Jabra’s Elite lineup of Bluetooth earbuds has been my favorite for years. But as competition has become more intense and earbuds are packing in more features for less, Jabra was missing one big thing: active noise cancellation. The $ 230 Elite 85t with ANC is here, and after using these earbuds for a few weeks, the noise cancellation and battery life are seriously impressive. So impressive I say that I like these more than the rest.
There are other very good Bluetooth ds buds with ANC too! Both Apple’s $ 250 AirPods Pro and Bose’s $ 280 QuietComfort are solid options. But, look, both AirPods and QuietComfort look real weird in Cannes. The Elite 85T is less obese and the cost is also lower. There are some drawbacks, which I will get to later. But for the money, these may be the best for ANC earbuds you can buy.
The Elite 85t has 12mm drivers, upgraded from 6mm speakers to the Elite 75t, and two microphones on each side for better phone call quality, and one to two microphones on each for the bud for ANC. (More on a phone call in a minute.)
Active noise cancellation is very good. I took a walk outside while a gardener was sowing a lawn, and by the time I could faint the jurist, I was not detracting from the podcast I was listening to. The transparency mode, which you can activate by pressing the left earbuds or turning it on in Jabra’s Sound + App, is completely natural.
I used this while running outside in LA to avoid getting down from cars and dodging pedestrians, and it seemed as if I wasn’t moving anything in my ears. I turned off the transparency mode during windy days to avoid blowing my earrings, but otherwise I loved it.
You can adjust ANC levels in the Sound + app, if you don’t want to keep it at full blast. Jabra’s app is one of the best uses for Bluetooth earbuds, as it provides such a grainy control over your audio. You can give Jabra a listening test to let you customize the EQ setting for you, or for example, if you prefer a bit more bass, you can choose a preset. I have always preferred the audio quality of Jabra earbuds to AirPods, and the same is true for the latest generation.
When it comes to the ANT 85T’s ANC, the biggest issue is that Jabra also rolled out a firmware update for last year’s Elite 75T and Elite Active 75T that offer a digital version of the ANC.
I installed the update on my Elite Active 75t, and while the quality of the ANC is not at the 85T level (since it is not technically ANC), it still would have done a better job of blocking noise than before the update is. My one complaint is that the version of ANC you find in older earbuds has too much artificial-sounding transparency mode, which I find annoying.
When it comes to phone calls, I still prefer Apple’s regular, non-pro AirPods over any set of Bluetooth earbuds. I think their more open fit allows me to hear myself better. While I was walking through the park at my mother’s call, the jobs did not do a great job of filtering out the ambient noise. At several points, he asked me to repeat myself, despite the fact that I couldn’t really hear whatever background noise I was hearing.
The Elite 85t sum is not perfect either. The earbuds have been redesigned from last year’s Elite 75T with a semi-open shape and oval ear gels. They spanned 2 mm more than the Elite 75T. The difference was noticeable. The Elite 75T makes a perfect seal in my ear – no other Bluetooth earbuds fit as well as they do.
The 85t is not the same, and despite swapping in new ear gels to optimize the feel, I still found myself fiddling with the eadbuds to push my ears forward as I ran. I do the same with AirPods Pro, which is not quite right for me. The earbud fit is incredibly personal, so you may not have that experience, but I wish the Elite 85T retained the same seal as the 75T.
If you are still deciding between AirPods Pro and Elite 85t, there are some other notable features. The first Elite 85t has the capability to be connected to multiple devices simultaneously. AirPods Pro can connect to many Apple devices, but Jabras can connect to any Bluetooth device.
I currently have them paired with my iPhone and my peloton, so I can stick them in my ears and start a bike ride and then pick up my phone and start listening again to the podcast, all without any To dip into the setting or do anything. Just put earrings in my ears.
It almost works very well – at one time I did not listen to something on my phone to make Jabbers realize that my husband was using the peloton, and his class audio immediately started ringing in my ears. (I thought it was hilarious; he was not happy either.)