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Jabra Elite Active 85t wishlist: All the features I want to see

Could the Jabra Elite Active 85t undercut the company's flagship Jabra Elite 8 Active?

Published onFebruary 20, 2024

The Jabra Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds (navy) covered in water droplets behind a Casio digital watch.

Jabra is a behemoth in the consumer audio sphere. The company leads from the front, producing some of the best wireless earbuds on the market and advancing next-gen hearables technology. Its latest release, the Jabra Elite 8 Active, are the company’s most accomplished headphones. These take over from the company’s more pedestrian workout earbuds line, the Jabra Elite Active t-series. It has been nearly four years since the Jabra Elite Active 75t came to shelves. While the future of the Elite Active t-series hangs in the balance, it seems an appropriate time as any to get excited about the Jabra Elite Active 85t.

However, premium features beget premium prices. If Jabra wants to remain the default choice for audio enthusiasts, it needs to bring its next-gen workout buds to market at an affordable cost. Here are all the features I want to see in Jabra’s next-gen upgrade.

Stronger noise canceling

An active noise canceling chart for the Jabra Elite Active 75t, which shows a decent degree of passive isolation and minimal noise cancellation.
You will not notice much of a difference with the noise canceling enabled.

Many people who enjoy working out prefer to use open-ear headphones. These allow environmental sounds to reach the eardrum while simultaneously streaming music unimpededly. This ensures a safer listening experience while out running or cycling. However, some of the best workout earbuds also champion noise canceling technology. This also has its uses, like blocking out unwanted loudspeaker music while exercising at the gym.

At launch, the Jabra Elite Active 75t had no ANC capability. However, the company brought noise canceling to the earbuds as part of a broad software update in the fall of 2020. Unfortunately, there is no notable difference when ANC is enabled. It suffers particularly among frequencies below 150Hz. Here, most low rumbles from cars, planes, and trains circumvent the undulating 10dB attenuation. It fairs better above 250Hz, but the earbuds’ excellent isolation does most of the heavy lifting. The Jabra Elite Active 85t would benefit from effective noise canceling at launch. This would help them compete with the up to 38dB attenuation of the company’s flagship Elite 8 Active.

More resistant tactile controls

A macro picture of the Jabra Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds (navy) ventilation system.
The pressure vent effectively reduces external noise while maintaining an accentuated bass response.

Most wireless earbuds are controlled by operating one of three types of buttons; touch, pressure-sensitive, and tactile controls. However, some earbuds, like the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation,) are commanded by touch and pressure-sensitive stems. This provides greater control customization and improves the user experience substantially. That said, many of Jabra’s wireless earbuds opt for tactile buttons on the flat of their exterior. These are often much easier to operate than touch controls, as there is less risk of accidental song skipping.

However, while the intentions are good, the Jabra Elite Active 75t adorn overly sensitive tactile buttons. This makes adjusting the earbuds difficult without accidentally pausing or skipping your music. There is also very little space around the button to pinch the earbuds, making finer alterations harder than they should be. Jabra needs to implement easy-to-use tactile buttons with greater resistance when the Jabra Elite Active 85t come to market.

The aptX Bluetooth codec

A picture of a hand holding a smartphone with the Jabra MySound+ app pulled up for the Jabra Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds (navy).
The MySound+ app has a “find my earbuds” function for when the buds are misplaced.

Bluetooth codecs remain elusive and unimportant for most everyday music fans. Nevertheless, they are vital to achieve the best listening experience over wireless headphones. SBC is the mandatory default codec for all consumer A2DP-enabled Bluetooth devices. This handles up to 320kbps, 48kHz/16-bit audio sampling. However, it is a lossy format, and manageable transfers are often delivered at the expense of significant data loss. On the other hand, Qualcomm’s aptX codec supports reliable 352kbps, 48kHz/16-bit LPCM audio sampling. While still a lossy format, it is leagues ahead of SBC.

The Jabra Elite Active 75t runs Bluetooth 5.0 and supports the SBC and AAC codecs. AAC works well when connected to iOS but often performs unpredictably when paired to Android phones. With no other high-res Bluetooth codecs, Android users wearing the Jabra Elite Active 75t are likely forced to pair via SBC. This often leads to audio-visual lag, stuttering music playback, and random signal dropouts. Jabra should incorporate the aptX Bluetooth codec into its Jabra Elite Active 85t when it comes to fruition.

A flatter frequency response

A frequency response chart for the Jabra Elite Active 75t (cyan) against our house curve (pink) shows the earbuds output amplified bass notes.
The Elite Active 75t (cyan) outputs bass notes louder than our house curve (pink) suggests.

