Jabra’s Evolve line has always been targeted towards professionals who need a reliable headset for their conference calls and such. The Jabra Evolve2 85 is the flagship product from the new line, and it goes for a whopping S$700. Does it warrant that price? Let’s see.
First off, if you’ve tried other Jabra headsets before, you’ll notice the similarity to the Jabra Elite 85h right off the bat. While the Evolve2 85 looks quite similar to the Elite 85h, it’s made with more professional materials – metallic-looking swivel arms, leather-covered headband and ear cushions as well as a soft-touch matte black coating on the exterior of the earcups.
The headset is pretty light at 286 grams, although it’s not going to win any awards in the lightweight consumer headphones category. It’s comfortable though and sits really well on the head. Clamping force is just about right, with no fatigue on my jaw or pain at the crowd of my head even after a prolonged period of wear.
You get 10 microphones in this headset, with four in the integrated boom arm, and six in the headset itself. But the boom arm is where my worries start. It’s made of plastic, and while there’s a good amount of tension to prevent the boom arm from moving accidentally, it’s thin and feels quite fragile. When using it, I always had a small fear at the back of my mind that if it catches onto something or if I accidentally swipe at my face, the boom arm might break off.
Aside from that though, moving the mic around is pretty smooth and swivelling the end of the boom mic around to be closer to my mouth felt nice and easy. A pretty convenient feature is that when you push the boom mic up, it automatically mutes the mic, and when lowered, it’s unmuted.
Small quality of life details like this are all around in the Evolve2 85, and they are extremely targeted towards working professionals. There’s a “busy light” on the ring of the earcup, which lights up whenever the user is in a call. It’s useful for if you’re in an office and you don’t want your colleagues to interrupt you when you’re trying to pay full attention to speakers in a call.
It might not be as convenient at home, but I found that it still served its purpose on occasions when my family members would come into my room to ask what I wanted for lunch and such.
There are actually two variants to this, a Microsoft Teams one and a Unified Communications (UC) one. The Microsoft Teams variant will definitely be enticing for people who primarily use Teams as their calling platform, since it’s designed as a plug and play system.
The Microsoft Teams LED on the multi-purpose button will flash purple when there’s a meeting to be joined, missed calls or voicemail. It flashes green when there are incoming calls and the button can be used to answer calls, join meetings and more.
Let’s talk about the sound though. I’ve found that sound quality is great, and with active noise cancellation turned on, all the distractions of my home just faded away. Voices are clear, sharp and distinct. I’ve noticed comments online that talk about how sound quality drops when the microphone is activated, and unfortunately, it’s just the nature of the beast for Bluetooth headsets. Bluetooth is only capable of supporting higher-res audio one way; when a microphone and bi-directional audio is introduced, it drops to a low-res codec to handle the amount of data being transmitted back and forth.
The only clear solution for it is to either stick to a wired headset or find one that operates over a 2.4GHz band instead of Bluetooth. Personally, I’m fond of the convenience Bluetooth affords, so I’ll be sticking with it.
Another point to note is that the headset supports multipoint connection, so with the included Jabra Link 380 adapter, the headset can connect to a PC and phone at the same time. It’s great for switching devices on the fly whenever a call comes in.
Unfortunately, the microphone is a bit iffy. I expected my voice to sound even better since there are four microphones just beside my mouth to pick up what I’m saying, but according to my colleagues, it didn’t sound all that different from normal. When reading off an excerpt from the back of a box, they did note that there was more timbre to my voice, however, so perhaps it would work better if the user is required to say much more than the occasional sentence or two that I do.
The microphone’s background cancellation is average as well, which is surprising. My colleagues could still hear me typing away on my mechanical keyboard, so the suppression isn’t all that great, but perhaps softer sounds like the whir of a fan would be more easily removed.
A nice addition is actually the charging stand. It’s hefty for sure, but the added weight actually makes sure that the stand doesn’t tip over easily. The stand also doubles up as a charging station, which is nifty, but it can be a bit tough to get the headset placed just right the first time.
Aside from that though, there’s also wired connection via the 3.5mm headphone port as well as a USB-C charging port on the left earcup. On a full charge, Jabra claims 37 hours of battery life, but that will most likely never be tested since it’s easy enough to plop the headset down on the charging station when not in use.
So is this headset worth the price? Honestly, it’s debatable. For the average consumer, there’s not much of a reason to get this headset when they most likely have work calls once a day or a few times a week. But if you’re constantly involved in a few calls a day and your working environment is pretty noisy, the Evolve2 85 might be a decent choice.
It’s comfortable, it will last a full day even if you’re constantly on calls, it has ANC to keep out distracting noises around you and even though the microphone isn’t anything special, it works fine. Personally, I’m a fan of microphones that can be hidden. If Jabra can just make the boom arm mic feel a little sturdier, and improve the quality of the microphone, I think I’d be more inclined to recommend this to a wider audience.
Right now, the price is just a little too exorbitant for the general consumer at S$707. Even mid-level executives who make plenty of calls might be hardpressed to justify a purchase like that when there are other headsets at a more affordable price. Thankfully, there’s always the other Jabra Evolve2 products like the Evolve2 65 and Evolve2 40, although they do lack some great features that the Evolve2 85 has.
More information and purchase options for the Jabra Evolve2 85 (S$707) can be found on Jabra’s website.