While companies like Bose and Sony battle for the crown of the active noise-cancellation music listening audience, Jabra continues to make great strides in the enterprise market. The ANC performance, long battery life, all-day comfort, and functionality propel the new Jabra Evolve2 85 into consideration with the top ANC cans, but it offers additional features for businesses and is priced $100 more.
With the coronavirus driving millions of people from the office and workplace back into their houses for remote work, it is important to create an environment where work can continue productively. Many people have pets, children, roommates, and other distractions that can impact your workspace. With the Jabra Evolve2 85 you can block out the noise around you, show others you are busy working with onboard indicator lights, and easily connect and use Microsoft Teams all day long.
Also: Best wireless noise-canceling headsets for business in 2020: Plantronics, Jabra, Logitech, and more
Jabra offers two versions of the Evolve2 85 headphones; one for Unified Communications (UC) and the other focused on Microsoft Teams. Since I spend all day interacting with various coworkers, clients, and others on Microsoft Teams I tested out the model optimized for Microsoft Teams. I’ve been using the headset for the past three weeks and it has bumped the Plantronics model I was using for my remote work setup.
UPDATE: The Apple AirPods Max headphones are now available for $500 and may be drawing your attention, but there are still many reasons to consider the Evolve2 85 for business. Jabra just released a new version of the computer software with macOS 11.x Big Sur and Apple M1 chip support. In addition, three firmware updates have been released for the headset since I posted this review. These updates have addressed some issues and also bring enhanced features to the headset.
- Speaker size: 40 mm
- Microphones: 4 analog MEMS and 6 digital MEMS
- Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, PBAP, SPP
- Battery life: Up to 32 hours of ANC play and 37 hours with ANC off. 140 minutes to achieve full charge via USB-C, but with just 15 minutes of charge you can get up to eight hours of playback.
- Headphone weight: 286 grams
- Box contents: Headphones, Jabra Link 380 BT adapter, 1.2 meter USB-C to USB-A cable, 1.2 meter 3.5mm audio cable, airplane adapter, and carrying case.
Last year I took a look at the Jabra Elite 85h headphones, which were designed to challenge Bose and Sony in 2019. That headset was focused on the music experience with better voice support than the competition. The new Evolve2 85 headphones build upon the Elite 85h with more microphones, swing-down boom mic stand, and features optimized for the enterprise.
The inside of the two large ear cups is covered with soft leatherette material that rests comfortably against your ear. The memory foam inside the material is comfortable for wearing the headset all day long. The band over the top of your head has this same soft material covering foam to rest comfortably on your head. Unlike some of these headphones, we see the part holding the earcup angle out from your head which helps take some pressure off of your ears as there is less of a clamping force to hold the headphones in place.
The outside of the ear cups are matte black, beige is also available. Indicator lights on the front and back of the earcups light up when you are on a call so someone entering the room or your work area can see that you are actively engaged on a call and avoid bothering you while you are busy.
On the lower part of the outside left ear cup are two gold connection pins. These support the optional charging stand, a $50 option when you purchase the headphones.
On the bottom of the left ear cup we see the 3.5mm audio port, USB-C charging port, charging indicator light, power/BT toggle switch. Up above halfway on the backside of the left ear cup we have another button that is used to switch between different sound modes; ANC, HearThrough, and off.
Also: Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless noise-canceling headset review: Making the world better through a flawless music listening experience
The outside of the Evolve2 85 has a Microsoft Teams logo at the center. See below for details on the Microsoft Teams software integration. Pressing the button also changes the indicator light to the purple color and serves to answer/end phone calls.
There are three buttons just to the back of the lower part of the right earcup. These buttons are used to control volume, next/previous track, and play/pause functions.
A distinguishing feature on the front of the right earcup is the retractable boom arm that positions the microphone down near your mouth. Moving the arm back up into the groove also mutes the microphones as lowering it unmutes calls. The end of the boom can also be rotated 90 degrees in towards your mouth for improved microphone performance.
The carrying case has a durable zipper with a hard shell design so it will adequately protect your headphones when packing them along on your daily commute, flight, or other means of transportation. A 3.5mm headset cable is also included in case you want to connect to your device via a cable.
