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Jabra Elite 85t Review: The All-Rounder of True Wireless Earphones

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Although India tends to see a lot of launches in the budget true wireless audio space, the globally relevant premium segment has also been heating up quite a bit. The Apple AirPods range is usually favoured by iPhone users, and Android fans have a fair bit of choice now, with many new options from Sennheiser, Samsung, LG, and Oppo launched in the past few months. With the new Elite 85t, Danish audio brand Jabra has also updated its true wireless product range going into 2021.

The successor to the Elite 75t, the Jabra Elite 85t is priced at Rs. 17,999 and has a big new feature – active noise cancellation. There’s also the promise of good performance on voice calls thanks to Jabra’s expertise in the field, and of course great sound as well. Does the Jabra Elite 85t match up to these expectations? Find out in our review.

The Jabra Elite 85t has a secure, noise isolating, in-canal fit

 

Three microphones on each earpiece, wireless charging on the Jabra Elite 85t

Although there are small changes to the design, the Jabra Elite 85t largely sticks to the familiar styling and fit of its predecessors, and looks a lot like the Elite 75t which was launched in 2020. The inner moulding does see some changes, in order to offer a better fit and passive noise isolation. There are also now three microphones on the coloured outer portions of the earpieces.

As with previous products in the Elite range, the Jabra Elite 85t is very comfortable, offers excellent passive noise isolation, and looks good as well. I’ve grown to really like Jabra’s distinctive styling, which is iconic in its own right, and characteristic of the company’s Scandinavian roots. Each earpiece has a physical button with an LED that shines through it to indicate the status of the earphones. Three pairs of silicone ear tips and a USB Type-C charging cable are included in the sales package.

The charging case of the Jabra Elite 85t is nearly identical to that of the Elite 75t as well, with a compact shape and size, magnetic lid, USB Type-C port at the back, and indicator LED right below the logo at the front. Usefully, there’s also Qi wireless charging for the case of the Elite 85t, which wasn’t present on previous models.

Each earpiece has a large physical button, and the headset’s controls can be customised through the Jabra Sound+ companion app (available for iOS and Android). You can choose between playback controls, invoking the voice assistant, and cycling through sound modes (ANC, hear-through, or both off), with single, double, or triple-presses.

jabra elite 85t review app Jabra  Jabra Elite 85t

ANC and hear-through levels are customisable through the Jabra Sound+ app

 

The buttons have additional functions for receiving and placing calls, and the two earpieces can be configured separately. Although there’s no way to adjust volume, the rest of the controls are easy enough to learn and use. The buttons are easy to press, and even frequent use didn’t upset the secure fit of the earpieces.

There are also sensors in the earpieces that automatically pause playback when either one is removed, and resumes when it’s worn again. Unlike many new true wireless earphones, the Jabra Elite 85t has a master-slave configuration; the right earpiece connects to the source device, while the left earpiece connects to the right one. You can therefore use the right earpiece independently, but not the left one, which also needs to be in close proximity to the right earpiece to work.

The Jabra Sound+ app has a custom profile for the Elite 85t earphones, and automatically detects the headset when it’s connected to the source device. It’s an excellent app that’s presented well, and generally gets its job done efficiently. Apart from button customisation, you can also adjust the equaliser, control the ANC and hear-through levels, update the firmware, and more. Other interesting tools such as Jabra’s My Moment sound mode settings and Soundscapes are also available. My Moment lets you set up custom sound profiles depending on your surroundings, while Soundscapes play different kinds of soothing sounds directly through the app.

The Jabra Elite 85t has 12mm dynamic drivers, and six microphones – three on each earpiece – for active noise cancellation and voice-based functions. The earpieces are IPX4 rated for water resistance, and will be able to take a few light splashes of water without risk of damage. For connectivity, the headset uses Bluetooth 5.1, with support for the SBC and AAC codecs. The lack of support for advanced Bluetooth codecs remains a drawback for Jabra.

jabra elite 85t review logo Jabra  Jabra Elite 85t

The buttons on the earpieces can be customised to control playback, noise cancellation, and more

 

With active noise cancellation on and at moderate volume levels, I was able to get around five hours of battery life on the earpieces, with an additional three full charges from the case of the Jabra Elite 85t, for a total battery life of around 20 hours per charge cycle. This is decent, given the feature set and specifications of the headset.

