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Does JBL's Everest Elite 750NC top Bose's best?

JBL's next-gen wireless noise-cancelling headphone is a step up in design, comfort level and sound, but it faces stiff competition.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read

As far as wireless noise-canceling headphones go, Bose's QuietComfort 35 sits on top of our top products list, with Sony's MDR-1000X nipping at its heels. So how does JBL's next-generation Bluetooth noise-canceling headphone, the Everest Elite 750NC, stack up against those guys?  

Well, at $300 it's a little bit less expensive. It's also nice upgrade over last year's Everest Elite 700, featuring a more streamlined design with better padded ear cups (more comfort) and an overall more premium look and feel. It also folds up nicely to fit in its fairly compact carrying case, which I liked. 

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(The headphones are coming to the UK in August and Australia later in the year. The US price translates to about £230 and AU$380, but the real pricing in those countries has yet to be announced.) 

The sound is also slightly improved. Still, this is a bass-forward headphone with a warmer tonal quality that falls a little short on clarity.

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The external portion of the ear cups are smaller than the Everest Elite 700's, and the ear pads are softer.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I say that even though the sound is customizable via JBL's Headphones app for iOS or Android. The app allows you to choose between a few preset EQ settings (Jazz, Vocal, Bass and Off), or you can create your own. I actually preferred the Off setting because it seemed to have the best balance. Still, there's still some bass push in this mode, and my gut says that the people who will really like this headphone's sound will gravitate toward the amped-up Bass setting. While it's not fantastic bass, there's a lot of it, and the headphone does have some kick, particularly using the "Bass" profile.

In the app you'll also find JBL's TruNote auto calibration system. I couldn't really form an opinion as to whether it impacted the sound in a positive or negative way, but to try it out all you have to do is press a virtual button. 

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The headphone folded up in its carrying case.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As for the "adaptive" noise cancelling, it is effective and you can opt to control the amount of sound you let in via the Awareness setting in the app. There's a very faint hiss when you turn the noise-canceling on, but that tends to be par for the course for noise-canceling. I'm still comparing it to the Bose's noise-canceling, but I thought it worked well overall.

Battery life is rated at 15 hours with Bluetooth and noise-canceling turned on. That's decent but still not great. The headphones also come with a cord in case you want to go wired and plug into an in-flight entertainment system on a plane (I didn't think sound quality was significantly improved when I went wired).   

Overall, my early impressions of the headphone are favorable. It's a nice step forward for the top-of-the-line Everest Elite headphone. I don't think it's quite there with the Bose or Sony in terms of performance, but I'm going to to spend another week or two with the 750NC before I make a final determination and put a rating on the product.