I’ve been a fan of Bluetooth headphones since the beginning. When true wireless headphones first launched in 2015, I was lucky to get to try a pair of Bragi Dash at a tech show. They sounded horrible by today’s standards and if you turned your head too much you’d loose one. To have no cable or connector bouncing off your neck I was willing to overlook their shortcomings.
Fast forward a few years, we saw sweat and water proof headphones for running. Awesome, I got a pair of Jaybirds and ran hundreds of miles in them. Active noise canceling came out and I got a pair of Sony’s. ANC was awesome (the headset connectivity sucked). The whole time I have been waiting for just one feature. The ability to connect to my phone and laptop at the same time.
I’ve had a softphone on my laptop for years, but all of my music, podcasts, and books are on my phone. I’m sure many of you have experienced the frustration of having to take out your earbuds, to put on your phone headset and vice versa. That, or you just give up on listening to your earbuds at all and use a full size headset that can multi-link. The problem for me is that over the head cans give me a headache where the band rubs and make my ears hot.
Jabra is the only brand of true wireless earbuds that support multi-link. l knew that they had enabled the feature on the 65t and 75t models, but I was holding out until the 85t set launched. I’m glad that I did. They are the best overall true wireless audio solution on the market. The multi-link works flawlessly, no buttons to push or waiting for software to move my connection. If I’m listening to a book on my mobile phone and my VoIP softphone rings on my laptop, I hear it and can immediately answer it. It will even pause my book if I pick up, via a setting in the app. Optionally, you can configure them to drop the Bluetooth connection to the device without the call to boost range and reliability. You can pair the 85ts with up to eight devices, but only connect to two at a time.
I’m not an audiophile by any means so sound quality isn’t the most important feature for me, but it still matters. I listen to all genres of music, tons of podcasts, and lots of audio books to help keep me focused on the task at hand and the 85ts sound great. I like them better than AirPod Pros, they seem to have a little more base. Like the Apple design, the Jabras are vented instead of sealed so the sound is open and there is no pressure build up. The app has a built-in EQ so you can tune the profile to your preference. If your phone supports the ACC codec, lag is almost non existent. Although I convinced myself I could detect a delay in some games, no one else in my house did. They get plenty loud for my taste, but do distort a little on max volume.
The active noise cancelling is spectacular, again I think that it edges out the ANC on the Apple set. There are eleven adjustable levels. On the highest setting you can sit in a car headed down the freeway and hear essentially nothing. I also find they’re adept at tuning out distracting noises and neighboring conversations at my office. They fall into the “works so well they could be dangerous” category of ANC. You should lower the setting when driving, running, biking, or doing activities where hearing the environment is a factor of safety. The app features ambient noise tracks like thunderstorms and crowded spaces that you can overlay on the ANC to create your ideal soundscape. There is an effective hear-through feature that you can configure to activate and mute your audio with a single button press, no need to remove an earbud every time that someone wants to chat.
You’ll be using that hear-through feature plenty, the earbuds are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever owned. They do not press into your ear canal, which always seems to make my ears sore after a few hours. The tips are oval and align with the opening of the ear to form their seal. I find this design far more comfortable and am able to keep them in all day. The batteries last between five and six hours with ANC on, fifteen minutes in the case will give them another hour. The case supports wireless charging and easily fits in a jeans pocket. The app will show how much power is left in both earbuds and the case.
The call experience is flat-out the best that I have personally encountered on a pair of earbuds. According to Jabra, there are six microphones on each bud that help to filter out ambient nose around you and focus on your voice. In addition they have a feature they call sidetone which is often found on higher-end gaming headsets. The ability to hear your own voice during conversations keeps you from speaking too loudly. I’ve used them with Teams, Zoom, my VoIP softphone, and my mobile phone without issue or complaint. I’ve called my friends and family from random locations and about half of the time they could not tell I was using earbuds at all. The 85ts do not feature integration with VoIP software so the buttons may not control your experience; mute always works, functions like hold can be hit or miss.
The mobile app is easy to use and allows for a surprising amount of customization. Each earbud has a single physical button and what happens when you press it is up to you. Configure options for single, double, and triple clicks on each bud. You can group preferences like ANC settings and EQ tunings into moments that can be selected with a single tap. There are also settings to control what happens when a call comes in and an option to show a map of where they were last used.
At two-hundred and thirty dollars, the Jabra 85t earbuds are certainly not cheap. The cost is not out of line when compared to other options of this caliber. They absolutely deserve a spot on the top shelf of true wireless earbuds. They’ve either been in my ears or in my pocket since the day I bought them and I’m sure that will be the case for quite some time.