The Jabra Elite 85t are the audio company’s first-ever pair of true wireless earbuds that have active noise cancellation, or ANC. If you’re contemplating whether to try them out, then you’ve come to the right place. In this review, we’ll explore whether the Jabra Elite 85t earbuds are worth checking out and if their ANC feature is as powerful as the company advertises.
Jabra Elite 85t at a Glance
The Jabra Elite 85t is an excellent pair of true wireless ANC earbuds. It sports bigger speakers which produce crisp and well-balanced sound, as well as deep bass that doesn’t overpower the audio. Its active noise cancellation feature is also effective and its battery life is decent. However, there’s no denying that they aren’t the most affordable pair of wireless buds.
The Jabra Elite 85t earbuds retail for $229.99, which makes them Jabra’s priciest buds yet. That said, they are more affordable than other high-end noise-canceling earbuds, like Sony’s WF-1000XM4 and Bose’s Quiet Comfort Earbuds. But since they’ve been out for a few months already, you can sometimes get them at a discounted rate.
You can buy a pair of Jabra Elite 85t earbuds directly on the Jabra website or on any major retailer websites including Amazon, Costco, Best Buy, and Walmart.
The Jabra Elite 85t buds are compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled device, which, nowadays, is just about any Android or iOS smartphone. Once you take them out of their charging case, they immediately show up on the list of available devices and pair with your phone, tablet, or laptop instantly. These true wireless earbuds are equipped with Bluetooth 5.1, so they’re much more power-efficient than earbuds with earlier versions of Bluetooth. Its range is pretty solid as well and allows up to 35 feet of wireless listening.
Like most Jabra earbuds and headphones, the Jabra Elite 85t earbuds support multipoint Bluetooth connections, which means they can connect to two devices at once. However, switching from one device to another isn’t the most seamless experience; you can only play media on your secondary device once you pause playback on your primary device. This isn’t the case with other headsets that have multipoint technology, like the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2. But other than that minor gripe, the Jabra Elite 85t’s multipoint feature works just fine. Most importantly, they perform well in terms of connection stability.
Audio quality has always been Jabra’s strong suit and that shows yet again with the Elite 85t. These true wireless earbuds have 12 mm speakers, which is double the size of those in their predecessor, the Elite 75t. With bigger speakers, these buds produce more detailed and balanced sound, as well as deeper bass that isn’t overwhelming at all. Their sound signature is a combination of warm and bright. High-pitched sounds and subtle nuances in audio pop with these buds, but you’ll still be able to hear the bass underneath. Turn on ANC and you’ll get a much more amplified bass.
In terms of volume, the Jabra Elite 85t earbuds also don’t disappoint. That’s almost a rare case with true wireless earbuds because most of the time, preserving their battery life means limiting how loud they can be. With the Elite 85t buds, though, you won’t need to turn the volume all the way up to enjoy your music. Five notches from the highest volume is a good, comfortable level to listen to music without damaging your ears. But if you do want to crank up the volume from time to time, you’ll be delighted as music at high volumes won’t sound distorted at all. Audio remains well balanced and vibrant, and none of those fuzzy bass tones leak in.
The Jabra Elite 85t buds are also great for watching videos and listening to audiobooks and podcasts. They sound crisp and clear, and you won’t experience any Bluetooth latency, which means the audio and the visuals are always in sync.
Active noise cancellation is a new feature that Jabra brought in with the release of its Elite 85t earbuds. As long as the ear tips fit you perfectly, their ANC is very effective — so effective, in fact, that you might feel a bit disoriented afterward. These earbuds have a total of six mics, and three of them are used for noise canceling. Two feedforward mics are positioned on the outside, and one feedback mic is placed on the inside. The feedforward mics block out any sort of background noise — from refrigerator hums to cafe chatter, to the rumble of engines. On the other hand, the feedback mic blocks out the noise that’s already inside your ear, like your heartbeat and your breathing.
The buds’ wind resistance is strong as well and adds to the effectiveness of the ANC. Plus, they have a built-in dedicated processing chipset, which makes the Jabra Elite 85t’s ANC feature all the more powerful.
What’s even more impressive is that you can adjust the active noise cancellation intensity through the Jabra Sound+ app. Jabra says that you can choose between 11 levels, but the current version of the app only allows five levels. Nevertheless, they still let you choose how much of the world you tune out. Each level increases by increments of three decibels, so each level produces a noticeable change in ANC intensity.
HearThrough, which is Jabra’s name for transparency mode, is fully adjustable as well with five levels. This feature makes ambient sounds clearer and more pronounced even while you’re listening to music or on a call. It’s especially handy if you commute while listening to music or if you want to have a brief chat with someone with your earbuds in.
The Jabra Elite 85t earbuds have an IPX4 certification which makes them resistant to sweat and water splashes from any direction. However, that doesn’t mean they’re built for sports and other intense fitness activities. Unlike the Jabra Elite Active 65t and 75t earbuds, which carry IP56 and IP57 certifications, respectively, Jabra Elite 85t is not well resistant to dust and water submersion.
The Jabra Elite 85t earbuds are also not as lightweight as the Elite Active buds, especially the Elite Active 75t. That’s mostly because of the added weight of the ANC tech. They’re not massively heavier than the other models; the Elite Active 75t earbuds weigh five and a half grams, while the Elite 85t buds are at seven grams. However, the added weight does impact comfort, especially during a long period of use. And despite the new oval-shaped ear tips, which are supposed to improve the fit of the earbuds, the Jabra Elite 85t buds don’t fit in your ears as securely as the Elite Active ones.
