The Jabra Elite 85h are versatile noise cancelling headphones that can be used in a wide variety of daily uses. They have great audio reproduction and will be good for a variety of music genres. Their active noise cancelling (ANC) feature is decent and blocks ambient noise well, but it’s not quite on par with that of similar high-end ANC headphones. On the upside, they have a very comfortable fit and their microphone sounds better than most Bluetooth headphones. They have amazing battery life and their wireless range maxed out our testing facility. Overall, these headphones offer great value and should satisfy most users.
The Jabra Elite 85h are well-designed over-ear headphones. They are well-built and look like sleek headphones, but their headband has an unconventional style. On the upside, they are very comfortable and will be suitable for long hours of listening. Like most over-ears, they won’t be very portable and breathable, but they come with a nice hard case which protects them when you’re on the move. These headphones are stylish and have a great control scheme that is easy to use.
The Elite 85h are sleek-looking over-ear headphones. Their band design is a bit unconventional and their build is covered by a fabric coating. The cups are large and well-padded. These headphones come in a monochrome color scheme but have different designs such as black, titanium black, navy, and gold beige, which stands out a bit more.
These headphones are very comfortable. The cups are fairly wide and deep, and should fit most ears. The padding is thick and soft, and the headband distributes the headphones’ weight effectively. They could be slightly tight for people with larger heads, as their headband doesn’t expand that much. The headphones feel fairly lightweight once on your head and can be worn for long periods of time before feeling any fatigue.
The Elite 85h have a great control scheme that is easy to use. You get common functionalities like call/music management, track skipping, and volume controls. You can easily mute your microphone with the dedicated button and cycle through ANC on, off, and the talk-through mode. The mic-mute button also doubles as a trigger for your device’s voice assistant for voice-enabled commands and you can cycle through your Sound Moments, which are basically presets for different uses, by holding the ANC button down. You can also hear the battery level by holding the volume up and down buttons when you’re not listening to music or on a call.
These headphones also have a smart pause feature that automatically plays/pauses your music when you put the headphones on/take them off your head. To turn off the headset, simply swivel the cups to lay them flat, similar to the Sennheiser PXC 550.
Like most over-ears, the Elite 85h are not very portable. They are quite bulky, but thankfully you can fold them in a more compact format. Their cups also swivel to lay flat, which also turns off the headphones when you don't need to use them. When the cups are folded in and flat, you can easily store them inside their great hard case.
The Elite 85h are well-built headphones with dense cups that should survive a few accidental drops without too much damage. The overall build feels fairly sturdy, but the hinges are weirdly designed with a small metal piece to cover the cable going to the headphones. However, it is fairly thin and feels a bit fragile when folding the cups in, which could be the potential weak point of the build. These headphones are not quite on par with high-end headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the B&O PLAY H9i.
These headphones are fairly stable, but the ear cups sway around a bit with heavy head movement. They won’t be ideal for sports, but you could use them for a light jog, even if they weren’t designed for this use. On the upside, their wireless design means there won’t be a cable to get stuck on something and yank the headphones off your head.
The Jabra Elite 85h are very good sounding closed-back over-ear headphones. They have a deep and punchy bass that is also slightly thumpy, which some may prefer. Their mid-range is nearly flawless and vocals and lead instruments will be accurately reproduced. The treble range is also very good, but it might lack a bit of detail and brightness on vocals and leads, and on some sibilants (S and T sounds). Overall, these headphones have a good audio reproduction that will be suitable for a wide variety of music genres.
The Elite 85h have excellent bass. Their low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 10Hz, which is very good. Low-bass is overemphasized by about 3dB, which results in a bit of excess thump and rumble, common to bass-heavy genres like EDM and dubstep. The rest of the response is nearly flawless and very accurate to our target curve. This means that the overall bass will be powerful, punchy, and deep, but slightly thumpy.
Also, their bass delivery varies across users, and seems to be sensitive to the quality of fit, seal, and whether you wear glasses. The response here represents the average bass response, and your experience may vary.
The mid-range performance of the Jabra Elite 85h is excellent. The response is, throughout the range, even and flat and within 1.5dB of our target, which is great. This results in an accurate reproduction of vocals and lead instruments.
