Fortunately, you can choose from 11 different sound levels, from maximum ANC to channeled ambient sounds. (Jabra calls it “HearThrough,” other companies have different names.) It makes it easier to listen to your surroundings while listening to music.
Elite against. Pro
Although everyone from Samsung to JLab is making a ‘pro’ pair of headphones these days, the category is still dominated by AirPods Pro for good reason. Apple’s premium earphones offer the best noise reduction and call quality you can find, and they sound great to boot.
And yet, I think the Elite 85t would give me a break if I was looking for headphones. They are more comfortable, have better battery life with noise reduction turned on (5.5 hours for Apple 4) and also come with a wireless charging case. The Elite 85t can also access Siri or Google Assistant, while AirPods Pro won’t activate voice assistant on Android phones. without third-party workarounds.
Why would I choose the Jabras first and foremost? Physical buttons. These again have round, easy-to-find buttons on the outside of each earbud, meaning your sweaty hair will never be able to accidentally play or interrupt music again. (They’re also sweat-proof thanks to an IPX4 rating.) You can even customize the EQ to change the sound of the headphones to suit your needs, although I mostly stayed with the standard setting.
A new standard
In the early days of wireless headphones, it was easy to call any pair of headphones that were actually connected, didn’t break after two uses, and had over 4 hours of battery life as a good product.
These days, sound quality matters. From Apple, companies began to figure out how to deliver high quality audio in a tiny wireless box, and the Elite 85t is no exception.
I listened to them a lot immediately after MF Doom passed away, which meant they had to deal with the bold lows and shimmering (albeit often lo-fi) highs of my “favorite rapper from the favorite rapper”. They performed admirably, with a nice wide soundstage and no trace of mud at the bottom.
I also took them on long sets blasting Outkast, Frankie Cosmos, and fantastic new jazz from Los Angeles musician Nicole McCabe, and they played really well. They are aided by support for Apple’s AAC codec and Bluetooth 5.1, so connection and digital fidelity are excellent. I especially like the midrange, which never feels crowded, even when keyboards, horns, guitars, and vocals are all stacked at once.
There are plenty of great headphones out there that now rival Jabra’s previous models in price and performance, but the company’s flagship remains a cut above most.
If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that can range from sweaty quarantine workouts to future unmasked adventures, the Elite 85t should be at the top of your list. And if history is any guide, they’ll still be pretty good in a few years.