Would it surprise you to learn headphone sales were way up in 2020? Probably not a shock; many of us got new headphones for conference and video calls or to be able to focus on work or school while sharing space with family. Some of us are still shopping, or like me, always on the lookout for the perfect pair. I had the chance to test out two sets from Jabra; the Jabra Elite 75t and Elite Active 85t truly wireless earbuds.
I’ll tell you what makes them different from eachother, how each one performs and sounds and the features they come with—and whether I think either pair or both are a good pick for you.
Jabra 75t and 85t truly wireless earbuds: common features
Both the 75t and 85t are truly wireless and look quite similar. They come with a charging and storage case and extra ear gels to get the perfect fit.
Both headphones have Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and HearThrough technology, which I’ll dive into in a bit.
They both have fast charging and Qi wireless charging too, as well as auto power on and off and they’ll both pause sound if you remove one bud from your ear.
Both buds can be fine tuned using the Jabra Sound+ app.
75t Active on Left, 85T on right
Jabra Sound+ app
The app can show you detailed battery info for both the buds and the case, it can adjust noise cancellation and HearThrough settings, you can change music settings via the equalizer and access preset sound options too.
Also, and I LOVE this feature, you have access to a library of noise masking or nature sounds you can play any time. Chill out to ocean waves, or play white noise if you’re trying to concentrate.
Jabra 75t and 85t: Differences
What might make your decision for you is where these headphones differ. The Elite Active 75t are made for athletic uses. The Elite Active 75t is waterproof, dust and sweat resistant and is tested for a more secure fit.
Elite Active 75t has a longer battery life: 7.5 hours in the buds and 20 more hours with the case. The 85t has 5.5 hours in the buds and 20 in the case.
Elite Active 75t has 4 built in microphones for calls while the 85t has 6 mics with wind protection. The difference here is the 85t are made for constant conference and video callers whil;e the 75t are geared at athlete-types.
Jabra: open vs closed design
The Jabra Elite Active 75t have what’s called a closed design, while the 85t uses a semi-open design but even on close inspection I can’t really tell the difference, save for what appear to be additional vents or microphones on the 85t . That invisible semi-open design is mentioned everywhere, but almost no one takes the step of explaining why it’s supposed to be so great.
What this means is these earbuds have a slightly different shape, more like a teardrop, and that is supposed to fit in your ear concha more accurately, creating a better seal without going in so deep. All that to say it’s supposed to make your ears feel less plugged up.
Fit & feel: Jabra 75t and 85t
Both these earbuds do fit quite well and they are comfortable. They tuck neatly into your ear concha and don’t protrude a lot like some other earbuds.
Jabra Elite Active 75t & Jabra Elite 85t: Sound quality
Let’s get right to how these sound. I’ve had a chance to review a lot of Jabra headphones and I’ve always been impressed with the audio quality. I can confidently say these sound great. There’s a lot of detail in the music, the bass is strong and resonant without being jaw-shattering and overall they are both extremely well balanced. Both with HEarThrough on and off they sound excellent.
Phone call quality
Both Jabra Elite 75t and 85t handle phone calls well too.
Jabra Elite Active 75t & Jabra Elite 85tNoise Cancelling & HearThrough : use & review
Let’s dig in on Noise Cancelling and HearThrough. In short, Active noise cancelling blocks out outside sounds, while HEarThrough lets them in.
Both have their uses; use Active Noise cancelling and you won’t hear your spouse on a conference call in the next room or the kids watching TV while you’re working. ANC can also block out distracting sounds like lawnmowers or music from the neighbour. HearThrough lets you listen to music, podcasts or videos while still being alert to sounds around you; great for runners to keep alert to traffic, or if you need tio keep an ear on the kids while listening to your own tunes.
With the Jabras you can also control exactly how much of the outside noise you want to let in. There are actually 11 levels of sound from full ANC on to having HearThrough all the way open. Each level – from full ANC to full HearThrough, and everything in between – is around 3db apart, delivering a noticeable change with each jump.
Both HearThrough and ANC work amazingly well and I love that HearThrough is customizable so I can adjust it.
Manual on/off for HearThrough
You can turn HearThrough on or off using the Jabra app or manually. On the 75t it’s a single push on the left hand multifunction button.
Use sidetone to cease shouting
Jabra Elite 75t and 85t both also have Sidetone which lets you control the volume of your own voice; helpful if you’re using noise cancelling but you don’t want to feel like you’re shouting. Sidetone enables you to better hear your own voice when you are on a call. Sidetone settings can be configured using the Jabra Sound+ app
Multiple connections at once
One of the best features for me is the fact you can connect up to (75t) 8 different devices and the headphones will remember those connections and even better is you can keep two things connected at the same time, which is huge. For me I was able to keep my work and personal phones connected to the Jabra Elite Active 85t meaning I didn’t need to disconnect and reconnect constantly. Honestly, I’d buy these headphones for this feature alone. I can’t even get my AirPods Pro to stay connected to two iPhones at once.
Overall review: Jabra Elite Active 75t & Jabra Elite 85t
Overall I really love these earbuds and they check all the boxes for me: they sound great, they’re easy to set up and control, they have Active Noise Cancelling and HearThrough, two of the most-wanted features in headphones. They’re also small and portable, comfortable and feel quiter durable.
The main differences in these is that one is for more active users, while the other is for work at home types or commuters. There is also a difference in price.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t sells for about $239CAD while the Elite 85t sells for about $199CAD. They’re close enough in price where you could choose the version that has the features that appeal most to you.
Either way I can recommend them both. You can find them at places like Amazon.
I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.