The Elite 85h have very good treble performance as well. The response throughout the range is fairly flat and well-balanced, but slightly underemphasized. The 2dB dip in low-treble will negatively affect the detail and brightness of vocals and leads while the deep dip around 8kHz will negatively affect sibilants (S and T sounds).
However, their treble delivery varies noticeably across users. The response here represents the average response and your experience may vary.
The Jabra Elite 85h have a mediocre frequency response consistency performance. These headphones are prone to consistency issues throughout the range, especially in the treble range. They have decent consistency in the bass range, but the maximum variance measured across our five human subjects is about 8dB at 20Hz, which is noticeable. We noticed that certain types of glasses could break the seal on these headphones and cause a drop in bass. In the treble range, the maximum amount of deviation below 10kHz is over 13dB, indicating that these headphones' treble delivery is very sensitive to positioning.
The imaging is great. Weighted group delay is at 0.22, which is very good. The GD graph also shows that their entire group delay response is within the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase. This is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo field. However, these results are only valid for our unit and yours may perform differently.
The Elite 85h have poor soundstage. The PRTF graph shows a poor amount of pinna activation and it isn’t accurate. Also, the notch near 10kHz isn’t deep enough. This and their closed-back design suggest a soundstage that is relatively small, unnatural, and likely to be perceived to be located inside the listener's head, as opposed to in front.
The harmonic distortion of these headphones is decent. The THD in the bass range is within a good limit but stays slightly elevated in the mid-range and treble range. There’s also a small jump in THD at higher volumes, which means they might have trouble creating a clear sound at very high volumes. The peaks in THD across the mid and treble ranges could result in these frequencies sounding a bit harsh and impure.
The isolation performance of the Jabra Elite 85h is decent. Even if they are ANC headphones, they don’t do that great of a job at blocking lower frequency noises like engine rumbles, meaning they won’t be ideal for commuting. However, they isolate very well against work environment noise such as ambient chatter and A/C noises, so they’ll be suitable for the office. Also, they don’t leak too much, so you might be able to block even more noise by raising your volume without disturbing people.
Update 05/17/2019: We've updated the Jabra Elite 85h software and this resulted in worse noise isolation performance. We've updated the review accordingly.The Jabra Elite 85h have mediocre noise isolation and it isn't as good as that of competing models like the Sony WH-1000XM3, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, or the Microsoft Surface Headphones (see our recommendations for the best over-ear noise cancelling headphones). The active noise cancellation achieves 2dB of isolation in the bass range, which means they're not the best at cancelling out airplane and bus engine rumbles. However, they achieve 20dB and 35dB of isolation in the mid and treble ranges respectively, both values being good. This indicates good isolation performance for speech and sharp sounds such as S and Ts and fan noises like A/C systems.
The leakage performance is good. The significant portion of leakage sits between 500Hz and 1kHz, which is a narrow range. The leakage will sound fuller and more comprehensible than the leakage of in-ears and earbuds, but not as much as open-back headphones. However, the overall level of leakage is not too loud. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 34dB SPL and peaks at 52dB SPL, which is around the noise floor of most offices.
The Jabra Elite 85h's integrated microphone has a decent performance. Speech recorded or transmitted with this mic in a quiet environment will sound a bit thin, but quite detailed, clear, and easily understandable. However, it will have a hard time separating speech from background noise in relatively loud environments like a busy street.
The recording quality of the mic is decent. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 369Hz which means speech recorded or transmitted with this microphone will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 6.7kHz results in a speech that is clear and detailed but lacks a bit of airiness. However, speech will still be easily understandable, since speech intelligibility is mostly dependent on the 500Hz-4kHz range.
The integrated mic is acceptable at noise handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 20dB, indicating the mic is best suited for quiet environments and will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in loud situations.
The Jabra Elite 85h have amazing battery life and are compatible with the Jabra Sound+ mobile app. Their name doesn’t mean they have 85hrs of battery life, but they still offer over 30 hours with their ANC enabled, which is great. They also don’t take too much time to charge via their USB-C cable and you can still use them while doing so. In their app, you get many customization options and controls over the ANC, talk-through, and you can even slightly customize their sound to your liking. There are also presets and a feature that automatically analyzes the noise surrounding you to select the appropriate preset, which you can customize individually.
