The Sony WH-1000XM3 came out as a winner to the rival noise-canceling headphones Bose’s QuietComfort. Now, we have its successor dubbed Sony WH-1000XM4 with ambient noise cancellation and auto-pause functionality. Apart from that, you get a long battery life and impressive noise-canceling features. This year, Jabra Elite 85h rolls up the sleeves to lock horns with Sony’s headphones. So, is the Jabra Elite 85h better than the Sony WH-1000XM4? Or, is Sony still the reigning king in the field of wireless noise-canceling headphones?
Well, that’s what we are going to find in this post today as we compare the Sony WH-1000XM4 against the Jabra Elite 85h to find which wireless noise-canceling headphones are better for you.
So, without further ado, let’s get started. But first, have a look at these,
- Here are the best aptX earbuds and earphones that you can buy
- Looking for wireless earbuds with ANC? Here are the top-picks
Design and Comfort
One of the primary features of the Jabra Elite 85h is that they are immensely comfortable to wear. Typical to most premium headphones, they feature large (and soft) earcups, making them comfortable for big ears. Compared to the Sony headphones, these weigh around 40 grams more, but let that not deter you, for this difference seems to disappear when you wear them.
The headband is lined with faux leather. For one, they give these headphones a premium look and a comfortable wearing. Also, it plays its part in keeping the headphone anchored to one position.
However, note that the Elite 85h can prove to be a tad bulky that plays against its portability factor. Nonetheless, they are comfortable to wear, even for long durations.
Unlike most new-age earphones and headphones (and the Sony WH-1000XM4), Jabra’s headphones do not bundle touch-sensitive buttons. Even the Jabra Elite 75t has physical buttons. Using them, you get to tweak the volume levels, enable the noise-canceling features, and even awaken Siri, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa, there are quite a few options. All you need to do is memorize the positions of the buttons, and you will be good to go.
A nifty feature of these headphones is the automatic ear detection feature. Like the Elite 75t, the music playback automatically pauses when you remove the headphones, thanks to the sensor on the earcups.
When it comes to the Sony WH-1000XM4, they look almost similar to their predecessor and are available in the same color options of black & silver. However, this time, the earcups are a tad larger (and softer), thereby making them apt for larger-than-average ears as well. That said, these headphones are light and weigh a mere 296 grams, even though they look a bit bigger than the WH-1000XM3.
Unlike the Elite 85h, you won’t find any physical buttons here. Instead, the makers have bundled touch-sensitive earcups, similar to the WH-1000XM3. So if you want to change the music, you simply need to swipe over the earcups. Similarly, you can activate ambient noise by cupping your hands over the earcups. Sounds cool, right?
But as you may have guessed, you will need a fair amount of time to get used to these features. And more often than not, you will find the feature not responding to your touches, at least initially. However, once you master them, you can rest assured that these tiny gestures will lessen your ears’ pressure, unlike physical buttons, you need to press gently.
Apart from the above, you also get your share of voice-activated assistants and also features like auto-pause. Another handy feature is the chat to speak option, which automatically pauses the music as soon as the headphones detect that you are speaking something. However, features like this one are better on paper.
As per the Verge folks, this can turn out to be quite annoying as the playback seems to pause even when it detects overhead noise. If you have the habit of muttering to yourself while working, this may not be a smart feature to enable. Thankfully, you can customize its degree of activation to some extent.
Battery and Connectivity
Thankfully, both the Elite 85h and the WH-1000XM4 do not disappoint when it comes to battery life. Both the headphones provide excellent battery life, and this is one feature that makes both the headphones stand apart from the rest.
With the Jabra Elite 85h, you can expect to see 36 hours of playback in one charge. With the ANC switched off, it can go as far as 41 hours. Of course, this also depends on the level of volume. The folks at SoundGuys tested them and found the Jabra Elite 85h to churn out around 34.58 hours of playback (with ANC) in moderate volume. This means you can go up to a week without charging the headphones.
The good thing is that charging doesn’t take a long time. A full charge takes around 2.5 hours. And hey, it comes with USB-C charging.
On the other hand, the Sony WH-1000XM4 yields around 30 hours of constant playback with ANC on and around 38 hours with ANC off. And similar to Jabra’s headphones, you should easily get through a week, a day out on the beach, or through a flight without any issues. In the case of the Sony headphones, keep in mind that the Speak to Chat feature also affects battery life.
Again, Sony has bundled a nifty feature with these headphones. A 10-minute charge can get you around 5 hours’ worth of battery life. Similarly, in the case of the Jabra Elite 85h, you will get the same amount of juice after charging the buds for a mere 15 minutes. So yeah, if you need your headphones to juice up quickly, this can be easily done.
Connection-wise, both the headphones come with Bluetooth 5.0 and supports AAC Bluetooth codec (see SBC vs Sony LDAC vs Qualcomm aptX), apart from the standard SBC. However, the Sony WH-1000XM4 gets the advantage of the in-house LDAC Bluetooth codec. If you must know, this one allows the connected device and the headphones to pass music at high bandwidth, thereby assuring you of high-fidelity music.
As you may have already expected, there’s no support for aptX. On the upside, there’s the feature of Bluetooth multipoint in both the headphones that allow you to pair the headphones to two devices simultaneously.
So, how good is the audio performance of these premium headphones? Well, let’s start with Jabra’s noise-canceling headphones.
To facilitate the noise cancellation, the Elite 85h bundles a set of mics that filter out the noise. The best part is that the ANC switches on automatically when these mics are triggered. Plus, you can also customize its degree via the companion app. For example, if you are in a crowded place, these headphones will manage to block out all the sound. Similarly, it manages to block out fans’ sounds or air conditioning system, thereby letting you focus more on the job at hand.
Though the noise cancellation is great for the price, it falls a little behind the one boasted by the Sony headphones. Nevertheless, they do their best in mitigating the external noise, but they are not the best ones out there.
On the other hand, they sound exceptionally great. The sound is clear and detailed and has a mellowed down bass. However, that doesn’t mean the bass is on the lower end. It’s balanced, and you’ll be able to perceive all the details in the song.
Sony’s headphones come with the in-house spatial 360 Reality Audio feature, a feature that is seen in 2020’s Sony WF-SP800N wireless earphones. If you must know, this is a new audio format that utilizes object-based spatial tech to deliver an immersive experience. You can now use streaming apps like Tidal and Deezer to listen to songs in this new format.
The crux of the WH1000XM4 is that you can customize the amount of noise cancellation. Plus, you get the advantage of letting in ambient sound. And well, the noise cancellation is excellent, all thanks to the Q1N processor. From screeching noises to loud sounds in public, it can hush them all without any effort.
At the same time, they deliver a dynamic sound with punchy bass. And the odds are that you will love the wide soundstage of these headphones. Do note that these also support both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
If you are looking for a headphone with one of the best noise-canceling features and want a punchy bass, then the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are the one for you. Apart from that, you get AI quirks like music upscaling. Besides that, they are comfortable and lightweight, and the foldable nature adds up to it.
On the other hand, the Jabra Elite 85h ticks off all the right boxes, be it the battery life SmartSound analysis, the noise-cancellation, or the clear call quality. They also come with a warranty against water and dust damage (not sweat damage). However, the sound performance leaves a lot to be desired when compared with the Sony headphones. Plus, they are a little on the bulky side, which makes them a little less portable.
Originally, the Sony headphones were priced at around $349.99, but you can get them around $299, especially during the holiday season sale. So yeah, if you do have a few bucks extra, you can go for the Sony headphones. Otherwise, the $244 Jabra Elite 85h isn’t a bad deal either.
Last updated on 02 February, 2022
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