The search for good headphones reveals how sometimes we need our own “sound space” in which to enjoy our music, the sound of games, information or receive the audio of calls and video calls in the clearest and most isolated way possible. Circumstances often make it difficult for these devices to work, sometimes noisy work spaces or homes, and sometimes the street or public transportation.
In the past, the only way to achieve this “sound space” was through headphones as enveloping as possible with the ears and increasing the volume of the player to exceed that of the ambient sound, which in addition to being annoying for others can be even dangerous from a health point of view. For this reason, some manufacturers have developed different noise cancellation systems, both passive and active, which analyze ambient sound to compensate for it.
Currently there are many brands that offer these systems with increasingly affordable prices. Many of them come from the world of hi-fi but there are also other cases such as Jabra, the manufacturers of the headphones that we have been able to test, better known for their headphones aimed at professional use. Jabra has pioneered many technological advances such as Bluetooth connection or active noise reduction such as that found in the Elite 85h headphones that we have reviewed and will talk about later.
Specifications Jabra Elite 85h
Speakers: 40 mm drivers Noise cancellation: 4 microphones digital ANC Control: touch for music, calls and general options Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 (up to 10 meters) Battery: Autonomy of up to 41 hours Charging: 2.5 hours Dimensions: 195 x 82 x 225 mm Weight: 296 grams www.jabra.es Price: 249.99 euros
As soon as we open the box we see that this model is designed for transport with a practical zippered cover. The headphones are folded inside it along with all the accessories: USB-C charging cable, audio cable with Jack and adapter for the sound systems of airplanes and trains. The design is supra-aural, that is, they have a size and a padding that wraps the ear. They are not light (296 grams) but their design and the materials used make them comfortable to wear even for hours.
To store them, the headphones rotate so that they are on the same plane and then it is possible to fold them inwards by means of a hinge on each of them. The plastic material is of high quality and the perception is that they are very robust. The padding both those that cover the headphones and the head support are pleasant to the touch and very comfortable with a good quality finish, without visible seams.
The cases carry generously sized 40mm earbuds, padded to comfortably cover the ear. The design makes it practical to use them even with glasses. The only downside to this padding is when it’s hot as the headphones “warm” the ears, but this is a difficult issue to fix. The system allows you to raise the arch and even rotate the headphones in and out to adapt to any type of shape and size of the face and ears with comfort.
On the right earphone we find the button to mute the microphone and that also allows you to activate voice assistant (like Alexa or Google), the USB-C connector and the connection for the audio jack. On the earpiece itself there is a pressure sensor that allows you to raise and lower the volume or advance or rewind the playback if we keep it pressed. In the central part of the sensor you can pair headphones, pause music or answer calls. On the left ear cup there is a button to override the noise cancellation system.
All these controls and connectors have been incorporated in a very discreet and elegant way so the design remains clean. The charging of the headphones, as we have anticipated, is done through a USB-C connector, an advantage since it coincides with the charging connector of modern mobile phones. This charge, which can be completed in about two and a half hours, lasts approximately 40 hours without noise cancellation and up to 36 if we activate it.
By connecting the headphones to the mobile phone via bluetooth we can install the Sound plus application that allows controlling multiple aspects of the operation and the configuration of the headphones such as firmware updates, the type of assistant with which we can interact, the type of noise cancellation that we want to activate and even a system that allows us to locate where we left the headphones the last time.
The most interesting thing about these headphones is undoubtedly the active noise cancellation system that they have. This system, called ANC, uses four of the eight microphones that the device has to collect ambient sound to analyze it and compensate for these sounds by means of a signal that compensates them to cancel them. This model has different noise cancellation profiles depending on the situation in which we find ourselves: my moment (maximum isolation), transport (especially filters sounds from public transport), in public (to filter the voice) and in private (the lower cancellation).
Beyond noise cancellation
But these Jabra headphones go beyond the ANC system and offer two additional systems: HearTrough and SmartSound. The first system analyzes the ambient sound and reproduces the sound again so that we can hear noises such as a horn or the announcements of an airport or public transport. The SmaretSound system analyzes the sound picked up by the microphones several times a minute to activate the appropriate noise cancellation mode. For example, it can go from public mode to isolate ourselves from the noise of a bar chat and then automatically switch to transport if we get on a bus.
Another very ingenious system that has been incorporated into this model is the “ear detector”. By means of it, when we remove the headphones and separate them from the ears, they will detect it by means of a pressure sensor and will pause the music or video playback to resume it when we place them on the ears again. If, on the contrary, we remove the headphones and fold them, they will turn off.
We have tested the headphones in different situations and we can say that they are really all-rounder. In street use is where noise cancellation comes into play most clearly. It is true that the system cannot mask all the sounds, especially it has difficulties with the lower frequencies but conversations, car noise and most urban sounds are masked enough so that you do not have to increase the volume to enjoy, for example, from Vivaldi.
Rock in the street
And in the case of somewhat “more powerful” pieces such as rock songs with large doses of percussion and electric guitar, the HearTrough system is appreciated to realize the essential sounds for survival such as the aforementioned horn. In quieter places like at home the system does an excellent job with sounds like appliances or conversations. We will continue to hear them but as a very murmur, which sometimes makes us take them off thinking that someone may be trying to talk to us.
But if we are looking for relaxation, the Elite 85h are a success. The sound quality is very high, with a non-gimmicky bass resolution so the reproduction is fundamentally natural, which favors vocal pieces, especially by soloists, for example jazz. We have also tested the reproduction of movies and series on television, very useful to isolate ourselves from the environment if we want to watch our contents with other people in the room or for night sessions (clandestine or not).
The lack of power in the bass is not very noticeable and the dramatic music and sound effects of action movies are played loud enough for complete immersion in the movie. Especially effective in films with dialogues since the clarity of the voices is very high and allows us not to have to play with the volume to find out the plot without being overwhelmed by the soundtrack.
But as we mentioned, the headphones are really off-road. In addition to companions on urban or wild routes, for music or film sessions and series, the Jabra Elite 85h can also be an effective work tool. Thanks to its eight microphones that also have noise cancellation, we can make video conferences or calls comfortably and with high quality.
In our tests we have been able to participate in videoconferences or virtual meetings with people speaking in the same room and although a slight background noise could be heard, we were perfectly understood. The microphones achieve a more than acceptable quality, although products specially dedicated to this use provide a clearer sound. And of course the good quality of sound reproduction and noise reduction technology for the microphones also make them compatible with their use for gaming, surpassing even some dedicated models.
In short, these headphones offer an advanced noise cancellation system for a reasonable price for what is styled in headphones with this type of system, also providing very useful additional functions. As headphones they are very comfortable, with high quality padding and although they are not light we can wear them for hours without weighing us down.
Perhaps their most important advantage is the wide range of uses that can be given to them, from the music lover who is not demanding to the extreme to the teleworker through the cinephile or the urbanite. In all cases, the versatility of the Elite 85h provides superior sound quality and comfort of use.
Review 0 SUMMARY
Excellent headphones with a good active noise cancellation system and additional functions that adapt to a large number of uses from listening to music on the subway to telecommuting to long gaming sessions
Design and build quality9
Installation and software8.5