Abram gave us a review unit for one of our writers to test. Read their big picture.
If you’re looking for work headphones that won’t compromise on sound quality on your commute, the Jabra Evolve2 85 is probably your best bet. Jabra has increasingly focused on consumer music in recent years, in addition to the headphones it has become famous for. The Jabra Elite 85t earbuds are some of my favorite true wireless earbuds on the market, so I was really excited to see the Evolve2 85 over-ear.
Thanks to first-class materials, active noise cancellation supported by various microphones and numerous functions, the 85 is suitable for both work and leisure. I spent a few days with my partner watching them get in and out of my work day.
Design: very elegant and professional
Any over-ear headset that offers even the slightest bit of focus as a work headset should have a professional look. While most premium headphones in this price range look sleek and premium, the look of the Evole2 85 is slightly more suited to a professional environment. The oval ear pads have clean lines and the one-piece headband and slightly angled connectors don’t attract too much attention, although they still look quite expensive.
You get a silver/beige colorway, which is a little more consumer-oriented than the black unit I tested, but both look good. An additional design that might be good depending on your point of view is the outward-facing LED lighting on each ear cup. This LED turns on automatically when it detects that you are on a call. The idea here is to signal external people that you are in a “do not disturb” situation, to prevent calls being dropped. It’s bright enough and very eye-catching (on purpose from Jabra), but if you appreciate the use case, it’s a nice and functional visual touch. However, if you don’t like it, you can disable it in the Jabra Sound+ app.
Comfort: the right balance between firmness and softness
Headphone manufacturers struggle to find the right clip and foam around the ears. High-end manufacturers in the space like Sony and Bose tend to give you all the softness and comfort you’re looking for, but low-end headphones tend to be skinny, making them less comfortable.
What I like about the Evolve2 85 is that the foam and leather on the cups are very soft, but the clamp is firm enough to hold me tight. The balance of these two points makes these headphones really comfortable to wear.
Jabra also managed to give me pavilions big enough for my giant ears, but not heavy enough for my ears. The leather-wrapped foam-padded headband is also softer than I’m used to with headphones of this class. All this makes the headphones really comfortable. I found them slightly heavier on my head than other luxury options – and at over 10 grams, this isn’t exactly surprising.
Durability and build quality: high quality, but a little sticky
With over-ear headphones, the choice to make a frame with plastic is mainly due to the fact that plastic is lighter and more ergonomic. So it’s hard to beat Jabra too hard to go down this road with these headphones. But there’s just something about the plastic used on the contact points and hinges of these headphones that feels a little less durable.
The ratchet headband adjustment strap, in particular, seems a bit cheaper than the price suggests. I also noticed that the hinge above each ear cup that folds them in (good for storage) has really sharp edges and if you grab the edge of your finger like I did a few times you get pinched.
Sound quality and noise reduction: great for an office environment
In today’s remote work environment, I can’t stress enough the importance of solid noise canceling headphones. The noise reduction of the Evolve2 85 seems to have been developed especially for the office environment. That is, when there is no thick noise (like a rumbling airplane or a crowded park), these headphones silence everything.
Battery life: Incredible capacity
It is impressive how long the battery life Jabra has managed to achieve with these otherwise rather thin headphones. It’s odd when you think about it, because even though these headphones seem aimed at your desk, where a charging cable comes in handy, you rarely need that charging cable. But since the headset should be ready for calls at a moment’s notice, it makes sense.
Jabra promises a total battery life of up to 37 hours, so you can easily listen to 10 hours more music than the competition in space. Honestly, if you use a lot of active noise cancellation or a bright LED charge light, you’ll probably get less. But when I tried to drain the headphones, it took me four 8 hour work days to get to the point where I had to charge them.
Connectivity: clean and stable
When you actually go to the site to order the Evolve2 85, you can choose between the “Unified Communications” or “Microsoft Teams Enabled” version. In terms of hardware, there is practically no difference between the two options. But since the 85 is designed as an office headphone, the difference can be important in your setup.
Basically, if your team uses Microsoft’s “softphone” to set up your work phone, the Teams version gives you better call muting and instant response, while the UC version is for Jabber and other third-party conversions. Either version works in all areas, so it’s not a final decision, but it’s nice to have a few options here to seamlessly integrate into your work-specific setup.
Software and additional features: almost a complete package
The Jabra cost over $400 and had pretty much everything you need in a headset. And to be fair, there’s a lot here. The premium case offers enough protection to take these headphones with you on business trips. Comes with all necessary cables for charging, connecting and more.
The high-precision microphone system (with 10 separate microphones for the best possible sound quality during calls) also integrates seamlessly into the right ear cup, so you won’t even know the boom is there until you open it.
Price: Definitely within the company’s budget
At first glance, you might think that Jabra has raised the price of these headphones too high. And it’s true that when compared to flagship headphones from Sony or Bose, they are much more expensive.
Part of this is due to the insane selection of microphones and the design considerations required for a seamless folding arm. But part of it has to do with software and headset integration. There are some firmware hurdles and license costs involved in obtaining UC and Microsoft Teams certifications.
As such, at just north of $400, it’s really aimed at the executive buyer, someone who wants an incredibly detailed premium headset for the office and can probably afford the cost.
Jabra Evolve2 85 vs Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II gaming headphones
Comparing headphones in this space is difficult. Many office headsets have smaller drivers and aren’t particularly good at music, while large headsets with boom mics tend to be flashy and more gaming-oriented.
The QC 35 headphones are basically the same headphones that Bose put on the ANC board, but with their own boom microphone. Although classified as a gaming headset, these headphones are stylish and understated enough to match the Evolve2. Noise cancellation and sound quality are slightly better on the Bose, but the design and call integration are just better for the office on the Jabra.