Jabra Elite 85t Review – Refined sound & improved ANC vs the Elite 75t but a different fit & less bass

Summary

The Jabra Elite 85t are premium ANC earphones that can easily trade blows with the best of the best from the likes of Sony, Bose and Apple. They offer quite a different fit and sound profile compared to the cheaper Elite 75t, and I find these are better for mixed usage, especially in environments where ANC is beneficial.

Overall
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  • Overall - 90%
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Pros

  • ANC comparable with other class-leading earphones
  • Balanced sound superb for mixed-use
  • App offers lots of customisations
  • One of the best warranties on the market

Cons

  • Larger & heavier vs Elite 75t

The Jabra Elite 75t were one of my favourite TWS earphones in 2020. The very bass dominant profile may not be for everyone, but it works well for fitness, and they became my most use earphones for both running and indoor Zwift sessions. Technically, the IP55 rating made them less than ideal for my sweaty genetics, but I never experience any issues with them, and they are backed by a 2-year warranty, including dust and water.

Towards the end of 2020, when the Elite 85t was announced, Jabra also rolled out ANC to the Elite 75t, which made for a surprising bonus. Not many companies would roll out such as significant feature improvement to existing products for free.

With the launch of the Jabra Elite 85t the brand is taking things up a notch pricing them at £219.99 vs £169.99 RRP, but is the £50 extra worth it?

Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless Earbuds - Jabra Advanced...
  • Uninterrupted calls and music: Jabra Advanced...
  • Powerful speakers combined with voice assistant:...
  • Longlasting rechargeable battery: Get up to 5.5...
  • A fit like never before: Compact size with three...

Jabra Elite 85t vs Elite 75t vs AirPods Pro

Apple is a little vague with their spec, but Jabra appears to be directly competing with them, so I have done my best to compare in the below table.

There are quite a few important differences between the Elite 85t vs 75t which are not always good.

Jabra has clearly focussed on the ANC aspects of the new earphones, increasing the number of microphones allowing them to double the available mic for ANC from 2 to 4. The speaker size has also doubled, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is better, but you would expect so for a pair of earphones sitting a model up in pricing.

The battery size has been increased on the case, but the earbuds offer roughly the same. The 85t offers slightly less longevity, likely due to the drain from ANC.

Then, finally, they have been upgraded to Bluetooth 5.1. It doesn’t offer a lot of improvements but should help with faster pairing and offers some proximity features allowing you to find your earbuds.

However, these changes have come at a cost, mainly the physical size and weight of the earbuds are larger, so the fit is different.

They also have a considerably lower IP rating (matching the AirPods Pro). However, they have the same 2-year warranty which covers dust and water damage, so you can still use them for fitness without too much concern (I have had no issues with them at all, so far).

 Elite 85tElite 75tAirPods Pro
Call Noise Reductions Yes, 6-microphone technologyYes, 4-microphone call technology
Audio codecs supportedSBC, AACSBC, AAC
Speaker size12 mm / 0.47 in6 mm / 0.24 inNot stated
Speaker bandwidth20Hz to 20kHz 20Hz to 20kHz
Speaker bandwidth Calls100Hz to 10kHz100Hz to 8kHz
Microphone type6 x MEMS4x MEMS4
Microphone bandwidth100Hz to 10kHz100Hz to 10kHz
ANCYes, via 4 of 6 micsYes, via 2 of 4 micsYes
HearThroughYes, adjustableYes, adjustableYes
In-ear pressure relief YesYes
Battery ANCUp to 25 hours total
Earbud 5.5 hrs
Charging case 19.5 hrs
Up to 24 hours total
Earbud 5.5 hrs
Charging case 18.5 hrs
Earbuds 4.5 Hours
Battery no ANCUp to 31 hours total
Earbud 7 hrs
Charging case 25 hrs
Up to 28 hours total
Earbud 7.5 hrs
Charging case 20.5 hrs
Earbuds 5 Hours
24 hours of listening time
Charging Yes - QiUpdated in 2020 to include QiYes , Qi
Charge TimeUp to 3 hours wired
3.5 hours wireless
Up to 2h 20mins wired
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.1Bluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth profilesHSP v1.2, HFP v1.7, A2DP v1.3, AVRCP v1.6, SPP v1.2 HSP v1.2, HFP v1.7, A2DP v1.3, AVRCP v1.6, SPP v1.2
Operating rangeUp to 10 m / 33 ftUp to 10 m / 33 ft
Main unit dimension (LxWxH)23.1 x 19.0 x 16.2 mm21.9 x 19.4 x 16.2 mm30.9 x 21.8 x 24 mm
Charging case dimensions (LxWxH)64.8 x 41.1 x 28.5 mm 64.8 x 41.1 x 28.5 mm
Weight (each earbud)7 g 5.5 g5.4g
IP rating (earbuds)IPX4IP57IPX4
Warranty2-year warranty +
dust & water
2-year warranty +
dust & water
1 year Warranty with optional 2yr AppleCare @ £29
£25 AppCare excess
£85 each out of warranty fee
Price 219.99169.99249

Set up and App

Just like the 75t, these use the Jabra Sound+ app; once you have paired your earphones, you can then use the app to customise things.

With this app you can now find your earphones, with it remembering the location of the last pairing. Something that will no doubt be very useful for many people at some point.

When you first connect your earphones, you will be asked to do a MySound hearing profile where they do a beep test for each ear that requires you hit the button when you hear different beeps at different frequencies. This was very reminiscent of what hospitals use for their hearing tests.

