All good things come to those who wait, or so the saying goes. Jabra has just unveiled its new Jabra Elite 85t true wireless headphones that boasts of Active Noise Reduction (ANC) capability on Tuesday, 22nd September.
Since the launch of its Elite range in 2016, Jabra has become a serious player when it comes to the consumer and mobile audio market. Both the Jabra Elite 65t and 75t earphones back then were, in my opinion, offerings that delivered the best value-for-money proposition on the market when it comes to 100% wireless headphones.
But Jabra lacked a key feature that allowed them to play with the big boys such as the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods Pro: active noise reduction. That is now a reality with the Jabra Elite 85t, which boasts of the new "Jabra Advanced ANC" technology.
Not the first with ANC, but maybe the best
It must be said, Jabra was lagging behind in terms of ANC appearing on true wireless headphones, while the active reduction capability offered on their Jabra Elite 85h headphones proved to be pretty good.
The manufacturer was mainly banking on the passive insulation of its last 75t model. Having tested them out, it was the entire design that performed sufficiently well enough to isolate any external noises - at least based on my experience with it. And with a €179 ($210) sticker price when it was first released, I would definitely have preferred them over the Airpods Pro and even the Sony WF-1000XM3, regardless of whether there is ANC or not.
But things have definitely changed this year. Jabra has finally caught up and even wants to get ahead with its "Jabra Advanced ANC." Relying on the ABC acronym to deliver its ANC capability, Jabra might be on to something new.
A stands for adjustable. Noise reduction offers 5 levels of active noise reduction of three decibels less each. However, it also has five levels of "hear through" mode in order to let any outside noise pass through.
B to block the noise. It is a tiny segment located at the base of the earbuds. In order to achieve this, the Jabra Elite 85t incorporates a dedicated chip, in addition to the main chipset, which is meant for ANC management alone. Each headset has three microphones, one located on the outside and another two on the inside in order to reduce noise pollution.
Finally C is for comfort, where unlike its previous models, Jabra has opted for a semi-internal design, like the AirPods Pro. This results in less occlusion of the ear canal and therefore more comfort as there would be minimal pressure generated by the in-the-ear format. On the flipside, it can also mean less passive isolation, which should be taken into consideration.
A function that adjusts music to your liking
In the companion application Jabra Sound+, the Jabra Elite 85t offers a "MySound" function that allows you to adjust the audio to suit your hearing. Using the app, you can test out the audio quality somewhat like "an ENT", at least according to the manufacturer.
As for the remaining parts of the Jabra Elite 85t, it features 12mm drivers that deliver full sound and good bass, which happens to be a specialty that Jabra is very good at. The headphones do support basic SBC and AAC audio codecs with multipoint Bluetooth (two devices simultaneously, 8 devices separately). Wireless Qi charging is also a new addition compared to last year's Jabra Elite 75t.
Finally, the manufacturer promises a battery life of 5.5 hours per earbud (seven hours without ANC), with up to 25 hours using the included charging case. In other words, you can charge it up to four times before having to juice up the charging case via USB-C. All voice assistants (Alexa, Siri, OK Google) are supported and the earphones are IPX4 certified.
Jabra Elite 75t also gets an ANC upgrade
The earbuds from the previous Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t range will also be on the receiving end of active noise reduction, but it will be different from the one found in their successor, the Elite 85t.
There will not be any dedicated chip available for ANC management, and neither will they be equipped with an internal microphone - you simply have to make do with just two on the outside. The ANC is not adjustable either, you have a simple choice of either activating or deactivating it.
On the bright side, passive noise isolation will be naturally better, as they are fully in-ear, unlike the new Jabra Elite 85t. The implementation of ANC on these models will be achieved via a free firmware update that will happen through the companion application Jabra Sound+.
For a pair of earbuds that sell for €179 upon release and having dropped in price since then, they are still worth checking out.
The Jabra Elite 85t earphones will be available from November 2020 at the recommended retail price of €249.99. The Titanium Black color will be offered at first, followed by Golden Beige, Copper Black, and Grey from January 2021 onward.