Noise Cancelling

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Jabra Elite 85h

Last updated: 4 weeks ago, Sep. 28. 2020
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    Comparison between Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Jabra Elite 85h.

    Our Conclusion

    Many headphones tried to overtake the “active noise-cancellation” throne, which is currently occupied by Sony and their WH-1000XM4. Some of the competitors came very close, one of them being the Jabra Elite 85h.

    The premium offering from Jabra provides similar noise-cancellation performance with great microphone quality. They even excel in the durability and battery life department. But when it comes to features and sound, WH-1000XM4 are still a more well-rounded package.

    However, Elite 85h are $100 cheaper than WH-1000XM4, which makes this comparison more interesting. Sony’s are a more complete pair of headphones, but are all those extra things worth extra hundred bucks?

    Check our full Sony WH-1000XM4 review here.

    QUICK COMPARISON

    Both models:

    • Excellent comfort and fit
    • Foldable design
    • Impressive active noise-cancelling performance

    Sony WH-1000XM4:

    • Warmer, more enjoyable sound quality with deeper bass
    • Far more features when paired with the app
    • Support for LDAC
    • Better imaging
    • Overall better ANC
    • Faster quick charging
    • Touch controls

    Jabra Elite 85h:

    • More durable construction with splashproof design
    • Better passive isolation
    • Longer-lasting battery life
    • Brighter, more focused sound
    • More suitable for taking phone calls
    • Splashproof
    • Physical controls

    Specifications

    Sony WH-1000XM4Jabra Elite 85h
    Type:Over-earOver-ear
    Connection:WirelessWireless
    Back-design:Closed-backClosed-back

    Headphones

    Driver size:40mm40mm
    Frequency range:4-40.000Hz10-20.000Hz
    Impedance:n/an/a
    Weight:254g/8.99 oz296g/10.44 oz
    Cable length:n/a30cm
    Microphone & controls:Built-inBuilt-in
    Water-protection:/Splashproof

    Wireless

    Bluetooth:version 5.0version 5.0
    Battery life:38h per charge (30h with ANC)41h per charge (36h with ANC)
    Charging time:3h full charge – 10min for 5h2.5h full charge – 15min for 5h
    Active noise-cancellation:YesYes
    Charging cable:USB-CUSB-C
    Bluetooth codecs:SBC, AAC, LDACSBC, AAC
    Wireless range:33ft (10m)33ft (10m)

    Microphone

    Type:Built-in micBuilt-in mic
    Mic design:5 microphones8 microphones
    Mutable:NoNo

    What’s in the Box?

    Sony WH-1000XM4:

    Sony WH-1000XM4 unboxed

    • Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones
    • Hard-shell carrying case
    • Cable with 3.5mm jacks
    • USB-C charging cable
    • Travel adapter
    • User manual

    Jabra Elite 85h:

    • Jabra Elite 85h wireless headphones
    • Hard-shell carrying case
    • Cable with 3.5mm jacks
    • USB-C charging cable
    • Travel adapter
    • User manual

    Comfort & Fit

    Both of these two headphones provide excellent fit and comfort, making them one of the best picks for extended listening sessions.

    When you spend $300 and above for a pair of headphones, you don’t only expect them to sound great and have many features, but also feel amazing on your head. That is precisely the case with these two wireless headphones from Sony and Jabra.

    Starting with Sony, their new WH-1000XM4 sports an almost identical design over its predecessor, but with slightly slimmer pads. That creates more room for your ears inside the cup while maintaining minimal contact with the skin (less sweating due to skin overheating).

    Despite the earpads od XM4 looking relatively shallow, there is just enough padding so that you don’t feel any pressure on your ear lobes. That makes for excellent comfort, with great stability during movement. Sony’s are also slightly lighter (254g) compared to Jabra’s, which are almost 300g.

    However, Jabra Elite 85h compensate for their weight gain with extra padding. Even just looking at them, you can see that their pads are much plusher. They also go around your ears, but they create a little more skin contact than WH-1000XM4. That means your ears can start sweating a bit earlier.

    Nevertheless, Jabra’s are equally comfy, with a generously padded headband to prevent unnecessary pressure on your head. Fit is also great, giving you the freedom to move your head up and down without fear of headphones falling off.

    Noise Cancellation

    Even though Jabra Elite 85h are the newcomers in this noise-cancelling game, they came very close to what Sony WH-1000XM4 can do.

    As mentioned, Jabra did a great job with their implementation of the ANC inside Elite 85h. Noise reduction is almost on par with what XM4 can do. However, WH-1000XM4 are overall still a superior choice. Sony’s do a much better job of eliminating people’s chatter, an area where Elite 85h struggles just a bit.

    On the other hand, Jabra’s might be a slightly better pick for taking phone calls, especially if you tend to take them out in the open. They do a better job eliminating wind noise, a typical Achilles heel of the noise-canceling headphones (and earbuds).

    Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Jabra Elite 85h headphones

    If you want to save on battery life, you can still rely on passive isolation to drawn out the background noise. Comparing the two, Elite 85h do a slightly better job at reducing the outside world passively.

    There is also one other thing to reconsider: Jabra Elite 85h are $100 cheaper than Sony WH-1000XM4. Taking this fact into consideration makes the Jabra’s a better value over Sony in terms of active noise cancellation.