One feature that is missing from the Jabra earbuds is the possibility to use a single earbud at a time with the choice of which one because they use a master-slave set up. It is not a feature I have ever used much myself, but someone people think it is important.

Fit

My earlier spec comparison highlighted the difference in size and weight of the Jabra Elite 85t compared to the Elite 75t, and this has a big effect on the overall fit.

They fit in my ears well, good enough that they have never fallen out and the seal is tight enough for excellent bass. But, it is just not as good as the old Elite 75t which fit into my ears and stayed snug and secure.

I have done a couple of 10 mile runs with the 85t, and they haven’t fallen out, but the increased weight and protrusion outside my ear gives a feeling it is not perfectly secure. I guess it just takes some getting used to.

Of course, everyone’s ears are different, so these may work better for some people. I have noticed some users on Reddit find the 85t more comfortable, so your mileage may vary.

It is worth noting that the ear tips of these have a unique oval shape, so it will be less easy to source replacements or upgrade them. I did get some generic circular tips to fit, but I get a bit paranoid about tips coming off and getting stuck in my ear, so didn’t use them for extended periods.

Sound Quality

When I first got the older Elite 75t, I found the bass to be a bit overwhelming with some tracks, and I had to leave the EQ options relatively flat. The bass did seem to settle down, but they are extremely bass-forward, which is not a bad thing (for me) as it works well for the gym, and I loved them for running and Zwift.

These are far more refined, you still get deep, punchy bass, but at no point did I find it overwhelming, and I have even used the EQ on Energize or Bass Boost.

This is then combined with improved mids and highs vs the Elite 75t. The balanced sound allows those mids and high to come through clearly without sounding sharp or harsh and offering a superior soundstage.

At higher volumes, there is no noticeable distortion, and I have found it comfortable to listen to them for prolonged periods of time.

So, the overall sound quality is a little more natural offering a more universal appeal, that you can then tweak to your liking with the EQ. People who prefer deep, boomy bass for certain genres will likely prefer the Elite 75t sound profile, but I think the overall sound quality has been significantly improved.

ANC

The active noise cancellation on these is excellent, considerably better than the Elite 75t which are limited to using two microphones for ANC. With the 85t you get two microphones per earbud which gives you a feedforward mic, which cancels noise from outside the ear and then a feedback mic, which cancels noise from inside the ear.

I’d say the ANC is on par with the superb Huawei Freebuds Pro, though they are cheaper to buy. Using my normal aeroplane cabin noise video, there is a significant drop off with the lows of the rumbling engines, this then allows audio to come through more clearly. In particular, watching TV or movies is far more bearable without that deep rumbling noise. You can then tweak the settings within the Jabra app as well as enable hear through or disable ANC.

I normally run an air purifier in the office due to breathing issues, and wearing the 85t seems to completely remove the fan noise up to its 50% setting.

Calls

I am not big on phone calls, so I rarely use TWS earphones for calls voluntarily. I have used these a couple of times for Zoom calls though; indoors they work very well with no issues with clarity. Limited testing outdoors had them perform quite well, depending on wind and other factors your voice can sometimes be difficult to separate, but in general, these are better than average.

Battery Life

Battery life has been good so far, with me working from home and not out doing full marathon distance running I haven’t really tested the longevity between charges that much. However, they always get through a long gym session, with over 50% left.

Price and Alternative Options

The Jabra Elite 85t are £219.99 RRP on Amazon, but currently a little lower at £209, they have only been out for a couple of months, so this is the lowest price they have been.

Depending on what you are looking for, there are lots of superb alternatives.

The Jabra Elite 75t is the obvious first choice, currently £125.20 on Amazon for the non-wireless charging model, which is an incredible price.

The Huawei Freebuds Pro are superb and make an excellent alternative if you are looking for some good ANC earbuds, they lack an IP rating. Hence, it is not something I would recommend for regular fitness (I have run a half marathon with them with no issues, though).

Apple users have the AirPods Pro, which is currently less than £200 on Amazon, so this may be a better option for those users. The Jabra warranty is far better unless you are going to fork out for Apple Care.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 are not released yet, but the older are currently just £159.93. No IP rating though.

Final Opinion – Are the Jabra Elite 85t better than the Elite 75t?

The Jabra Elite 85t are superb offering a premium ANC earphone that can compete with the likes of Apple and Sony.

Comparing it to the Elite 75t is a little hard, it is not so much one is better than the other, but each fit a different purpose.

The Jabra Elite 85t are significantly better at active noise cancellation, combined with the more balanced sound quality I find them better for general day to day mixed usage. They work best when I go for a walk, use them in an office and for watching TV or movies. When I am allowed to travel again, I’d take these over the 75t any day of the week.

For me, the Elite 75t are superior as a pair of sports earphones. Being cheaper makes you worry about them less. They offer a superior IP rating, fit more snugly in my ears (others would disagree), and offer a very bass dominant sound profile that works well with aggressive or upbeat music I listen to when working out.

With the Elite 75t being very bassy and the reduced performance with ANC, I am less partial to wear them when I am in the office or out for a walk. Until the Elite 85t came along, my preference for these scenarios has been the Huawei Freebuds Pro.

So overall, the 85t earbuds are superb, and I would strongly recommend them for anyone looking for premium earphones with superb ANC

Last update on 2021-08-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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