The Jabra 85h have a great battery life. They offer over 30 hours of continuous playback for only about 2.5 hours of charge time. They also enter a standby mode after a set time, which you can modify inside their app to save power. You can use them while they are charging or passively with their analog audio cable, without ANC, if the battery is dead, which is convenient. You should be able to use these headphones for a few consecutive days without having to charge them. Jabra advertises over 40 hours of battery life with the ANC turned off and say you can get 5 hours with only 15 minutes of charging.
The Jabra Sound+ app is great and offers many options with the Elite 85h. You get a good 5-band EQ, control over ANC, and talk-through. You can set the power saving timer. Jabra also has what they call Moments, which are basically different presets for certain situations like your commute, a public street or when you’re alone. Inside each preset, you can set your ANC or talk-through, and you can EQ the headphones as well. This acts like different profiles for your different daily situations. Jabra also implemented SmartSound, which listens to your surrounding noise and applies the appropriate Moment preset, and all your set settings for that specific Moment automatically.
The Jabra Elite 85h are Bluetooth headphones that can be used wired, even if the battery is dead, which is very convenient. They can be connected to 2 devices simultaneously which is useful and they have an amazing wireless range, which maxed out our testing facility. Unfortunately, they don’t have an in-line mic, which means you’ll only have audio support when using them wired. Also, like most Bluetooth headphones, their latency is a bit high and won’t be great for watching videos or gaming.
The Elite 85h are Bluetooth headphones that can be simultaneously connected to 2 devices at the same time, which is useful if you often switch between your office computer and phone. Unfortunately, they don’t support NFC for quicker and easier pairing. On the upside, you can hold the middle multipurpose button to easily put them in pairing mode.
The Jabra 85h come with a 1/8” TRS cable that doesn’t have an in-line microphone. This means you’ll only have audio when you use them wired with any platform that has the appropriate audio jack.
These headphones don’t have a dock.
The wireless range of the Elite 85h is remarkable. These headphones maxed out our testing facility for both our line of sight and obstructed range tests. This means their overall range could be noticeably better than what we’ve measured, which is already exceptional. You shouldn’t have any issues with these headphones when it comes to wireless range and could move around an apartment or office without too many audio cuts. However, wireless range is dependent on your device’s signal strength and many other factors, so your results may differ.
The Elite 85h have a bit more latency that most Bluetooth headphones, but some may still not notice a delay in their daily usage. Some apps and devices offer some sort of compensation, so you might not notice as much when watching video content. However, it will more than likely be too high for gaming. On the upside, you can use them wired with the included audio cable to nullify the latency issues.
The Jabra Elite 85h are good, stylish, mixed usage headphones that set themselves apart by their great audio reproduction, decent ANC feature, and a noticeably better microphone than most Bluetooth headphones. Unfortunately, their ANC isn’t on par with some other high-end competing models. See our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, the best wireless headphones, and the best wireless over-ear headphones.
Both the Jabra Elite 85h and Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are very versatile ANC headphones. The Jabras have a better control scheme with physical controls, and their default sound profile is more accurate and better sounding. However, they don’t have the great noise isolation performance of the Sonys. Since you can easily EQ the XM3 in their app, they could be the best option for most. On the other hand, the mic of the Jabra is superior and sounds clearer and fuller, which is better for calls.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are better mixed usage headphones than the Jabra Elite 85h due to their amazing noise cancelling performance. They will be better suited for commuting as they block out more low-end noises like engine rumbles. On the other hand, the Jabra Elite 85h feel slightly better built than the Bose, and their control scheme is more complete. They also have noticeably better wireless range and aren’t as leaky as the QC 35 II.
The Jabra Elite 85h are slightly better headphones than the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They feel a bit more comfortable and their physical button control scheme is easier to use than the touch-sensitive surface of the PXC. Both have similar sound quality, but the Jabras have more bass. The isolation performance of the Elite 85h is also slightly better, which will be good for commuting. On the other hand, the PXC’s EQ is better and offers better customization.
The Jabra Elite 85h are more versatile than the B&O PLAY Beoplay H9i Wireless. Their control scheme is great, complete, and easy to use, and their default sound quality is noticeably better than the H9i’s. Additionally, they have better wireless range and their app offers more customization options. On the other hand, the H9i are better-built, and look and feel like more premium headphones. You’ll get noticeably more battery life on the Elite 85h and their microphone recording quality will sound fuller and more clear.