Most of us enjoy extra oomph when busting through an exercise. Luckily, workout earbuds tend to have an emphasized bass response when reproducing music. This often happens around bass and sub-bass frequencies below 100Hz. It also helps mask distracting environmental sounds that otherwise interfere with your audio stream. Combined with robust isolation and noise canceling, wireless earbuds can make a great companion to your exercise regimen.

However, more bass can lead to less audio detail. This is the case for the Jabra Elite Active 75t. These earbuds accentuate sub-bass frequencies around 40Hz by roughly 5dB more than our target curve above. There is also a significant -10dB drop in the mids between 200Hz and 1kHz. This leads to many fundamentals sounding comparatively quiet compared to the emphasized bass response. The highs between 3kHz and 8kHz also take a backseat to the bass. This adds to the perception of a very bassy sound profile with minimal audio clarity. The Jabra Elite Active 85t would reproduce a broader list of genres well if they adorn a flatter frequency curve on release.

An IP68 water and dust-resistant rating

The Jabra Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds (navy) submerged in a Pyrex bowl of water.
You can submerge the Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds for up to 30 minutes.

Most modern true wireless earbuds feature an Ingress Protection (IP)-rated build. This denotes a device’s resistance to dust and water and is popular among exercise enthusiasts. Many headphones and earbuds receive an IPX4 rating. This indicates resistance to omnidirectional water splashes but with no dust ingress. While not the most robust build, this should protect the earbuds from sweaty gym workouts. Others, like the Jabra Elite Active 75t, are IP57-rated. This shields the earbuds from complete submersion in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes and is dust-protected.

Athletes are always on the lookout for the most resilient headphones. For example, total dust-ingress is vital if you play beach sports or enjoy indoor climbing. Jabra’s latest release, the Elite 8 Active, host an IP68 water and dust-resistant design. This protects the earbuds from complete submersion in 3m of water for up to 30 minutes and is dust-tight. If the Jabra Elite Active 85t want to stand out, they should wear a more robust IP rating than their predecessor.

What would you like to see Jabra bring to the Jabra Elite Active 85t?

11 votes

Will there be a Jabra Elite Active 85t?

A picture of the Jabra Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds in navy inside a wooden bowl.
The earbuds can pair to two devices at a time.

Jabra makes some of the best wireless earbuds for under $100, and I see no reason for this to end. There has been no official announcement regarding the Jabra Elite Active 85t yet. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that Jabra’s next-gen earbuds will come to market in early to mid-2024. The company released its latest buds, the Elite 8 Active, as recently as August 31, 2023. These are undoubtedly the company’s most accomplished earbuds to date. However, their $200 launch price may dissuade would-be buyers looking for the best deal. With Beats, Samsung, and Sony offering more for less, Jabra will want to bring its updated Elite Active 85t to market soon.

It is worth mentioning that Jabra discontinued the Elite Active 75t in favor of its Elite 7 Active buds in 2021. While I am hopeful the company will bring back its affordable Elite Active t-series, it may be the case that we never see the Jabra Elite Active 85t launch.

  • Jabra Elite Active 65t — March 18, 2018
  • Jabra Elite Active 75t — February 23, 2020

Jabra has only released two iterations of its Elite Active t-series throughout its tenure. These serve as a sports-oriented version of the original Jabra Elite t-series headphones. The company debuted the Elite Active 65t in the spring of 2018. The updated Elite Active 75t were released towards the tail-end of winter in 2020. These were discontinued shortly after the release of the Jabra Elite 7 Active on October 15, 2021.

The company favors an approximate two-year release window before updating its Elite Active t-series buds. For example, the Jabra Elite Active 75t were released one year and 11 months after the original Elite Active 65t. However, the company’s standard Elite 85t buds came to market one year after the Elite 75t. By that metric, we should have expected the Jabra Elite Active 85t to have launched by January 2021. Given the Jabra Elite 7 Active and Jabra Elite 8 Active have already come to market, we may not see the Elite Active 85t come to shelves. If they do, I am hopeful they will arrive by mid-2024.

Should you wait for the Jabra Elite Active 85t?

A picture of the Jabra Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds (navy) on a leather surface with the charging case open in the background.
Jabra’s workout earphones are expensive but well worth it for listeners looking for versatile earbuds with fantastic microphone quality.

