Jabra’s earbuds might fly under the radar compared to Bose’s ‘buds and Apple’s AirPods, but the company makes the best Bluetooth earbuds around. We loved the Elite 65t, we raved about the Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t, and now Jabra has announced the Elite 85t. Those earlier earbuds were great, but these? These might be perfect.
Jabra has at long last delivered active noise cancellation and a wireless charging case to rival the AirPods Pro—and the $230 Elite 85t undercuts the $250 AirPods Pro by $20. On paper, these earbuds sound seriously impressive.
Last year’s Elite 75t offered passive noise cancellation that I thought did a solid job at drowning out exterior sound. The Elite 85t aims to improve on that performance quite a bit. The Elite 85t sport 12mm drivers, up from the 75t’s 6mm ones, meaning that what Jabra calls “Advanced ANC” on its newest earbuds should be, well, advanced. There are three mics on each earbud: two on the outside and one on the interior. Two are for improved call performance, and the extra is for the ANC. The earbuds listen for ambient noise and adjust the noise cancellation dynamically.
Battery life is also better than the AirPods Pro by a hair—the Elite 85t should last 5.5 hours, but when stored the wireless charging case (which itself charges over USB-C) between wearings, last 25 hours with ANC constantly enabled and 31 hours without.
One of the best parts about Jabra earbuds is how much you can do with the Jabra Sound+ app, which is one of the most robust apps for headphones around. With the Elite 85t, the app enables you to use a slider tool to move from HearThrough mode (with ambient audio augmented) all the way to full ANC. (You can also press the earbud to toggle HearThrough on, ANC on, and ANC off.)
The Elite 85t look a little bit different from their predecessors, though they still offer a semi-open design to prevent ear pressure. They also offer a more oval ear gel for an even better fit. The one possible downside is that the Elite 85t protrude 2mm higher than the 75t, which means they’ll extend out of the ear further than the Elite 75t do. That could be a bummer, because the Elite 75t fit perfectly. The 85t’s case is also a smidge larger than the 75t’s.
But if you bought the $180 Elite 75t last year or $200 Elite Active 75t earlier this year, don’t be frustrated: Jabra is rolling out a software update that will bring active noise cancellation to those earbuds, too. Due to driver size, the 75t’s ANC won’t be as advanced as the Elite 85t’s noise cancellation, but it’s something—and it’s free for existing users. If you buy a pair of 75t earbuds after October, the ANC feature will be automatically enabled at no extra charge.
The Elite 85t will be available to preorder in October and go on sale in November. The 75t’s ANC software upgrade will roll out next month. We plan to put the new 85t earbuds to the test to see if the advanced ANC is worth the $50 premium over the base 75t ‘buds and their software-based ANC, so stay tuned for a full review.