Less than a year after launching the Elite 75t true wireless earbuds, Jabra is already announcing its next pair — and the company’s first earbuds to ship with active noise cancellation. The $229 Elite Active 85t look pretty much identical to their predecessors but feature a few tweaks for improved comfort. And the ear tips are more oval-shaped than before, which the company says makes for a better seal.
Jabra has built a dedicated ANC chip into the 85t earbuds, and you can choose your preferred amount of noise cancellation between five different levels using sliders in the companion smartphone app. (HearThrough, or the amount of outside noise that gets piped in, is also adjustable in the same way.) The Elite 85t have a six-microphone array for voice calls — four mics are used for the noise canceling feature — and 12-millimeter drivers “for big sound and powerful bass.” Jabra says the “semi-open design” allows for natural audio passthrough when you want it.
Going semi-open isn’t a small change for Jabra; the 75t and 65t were both a closed design, but now the company is trying to avoid the “earplug effect” that some people find uncomfortable. Battery life is rated at up to 5.5 hours of continuous listening with ANC on, which extends to 25 hours with the case (and 31 hours with the case if ANC is off). The Elite 85t earbuds support wireless charging and are rated IPX4 for water and sweat resistance. Preorders start next month, and they’ll ship sometime in November. A titanium / black color will be available at launch, with other colors following in January 2021.
But here’s a pleasant surprise: Jabra also plans to bring noise cancellation to existing Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t earbuds through a firmware update in October. This is possible because of the company’s engineering work with Qualcomm. Jabra describes the ANC that the 75t will get as a “standard” version meant to reduce and eliminate low-frequency noises around you; the 85t will apparently do a more comprehensive job since those buds include the dedicated chip for noise cancellation.
Still, getting a feature like this after the fact is pretty nice. Jabra says if you buy the Elite 75t or Elite Active 75t in October, they’ll be shipping with the ANC update by that point. But existing owners can install the over-the-air firmware update to add noise cancellation. Battery life does take a hit if you enable it, dropping from 7.5 hours of straight listening to 5.5 hours with ANC switched on.