review

Jabra Elite 85h Adaptive Noise Canceling Headphones

Friday, May 17, 2019

One of the smartest ANC headphones you can buy right now are the Jabra Elite 85h headphones. If you are big on new audio technology and build quality, you will fall head over heels in love with the Elite 85h headphones!
Instead of pressing on a button, the Jabra Elite 85h headphones power on and power off by tilting the earcups inwards and outwards.

The power on/off feature is rather unique and has also the advantage that it automatically triggers bluetooth paring mode so you don't have to.
The button with the microphone symbol lets you cycle between the voice assistant and mute function to mute the audio during a phone call.
Most headphones feature at best two microphones so the Jabra Elite 85h definitely breaks the mould, beating Amazon's 2018 Echo Dot and its seven listening microphones.
Even though it sounds like microphone overkill, all these microphones in the Elite 85h serve a purpose. Four microphones are used for the feedforward and feedback control of the active noise cancellation to filter out noise around via microphones on the inside and outside of the earcup.
The other four microphones in the Jabra Elite 85h are used for voice calls. The microphones seem to work well in harmony delivering outstanding voice call and audio call quality thanks to the microphones being strategically placed around the earcups. Not only you get amazing levels of amplification, the call quality is maintained even when the ambient nose changes.
The two small black rubber bits you see on the side of the right earcup are actually two physical buttons for controlling the volume and the skipping of tracks. The dimple between the two black rubber bits is also a button which controls the play/pause, answer/end calls and bluetooth for manual pairing.
Beneath the right earcup you find the mute/ voice assistant button, a 3.5 mm audio jack. a USB C port for charging the Jabra Elite 85h headset and an led status indicator.
It takes 2 hours to fully charge the Elite 85h which is amazing considering the superb battery life and you can get up to 2.5 hours of battery power with just 7 minutes of charging.
Battery drain is usually the main drawback of active noise cancellation but not with the Jabra Elite 85h headset which can last over 30 hours even with active noise cancellation.
The integration of Artificial Intelligence allows the Elite 85h headset to learn and adapt to ambient noises so the AI is able to do a better job at managing the audio processing and the strength of noise cancellation needed for the environment.
The smart circuitry is most active noise cancellation headphones isn't intelligent enough to able to adapt like an AI algorithm can; hence battery life gets drained needlessly.
Another nifty feature that helps the Jabra Elite 85h headphones maintain such a long battery life is on-ear detection which automatically pauses any music playing and mutes any calls when you remove the headphones from your head.
When you put the headphones back on, music resumes and the call is unmuted which is very convenient.
On the back side of the left earcup you find another user button that lets you manually cycle between audio modes (ANC, HearThrough and Off), as well as environments (commute, in-public and in-private).
good earcup depth to suit big ears
The overall design style of the Elite 85h headphones is elegant but understated, combining alloy metal, faux leather (earpads and headband) and canvas fabric material for the sides of the earcups and top of the headband.
The thick foam padding on the earpads and headband feels nice and comfortable on the ears. The headband frame is made with some sort of alloy metal and has a smooth adjusting mechanism that makes no noise.
The headband has a good level of tensioning and a nifty suspension mechanism that makes the Elite 85h headset comfortable and secure to wear on the head for long stretches.
The Jabra Elite 85h uses a similar audio AI that video game designers use for adaptive audio in games so in-game music adapts to what's going in the game in real-time to make players become immersed in the game.

The audio AI algorithm in the Jabra Elite 85h also works in real time utilizing the headphones Hybrid Active Noise Canceling feature to automatically adjust the audio coming through the headphones to suit the ambient sounds around you.
Jabra branded hardshell carry case
If you are moving from a noisy office into a quiet space, the AI adjusts the audio output automatically and does this even for audio calls. If you happen to walk into a noisy space while on a call, the AI automatically boosts the audio sound.
The AI operates within three environments (Commute, In-Public and In-Private) and selects whichever is more appropriate.
The AI essentially automates things for you but it is nice that a mobile app (Jabra Sound+ app) is made available to the user to tweak audio modes (Active Noise Cancelling, HearThrough or Off).
Jabra’s HearThrough technology is also found in the Elite Sport headset which allows you to manually let in background noise at a touch of a button.
As well audio modes, each environment (Commute, In-Public and In-Private) features an audio equalizer and presets that you can customize.
The Jabra Sound+ app is a nifty app companion indeed which let you get the best out of the Jabra Elite 85h headset.
From the app, you can also select which voice assistant you want to interact with including Google, Siri or Alexa. Voice assistant is not fully integrated in the Elite 85h headset though which means you do have to press the mic button to prompt your voice assistant to work so there is no listening mode for invoking the"Alexa" wake word.
From the Jabra Sound+ app you can also view the battery life remaining in the headset, as well as change the voice guidance language and update the Elite 85h firmware.
Find My Jabra is another handy feature integrated in the Jabra Sound+ app which is also found in the Jabra Assist companion app to the Talk 55  and Eclipse headset.
IP52 rating so it offers some water resistance protection and limited protection against dust getting into the electronics. A IP52 rating technically means a device can only handle literary drops of water so the Jabra Elite 85h can handle very light showers but no water spraying or water splashing and definitely no immersion in water.
With a waterproof rating this low though, the Jabra Elite 85h aren't really suited for sports and running in all weather. Jabra does offer a 2-year warranty though which you register via the Jabra Sound+ app.
You can pair up to 8 devices with the Jabra Elite 85h and connect two devices at the same time so you can switch back and forth between two devices (i.e. laptop or phone) without having to disconnect the bluetooth connection.
The Elite 85h uses Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity which delivers the best power consumption of all bluetooth versions. To benefit from Bluetooth 5.0 optimal power consumption though, the Jabra Elite 85h has to be connected to a device running Bluetooth 5.0.
In the audio department, the Jabra Elite 85h features 40mm speaker drivers that deliver big sound and good balance across all the frequencies. However, there is no support for either AAC or aptX Bluetooth codec which is strange on a headset at this price range.
There is support for SBC so you get mp3-like sound quality but a bit more latency than aptX although the lag isn't really noticeable when watching YouTube videos. The Jabra Elite 85h are ultimately a headset so they are better suited to someone who spends a lot of time making calls on the phone.
The Jabra Elite 85h also supports CVSD (8kHz) and alternative mSBC (16 kHz) audio codecs which are codecs you find in mobile phone headsets that perform well in noisy channels. As far as accessories, you get an airplane adapter, a short USB c charging cable and an audio cable

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