A revolutionary solution for business and work-from-home situations.
Like so many people, I was forced into a situation where I had to work from home for a period of time due to the global pandemic. My co-workers and I had to adapt quickly to this scenario because we aren’t used to working in that manner. Like we do with so many situations, we made it work. We used tools we had at our fingertips and once we found ourselves back in the office in-person, we decided to make the remote working solutions part of our everyday work life. From where I sit, that means, having a great set of headphones available so that I can isolate myself when I’m on phone calls and video conferences. Back in June, Jabra released the Evolve2 85 ANC Bluetooth Headset, which is designed to provide users with a productivity partner in the form of headphones. This description piqued my interest and so, I decided to give them a try.
The Jabra Evolve2 85 headset is ‘engineered to keep you focused’ according to Jabra’s website. Product engineers have designed these headphones specifically for concentration and collaboration. It has many features that help users isolate themselves so they can work rather than be distracted by outside sources. The Evolve2 85 features digital hybrid Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) that eliminates 54% more noise around you than the Evolve 80 headphones. The battery life is up to 37 hours between charges, which is close to a full time 40-hour work week. Given that Jabra intends for people to use these headphones throughout the work week, they are also built for comfort and include soft memory foam and an ergonomic over-ear design.
Jabra includes a ‘busylight’ feature that helps others know when you can’t be disturbed. It’s similar to a Do Not Disturb option on a landline phone. This headset has been future-proofed with the inclusion of an upgradeable platform that provides firmware updates through Jabra Xpress. To ensure that you are heard and understood wherever you are, Jabra built 10 microphones into the Evolve2 85 headset and included a digital chipset for 97% less background conversation noise on calls. There are two variants of the Jabra Evolve2 85 — UC-Certified and Microsoft Teams-certified. Both options give users the ability to have seamless communications no matter what platforms they are using.
- Computer: Jabra Link 380 Bluetooth® adapter with USB-A or USB-C variant. Up to 30m/100ft wireless range to your computer, with significantly enhanced coverage and fewer dropouts
- Dual Bluetooth Connectivity: Connect two Bluetooth enabled devices at the same time, including mobile device and computer
- Multiple Device Pairing: Pair up to 8 devices
- Instant noise isolation for improved focus in noisy surroundings
- Additional features available via Jabra Sound+ app, Jabra Xpress and Jabra Direct
- Voice Assistant: Quickly access your voice assistant with just the touch of a button
- Busylight: 360° busylight on both earcups is visible from all angles, acting as a do-not-disturb sign and protecting your focus
- Boom Arm Mute and Answer Call: Move boom arm up to mute or down to unmute or answer call
- Smart Sensor: On-ear detection recognizes when the headset is in use, allowing auto-playing and pausing of audio and answering and muting calls
Active Noise Cancellation
4 microphones Digital hybrid Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) for even deeper concentration
Size: 40mm; Powerful 40mm speakers and AAC codec deliver richer sound for a more immersive audio experience
Sensitivity: 117dB @ 1mW-1kHz
Max Input Power: 50 mW
Frequency Range: 20Hz-20,000Hz
Bandwidth Music Mode: 20Hz-20,000Hz
Bandwidth Speak Mode: 100Hz-8,000Hz
Type: 4 Analog MEMS/6Digital MEMS
Sensitivity: -35 dBv/Pa (analog microphone)/-26 dBFS/Pa (digital microphone)
Frequency Range: 5–20,000Hz for analog microphone/100Hz-8000Hz for digital microphone
Audio Codecs Supported
User Hearing Protection
Talk Time: Up to 30 hours (with ANC/busylight off)/Up to 20 hours (with ANC/busylight on)
Music Time: Up to 37 hours (with ANC off)/Up to 32 hours (with ANC on)
Charging Time: up to 140 minutes
7.82 x 6.30 x 3.05 inches
Getting started with the Jabra Evolve2 85 Headset was a little more involved than the typical Bluetooth headphones. First of all, as I’m sure you can tell from the specs outlined above, these aren’t your typical headphones. They have so many features that it’s easy to get lost in them. So, I’m going to try to break it down — first by the typical headphone features and then by the premium features that really make the Evolve2 85’s stand out.
Comfort: Whether or not a headset is comfortable is usually my primary concern. Especially with over-ear headphones, I want them to be long-wearing capable meaning they can be worn for many hours at a time. Jabra did think that through when designing this headset. Their intent was for people to be able to wear them throughout the entire work day so that they might be able to focus properly without distraction. The memory foam in the ear pads makes this possible. I did notice after wearing them for a couple of hours that I developed a headache, but that could have just been lousy timing with the weather causing a sinus headache. The headset fits tightly around the head, but not too tight. It feels secure. I’ve walked around out house with the headset on and it hasn’t fallen off or shifted too much to be worrisome. All in all, the Evolve2 85 headset gets a good score when it comes to comfort.