Good sound, great ANC on the Jabra Elite 85t

Jabra’s ‘flagship only’ approach to the true wireless segment has resulted in some excellent products in the past few years, and the Elite 85t is an expected step up in the range. However, the core experience is familiar; the Jabra Elite 85t is an all-round performer, offering a competent and capable experience across all functions. Whether you’re listening to music, taking calls, or watching videos, the Elite 85t does its job well.

The Jabra Elite 75t, while sounding good, has a tendency to be a bit aggressive with the bass; that problem is less pronounced on the Elite 85t, which offers a more balanced sonic signature with a greater focus on detail and cohesiveness. The equaliser, which can be set through the app, was quite responsive to changes, but the natural factory-tuned sonic signature was perfectly suitable for most popular genres.

Starting with Waiting by Oliver Heldens with the volume at around the 70 percent level and active noise cancellation turned on, the Jabra Elite 85t was immediately engaging and incredibly responsive. While the sonic signature isn’t as punchy with the lows as that of the Elite 75t, there’s definitely enough tightness and attack in the bass to make for an enjoyable listening experience. The mid-range and highs also held up well in Waiting, giving this fast-paced dance track a distinctly detailed feel.

The news of Daft Punk calling it a day had me revisit some of the group’s more popular tracks, including Get Lucky. While the lows felt distinct and pronounced, Pharrell Williams’ vocals and Daft Punk’s signature synthesised robotic voices were equally sharp and distinct. It’s a beautifully natural and adaptive sonic signature that adjusts well to all kinds of music. The Jabra Elite 85t was able to provide plenty of detail and character in these tracks.

jabra elite 85t review tip Jabra  Jabra Elite 85t

The Jabra Elite 85t is an all-rounder among true wireless headsets, offering good sound, ANC, and performance on voice calls

 

Bluetooth codecs aren’t necessarily everything, and good tuning can make up for being limited to even the basic SBC and AAC codecs. Jabra’s excellent tuning of the Elite 85t does largely make up for the lack of advanced Bluetooth codec support. I had few complaints about sound quality, but the 85t does fall a bit short of some competing options such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Sennheiser CX400BT in this department.

Both those headsets push the boundaries when it comes to detail and cohesiveness, and the Jabra Elite 85t doesn’t quite go as far. That said, this would likely only make a significant difference if you’re listening to high-resolution audio tracks. If you plan on sticking with streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube Music, or Apple Music, the Jabra Elite 85t will get as much as is possible out of the source device and tracks.

Active noise cancellation on the Jabra Elite 85t is very good, and it is largely on par with our top picks in the true wireless segment in this regard. The silence isn’t quite as stark as on the AirPods Pro, but there’s a significant reduction in background sounds whether indoors or outdoors, and the level of quiet doesn’t go as far as to feel unsettling. The hear-through mode is decent as well, but not as natural-sounding as I’d have liked. Usefully, both ANC and hear-through levels are adjustable through the app.

Jabra’s expertise with devices for professional voice-based applications has long paid off on its consumer products lineup, and the Elite 85t is an excellent headset for calls. Sound was clear on both ends of the call, and stable connectivity over reasonable distances in my home meant that I could conveniently use the earphones even while standing about 4.5m from the source device.

Verdict

I’ve usually enjoyed my time with Jabra’s true wireless headsets, and the Elite 85t is an excellent pair of earphones just like its predecessors. What particularly appeals to me about this pair of earphones is that it gets all the important bits right: sound quality, active noise cancellation, and performance on calls. It’s also completely device-agnostic and works well regardless of the source and inputs.

