears. Contrary to what Sony and Bose offer, it is possible to type on the keyboard with this mode without having the impression that each key is a hammer blow struck on the corner of our head, we almost come to forget that the helmet exists as the rendering is natural.
In addition, in the settings of the Sound + application, it is possible to adjust the power of this mode (in 7 shades) so that the mode remains comfortable.
Moments and SmartSound
The application of Jabra (Sound +), integrates several presets: “in private” (when the environment is calm), “in public” (when there are voices), “journeys”, or even “my moment”. It is possible for each “Moment” to adjust the sound mode (noise reduction, hear throughor nothing at all), as well as the equalizer. This data is also recorded directly in the headphones, which avoids changes in sounds depending on the sources.
I immediately deactivated SmartSound mode
Once each setting is finely configured, you can activate the SmartSound option to switch on the fly from one mode to the other automatically depending on ambient noise. And there … it is unfortunately a disaster. The transition from one mode to the other is accompanied by an audible indication which cuts the music and detection is not particularly effective.
Leave my house, headphones on my ears and music thoroughly (“private” mode, RBA deactivated) to be entitled to a cut, a voice message that shouts “in public” in my ears in addition to interrupting my music and suddenly go into mode hear through , letting me hear all the city noises over my music. You can imagine that I immediately deactivated SmartSound mode.
Very clear sound, perfect for podcasts
On paper, the Jabra Elite 85h offers pretty much the same thing as its competitors from a technical point of view, with 40mm transducers, but it disappoints with its support for codecs. Indeed, the Jabra Elite 85h currently only supports SBC and will take AAC into account in a future update. In the meantime, forget about the references used for CD-quality wireless audio transfer like Sony’s aptX HD or LDAC. The fact remains that Bluetooth 5.0 provides great stability: I have never had a cut.
We will not hide it, many users will not make a difference, especially as the services of streamingnow commonplace rarely offer CD qualities that would require such codecs, but it remains disappointing, whether for the long-term vision of headphones or for educating the general public about these qualities.
If you mainly listen to Spotify, Deezer or Google Play Music, the difference should not strike your ears and the intrinsic quality of the headphones is enough in itself. The Jabra Elite 85h does not have a sound signature as marked as with Bose and tries more to approach rather neutral sounds, while detailing the different frequencies, including in the extremes.
Some will prefer the warmer and more subdued sound of other brands
It is perhaps there that Jabra succeeds best your work with a clean representation of the bass without suffocating the other sounds, giving an impression of spatialization very convincing. In the end, it is a matter of taste of course, some will prefer the slightly warmer and more subdued sound of other brands in order to adapt to their musical tastes, but there is no denying that the Jabra Elite 85h offers a base that allows to adapt to any style.
The highest treble, on the other hand, could be a little more marked to better transcribe certain instruments such as cymbals or bell effects. A point that we will gladly apologize in view of the clarity of the whole.
This clarity is also a point that particularly marked me, making me think of a “clear voice” mode that can be found on certain devices.health home cinema. For podcasts, the voices are particularly well defined and clear (if they are originally recorded, it goes without saying), which allows you to enjoy them in a very pleasant way.
The main problem with the Jabra Elite 85h is that at full volume the sound becomes very saturated and quickly becomes unplayable. Knowing that the base power is lower than what Sony and Bose headphones offer, this significantly reduces the volume range of listening.
For calls, Jabra prides itself on using 6 of the 8 headset microphones for “improve call quality by filtering wind noise and unwanted background noise more effectively” In fact, the discussions are clear and the outside sound is properly weakened both for the headset user (thanks to the passive isolation) and for your correspondent (thanks to the noise reduction offered by the microphones).
However, I will have some reservations about the general quality after having encountered some cuts and latencies during my calls and a curious bug making looks like the words of my interlocutor to 32-bit gibberish close to a character text of Animal Crossing .
The smartest helmet
Apart from the intrinsic technical qualities of the Jabra Elite 85h, the helmet has been designed to make life easier for the user. He knows how to be discreet and limits the necessary interactions. If we ignore the SmartSound issues, the Jabra Elite 85h offers many benefits.
The first is the presence of multipoint connection. This feature, found on the Bose QC35 II, but not on the Sony WH-1000xM3, allows you to pair two devices simultaneously and switch between them without having to reset Bluetooth. On a daily basis, if you connect your headset to your phone and a computer, it is pure happiness that it becomes difficult to do without. In my case, I encountered small problems to link two devices (the sound jerky), but after several tests and a restart, I no longer encountered any problem.
In this, the absence of NFC (yet present on the Sony) did not bother me more than that, since I did not need to pair this headset too regularly with new devices.
But the most striking point, it is certainly the detection of the ear which makes it possible to automatically put the playback on pause by removing the headphones, like what proposed Parrot on the Zik 3 and Apple on the AirPods. This is clearly a life-changing feature that should be made mandatory on all headsets.
Finally, if there is not enough going into the application of its headphones as a rule once it is correctly configured, Jabra gives it back an interest by integrating “Soundscapes”. White noise, sounds of waves, thunderstorms, rain or even a crowd that is agitated … you will no longer need to download a dedicated application to focus.
The autonomy of the Jabra Elite 85h is simply monstrous. The manufacturer announces 36 hours with active noise reduction and 41 hours without. It’s not only very high, but also almost underestimated depending on the volume of your use. Clearly, this is the most self-contained helmet in its range today.
The constraint is that it takes a long time to recharge. Very long. Allow 2 hours 30 minutes for a full charge where Sony’s charge takes less than an hour. Fortunately, in just 15 minutes of recharging, you get enough juice to last 5 hours and in 40 minutes of charging you have already recharged more than 50% of the battery, for almost 20 hours of use.
To save a bit of battery, Jabra offers to cut the headphones by simply turning the headset. Hence the absence of an ON / OFF button. And for those who forget, an automatic shutdown is configured after 1 hour of inactivity (adjustable in the application between 15 minutes and 8 hours).
Best Jabra Elite 85h Price and availability
The Jabra Elite 85h is already available in black, blue or beige for $300 . It is available at most online retailers and specialty stores like walmart. The good news is that we can already find it at even lower prices, at Amazon for example where it is offered from $249.99.
AB SMART HEALTH REVIEW