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  • Cheryl Tan

Jabra Elite 85t Review: Semi-open Design Actually Works!

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

When I heard about the new Jabra Elite 85t, I wasn’t expecting to like them because of their semi-open design, and I was sceptical of how effective the ANC would be. Well, as you can tell by the title, these are pretty decent earbuds.

First off, it’s important to note that both the earbuds and case are larger than the 75t. The case difference is pretty obvious, but the earbuds aren’t. Trust me though, the 85t are bigger to accommodate the new 12mm drivers inside, which means they don’t sit quite as snugly in the ear. In fact, I find myself adjusting the earbuds once in a while to re-seat them because they feel like they’re slipping loose, even though that’s not the case.

The buds themselves are still incredibly comfortable though, and if you have bigger ears, you might not even notice the bigger shells. They do protrude a bit more as compared to the 75t, so that’s something to consider.

Because of the semi-open design, the sound signature is different compared to the 75t. It’s still a warm sound, but the impactful bass that was the highlight? It’s been toned down slightly. in return though, you end up getting a more balanced sound signature that I really quite enjoy. Because the bass isn’t the highlight, you end up getting a less V-shaped sound, with a fuller mid-range. That’s not to say that there’s no bass though, it’s still there, just not as prominent as it was with the 75t.

The semi-open design does have the added advantage of making the soundstage seem wider though, which is always a nice plus.

I do have to pause here and mention an issue I faced with the earbuds. It’s not just an issue I’ve faced, I’ve noticed other consumers having similar problems with the Elite 75t, and that’s the static issue with the left earbud. Personally, I believe my issue is already a very minor one. I’ve read reports of people having static non-stop. Mine only starts having static when music is playing. Once I’ve paused my music, the static continues for two seconds, then stops.

It’s not a big issue, honestly, and some people might just end up growing accustomed to it, but I found it distracting enough to bring it up to the folks at Jabra. Firmware updates didn’t help, so if you encounter this issue with your Elite 85t earbuds, I’d recommend asking Jabra if you could exchange it for a new pair if you feel that you really can’t stand it.

Back to the good. Phone calls and the likes are excellent on the Elite 85t, with my voice being accurately and clearly transmitted to the party on the other end. There’s actually a six microphone array on the 85t, with four being used for noise cancelling. The microphone holes on the earbuds are even smaller than before, which is great since they’re more subtle now.

The ANC works really well, and the Elite 85t come with ANC right out of the box. The Elite 75t got ANC in a firmware update, and while I do think that the Elite 85t’s ANC is stronger, the Elite 75t has a better seal and so once everything is put together, they end up on around the same level.

Jabra claims 7 hours of battery life with ANC off and 5.5 hours with ANC on and I found that relatively accurate. With ANC turned on, I actually got close to 6 hours, but it might also be because my music was playing at just 40%. The earbuds really do get quite loud, so I found myself only requiring 40% here, instead of my usual 60% volume level.

There are an additional three charges or so in the case, for a total of 25 hours with ANC off. The Elite 85t uses USB-C to charge and also supports wireless charging if you so prefer. Unfortunately, these are still running on a master and slave configuration, so if you only want to use one earbud, it will have to be the left one.

A big plus point is the ability for multipoint connection, which is excellent for people looking to use their earbuds on two devices at once. Jabra has reduced the IP rating on the Elite 85t however, back to only IPX4 water resistance, so don’t bring these to the desert or the rock climbing gym.

So are these worth getting over the Elite 75t? That depends. If you’re someone who doesn’t like the seal that the Elite 75t provides, the Elite 85t is a great option. Personally, I even prefer the sound quality of the 85t. That being said, though, if the 85t is too big for your ears, the 75t is still an excellent option, especially if you can find a good discount on them.

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