You can purchase the Evolve2 85 with either USB-A or USB-C support. This designation indicates which type of Jabra Link adapter is included in the package. Given that I use a Surface Pro 6 as my primary work computer, I tested the USB-A version. At first I didn’t think it was included in the case, but found it hidden in the carrying case in a small compartment with a Velcro strap securing it in place. You need this adapter to enjoy the full functionality of the Jabra Direct computer software. You could connect to your PC directly through Bluetooth without the adapter, but your experience would be very limited.
Also: Jabra Elite 85h headset review: Competing for the wireless ANC crown with SmartSound tech, for $50 less than Bose and Sony
Microsoft Teams integration
Jabra set up a great partnership with Microsoft on launching a version of this headset with official Teams support. The Evolve2 is certified for Teams as a plug-and-play experience. As listed by Jabra, this experience includes:
- Automatic selection as the default audio device
- A dedicated Microsoft Teams button to:
- Answer incoming Microsoft Teams calls
- Open the meeting “pre-join” screen
- Open missed calls screen
- Open Microsoft Teams voicemail screen
- Bring up Microsoft Teams client from the background
- Notifications of Microsoft Teams LED flashes purple when:
- Microsoft Teams meeting ready to join
- Microsoft Teams missed call
- Microsoft Teams voicemails
- Microsoft Teams LED flashes green with an incoming Microsoft Teams call
Combining all of this Microsoft Teams integration with an easy to control boom arm, long battery life, and comfortable ear cups means this is the headset for me and everyone else using Microsoft Teams to get work done.
Computer (PC/Mac) software
In order to experience the full enterprise support of the Jabra Evolve2 85 headphones, download the Windows or macOS version of Jabra Direct. After installation, launch the software to see tabs for device, Bluetooth, updates, settings, feedback, and help. I don’t have an Apple computer to test out the macOS functionality, but I heard from users that the latest macOS version has a much better interface and wider compatibility.
The device tab shows you the connection status of your headset to various supported apps. For my computer, Microsoft Skype for Business, Mitel, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are all supported by the Jabra Evolve2 85 headphones. The status will show up as ready or not ready. Tap the information icon to setup any service that is not shown as ready. You can also tap the equalizer icon on the device tab and quickly setup your equalizer to match your music preferences.
The other main tab is device settings. This tab has an extensive number of settings available to optimize your experience (check out the screenshot in the image gallery). Settings include toggles for answer the call by rotating the boom arm, on-ear detection, sleep mode, busylight settings, sound modes, HearThrough level and much more.
Also: Apple’s 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro: An enterprise buyer’s review
The Jabra Sound Plus app is available for iOS and Android devices. The smartphone app has many similar settings as the Jabra Direct app with a few other options, including using the earcup microphone for calls rather than the boom arm mic.
While you can use the left ear cup button to toggle between sound modes, you can also do this in the Moments section of the smartphone app. Battery percentage is also shown in the smartphone app.
Daily usage experiences and conclusion
While I enjoy the Sony headset for focused music listening experiences, the Jabra Evolve2 85 is the nearly perfect headset for the work week. The Sony and Bose models are decent for personal calls, but for business calls I want the highest quality mics for clear communications. I also spend all day on Microsoft Teams so this integration on the headset is invaluable.
Most of my clients also call my cellphone, rather than my desk phone and as we continue remote work we may move the company to call service through the Microsoft Teams solution. Right now, I pair my Surface Pro 6 with Jabra Direct and my primary cellphone with Sound Plus to the Evolve2 85. Whether calls come through Teams or my cellphone, one headset is there and ready to help me respond.
Battery life has been solid with the Evolve2 85, but I should pick up a charging stand. I plug in a USB-C cable after a full day of use just to make sure I’m good to go for the next day, but the headset has proven to provide enough charge for three to four days of work between charges.
I sometimes listen to jazz music in the background as I work, but during the day I am not rocking out like I do when I workout or relax after work. Music plays well with the Evolve2 85 and the ANC does a great job of blocking out surrounding interruptions.
The Jabra Evolve2 85 headphones are available now for $449, or $499 with the charging stand. This is a significant price, but if you spend all day on Teams or on your phone then it is a great option for focused work. With the current remote work environment many of us are working in, this headset could be a key component to increased productivity and easily be worth the price of admission.