The Jabra Elite 85t Truly Wireless are semi-open headphones with a comfortable, stable in-ear fit. Their default sound profile is quite neutral with a veiled treble, and you can use the Jabra Sound+ app to customize their sound to your liking. Their ANC feature can block out higher-frequency noises typically found in an office, but they struggle to isolate against bass-heavy sounds like bus and plane engines. While their 6.5-hour continuous battery life may not last through your workday, their portable charging case offers about 3.5 extra charges to recharge when you’re on-the-go.
Jabra Elite 85t Truly Wireless Headphones Review
Design & Build Quality
Jabra isn’t a company shy of innovation. More often than not, the Danish audio brand is first to market with cutting-edge in-ear headphone designs, pioneering more compact form factors while retaining the great sound quality the firm is known for.
Thankfully, the same goes for the brand new Elite 85t earphones. As the name suggests, they follow in the footsteps of Jabra’s last release, the Elite Active 75t, with a very similar design.
However, the main difference here is that they’re not aimed at sports (although they are still rugged enough to be used for low-impact fitness thanks to IPX4 water-resistance).
Instead, these buds focus on improving the audio experience and boast ANC, which works to block out any loud and irritating sounds in your external environment, such as the roaring rattles of an underground train or the dull buzz of a plane engine. But more on the ANC experience later.
When it comes to design, the Elite 85t buds retain the sleek appearance of their predecessor, however, there’s a bit of added extra bulk to accommodate the ANC tech, which makes the buds protrude out a little further in your ears than before. It’s not so noticeable when looking at them in the mirror, but this has definitely impacted the feel and comfort levels of the 85t buds as they sit in your ears. The fit is just a lot less snug than in the 75t, and this was one of the main reasons why we were such a big fan of the previous model.
Another thing impacting the fit is the new oval-shaped buds. Jabra says this fresh “semi-open” design features pressure relief vents to prevent pressure build-up inside the ear, while the silicon oval EarGels help create a more secure seal for better noise-canceling. While that sounds all good and well in practice, we found that they actually don’t fit as tight as the older, rounded design and feel like they’re constantly on the verge of falling out, even when twisted to fit deeper in the ear.
Unlike the Elite Active 75t, there’s only one color option to choose from with the 85t and that’s “titanium black”, metallic charcoal, or gunmetal-like color which definitely gives off super stylish vibes and will probably match any outfit if that’s ever a concern of yours.
The 12mm dynamic drivers pump out a consumer-friendly frequency response, which means bass notes are two times louder than midrange notes. This is good for general listening purposes because the bass emphasis allows you to feel that oomph from your beloved basslines. Although it’s enjoyable, this isn’t an accurate frequency response by any means.
If you use the Elite 85t, you may have trouble discerning high-pitched vocal frequencies, which is a consequence of auditory masking. Our brains only have so much bandwidth to process auditory stimuli, so a loud sound is prioritized over a relatively quiet sound. This had its place in the early days of survival but isn’t great when you’re just trying to perceive detail from your favorite songs. To get a better idea of how a song is intended to sound, you have to cut bass notes by roughly 6dB, amplify mids by 3dB, and de-emphasize certain treble ranges by 6-10dB in the Jabra Sound+ app equalizer.
The song Broken Bones by Wingtip sounds great through the Jabra Elite 85t: the guitar picking is relayed clearly and doesn’t make it difficult to hear Nick Perloff-Giles’ vocals as he sings the first verse. Even when the kick drum enters at 0:27, Perloff-Giles’ voice is audible as he says the word, “different,” which is hard to hear with Jabra Elite 75t frequency response. Treble notes are relayed clearly too and can be heard in the first chorus as a tambourine shakes back and forth. Auditory masking presents itself as the chorus coalesces into the energetic interlude at 1:10. The bass drop is so loud that it’s hard to discern any midrange or treble notes.
Again, this frequency response is great for general listening purposes: it makes your favorite tunes seem a bit more lively, but it isn’t an accurate representation of how the music is intended to sound.
The Jabra Elite 85t are great earbuds for conference calls if you can get them to stay connected. Between the two earbuds, the Elite 85t boasts a six microphone array, four of which are used for noise cancellation. The microphones de-emphasize sounds lower than 500Hz, which is a way to combat the proximity effect: when bass notes are amplified as a speaker gets too close to the microphone.
Bluetooth 5.0 is steady and reliable on the Elite 85t. The buds automatically show up on the available device list the moment you take them out of the charging case and pair instantly to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The range is solid for about 35 feet of wireless listening. Multipoint technology is also at your disposal to connect the buds to two different devices simultaneously.
In conclusion, The Jabra Elite 85t are satisfactory for mixed usage. They have a comfortable, portable design that’s stable enough to wear to the gym, and their default sound profile is very neutral and balanced. While their ANC feature can block out typical office noises like chatter from nearby coworkers, they struggle to isolate against bass-heavy sounds like bus and plane engines. Also, their latency with PCs is likely too high to be suitable for gaming.