The Jabra Evolve2 85 is its top-of-the-line Bluetooth, 3.5mm, Active Noise cancellation headset. It is perfect for WFH (Work-from-home) or Office use. And it has Jabra’s world-class sound signature that makes this business headphone perfect for business or pleasure.
The Jabra Evolve2 85 is a crossover designed for the best business communications experience with ten microphones and up to 37 hours of wireless battery life.
Jabra is not the first name to come to mind when thinking of headphones – it should be. It certainly is top-of-mind in the business comms space. It makes some of the best UC ANC headphones and earphones.
I will start with a recent Jabra Evolve2 85 experience.
I was on a Zoom (shudder – the worst teleconference platform ever) with participants from south-east Asia and Australia. It had to be highly interactive to get the best out of it.
You see the 20 or so participants just spoke as they wished, and Zoom had to sort out who was on-mic. Plus, the mix of accents made it almost impossible to hear over the Surface Pro 7’s quite good speakers.
In desperation, I grabbed my Sennheiser PXC-500 II headphones to see if they made a difference. Yes, it was a clearer, but I still had issues in getting the ‘mic’. Then I realised I had the Jabra Evolve2 85 to review.
Open the box, they were 65% charged, connect to BT, and they have been my constant web-conference companion since. Participant’s voices are much clearer. The boom mic means that I get a chance to speak (Zoom picks up on the strongest sound) and the ten mics mean my voice is clear to all.
So, if you want a crossover headset – comms and music as well then read on.
Price: from $560 to about $750 depending on the configuration
From: business UC outlets and IT outlets like Mwave, AusPCMarket etc
Warranty: 2-years ACL if bought from an Australian reseller
Country of Manufacture: China
Jabra (pronounced jab-bra) is part of the Danish GN Group (Est. 1869) that has some incredible world firsts. Like the first intercontinental telegraph, 2.4Ghz hearing aid technology and stereo streaming hearing aids for iPhone. It is the only company creating consumer headphones, professional headsets, and hearing aids under one roof.
The 2020 Evolve range includes Jabra Evolve2 85, Evolve2 65, and Evolve2 40.
We use the terms FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against all review parameters for this type of device.
First impression – EXCEED
No, they are not pretty or sexy. They are ‘business casual’ in basic black or brown. This means a very well-padded headband, a flip-out boom mic and deep, wide, padded leatherette ear cups. At 285g they are light enough for all-day, fatigue-free use. One of our tests is to wear them for eight hours straight – PASS+ and good for even more.
They review model HSC120W has
Support for most UC apps
1.2m USB-A to USB-C cable
Charge cradle (USB-A) – option
3.5mm to 3.5mm cable (I particularly like the use of a standard cable)
Jabra Link USB-C END050W BT adaptor
Airline 2 prong adaptor
Hard ‘fold flat’ carry case
You can order a version certified for Microsoft Teams as well.
Microsoft Teams version (not tested)
Microsoft Teams seems to be the go-to UC app for business. This version has
Automatic selection as the default audio device.
A dedicated Microsoft Teams button to:
Notifications of Microsoft Teams LED flashes purple when
Meeting ready to join
Microsoft Teams LED flashes green with an incoming Microsoft Teams call
Answering incoming Microsoft Teams calls
Opening the meeting “pre-join” screen
Open missed calls screen
Open Microsoft Teams voicemail screen
Bring up Microsoft Teams client from the background
Voice prompt when the user is wearing the headset
Jabra Evolve2 85 – USB-C UC Stereo with Charging base (as tested)
Setup – EXCEED
The charging stand DIV025 is a clever piece of engineering that nicely and steadily holds the headphones when not in use. It has a USB-A cable and charges via two pogo pins. A 15-minute charge (5V/2A) gets up to eight hours of use. It takes about 2.5 hours for a full charge.
Next download the Jabra Sound+ app. You don’t need this to BT pair – its for customisation and firmware updates. BT will pair to up to eight devices and active pair to two devices.
BTW there is a Windows/Mac app called Jabra Direct (not tested) that adds more UC functionality.
