Equipped with powerful specs and impressive ANC, the Jabra Elite 85t is a stellar-sounding sequel in Jabra’s critically beloved series. This post will show you a full Jabra Elite 85t review to consider before deciding to buy this device.
Jabra Elite 85t Review
Jabra’s Elite 85t earbuds were released in November 2020, and cost $229 / £219.99 /AU$349 for the pair. That makes them Jabra’s most expensive buds yet.
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.
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.
Nevertheless, they are by no means a bad fit. They are just not as good as the previous pair Jabra released and despite feeling bulkier and thus a little less snug in the ear, they are still generally quite comfortable. There is also an easy-to-use button on each earbud that controls music playback, volume, and a feature called HearThru, which allows you to temporarily cancel noise-cancellation and listen to the outside world while the audio continues to play in the background.
While they don’t boast the same rugged IP57-rating as seen on the Elite Active 75t, the 85t buds do still keep some waterproofing, touting IPX4 water-resistance, which basically means they’re protected against the odd splash of water or a little sweat.
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.
3. App and special features
Jabra Sound+ is a companion gem loaded with customizable features that continue to grow via firmware updates. Almost everything that was available on the Elite 75t series has been carried over to the Elite 85t, with the exception of the Active Noise Cancellation slider and toggle. The HearThrough slider also remains intact.
The one feature you’ll play with most is the EQ to create sound profiles by tweaking the bass, midrange, or treble. It’s simple to operate and really makes a difference if you prefer one frequency range over another. Jabra also included a few presets – Neutral (aka default), Bass Boost, Energize, Speech, Smooth, and Treble Boost – each one well-engineered for specific content. Treble Boost is perfect for smooth hip-hop tracks, while Speech is ideal for podcasts.
MySound and MyControls are the two latest features added to the app. The former analyzes your environment to tailor the EQ to your hearing, while the latter is for customizing the controls.
Soundscapes return and are a feature I recommend integrating into your daily routine. There are 12 modes that produce different noises to help relax you and all of them work well; the Waterfall soundscape does a wonderful job of immersing you in the setting. If only the feature wasn’t so glitchy on the Elite 85t. Sound effects either stop playing or the app would crash a few minutes after enabling the feature.
Hit the Settings icon on the top right to stumble upon the app’s other cool features. Call Experience gives you a Sidetone slider to adjust how loud you want to sound on phone calls, while the Call Equalizer adds more treble or bass to whoever is on the opposite end. There is also a priority toggle that enhances Bluetooth connectivity during calls. You’ll find some other toggle controls, as well as the Find My Jabra function that is clutch for relocating lost buds.
The Jabra use Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless connectivity – there’s no aptX, let alone aptX HD, but 5.1 alone is more than sufficient to get some hi-res audio files on board. And with an MQA-powered Tidal Masters file of Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) playing, the 85t don’t take long to establish themselves as a reasonably balanced, reasonably sophisticated listen.
There are decent weight and substance at the bottom of the frequency range to underpin the recording nicely, but bass sounds aren’t the most disciplined or well-controlled – and that can impact a little on the tune’s momentum and rhythmic balance.
The midrange showcases the simple effortlessness of the vocal nicely, with plenty of fine detail revealed to make sure the singer’s character and commitment are never in doubt. The 85t don’t exactly attack a tune, but they are certainly revealing – minor harmonic variances through the midrange are picked up on and fully described.
At the top end, there’s the same reticence, the same unwillingness to properly drive a tune forwards. It is a question of personal taste as to whether you find this trait detracts from the listening experience or whether you enjoy its calm, unthreatening nature. Detail levels are high and there’s better control of the entry into and exit from individual sounds than there is at the opposite end of the frequency range.
The smooth good taste of Marvin Gaye is one thing, but the Jabras prove quite easy to fluster, as a once-through of Pixies’ The Holiday Song shows. The 85t squash the song’s wide dynamics in an effort to stay in control and the same lack of rhythmic certainty is evident.
Put the 85t back in their comfort zone, with a listen to Grouper’s Alien Observer, and their ability to extract fine detail and deliver some fairly assertive punch returns to the fore.
In conclusion, this is the Jabra Elite 85t review that you should read to know if its features suit you or not.