Although it doesn’t offer the best experience in any single department even for its price, you should consider the Jabra Elite 85t if you have various devices you want to use earphones with, and use them for everything they’re meant for. Options such as the AirPods Pro, Galaxy Buds Pro, and Sony WF-1000XM3 might be better for specific use cases, but the Jabra Elite 85t is a great mix of the good bits of all three.


Is HomePod mini the best smart speaker under Rs. 10,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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REVIEWS

WandaVision Episode 9 Recap: The Scarlet Witch Rises

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WandaVision episode 9 — out on Friday March 5 on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — wraps the Marvel Cinematic Universe series in predictable yet satisfying fashion. I think that’s the best thing I can say about the WandaVision series finale. Spoilers follow. It doesn’t go anywhere truly unexpected, but it delivers an ending that neatly ties up matters for mostly everyone, in a manner that’s in keeping with who they are. The outcome for the (Westview) Vision vs (White) Vision battle — Paul Bettany had been trolling all of us, the “surprise actor” turned out to be himself — was perhaps the most logical. WandaVision episode 9 also packs an emotional pay-off for Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) that I can live with. As to their twin children, it’s revealed at the very end that they are sticking around. It reeks of franchise-thinking, though I’m sure Marvel will justify it narratively via the multiverse.

If the last couple of lines don’t make much sense to you, then that’s because you’ve likely missed the post-credits scene at the tail end of the WandaVision episode 9 credits. I mean, come on, this is a Marvel property — of course, there’s going to be more than one last thing at the very end. Yes, there was also a mid-credits scene, but you knew that, right?

WandaVision Episode 8 Recap: Ghosts of Wanda Maximoff’s Past

WandaVision episode 9 — appropriately titled “The Series Finale”, directed by Matt Shakman, and written by creator Jac Schaeffer — wasn’t too big on the plot, as all it had to do was tie all the loose ends. It did that for most of them, though one seemed like a gag, as if Marvel was having a laugh at our expense. I’m talking about Pietro Maximoff’s true identity, which we’ll get to in a minute. But that was a sideshow really. There were two big confrontations that the WandaVision finale had to depict: Wanda vs Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), and the aforementioned Vision vs Vision. WandaVision episode 9 side-lined everyone else, including Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), Agent Woo (Randall Park), Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), and the newest villain SWORD Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg).

It began right where we left off in WandaVision episode 8 (no, not the post-credits scene), with Agatha threatening Wanda as she held magical nooses around the necks of her boys Tommy (Jett Klyne) and Billy (Julian Hilliard). Wanda warns Agatha that she’s free to use her powers outside her lair — where Agatha’s runes prevented her from doing so — but Agatha doesn’t mind. In fact, that’s exactly what she wants. Agatha lets the kids go, and they are told to run into the house by their mother, before the two witches start duking it out. The villain reveals that she can absorb Wanda’s powers, making her more powerful while Wanda gets weaker. Her hand turns black as if all the life has been sucked out of it, just as Agatha did to her mother and coven of witches in 1697 Salem.

Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness in WandaVision episode 9
Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel Studios

Wanda throws a car at Agatha and smashes her into a nearby house, but when she checks, Agatha’s body is missing. She turns around to find the White Vision on the porch, and she weirdly falls for the ruse. She believes the real Vision has returned, right up to the moment where he caresses her head before he starts to crush it. Thankfully for Wanda, the Westview Vision shows up and throws him into a RV that explodes, kick starting the second major conflict on WandaVision episode 9. The White Vision is naturally quite powerful — it’s the Vision you know from earlier movies, after all — and he walks away from the burning wreckage unharmed. As the Westview Vision goes after him, Agatha apparates out of the blue and heads for the town centre, forcing Wanda to follow her.