That isn’t to say that they’re a bad fit and that they’re totally uncomfortable to wear; they’re just not as good as the previous models when it comes to these two aspects. You can still use these buds for standard workouts, though, like indoor cycling or weightlifting.
Another great thing about the Jabra Elite 85t earbuds is that they’re fully customizable. By installing the Jabra Sound+ app, you get to access a wide range of customization options. Here are some of the app’s most useful features:
For starters, you can personalize your earbuds by giving them a unique name, which makes locating them using Find My Jabra much easier. You can also check the fit of your earbuds by using the MyFit feature. This helps you determine which ear tip size you should use and the best placement of each earbud in your ear. This is a very useful tool as it helps ensure that the ANC feature works properly and that you get the best possible audio experience.
Customizable EQ Settings
The Jabra Elite 85t’s default EQ setting is good enough as it is, but if you want to tweak it, you can do so with Jabra Sound+. Here, you can play around with the bass, midrange, and treble with the five-band equalizer and create custom EQ settings. The equalizer is simple to use and works well if you want to emphasize one frequency range over another. There are also six presets you can choose from to suit your needs. There’s Neutral (which is the default setting), Energize, Bass Boost, Smooth, and Treble Boost.
Moments and SmartSound
There’s also Moments, which gives you three profile options to choose from: MyMoment, Commute, and Focus. Each profile has different levels of active noise cancellation and HearThrough, which you can adjust to your liking and save. That way, you can just tap on any of these options instead of manually adjusting the level of ANC or HearThrough. But if you want to automatically switch sound profiles, you can enable SmartSound. This feature automatically applies a profile using Moments based on your surroundings.
MySound and My Controls
Jabra further personalizes your listening experience with MySound and MyControls. With MySound, you get to take an audio test, which creates a personalized hearing profile. This profile is then used to tailor the EQ settings to your hearing.
MyControls lets you customize the button functions on your Jabra Elite 85t earbuds. With this feature, you get to decide what single-, double-, and triple-press commands on each earbud do. You can customize controls to play or pause media, take or reject calls, or enable Sound Modes.
Other Handy Features
The Jabra Sound+ app also features SoundScapes, which you can use to relax or help yourself focus on a task. There are 12 modes you can choose from, which range from waterfall sounds to crowd noises.
You can also customize calls through the app. With Call Experience, you can adjust how loud you sound during phone calls. Plus, you can adjust the sidetone so you can hear how you sound during calls. There’s also Call Equalizer which lets you adjust the bass or treble of the voice on the other end of a call.
The Jabra Elite 85t earbuds rely on buttons for controls, unlike other true wireless earbuds that already employ tap gestures. However, they’re no less serviceable than the competition. They have two buttons — one on the right earbud and one on the left. Not much pressure is required to push the buttons, so controlling your buds doesn’t cause any discomfort.
By default, the right earbud button plays and pauses media and turns up the volume. The left earbud button, on the other hand, is for decreasing the volume, skipping or restarting tracks, and switches between ANC and HearThrough. You can use either earbud for answering and ending/rejecting calls and muting and unmuting the mic. The number of times you press the buttons determines which of these commands your earbuds will execute. If you want to reassign the commands, you can always do so within the Jabra Sound+ app.
The Jabra Elite 85t earbuds also have on-ear detection, which works well for the most part. Removing the buds automatically pauses your media while putting them back on resumes playback.
Aside from that, these true wireless earbuds let you access voice assistants as well, whether it be Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa. They have superb speech recognition, so voice commands are recognized instantly. With this feature, you can send messages through your device’s voice-to-text function, make calls, check the weather, or do a Google search hands-free.
The battery life of the Jabra Elite 85t is just average. With ANC on, you get up to 5.5 hours on a single charge and 25 hours with the charging case. They’ll last even longer when you turn off ANC: seven hours on the earbuds and up to 31 hours with the charging case. If you’re only using them for an hour or so per day, the Jabra Elite 85t earbuds should last you a few days even with ANC and heavy streaming. Plus, you can further prolong the buds’ battery life by setting up Sleep Mode in the app; this automatically turns off the earbuds when you haven’t used them for a set number of minutes or hours.
The Jabra Elite 85t earbuds are also compatible with all wireless Qi-certified chargers. 75t series only had support for Qi wireless charging several months after their release, and even then the feature was only optional. With the Elite 85t, however, Qi-charging compatibility is built-in right off the bat. You can fully charge the case in three and a half hours using a Qi-certified charger. With the USB-C cable, on the other hand, you get a full charge in just two and a half hours.
If you’re in a rush, though, you can top them up pretty quickly. Placing them in the charging case or plugging them in for 15 minutes gives you an extra hour of listening time. However, other wireless earbuds charge quicker and last longer. The Sony WF-1000XM3 buds, for example, only need ten minutes of charge for an hour and a half of play time. That said, an hour of play time for just 15 minutes of charge is already good enough, considering they’re active noise cancellation earbuds.
Jabra has done it yet again with their Elite 85t earbuds. With their crisp and detailed audio and deep, well-balanced bass, listening to music or watching movies are made much more enjoyable. Plus, you can customize just about any aspect of your earbuds—from the EQ settings to the controls. They also have a fully adjustable active noise cancellation feature, as well as HearThrough. Thus, you can block out or let in as much noise as you want.
They’re not without their limitations, though. The fit isn’t as secured as the earlier Jabra earbuds, and they’re a tad heavier as well. However, they aren’t deal-breakers at all. Despite the high price tag, we can safely say that the Jabra Elite 85t is among the best true wireless ANC earbuds you can buy right now.