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Jabra Elite 85h headphones review – excellent noise cancellation and long battery life

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  • VERDICT

The Jabra Elite 85h is an exceptional pair of headphones that offer excellent noise cancellation, intelligent features and an amazing 36 hour battery life.

In audio circles, Jabra is already a known and trusted brand on the strength of its earphones but now it is venturing into the noise-cancelling market with the Elite 85h active noise cancelling headphones.

Jabra has brought its audio expertise across to the popular noise-cancelling category that’s been dominated by Sony and Bose – and the good news is Jabra certainly hold its own with the Elite 85h.

The new Jabra headphones have plenty of features along with easy-to-manage controls that make listening to your music a pleasure.

On the design front, the Jabra Elite 85h headphones have a woven finish with the same material you’d find on a pair of speakers along with plastic accents on the outside of the earcups and arms.

The earcups have adjustable arms and are on swivels so they can be easily adjusted for a comfortable fit.

It also has a pretensioned headband that’s lined with leather padding.

The ear cups also have soft foam cushioning for added comfort plus they also help eliminate the outside noise.

They are also certified rain resistant thanks to the IP52 rating and also backed by a two-year warranty.

We wore the Jabra Elite 85h headphones on our flights to and from San Francisco when we attended the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

They fit well and were comfortable enough to wear for hours on end and also comfortable enough for us to fall asleep wearing them on the flight.

All of the controls are at your fingertips on the ear cups.

On the left is a button that allows users to cycle through the various sound moments including ANC (active noise cancellation) and HearThrough so you can hear the outside world without taking off the headphones.

The active noise cancellation uses for powerful microphones to pick up and cancel out the ambient noise.

The level of ANC is quite impressive and is up there with the likes of Sony and Bose.

HearThrough works well if you need to speak to somebody or listen out for your flight announcement at the airport.

The right ear cup is where you’ll find all your controls for your music and calls as well as a 3.5mm audio jack to connect to your source with a cable like we did on our flight – no Bluetooth on aircraft unfortunately.

A cool feature of the Jabra Elite 85h is SmartSound which uses artificial intelligence to analyse your environment and adjust the sound to suit your surroundings.

For example, if you’re on public transport or a particularly noisy environment the headphones will automatically switch on ANC to block out the noise.

But the impressive part is the fact the Jabra Elite 85h is also smart enough to know when you need to be aware of your surroundings like on a train platform or beside a busy road and turn on the HearThrough feature.

It uses scene analysis technology and can detect more than 6000 unique environmental sound characteristics before making the call on the sound mode suitable for you.

Users can also dive into the Jabra Sound+ app and personalise the settings for yourself to suit different listening moments.

Within the app is also an equaliser to personalise the sound to your taste.

It is here where you can also choose your preferred voice assistant between Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

On the audio side, the Jabra Elite 85h offers a full-bodied sound and impressive bass through the 40mm drivers.

No matter what type of music you’re listening to, the Jabra Elite 85h can really deliver.

Even at lower volumes the clarity was there so you can hear the detail quite clearly.

If there was one thing we could change, we would improve the bass and give it a little bit more authority.

Call quality through the Jabra Elite 85h was also surprisingly clear thanks to the professional grade eight-microphone design which blocks out when in background noise.

The people we were speaking to assumed we were just talking on our phone rather than through a pair of headphones.

There is actually no power button on the Jabra Elite 85h.

You simply unfold the headphones to turn them on. When you fold them flat again, the headphones turn off.

Another strength of the Jabra Elite 85h is the battery life which runs for up to an incredible 36 hours even when using active noise cancellation.

This meant we didn’t need to charge up the headphones for our trip to the US and back.

So even if you’re flying to Europe or back to Australia for more than 20 hours, the Jabra Elite 85h will be right there all the way with you.

And if you’re not using active noise cancellation, that battery time goes up to an amazing 41 hours.

The headphones take two hours to completely charge but you can get up to five hours of use after just 15 minutes of charging.

The Jabra Elite 85h are priced at $499 which makes them more expensive than the Bose QC35 Series II and the Sony WH1000XM3.

That’s a big ask for a customer to pay more for a newcomer to the space than they would for established and high-quality brands.

One area where the Jabra headphones offer superior performance is in the battery life.

Quality wise we think they are about on par with Sony and Bose and therefore good enough to compete at this level.

VERDICT

The Jabra Elite 85h is an exceptional pair of headphones that offer excellent noise cancellation, intelligent features and an amazing 36 hour battery life.