In the middle of Westview, Agatha reminds Wanda of the evil she has unleashed, notes that she’s more powerful than the “Sorcerer Supreme” — the first reference to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) we’ve had all season on WandaVision — and claims that it’s her destiny (it says so in a witch book called the Darkhold) as the Scarlet Witch to destroy the world. Wanda says that it’s not who she is, only for Agatha to remind her of how she’s trapped hundreds of ordinary folks inside the Hex — all of whom have lives and people they care for. Agatha begins to snap the people out of Wanda’s control, who naturally confront her with the truths, pleading with her to let them go or even just kill them. Wanda can’t stomach what she’s done, and in a moment of panic, she unleashes even more torture on them.

WandaVision Episode 7 Recap: A Magical Duo

Wanda can’t believe what she’s done and pulls her magic back, but Agatha has proved her point. The witch villain prods Wanda to let them go, since a hero would never torture someone. Wanting to make amends, Wanda gives in, splitting open Westview from its edges. She instructs everyone in the town to leave (thereby also making sure that the climactic battle to follow in WandaVision episode 9 wouldn’t result in any civilian casualties — this is usually the point where heroes would lose all moral ground). But Wanda’s decision to open Westview has side effects she could’ve anticipated: her family members, including Vision, Tommy, and Billy start to disintegrate. Like in Avengers: Infinity War, except they’re being broken into pieces rather than fading into dust.

Elsewhere in WandaVision episode 9, Monica is a captive of Pietro Maximoff (Evan Peters) at his home, where she learns that he’s actually an actor named Ralph Bohner. He’s been getting his powers through Agatha’s magic. Wait, that means Peters is not reprising his Quicksilver / Peter Maximoff role from the X-Men films? So, Marvel basically cast him to troll fans who’ve seen those X-Men movies… Anyway, Monica pins him to the ground and snaps the necklace off “Pietro”, which takes away his powers.

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Evan Peters as Pietro Maximoff in WandaVision episode 9
Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel Studios

Agatha says the most obvious of lines, noting that Wanda will have to choose between saving her family or the people of Westview. Seeing them “die” in front of her, Wanda can’t take it anymore and recloses the Westview Hex. Meanwhile, Hayward and his SWORD buddies have used the opportunity to sneak into Westview to “neutralise” Wanda. They arrive to confront her just as she’s hugging her family, which isn’t a good look — stop pointing guns at kids. Yes, they have superpowers, but come on. The White Vision swoops in to take on the other Vision, who fly off in another direction. Wanda has Agatha to deal with, so she tells her boys to deal with the military. Wow, that must hurt. The grown-up superheroes are busy, so they let their children deal with people with guns.

Billy freezes every SWORD officer in position, while Tommy runs around and takes them out. Seeing his juniors fail, Hayward steps out from his armoured vehicle, points his gun at Tommy and Billy — and fires. I mean, I get that we are supposed to hate Hayward, but making a character fire at some kids, albeit superpowered ones, is a quickfire (pun not intended) way to make sure that your audience gets the message. “Hayward is very bad, you guys.” Monica shows up and throws herself in front of the kids, revealing another of her superhero capabilities. Nothing happens if she gets shot. The bullets pass through her body and just drop to the ground. She’s not able to catch one bullet though, but that allows Billy to show off that he’s essentially Neo from The Matrix Reloaded.

WandaVision Cinematographer Reveals the Secrets Behind Marvel Series’ Ever-Changing Looks

The Vision vs Vision fight ends up in a library, where the Westview one asks why the White One is intent on killing him. It’s his programming directive, he reveals. The Westview Vision posits that killing him won’t fulfil that objective, as he’s not technically Vision. He only exists inside the Hex. The White Vision sees his point and asks him to elaborate, turning their fisticuffs into a debate. I’m really glad WandaVision episode 9 chose a route that didn’t end up in blowing each other to pieces. The Westview Vision convinces his white-coloured counterpart that he’s not even Vision, per se. In fact, it’s White Vision who has all the memories—except they are being hidden from him. As the Westview Vision touches his forehead, we get a flashback of his life. White Vision realises he was made as a killing machine, just as his eyes lose the blue lustre. He then flies away.

