Jabra Elite 85t Review: These Small Earbuds Sound Much Bigger

Jabra Elite 85t Review: These Small Earbuds Sound Much Bigger
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After wearing Jabra’s Elite 85t True Wireless Earbuds, three things became apparent. Firstly, I have very small ears holes and I really need to sort out a better ear-cleaning routine. The third, and most important thing, is that I was surprised by how good these things sound.

For such a small package, these Jabra earbuds don’t mess around when it comes to audio quality. But in this modern landscape of headphones and earbuds, just having good audio quality is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of functionality. So how do the Jabra Elite 85t earbuds go as a full package?

Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless Earbuds

WHAT IS IT?

Noise cancelling earbuds.

PRICE

$299

LIKE

Sounds great with good audio customisability, easy to navigate companion app and good noise cancellation.

NO LIKE

The MyFit function can be finicky at times, the earbud's buttons lack tactility.

How do they sound?

If you’re just after a pair of earbuds that sound great and don’t really care about all the other bells and whistles, the Elite 85t is a solid choice. On the basic setting, I found playback to be pretty well-balanced. Like most big name headphone brands, Jabra has its own companion app, Sound+,  app lets you customise the earbud’s equaliser. On the basic setting, I found playback to be pretty well-balanced.

When I’m testing out new headphones, I have three albums I always throw on to judge its performance: DJ Shadow’s atmospheric Entroducing, the fuzzy cacophony of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and the pop-rock of Prince’s Purple Rain.

I was impressed by how well these earbuds performed across all of these albums, maintaining natural sounding frequencies. The upbeat party-vibe of Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ and soaring heights of ‘Purple Rain’ sounded so crisp, while none of the densely-layered details of Entroducing‘s samples were lost in the mix – especially when I boosted the bass.

These earbuds even manage to hold its when it comes to the wall of noise of My Bloody Valentine. The Elite 85t’s still sounded clear, even underneath all of that whirring distortion.

These wireless earbuds come with an active noise cancellation function, which I found essential to get the absolute best sound performance. With ANC off I found I was pumping up the volume to overcome the ambient noise.

How do they perform during phone calls?

In terms of sound quality when it comes phone calls, everyone I spoke to commented on how incredibly crisp and clear I sounded, both in inside and outside settings. When taking a call, the earbuds activate “HearThrough” mode, which allows you to hear your own voice to help stop you from overcompensating your speaking volume.

The microphone is very receptive, almost to a fault. During a call I took in at a local park, one person commented that “it sounds like you’re walking through a pet store” because they could clearly hear a bunch of birds squawking in a nearby tree.

However, while testing the earbuds during a couple work calls, my co-workers commented that I sounded quiet, even when speaking at normal volume. The earbuds were paired to my laptop during this call.

How do they fit?

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Personally, I’m usually pretty hesitant when it comes to earbuds because I’ve had more bad experiences with uncomfortable fits than I’ve had with comfy ones. There’s no quicker way to kill your mood than a pair of in-ear headphones that feel like someone is digging around your earhole with their finger.

The Elite 85t come with three interchangeable silicone earbud moulds, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well they sat. I never had an issue with irritation. Theses earbuds are also pretty light, and I’d occasionally forget I had one or both buds in when they were off.

At the end of March, Jabra released a software update that added a new personalisation feature called “MyFit” to the Sound+ app. MyFit is designed to test how well your earbuds fit by measuring noise levels, and will let you know whether you need to do some adjusting to improve the seal.

While I found this function helpful, it was frustratingly inconsistent at times. Sometimes it’ll tell me one ear is good while the other needs adjusting, but when I do a follow up test it than suggests I readjust the originally good ear.

And even when I managed a “perfect” fit, sometimes it feels like one earbud isn’t sitting as snug as it should. There’s been a few times where I’ve felt like one earbud is teetering on the edge of falling out, but the MyFit function assures me its fine.

How do they work?

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Each earbud comes with a large button, where various button pushes will trigger specific functions. For example, one push on my left earbud will cycle through the active noise cancelling and hear through options, while two pushes will skip to the next track. Like everything else, you can customise these button functions.

My only real gripe with these buttons is that there’s no texture on them for your finger to grip too. A few times I found my finger sliding across the button like butter across a hot skillet while trying to get a double or triple-button press.

I’ve predominately been using them on my daily commute, which involves walking alongside a busy road and a cramped peak hour bus, so there’s plenty of noise. You can adjust the level of active noise cancelling you want, but I found anything lower than the two highest settings to be inadequate to drown out the bus’ engine.

With active noise cancelling on, you’ll get around 5.5 hours on a full charge, with a total additional charge of 25 hours when using the recharging case. With ANC off, its battery life is around 7 hours, with an additional 24 hours available from the case.

The charging case itself is pretty sturdy, and will tell you different battery levels with a small, external LED. It seals with a magnetic clasp, which is satisfying to flick open and shut.

Most importantly, these wireless earbuds will automatically sync to your phone’s Bluetooth the moment you pull them out of the charging case. It’s such a small thing, and reminiscent of Apple’s AirPods, but it goes a long way.

When you pull one earbud out, it will instantly pause whatever you’re playing as well. Which is always helpful when you need to order a coffee, but don’t want to be an inconsiderate person who keeps their headphones on.

Should you buy the Jabra Elite 85t wireless earbuds?

When you have to shill out $399 for Bose’s QuietComfort earbuds or Apple’s Airpod Pro, the Jabra’s Elite 85t is a solid alternative at $299. That price tag still might be a bit rich for some, but I think these wireless earbuds are worth it.

While I had some issues with getting the MyFit function to work consistently, I’m willing to contend I may just have weird earholes. Even when I gave up trying to get a perfect fit and just left the earbuds as they were, that didn’t stop the active noise cancelling from still working well to drown out ambient sound.

For such a small, lightweight pair of in-ear headphones, I was surprised how well it performed when pushed to its limits. My favourite songs sounded exactly how they should when pumped through these headphones Jabra 85t, with crisp, clear frequencies across the board. The Jabra Elite 85t sound great, and for some, that’s enough.