Sound Quality: The headset provides exceptional sound quality no matter what is being heard through the speakers. I listened to several different music options including Apple Music, my personal library, and Pandora and all of them sounded amazing. There is an equalizer built into the mobile app that I used to tweak the sound just a bit, but even on the default settings, sounds were clear and crisp and the bass was full. I did also turn on a couple of TV shows and movies to see how the headset would handle dialogue and full movie mixes and it was remarkably good. With voice calls, callers reported hearing me fine and I had no trouble hearing them.
Connectivity: I was able to connect the Evolve2 85 headset to my iPhone and MacBook Pro with no problems. The headphones stayed connected as I walked through the house and it was only when I crossed through several rooms and was approximately 20–30 feet away with walls in between that the signal broke up. Even then, the headset didn’t completely disconnect; it just stuttered a bit for the connection and continued playing. I was very impressed with the headset’s ability to remain connected even when separated from its connected device.
Battery Life: This is another area I’ve been very impressed with. If you are conservative about the features (i.e. ANC, busylight) then you can get approximately 37 hours of use out of the headset without charging. This is probably the best battery life I’ve ever seen from a headset. Most of them are rated with a 20–25 hour battery life. Now, I have to admit that I haven’t quite run the battery down to 0% yet, but I’ve been very happy with the battery vs. performance and I’ve not had them die on me in the middle of the day. I do put the headset on charge at the end of the day and they charge overnight so they are ready the next day. On that note, Jabra does market a charging stand for the Evolve2 85, but it’s either sold separately or as a bundle with the headset.
ANC/Isolation: The headset does a great job of isolating the listener from outside noise — even without turning the ANC on. To give you an idea of the environment I was in while testing these features, here is what was going on. In one room, my fiancé was playing Call of Duty and in my workspace, I had a 1-year old dog that begs for attention constantly. Also, in the same house is my fiancé’s 87-year-old grandmother who turns up the sounds on her digital solitaire game and TV. Her room and my workspace share a wall. With that in mind, I can almost always hear outside sounds — even with ANC engaged on a set of headphones. The isolation is so good on the Evolve2 85 that just by putting on the headphones, 50% of the ambient noise is deadened. The ANC feature completely kills sounds like weed-whackers and air conditioning noise. All other ambient noise like dogs barking and loud TVs is lessened by about 80%. The hear-through feature is a really nice option for when I’m at work because while I would love to just close myself off 100%, I know that’s not entirely practical.
Premium Features: Some of what I like to refer to as ‘bonus features’ include the busylight, boom arm, and the smart sensor. These are features that I’ve not experienced regularly on over-ear headsets.
The busylight is a great feature for people who have lots of interruptions throughout the day. It comes on automatically when you are on a call, but users also have the option of manually turning it on by pressing the volume up and down buttons at the same time. The light is a red LED that appears on the outside of the ear cup. It is only visible when the user is wearing the headset. I will admit that I was not aware of this fact and kept trying to see the light when I took the headset off. I was telling my fiancé about this and in attempting to show him what the issue was, he saw the light and snapped a quick photo for me (below).
The boom arm for the microphone is another amazing bonus feature. This truly is a ‘bonus’ because there are ear cup microphones included in the headset, too. The boom arm microphone has a mute feature built into it where if you raise or lower the arm it will mute or unmute the microphone respectively. I really like this option for things like video conferences where you want to keep yourself on mute, but don’t want to have to mess with anything in the program itself. The action of closing the boom will mute your microphone.
Finally, the smart sensor is a joy to work with on this headset. I was surprised when I pulled the headset off of my head and found that the music track paused itself. I’m used to that sort of functionality from my earbuds, but not my over-ear headphones. It was a very pleasant surprise and something that I recognized as a cool feature.
The App — macOS and iOS
The Evolve2 85 headset is a ‘smart’ headset. Just like many of Jabra’s headphones and earbuds, this headset has the capability of being customized through an app. The headset comes with a USB dongle that allows you to directly connect to your computer as the headset is pre-paired to the dongle. At first, I actually had a hard time finding the dongle. Everything I read said one was included, but it wasn’t packaged with the cables (USB-C to USB-A, auxiliary cable, and stereo adapter). I literally dumped the box out on the floor trying to find this tiny dongle. It ended up being stored in the hard shell storage case of the headset (see photo below). I wanted to point this out in case anyone else ends up panicking and think it wasn’t included.
As is eluded to in the heading of this section, I used both the Jabra Direct app (macOS) and the Jabra Sound + app (iOS). The Jabra Direct app is easy to set-up, but I ran into a glitch when it came to updating the firmware for the headset and the dongle. I kept getting an error that stated the firmware file was incorrect. There was no other way to download the file except through the app’s automated process so I wasn’t able to update the firmware for the dongle. With the iOS app, I was able to update the headset and have control over the equalizer as well as the busylight function. Both apps are useful it just seems like the mobile app has less problems.
I’ve been a fan of Jabra products for a long time and I’ve never doubted the quality of their products. My first Bluetooth headset was, in fact, a Jabra product. I have to say that these amazing headphones really stepped up the productivity headset game. The Evolve2 85 are in a class by themselves and aside from a printed user manual not being included with the headset package, I really don’t have any complaints.
Originally published at https://macsources.com on August 4, 2020.