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Paul Bettany as Vision in WandaVision episode 9
Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel Studios

One conflict down, one to go. Wanda uses Agatha’s disappearing act on her, before emerging out of the shadows and transporting them into a vision (pun intended) that draws off Agatha’s Salem memories. Agatha finds herself once again chained to a stake, while Wanda brings back her dead enemies, including Agatha’s mother, back to life. Agatha pleads with Wanda to stop but it turns out to be a ruse, as the undead witches turn on Wanda and trap her, echoing Agatha’s words from earlier in WandaVision episode 9 about how there will always be “torches and pitchforks” for people like them, no matter what era it is. Wanda uses her powers to break free and return to Westview, and then takes the battle into the skies. Everything is epic when people are flying (hovering, technically), after all.

Wanda starts pummelling Agatha with her magic, but she loses a part of her every time she does that. Wanda gets weaker, Agatha gets more powerful. Agatha says the only way for this to end is Wanda to give away all her power. In return, she will let Wanda live in peace in Westview. Wanda agrees and begins throwing everything she has at her. Agatha gleefully accepts everything she gets, but she doesn’t notice that some of Wanda’s magic is going past her and hitting the Hex boundary. Turns out, Wanda has been learning Agatha’s tricks. With Wanda all out of power and seemingly floating dead, the all-powerful Agatha casts a spell — but nothing actually springs out of her hands.

WandaVision Episode 6 Recap: Trick or Treat

Wanda reveals that she cast runes around them, which means only she can perform magic inside Westview now, giving Agatha a dose of her own medicine. She then draws all of Agatha’s power, including hers, back into her body—giving herself a fancy new Scarlet Witch costume in the process. I’ve to admit that looks really nice. Wanda brings them both back to the ground, with a despondent Agatha wondering what she’s going to do with her. In a cruel twist of fate, exactly what she was pretending to be. Agatha will remain trapped as the “nosy neighbour Agnes” permanently in Westview — at least until they need her for a MCU sequel or something.

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Paul Bettany as Vision, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in WandaVision episode 9
Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel Studios

Back home, Wanda and Vision tuck the twins into bed. Wanda has decided to shut off the Hex — we can see the boundaries closing in — which means this is the last time she will see them. As they shut the door and get down to the living room, Vision turns the lights back on, wanting to look at Wanda properly for one last time. He also has one final question: what truly is he? Wanda reveals that there’s a piece of the Mind Stone in her (is that powering her as well?). He’s also her dreams, her hopes, her sadness — but mostly, he’s her love. Vision is literally made out of her love. The two bid goodbye to each other, noting how they have done this before. Vision adds that he’s been a voice without a body, alive but not human, and now a memory made alive. “Who knows what I might be next?” he concludes, leaving Marvel enough wriggle room in case they want to bring him back in the future.

As the Hex recedes and takes Vision away, Wanda finds herself standing in an empty plot — the same one we saw her visit in WandaVision episode 8. Wanda then turns around and heads off, before arriving in the town centre. That involves a walk of shame, as she walks past all the people whom she had her influence. Naturally, there’s a lot of angry glares involved. WandaVision never quite spent enough time reflecting on Wanda’s mind-control actions, and how that will have turned many against Avengers forever. I mean, they are going to talk about their experiences online.

WandaVision Episode 5 Recap: Family Is Forever

In the town centre, Wanda encounters Monica and she reflects on said actions. Monica says, that if she had the same powers as her, she would have done the same thing — and brought her mother back. Wanda adds that she doesn’t understand the powers she has, but she fully intends to, hinting at her future own in the MCU. We know she’s next a part of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Could she train under him? WandaVision episode 9 leaves it ambiguous, as she simply flies away as the police pull into Westview.

The post-credits scene gives us more, showing Wanda in a remote cabin up in the mountains somewhere, training by herself as she pores through the Darkhold. She’s jilted out of that by Tommy and Billy’s screams, who are pleading for help. How are they still around? You’ll have to wait a full year — Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is out in March 2022 — to find that out.

WandaVision episode 9 is now streaming on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar. New episodes release every Friday around 1:30pm IST / 12am PT.

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