There seems to be a new set of noise-canceling true wireless earbuds announced every week. Not to be outdone by the long-awaiteddetailed earlier this month, today Jabra unveiled the Elite 85t ($229, £220, AU$349), due to hit stores on Nov. 1. But the company also has a surprise for current and owners: Those buds will soon add active noise cancellation with a free software update delivered through Jabra's Sound Plus app for iOS and Android.
I haven't tried the Elite 85t or the updated Elite 75t, but they feature two different kinds of active noise-canceling technology. The Elite 85t models are actually semi-open earbuds, meaning you don't jam the tips into your ear canal. Rather, the new, more oval-shaped tips nestle in your ear for a more comfortable fit, according to Jabra. Some sound will leak in, however, because you're not creating a tight seal. Jabra is calling the 85t's noise-canceling Advanced ANC, which is designed for earbuds that don't have true noise-isolating designs.
You'll be able to adjust the Advanced ANC with a dual slider, taking it from full noise-canceling to full HearThrough (a transparency mode that allows you to hear the outside world) and anywhere in between. The Elite 85t also includes a wireless charging case, larger 12mm drivers for improved sound and six-microphone technology -- three on each ear, two on the outside, one on the inside -- for improved voice-calling with better noise reduction. Despite their larger drivers and "advanced" ANC technology, the Elite 85t earbuds are only a tad bigger than the Elite 75t.
The IPX4 water-resistance rating is a step down from the Elite 75t's IP55 rating, but the 85t earbuds are splashproof and sweat-resistant. (also have an IPX4 water-resistance rating.) Battery life with noise-canceling features turned on is rated at 5.5 hours, which is better than the AirPods Pro's 5 hours. But some non-noise-canceling earbuds offer upwards of 8 hours of battery life.
With the firmware update, the Elite 75t and Active 75t will get Jabra's "standard" ANC, which the company says is being "made available to users through Jabra's engineering on Qualcomm technology." The Elite 75t don't have, but -- surprise! -- it turns out they are upgradeable (Jabra didn't advertise that the 75t would someday get noise cancellation). The 75t models also now have a wireless charging case option, but it's $20 extra.
I'll have a full review of the Elite 85t just before the earbuds hit stores. It should be interesting to compare them to other premium noise-canceling models like Apple's AirPods Pro,and Bose's new QuietComfort Earbuds.
Jabra Elite 85t key specs
According to Jabra:
- Compact design and oval silicon EarGels for a secure seal and comfortable fit.
- Dedicated ANC chip that's more efficient in removing surrounding noises.
- Six-microphone call technology and wind protection.
- Four-microphone ANC using mics on the inside and the outside of the earbuds.
- 12mm speakers for big sound and powerful bass.
- Semi-open design allows sound to naturally pass through.
- Adjustable ANC with dual sliders from full ANC to full HearThrough.
- IPX4 water-resistance rating (splashproof) and two-year warranty against dust and water.
- Battery life: Up to 5.5 hours battery on a single charge and up to 25 with the charging case with ANC on; 7 hours battery on a single charge and 31 hours with ANC off.
- Qi-certified for wireless charging, and compatible with all Qi-certified chargers.
- Customizable equalizer in the Sound Plus app.
- Voice assistant enabled -- works with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
- Jabra MyControls allows you to define button settings and Jabra MySound for individualized sound.
- Available in titanium/black November 2020. Available in gold/beige, copper/black, black and grey
- Price: $229.
- Available: Nov. 1 with preorders starting in October.