While no longer retailing directly from the company’s website, you may still fetch a pair of Jabra Elite Active 75t from Amazon. However, there is uncertainty around whether the Jabra Elite Active 85t will ever come to fruition. It is fair to question whether it is worth waiting for the next-gen upgrade.

The Jabra Elite Active 75t ($149.99 at Verizon) are worthwhile and affordable workout earbuds. If you can find a pair, the buds award a robust IP57 water and dust-resistant rating to protect from sweaty workouts. The Jabra Sound+ app also provides access to practical features, including a custom EQ and six built-in presets. The company’s HearThrough mode is excellent for athletes who prefer to hear their surroundings. There is even an option to choose between virtual assistants, including Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. The buds profit over seven hours of playback time on a single charge and fast charge one hour from a 15-minute top-up. Admittedly, the minimal selection of Bluetooth codecs is a miss. However, most workout buds prioritize a secure fit and bassy sound profile over high-res audio quality.

Android users who enjoy the Jabra brand and want aptX Bluetooth connectivity should consider the Jabra Elite 4 ($79 at Amazon.) While iOS fans lose out on AAC, the Jabra Elite 4 has excellent sound quality. With a minor boost in the lows below 150Hz, its frequency response tightly follows our ideal target curve. Most people will enjoy how these earbuds sound out of the box. To sweeten the deal, the Elite 4 supports Bluetooth Multipoint, Sidetone, and Spotify Tap. Their isolation is also excellent, and the ANC does a decent job of attenuating sounds between 1kHz and 1.5kHz. The company’s Sound+ app provides a custom EQ, and the buds last over five hours on a single charge. The Jabra Elite 4 often retails for much less than the competition.

Athletic Android owners wanting iOS-friendly workout buds may enjoy the Beats Fit Pro ($159 at Amazon.) While these buds wear an inferior IPX4 water-resistant rating, the Fit Pro adorn tapered, angled wing tips. These help to secure a robust and comfortable fit for long workout sessions. The Beats app also hosts an ear tip fit test, and you can toggle automatic ear detection on and off. Apple’s H1 chip also provides high-end features such as spatial audio and adaptive ANC. The headphones cancel noise well, attenuating up to 37dB around 80Hz. They also calibrate the intensity of noise canceling in real-time. With over six hours of ANC-enabled listening time, the Beats Fit Pro are still some of the best workout buds on the market.

Finally, those wanting the best IP rating available should grab a pair of the Jaybird Vista 2 ($117 at Amazon.) Regarding comfort, the Jabra Elite Active 75t have Jaybird beat. However, the Vista 2 wears an IP68 water and dust-resistant design. This is in addition to a military-grade MIL-STD-810G certificate. The charging case is also IP54-rated, protecting from water splashes and small particles. The Jaybird app hosts handy features, including hundreds of Jaybird users’ EQ presets, adjustable noise canceling, SurroundSense, and Find My Buds. The earbuds also have a consumer-friendly sound, with minimal attenuation in the mid frequencies between 300Hz and 900Hz. Unfortunately, noise canceling is mediocre, and many people will find it hard to secure a comfortable fit with the company’s proprietary ear tips.

Jabra Elite Active 75tJabra Elite Active 75t
Jabra Elite Active 75t
Bluetooth 5.0, multipoint • Free noise canceling update • IP57 rating
MSRP: $174.95
The Jabra Elite Active 75t is a fantastic value for exercise enthusiasts looking for an all-in-one solution. Its versatility is further improved by the free noise canceling update available through the Sound+ app. These earbuds may not be groundbreaking, but they do a lot and do it well.


This is subjective. For example, the Elite 75t is better suited for the workout-conscious due to its more robust IP rating. However, Jabra’s newest iteration has much stronger noise canceling than their predecessor. If you want to save some cash, grabbing a pair of the Jabra Elite 75t may be worth it. If you want better sound quality, noise canceling, and fast charging, then the Elite 85t are the way to go.

For most people, the improved noise canceling of the Jabra Elite 85t will justify the upgrade. That said, some may find the ($167 at Amazon) price tag too dear to spare. Nevertheless, the Jabra Elite 85t are an excellent all-round earbud companion for the price.

The Jabra Elite 85t launched on October 31, 2020. This followed one year after their predecessor, the Elite 75t, on November 1, 2019.

Those who want noise canceling for roughly the same price as the Jabra Elite 85t should consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ($99 at Amazon.) While these wear an inferior IPX2 rating, they share many of the same features as the more premium Galaxy Buds Pro. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds ($169 at Amazon) and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($278 at Amazon) may also make for a decent alternative to the Elite 85t.