Jabra Elite 85h: The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones at CES 2019
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Jabra, once best known for their range of business audio accessories, has been branching out into the consumer audio space in recent years. Their ambition has never been more evident than at CES 2019, where they took to the floor to showcase their latest noise-canceling over-ear headphones, the Elite 85h.

At first glance, it’s hard not to be impressed with the headphone’s design. Although the form is always the same, Jabra has made the Elite 85h stand out, not with loud colors, but with a subtle and elegant design. Even the outside of the earcups has been covered in wind-resistant colored fabric, rather than the more traditional metal or plastic finishes.

Jabra Elite 85h: The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones at CES 2019 jabra elite85h ces2019 1

They are available in Black, Titanium Black, Gold Beige, and Navy, with all colors making the headphones look understated but smart. The earcups themselves are shaped like ovals, rather than circles so that they remain comfortable to wear over long periods.

The Elite 85h come equipped with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) but are still able to deliver an incredible 32 hours of battery life with ANC enabled. If you forget to turn off your headphones, the Elite 85h have on-ear detection and will automatically power down when you aren’t wearing them.

The noise cancellation is achieved using internal and external microphones on the headphone’s earcups. The external mics pick up the sound around you and cancel it out before it interrupts your listening. There are also microphones inside the earcups which will cancel the noises created inside, like the earpads rubbing against your skin.

The level of detail the ANC can detect means that the Elite 85h has some of the best noise cancellation performance on the market. That would be impressive on its own, but Jabra have teamed up with audEERING, an AI audio technology company, to detect the noise environment and automatically switch the noise cancellation profiles accordingly. These profiles can be customized with the Jabra Sound+ app, with default profiles including commute, in public, and in private.

Along with nearly every product showcased at CES this year, the Elite 85h come with support for smart voice assistants. Fortunately, Jabra hasn’t pinned all their hopes on just one ecosystem. The Elite 85h integrate with Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa so no matter which of the mainstream smart assistants you use, you should be covered.

Jabra Elite 85h: The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones at CES 2019 jabra elite85h ces2019 2

The headphones are rain-resistant with IP52 dust and rain resistance, so a spot of rain shouldn’t ruin your day either. If you register for the free two-year Jabra warranty, all dust and rain damage will be covered for the duration too.

As someone who has reviewed many headphones, including noise cancellation favorites like the Bose QC 35 II Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review: Now Featuring More Google Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review: Now Featuring More Google Bose updates their almost flawless QC 35s to include seamless Google Assistant integration. At $350, they are relatively expensive, but all the original's best features sit neatly alongside the Assistant. Read More , the audio quality was something I was eager to test. Jabra had set up a closed booth for the Elite 85h demos at CES. Although this sounds like a way of controlling the environment to best showcase the headphone’s performance, they used the closed space to play pre-recorded background noise from a busy train, and London’s Victoria railway station.

During the test, it was hard not to be overwhelmed by just how clear the audio sounded. The headphones were immensely comfortable to wear, and they felt light and unobtrusive. When the background noises were changed, the AI would recognize the new landscape within 15 seconds, and adjust to the new profile. This proved to be the case each time the environment changed.

I didn’t attend CES expecting to be blown away by anything I saw, but with the Elite 85h, Jabra may have found a way to displace the Bose QC 35 at the top of my list. The headphones will be available from April 1st, 2019, priced at $299.

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  1. Squish
    January 11, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    What Bluetooth version do they use?

    • James Frew
      January 13, 2019 at 1:33 am

      They haven't commented publically on this but I imagine it'll be Bluetooth 5.

  2. Chuckles
    January 11, 2019 at 11:33 am

    You are clueless if you have the QC35 on top of the Sony WH1000XM3. It discredits your opinions on headphones.

    QC35 sounds like mud and isn't in the same league as the Sony's. The level of hype and cult around Bose is incredible. No matter how good the competitors there is always a cultist Bose follower who still says they are the best.

    • Randy
      January 11, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      sounds like you're in a Sony cult!!!

    • Barry Fitzgerald
      January 11, 2019 at 6:42 pm

      Chuckles it right on! Bose QC35 II were displaced by the Sony WH1000XM2 which in addition to having superior sound was able to improve midrange ANC. With the latest arrival of the M3 from Sony they have vastly improved on that mid and low frequency range ANC making me think of replacing my M2s. They are more comfortable than the M2s as well.
      Bose is no longer a player and they are dismissed into the bargain bin of old technology.
      Unless you have thoroughly compared to the M3s your opinion is meaningless.

      • James Frew
        January 13, 2019 at 1:40 am

        I'm glad you enjoy the Sony headphones. Although I appreciate that technology has changed since I reviewed the QC35 and QC 35 II, I think its probably a little extreme to dismiss Bose entirely. As I mentioned to Chuckles, I use the QC 35 as my daily headphones; hence the comparison to the Jabra Elite 85h. Of course, we only had a demo at CES, so when they are commercially released, I'd look to review them thoroughly.

    • James Frew
      January 13, 2019 at 1:37 am

      Sound is subjective, so there is always going to be variation. Before testing the QC 35 headphones I had never owned or tried any Bose headphones, so I had no allegiance to them.

      I reviewed the original set of QC 35 back in 2016, and I don't often upgrade my headphones; hence why they are still my daily driver. I'm glad you enjoy the Sony headphones though.