    Bluetooth

    Connecting the two headphones is easy, with excellent coverage with their Bluetooth 5.0 support. However, Jabra’s mobile app is somewhat glitchy, not recognizing the headphones even though you are already listening to music.

    When it comes to connectivity, you can expect a reliable connection on both sides. If you want to walk into the other room, you can easily leave the phone on the desk without worrying about getting audio drops.

    Strangely at first, Jabra Elite 85h only supported SBC audio codec, which is not enough for a premium product like that. Thankfully, they now support AAC, which was later added via a firmware update. Still, Sony WH-1000XM4 can also receive an audio signal using LDAC, a Hi-Fi equivalent for Bluetooth codecs.

    You can also connect both headphones to two devices at the same time (multipoint). That comes in handy if you want to use them with both your mobile phone and your laptop. For some reason, Sony disables the LDAC support when you enable the Multipoint toggle inside the mobile app.

    Battery

    Jabra’s win in overall battery life, but Sony charges faster.

    While that statement is technically correct, Jabra Elite 85h are still much better in this category compared to WH-1000XM4. Jabra have a beefier battery life that can run them for around 36 hours on a single charge, depending on the volume (with ANC).

    Sony headphones are still not shabby in that department, giving you around 30 hours of playtime with simultaneously canceling out background noise. Both headphones are very respectable when it comes to runtime, but those 6 additional hours can result in an extra day or two of use, which is a lot.

    Taking about quick charging, Sony’s are slightly faster, with another 5 hours of battery life in just 10 minutes, while Jabra Elite 85h needs a 15-minute charge to achieve the same playtime. Both support charging via USB-C.

    Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Jabra Elite 85h design looks

    Durability

    While both headphones provide a premium-feeling experience, Jabra Elite 85h also sport splashproof protection.

    Even though we are looking at premium headphones in both cases, these are still made from mostly plastic. It feels soft to the touch and quite hard to break, with nicely designed folding hinges on both headphones.

    But the Jabra Elite 85h have just a little bit more. Dull plastic is replaced with fabric finish that extends over the headband and onto the earcups. Jabra says that the electronic components that could get in contact with water are nano-coated.

    That means that if you ever get surprised by rain, the water quickly leaks out without damaging the components. It’s a cool feature to have since you never know how fast the weather can change. However, there is a minor annoyance: fabric likes to absorb the liquid, making it a bit soggy until it dries out.

    Features

    WH-1000XM4 and Elite 85h come with a mobile app that lets you customize many things and enable many features. But since Sony added so much stuff in their new model, and because Jabra’s app is a bit glitchy, XM4 are a clear winner.

    These headphones wouldn’t be so good if there haven’t come with an app. Only when you connect them with it, you finally realize what they’re capable of.

    Apart from the usual possibility of tweaking the noise reduction or environmental awareness intensity, these two headphones come with some exciting features. Sony’s let you analyze your surroundings to optimize the noise-canceling performance. On the other hand, Jabra’s calibrate the EQ based on your environment (SmartSound).

    You also have the freedom of finely adjusting the sound equalizer, with a couple of premade presets that you can choose quickly.

    Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Jabra Elite 85h headphones design

    However, this is where Sony WH-1000XM4 picks up the steam and starts handing out more and more features that are there to boost the user experience. You have the proximity sensor (which is visible inside the left earcup) for automatically play/pause, a Speak-to-chat feature that stops the music as soon as you start speaking, activating Ambient Mode when you place your palm over the earcup, HSEE HX Extreme audio processing, 360 Reality Audio, activating Google Assistant, and many more.

    You also get touch controls on WH-1000XM4 instead of physical ones on Jabra Elite 85h. While which ones are better is a matter of personal preference, touch controls with gestures are more intuitive to use and more straightforward to master.

    Sound

    You’re looking at two differently tuned headphones. While Sony WH-1000XM4 sound fuller and more exciting, Jabra Elite 85h are brighter, with better treble detail.

    Sony’s are overall warmer, with tighter and deeper bass, which adds the “fun” element into your music. Their signature mixes well with most genres while listening to hip hop, EDM, and pop benefit the most from that kind of tuning.

    In contrast, Jabra Elite 85h have less bass extension, with slightly more pronounced midrange and treble. To some, they might even sound more balanced, with it’s more of a preference.

    Because of the better bass, Sony headphones sounds fuller and more laid-back. That is why you can listen to them for more extended sessions. Jabra Elite 85h give a more in your face sound, with a better focus on instruments.

    Soundstaging is a bit better on Sony WH-1000XM4, giving you a more precise separation and placement between instruments.

    Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Jabra Elite 85h looks on the head

    Should You Buy Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Jabra Elite 85h?

    Both headphones represent great value in their price points. While Sony’s does a better job in some categories, Jabra’s takes over the others. And most importantly, they’re always very similar, which makes this comparison very interesting.

    Looking at the technical specs, Sony headphones are a superior choice with more features and an overall more enjoyable sound quality. But Elite 85h are also $100 less expensive with better durability and battery life.

    If you round everything up, you really can go wrong with either of these. If you already know that you don’t like bright sound, then go with the Sony’s. Otherwise, maybe save a few bucks get the Jabra Elite 85h. You can always tweak the sound a little inside the mobile app.

    Also, don’t forget that the Sony WH-1000XM3 exist, which is almost identical to the XM4‘s, just with slightly fewer features.

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