BT 5.0 pairing can be either via the BT USB-A dongle END050W (requires Jabra Direct app) or the smartphone/PC BT. It assumes that any UC will be PC/Mac driven. It comes up as either Stereo (music profile) or Hands-free AG Audio (UC)
Or 3.5mm connection disables BT and the mic – it is just for stereo music. It has SBC and AAC codec support.
Usability – EXCEED
If you have to wear a headset all day long, then usability becomes an issue. These have on-ear detection, auto-pause music and auto mute. There is busy light to let others know when you are on a call.
There is a mute button on the boom mic (or simply life the mic up)
That button also summons a voice assistant (Siri or Google Assistant)
Another button cycles through ANC, Off or HearThrough.
If you raise the boom mic and press voice the earphone mics cut in
These functions are customisable in the Jabra+ App.
ANC and HearThrough – EXCEED
Noise cancelling is via passive (sound isolation from the ear-cups) and active (generates anti-noise to cancel out external noise).
Unlike ANC in stereo headphones that usually generate more anti-noise Jabra has to cover
Passive isolation to stop sounds above 800Hz and 85dB like planes, trains etc
ANC for anti-office noises typically 20-800hz and over 60dB (covers speech)
But then you don’t necessarily need full ANC. Jabra offers pre-sets for Commute, Work, Relax, and something called My Moment. Then there is an EQ with pre-sets for Neutral, Speech, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Smooth and Energise.
It offers different masks – pink noise, white noise, ventilation fan, diving. And then there are the sound of ocean waves, rainy day, songbirds, perfect storm, babbling brook and finally a comfort ambience – cavern or crowd.
While we can’t easily test the ANC effectiveness for an aircraft, Jabra claims a 97% reduction which is about par with the best ANC headsets. We particularly like the HearThrough slider that allows more or less external noise.
Sidetone – EXCEED
Sidetone is the ability to hear your voice through the headphones. It is fully adjustable so you can achieve a natural conversation. I hate headphones without sidetone.
LAG – EXCEED
There was no noticeable lag over BT or using the dongle. Perfect lip-sync. The dongle works with Mac and Windows.
Battery – EXCEED
Jabra claims up to 37/32 hours ANC on/off use. We used it for a total of 20 hours, and it was still 50% charged. It can use any USB charger (charge times at 5V/.5A) to a maximum of 5V/2A. Or you can use any USB-C PD charger. It makes no difference to charge time.
USB is for charging only – it is not a USB audio device.
You can set the sleep mode (battery conserve) from 15 minutes to 8 hours as well as don’t enter sleep mode. As soon as you pick it up, it immediately resumes from sleep, so I am not sure why you need to have variable sleep times.’
Build – EXCEED
Well-made, solid hinges and quality materials. Pads and bands are replaceable.
How does it sound? – EXCEED
It has oversized 40mm drivers with a frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz (music) and 100Hz-8kHz (hands-free AU Audio), Speaker sensitivity is 117dB@1mW-1kHz which means it has plenty of volume.
We were able to measure 75dB – that is quite loud for headphones. The soundscape is quite wide, with sounds appearing to come from outside the headset (good).
Native sound signature is mid-centric for clear voice. But this is one where the EQ works, and we were able to increase bass and treble to get a fairly flat response (good) or ramp up the bass. It is capable of adapting to just about any genre.
Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – it is there – that is impressive
Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – building very solidly
High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat (good)
Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat
Low-treble: 2-4kHz – peaking for clear voice
Treble:4-6kHz – flat
High Treble: 6-10kHz – flat
Dog whistle: 10-20kHz – flat to 17kHz
GadgetGuy’s take – Jabra Evolve2 85 is an office UC crossover with work from home benefits
If you want a versatile, reasonably priced UC headset with excellent features and ANC then this is as good as it gets. The app is comprehensive too.
I like the boom mic, voice clarity, and it’s a definite productivity enhancer.
We are not UC experts, so the rating is a tad subjective and focuses on the crossover uses – comms and music. It meets or exceeds those expectations for sound quality and ANC.
My only niggling issue is that it does not have a USB-C DAC that allows you to charge and play at over USB-C at the same time, so it loses a point or two there.
You may read of lower mic performance when paired to the Link 380 adaptor and macOS. It is a known issue, and the fix at present is to use the Mac BT stack. Jabra is working on firmware. I experienced no problems on a Surface Pro 7 and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.