Jabra announced a new pair of headphones, the Elite 85h ahead of the start of CES 2019. These represent the latest addition to the company’s “Elite” product line and are designed to provide a best-in-class experience powered by a number of advanced headphone technologies, including Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), as well as some of the company's in-house solutions, such as Jabra SmartSound and Jabra HearThrough.
A combination which Jabra argues, results in "the smartest ANC headphones on the market."
Jabra states the Elite 85h will arrive to market in April. The headphones will be priced at $299 in the US and will be available in four different color options, consisting of Black, Gold Beige, Navy and Titanium Black. Generally speaking, the headphones are expected to be sold through a wide number of retailers, although the standard black version will only be available to buy in the US through Best Buy.
Jabra is marketing various selling points with these headphones although it would seem their smarts is the main one. These headphones do come equipped with ANC and so users can expect the basic option to filter in and out environmental sound at will. However, in addition to the standard implementation of ANC, these headphones also feature the company’s SmartSound solution. This is an AI-driven feature that’s designed to automatically understand the surroundings of the listener and adjust the sound accordingly to provide the best listening experience possible.
SmartSound is said to be able to understand “6,000 unique sound characteristics” and use this information to level out the sound, and irrespective of how noisy the surroundings are. All of this happens in real-time with the company explaining the end result is a consistent listening experience as a user moves from one environment to the next. Basically, as the intensity of the outside noise changes, SmartSound will adapt in a way that will makes it seem as though the outside noise hasn't changed at all.
The Elite 85h headphones are able to utilize SmartSound due to the inclusion of two microphones that specifically listen out for these sounds. In fact, there’s eight microphones included with the Elite 85h with the other six made up of two powering the ANC and the remaining four used for calls. These microphones are not just for listening to the outside world either, or for when others are listening to the user during calls, but also for the headphones to listen to the user - as Jabra states these are “100-percent hands-free” headphones.
The headphones are always-listening and able to respond to wake phrases for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. This is different to other voice assistant-compatible headphones in the sense that the user no longer has to press or hold a button to activate the listening feature. Instead, the user can entirely rely on voice commands, and at all times.
Those looking for even greater control of the sound will be able to utilize the company’s HearThrough solution which essentially allows the listener to dictate how much outside noise is permitted to account for those times when the user would prefer some outside noise to penetrate the listening experience.
HearThrough, along with many of the other smart features touted here, are able to be further adjusted by the user through the corresponding Android app, the Jabra Sound app - available to download from the Google Play Store.
Smart features aside, the Elite 85h also make a play for those looking for longer-lasting usage in wireless mode. As these headphones are said to come with a battery that is able to keep the headphones powered for as long as thirty-two hours before needing to be recharged. This is relevant to when ANC is activated as disabling the noise cancellation will see the battery life extend up to 35 hours.
Jabra does not specifically comment too much on the actual sound quality in the announcement, but instead focuses more on the sound clarity. Due to the ability to mitigate against environmental noise through the use of the microphones, ANC and SmartSound, Jabra is pushing that the actual sound is far clearer than what would otherwise be on offer. A clearer sound which is presumably meant to translate to a better sound overall.
The only specs provided at the moment include an IP52 resistance rating for protection against dust and light water encounters, as well as the inclusion of 40mm drivers. The latter of which is also designed to further push the clarity narrative as Jabra states these are “distortion-reducing” drivers.
The main takeaways from the Elite 85h is that they last a long time, offer a clear sound, and are apparently the smartest ANC headphones on the market.