Review: Jabra Elite 85H Headphones

Stephen Watson
June 21, 2019

If Carlsberg made headphones it would be these!

Available from Curry’s at £279

Jabra has always been one of the premium brands in the audio market with the Elite 65T being my go to audio product and now they have joined the party and brought out a premium pair of headphones in the shape of the Jabra Elite 85H.

On first inspection, these headphones pack a ton of technology for your money as they cost £279 at Currys but I have found Amazon has them for sale at £242 so shop about as you might get a great deal.

Anyway back to these headphones when the Jabra Elite 85H arrived in the post the audio junkie inside of me got very excited could they be the overhead headphones to beat the likes of Sony & Bose. These headphones come with ANC and a whopping 36-hour battery and also comes with the Jabra Sound+ app that really does give listening to these headphones a whole new dynamic.

Now, Jabra aims to shake up the premium over-ear headphones market with its Jabra Elite 85h – a pair of active noise-cancelling cans that boast incredible battery life and a variety of AI smart features that can be tweaked via the company’s Sound+ app which I will discuss shortly.  I have been testing these for about a 3 weeks now and have taken these on 2 mini holidays and they are simply fantastic but the jury is out as to if they can compete with the likes of Sony & Bose in some elements.

Packing wise Jabra just knows how to make you feel special which is a good thing considering the cost.  Inside the packaging is a faux leather case and inside the case, its got a fabric interior that screams premium. Then you see the headphones all folded up and they look great. Also in the case is the flight audio adapter, 3.5 mm Aux cable and last but not least the USB-C charging cable.

The Jabra Elite 85H comes in 3 colours:

Titanium Black

Gold Beige

Navy Blue

In this review, we had the chance to test out the navy blue pair and they look really good and have nailed the style of these headphones. With Navy Blue fabric on the cups and the same fabric over the top of the headband only for the titanium to appear when you extend the headband for a better fit and all finished with the subtle logos on each side of the band all making for excellent build quality.

The material used for the ear cups and the headband underside is both faux leather which I found to be very soft and the added foam cushioning adds to the comfort and in regards to the cups creates a passive noise cancellation. My only negative is the faux leather on the cups can make your ears very hot and sweaty which can be a little annoying but a simple wipe and you’re ready to go again. The headphones are IP52 rated meaning they are dust, sweat and rain resistant and Jabra also offer a 2-year warranty to back that rating up.  

On the right ear cup is where you notice some of the controls also done is a very subtle manner.  You will notice 2 dots one at the top of the cup and one on the bottom with a 10 pence size indentation.

The indentation is where you can play and pause your music and also answer calls and the two dots are for the volume and ability to change tracks without the need of your phone. To change track hold the dot down for about a second and you will hear 2 taps and that is the headphones changing track. Also on the right ear cup is the port for the 3.5mm Aux and a button for muting your voice during calls. I found this feature a little pointless if am totally honest. You also have the USB-C charging port but considering these headphones have 36-hour battery it was not used much.  

On the left cup, you only have a solo button that allows you to change from Hear through, ANC and turning either setting off. It’s nice to have this feature but I found I preferred the Sound+ app change the settings when required.

One of the special design features with these headphones and one I think justifies the price is the way you power them simply swivel both earcups towards you. So when you turn both cups towards each other you are welcomed with a turning on sound and the in-ear assistant telling you the battery level and they are connected automatically. Jabra also tells you when you take the headphones off the music pauses I only found this was the case half the time but it’s easy to pause the music. Once done with the headphones simply turn the cups so they are flattened and they are off and the cups even fold into each other perfect for storage.

Finally, the headphones have 400 mm custom-engineered speakers and 8 microphones which is broken down as the following:  6 for calls, 4 for ANC and 2 hybrid Mics for both calls and the ANC. The sound+app benefits massively for this design which I discuss later in this review.  The big selling point for these headphones without a doubt is the battery you get a massive 36 hours of battery with ANC ON!. Want more if you have ANC off its a crazy 41 hours! Plus with just a 15 min charge you get 5 hours of battery. I have used these alot and I have got to low battery once and even then it was not dead. Well worth the money just for this feature alone.

Now the features and the 85H headphones are packed and to benefit from this you need that Jabra Sound+ app and trust me to download it! Once downloaded the Sound+ app allows the headphones a number of modes called “Moments” which allow you to create the perfect sound where ever you are. You have 4 options:

  • Commute
  • Public
  • Private
  • My Moment – This setting allows you to create a custom sound profile.

These options allow you to change the settings of each level and also to pick between ANC & Hear though which lets some outside noise in but not at the cost of your music.  I like this option when am walking to the office from Kings Cross station as its very busy so you need to keep your wits about you.

What I love about these headphones and the sound+ app is the smart Sound feature which uses the 8 microphones to listen to the outside noise and select the profile depending on where you are and this is done using its intelligent adaptive technology. It uses AI to decide on the setting required. I have used this setting a lot and 9 times out of 10 it works perfectly but Jabra still needs to make a few improvements on this feature. For example, when I have been on a train or even recently a plain it jumps between commute and public mode as if am on a train but people are talking it gets a little confused. However most of the time this setting is spot on and when the profile changes the built-in assistant will tell you and then you get about half a second switch over to the new profile that creates a short cut of sound.

On top of this feature, the Jabra 85H also allows you to use any of you of your voice assistants such as Siri or Alexa on the go which is great for setting reminders or even ordering your shopping if you are like me.

In terms of how these performed the Noise cancelling on the Elite 85H is top draw they have done a very good job in making sure the ANC does not feel like your underwater like some models I have tested or increased the pressure to your listening pleasure ( Am talking about you Skullcandy Crusher). Jabra also doing a great job of removing any hissing noises you might get when its windy outside.

Sound wise these give bose a real run for there money and some might even say they are better. The Elite 85h offers nice balanced audio and when listening to something like Katherine Jenkins – Jealous of the Angels.  The instrumentals just shine making it a pleasure to listen to after the stresses of a day at work.

These headphones and the Sound+ app also allow you to increase the bass or the treble boost allowing listening to something like Aerosmith – Walk This Way so good I just want to rock out down the street with that treble boost when the guitar parts kick in.

Now Jabra has also nailed the call quality which is not a surprise as its also fantastic on my Jabra Elite 65T’s. Taking on the Elite 85H was very impressive easy to take and cut off calls with the controls and with the 8 microphones built-in my calls where very clear and I could hear the other end perfectly. What I did notice that I take my hat off to Jabra is when a call comes in if your listening to music in ANC mode it will switch to the Hear Through mode allowing you to have the call but also being able to hear what is happening around you which is a great feature.

Overall Jabra has smashed there the first attempt at a premium overhead pair of ANC headphones. Not only do they look good but with the benefit of the Sound+ app they sound wonderful and I love the way you can turn these on and off. The only issue I have with these and trust me I had to really do my research is they don’t support audio codec algorithms like AAC or aptX that make your music sound even better. Hopefully, Jabra can take note of this and include in an update soon.  Apart from that if your looking for a pair of headphones that can provide stunning audio and are packed with features then go and buy the Jabra Elite 85H.

My new favourite headphones!

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